My Shepherd BFF

Traveling with a German Shepherd in the Car: A Guide

Traveling with a German Shepherd

Traveling with a German Shepherd can turn any trip into an extraordinary adventure. However, embarking on a journey with a large dog like a German Shepherd presents unique challenges and responsibilities.

From ensuring their safety and comfort to accommodating their needs, preparation is key to a successful road trip. This guide offers comprehensive advice on traveling with your German Shepherd in the car, ensuring a pleasant experience for both you and your furry friend.

RELATED: Flying with a German Shepherd: A Travel Guide

Pre-Travel Preparation

Health Check and Vaccinations

Before hitting the road, a thorough health check for your German Shepherd is paramount. Schedule a visit to the veterinarian for a general check-up and to ensure all vaccinations are up to date.

This step is crucial for preventing health issues during your trip, especially if you’re traveling across state lines or to areas with specific health risks for dogs.

Your vet can also provide advice on motion sickness, a common issue for dogs in cars, and suggest remedies or preventative measures.


For dogs not accustomed to car travel, gradual familiarization is essential. Begin with short, enjoyable trips to build positive associations with the car.

Use treats and praise to reinforce these positive experiences. Over time, gradually increase the trip duration.

This method helps reduce anxiety and discomfort, making longer journeys more manageable for your pet.

Packing Essentials

Packing for your German Shepherd involves more than just food and water. Here’s a checklist to ensure you have everything needed for a safe and comfortable trip:

  • Food and Water: Pack enough for the journey plus extra for emergencies. Collapsible bowls are space-efficient and convenient.
  • Leashes and Collars: Include a spare leash and collar with ID tags containing your contact information.
  • First-Aid Kit: Assemble a kit with items specifically for your dog, including bandages, antiseptic wipes, and any prescribed medications.
  • Comfort Items: Bring their favorite toys and a blanket to make the car feel homely and provide a sense of security.
  • Waste Bags and Cleaning Supplies: Maintain cleanliness with easy access to waste bags, wipes, and towels for unexpected messes or spills.

For traveling essentials, you can check out this GSD Car Travel Essentials checklist on my Amazon store.

Safety Measures for Traveling With a GSD

Ensuring your German Shepherd’s safety during car travel is paramount. Here are essential safety measures:

Using the Right Restraint

  • Crates: A secure, well-ventilated crate provides a safe and comfortable environment for your dog. Ensure the crate is large enough for your German Shepherd to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably.
  • Seat Belts for Dogs: Special dog seat belts and car harnesses are available that can secure your pet while allowing some movement. These should always be used in conjunction with a back seat cover to protect your vehicle’s upholstery and provide extra comfort for your dog.

Where to Place Your Dog in the Car?

The back seat or a spacious cargo area of an SUV is generally the safest and most comfortable spot for your canine companion. These areas provide enough space for your dog to lie down and stretch out, minimizing stress and anxiety.

Utilizing a well-ventilated crate or harness that attaches to the car’s seat belts can further enhance safety by preventing your dog from roaming freely, which can be a distraction to the driver and a risk in case of sudden stops.

Car Safety and Comfort

  • Temperature Control: Cars can quickly become too hot or too cold for dogs. Always maintain a comfortable temperature and never leave your dog unattended in the car.
  • Water Access: Ensure your German Shepherd has access to fresh water, using a no-spill bowl to minimize mess.
  • Preventing Motion Sickness: For dogs prone to motion sickness, consider feeding them a light meal a few hours before departure and consulting your vet about motion sickness medication.
Traveling with a German Shepherd

Keeping Your GSD Entertained and Calm While Traveling

A calm and entertained dog is a happy traveler. Here’s how to achieve this:

Toys and Treats

  • Pack a variety of toys, including chew toys and puzzle feeders, to keep your German Shepherd mentally stimulated and physically engaged during the trip.

Anxiety Reduction Techniques

  • Music: Soft, calming music can help soothe anxious dogs.
  • Pheromone Diffusers: Available as sprays or collars, these can help calm your dog by releasing dog-appeasing pheromones.
  • Comfort Items: Familiar items like blankets or a piece of your clothing can help reduce stress by providing familiar scents.

Training and Commands

  • Refresh your dog’s training on basic commands before the trip. Commands like “stay” and “quiet” can be very helpful in managing your dog’s behavior during stops and in new environments.

Feeding Your German Shepherd While Traveling

Managing your German Shepherd’s feeding schedule is crucial for a comfortable car journey. It’s advisable to feed your dog a light meal 3 to 4 hours before departure, rather than right before you leave or while on the road, to minimize the risk of motion sickness.

Ensure this meal is smaller than their regular portion to avoid an upset stomach during the trip.

The best way to avoid gastrointestinal disturbances is to feed your dog the same food you feed them at home.

During travel, it’s best to maintain hydration by offering water at regular intervals but keep meals to a minimum until you’ve reached your destination or during longer breaks.

If the journey is long and includes meal times, offer smaller, more digestible meals during stops to avoid gastrointestinal discomfort.

Don’t feed your dog in a moving vehicle because it can worsen any feeling of anxiety or even cause an upset stomach.

Even if you sneak your GSD an occasional bite of human food at home, don’t give him any while traveling.

Managing Stops and Bathroom Breaks

Ideally, plan to stop every 2 to 3 hours to allow your dog to stretch, move around, and relieve themselves.

These breaks are not just for bathroom needs but also to prevent restlessness and discomfort from sitting in one position for too long.

When stopping, look for safe, designated pet areas or rest stops with space for your dog to walk and explore a bit.

Always use a leash for safety, and bring waste bags to clean up after your pet. Additionally, these stops provide an excellent opportunity to offer your dog water, keeping them hydrated throughout the journey.

Adjust the frequency of stops based on your dog’s specific needs and behavior; some may require more frequent breaks than others.

Finding Dog-Friendly Accommodations

Planning where to stay is as important as the journey itself. Here’s how to ensure you find welcoming places for you and your German Shepherd:

Research Tips

  • Use pet-friendly travel websites and apps to find accommodations that welcome German Shepherds. Look for places with good reviews from other pet owners.

Booking in Advance

  • Once you find suitable accommodations, book in advance to secure your spot and verify their pet policy, including any fees or restrictions.

On-Site Etiquette

  • Keep your dog on a leash and ensure they’re well-behaved in public areas. Always clean up after your pet and respect the property and other guests.

Final Remarks

By following these guidelines, you can ensure a safe, enjoyable, and stress-free journey for both you and your German Shepherd. Remember, preparation and understanding your dog’s needs are the keys to a successful road trip. Whether it’s your first time traveling together or you’re seasoned travelers, each trip can be a wonderful opportunity to bond and create lasting memories. Safe travels!


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top