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Going on a road trip with your dog? Here's what you need to know

Taking your German Shepherd for a road trip in your car sounds like an excellent idea, but setting out on an adventure without proper precautions can lead to rather unpleasant consequences and potentially dangerous situations. But by planning your trip carefully and taking into account every critical consideration, you can thoroughly enjoy your time with your German Shepherd dog. So take your time, plan your trip, and you will have a nice, pleasant road trip.

Before You Go

Taking a road trip should be a delightful experience for your German Shepherd. Unfortunately, for many dogs traveling in the car is quite stressful, but as long as the dog is accustomed to it, things get much more enjoyable. With this in mind, your GSD should get used to traveling in a car from an early age.

If your GSD is not particularly used to traveling in a vehicle, it's best to take one step at a time, making your trips short. If your dog or puppy has only been in the car to get to the vet, it's unrealistic to expect him to enjoy a more extended recreational trip right away.

For everything to go smoothly, you must take care of things in advance and weigh in every little factor. You want your German Shepherd to stay happy and healthy, and it would be wise if you can avoid unpleasant circumstances. Here's a list of factors that might affect your trip with your dog in one way or another.

Factors That Affect Your Trip


If your travel plans are in summer, you need to be extra cautious. To leave your German Shepherd alone in the car in hot weather is dangerous. You can often not leave your dog in the car, even just for a few minutes to go to the bathroom because of how quickly the car interior temperature can rise. Unless you're comfortable with leaving your dog in a running, air-conditioned car, you'll most likely have to skip all the shops and get your meals from fast-food restaurants.

Dog Health

How healthy is your German Shepherd? Taking a road trip with your dog can be pretty stressful for him, which has all kinds of consequences. Depending on your travels' longevity, it would be wise to bring your dog in for a vet checkup to assure that they are healthy enough to go. If your GSD is not in particularly good health or had recent surgeries, it's best not to bring him along.

Travel Companions

Are you traveling alone or with friends or family? Traveling with someone by your side can give you additional support against unforeseen circumstances. Safety measures play a significant role too. If you're taking a solo trip, you'll have to keep an eye on your dog at all times. Yes, German Shepherds will protect you feverishly, but you never know what you'll run in to.


If your road trip ends up taking more than a day, you will need a place to stay and spend the night. However, not all hotels and motels accept dogs. Unless you're camping remotely, this is something to plan out carefully.


Not all dogs handle crates well. It takes some training to accustom a dog to stay in a crate. It's not a secret that having a crate during your trips can be extremely useful and make your life so much easier, but is your German Shepherd crate-trained? Dogs that are used to crates perceive them as something familiar and tolerate them well, which is good for traveling. But it's important to accustom your GSD to crates in advance, before the actual trip. If crate training is new to you, see our article on the topic here.

Safety Measures

Unfortunately, incidents do happen, but many of them can be avoided with the right precautions.

Make sure your German Shepherd always remains safe and secure in your car. German Shepherds are relatively heavy, and having such a dog flying inside the vehicle can result in injury to himself and possibly you.

Many German Shepherds tend to stay close to the driver, which is pretty dangerous and can potentially result in an unpleasant car accident. So it's essential to make sure that your GSD doesn't get in the way of the driver and stays away from the driver seat.

Important: don't leave your German Shepherd tied in the vehicle. There have been many accidents of this nature.

Packing for Your Car Trip

Obviously, as humans, we need more stuff to carry with us on our trips than German Shepherds. That doesn't mean that you should ignore your GSD's needs when packing for a car trip. Your German Shepherd cannot eat at a family restaurant just like you, so you have to bring him/her an appropriate amount of food.

It may seem obvious, but in the chaos of packing, it can be easy to forget to take some dog bowls. Your dog will certainly need to eat and drink, and it's better if there's a bowl around. It might be a good idea to take some dog biscuits, as well as bottled water.

Take some dog toys to keep your German Shepherd occupied. They are intelligent dogs that need mental stimulation from time to time, so durable toys will be useful for a long trip.

The health of your dog is a significant priority. Bring some anti-diarrhea medicine and other medications if necessary. Having a flea comb can also be useful during a trip. Make sure to have health and rabies certificates at your disposal.

Finally, take some essential items: leash, harness or Halti, paper towels, poop baggies, a self-rinse shampoo, a flashlight for night walks that you may take during your trip.


Traveling with your German Shepherd by car can be quite a rewarding, enjoyable experience for both of you, but there's still a important question to ask yourself: does the dog have a reason to be there? Because it only makes sense if you're planning to actually spend time with your German Shepherd, not to leave him locked up for long periods. As long as this is the case, and you've prepared for your trip carefully, everything should be fine.

Welcome to the Pack!


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