German Shepherd Traveling

When it comes to German Shepherd traveling, your dog absolutely loves to tag along with you. Whether traveling by airplane, boat, car, or train, if your dog is allowed to accompany you, you will have one very happy German shepherd.

The Importance of Identification

Whenever German shepherd traveling, it is critical that your dog is identifiable. Your German shepherd is your valued companion and friend. If your shepherd accidentally gets loose, lost, or stolen, there is very little chance that you will ever see her again if she does not have some form of identification on her. There are several options available. Some are temporary forms of identification, such as tags and collar plates; whereas, other forms are permanent, such as tattoos and microchips. All of these forms of identification have their positives and negatives and what works for you may be different than what may work for another owner.

Identification Tags

Your dog can be identified by her city license tag or her rabies tag, if she has one. Your German shepherd can also be identified by her personal tag, which should at least list a telephone number at which you can easily be reached.

The one drawback to identification tags is that they do fall off. If the tag catches on something, the little ring that connects the tag to the collar will break before the collar does. A brass collar plate engraved with your dog's name and your phone number stands a better chance of staying intact with the collar. Neither an identification tag nor a collar plate will be helpful if your German shepherd's collar comes off.


A permanent form of identification is a tattoo. The shepherd's AKC registration or ILP number is tattooed on the dogs inner thigh or inner ear. Tattoo numbers can be registered with the AKC, as well as one of several national registries that maintain tattooed numbers and contact information for a small fee.

The biggest drawback to a tattoo is that the average person will not know how to use this information to return your dog to you. In fact, the average person may not even see the tattoo. As a puppy grows the tattoo can become stretched and distorted. In the case of a tattoo to the inner thigh, hair may cover it making it nearly impossible to read the numbers.


A microchip is a permanent form of identification that is about the size of a small grain of rice. Your veterinarian will embed the chip between you German shepherds shoulder blades. The microchip contains a number that can be read using a special chip scanner. When the microchip company receives a call from the shelter or veterinarian scanning the dog, they will be able to put the rescuer in contact with you and vice versa.

Drawbacks to the microchip are that it is not obvious that a dog is microchiped and only shelters and veterinarians with the scanners can identify the chip; however, not every shelter or veterinarian has a scanner. Furthermore, the chip may migrate farther down the shoulder, so if the dog is scanned in the wrong spot, it may appear as if he does not have a chip.

If a microchip may not be scanned, a tattoo might be overlooked, and a tag might be lost, what is the solution? Typically a combination of identifications or even all forms of identification will cover the bases for even the most traveled German shepherd.

Hotel Stays

More and more pet owners are traveling with their dogs and as a result an increasing number of hotels and motels are now accepting reservations for owners and their dogs. Usually, an additional fee is charged for the dog to stay in a room with you. In addition, a hotel may ask for a damage deposit. If your Germans shepherd does no damage to the room then your credit card will not be charged for the damage deposit.

To prevent your German shepherd from causing any damage, keep him crated when you have to leave the room. Do not leave him in a mesh crate as he can chew his way out if he wants to. Additionally, make shure you hang the Do Not Disturb sign on the door to your room. You do not want anyone entering the hotel room while your shepherd is unattended. You definitely don't want your dog loose in the your hotel room if there is any chance for destruction or if a hotel staff person might open your door. Entering a room with a loose shepherd could either result in an injury, and escaped dog, or both.

While staying in hotels, try to observe good hotel etiquette. Don't allow your shepherd to bark, howl, or whine endlessly in the room while you are gone. Clean up after your shepherd. Do not walk your dog in high-traffic areas: many people do not like dogs or are intimidated by them. If there is a dog-walking area, use this area judiciously. Also keep in mind that every dog (some with any number of diseases) that has stayed at the hotel has visited the special dog area. Do you really want your shepherd sniffing around in this area? Probably not. Try to find an out of the way place to walk your dog where you can clean up well after him.

Car Traveling

You should accustom your German shepherd to riding in a car at an early age and must first be able to travel contentedly in the car with you while you run daily errands. This means he must be fully acclimated to whatever restraining system you have chosen for him.


The safest way for a dog to travel in a car is to confine your dog to his crate. Fiberglass crates are the recommended choice for car travel but wire crates can also be used but are less safe. In an accident, a loose dog could seriously injure someone just by being thrown around in the car or through a windshield.

Another option for those who do not have a vehicle in which you can fit a crate is to consider using a seatbelt harness. Several companies manufacture harnesses that are made to lock through the seatbelt. This allows the dog to sit up, turn around, and lie down comfortably, but he cannot hop from seat to seat. In an accident, your German shepherd would not suffer such serious injuries as he would if he were unrestrained.

Climate Control

For long trips, be prepared to stop often to let your German shepherd relieve himself, stretch his legs, lie down in some shade, and drink some water. Keep in mind that air conditioning circulates more effectively in the front of a vehicle and much less so in the far back end of your vehicle. Always make sure he is not becoming overheated during travel. If necessary, attach a battery powered fan to his crate to help the air flow.

Never leave your shepherd in the car on a hot or even warm day without the windows rolled down. It takes only a matter of minutes for the car to heat up to an unbearable temperature. If plan on leaving your vehicle for an extended period of time, take your shepherd with you or plan of leaving the air conditioning on.

The Anxious Traveler

The less traveled dog is likely to pant, cry, whine, bark, vomit, and possibly even lose bowel or bladder control. Your dog's nervous behavior is also guaranteed to wear thin on all who are traveling with you.

To prepare your shepherd for a journey, you need to make sure he considers his crate a safe haven. Keep his crate in the home, door open, and encourage him to go in the crate to receive treats and enjoy a really good chew toys and bones. When he is comfortable with the crate, begin taking short trips in the car.

Give your shepherd his favorite chew toy or bone so he has something to do in the crate. Initially, you may want to line the crate with newspapers for easier cleanup. Also, take him on as many short trips as frequently as possible. Over time he will become more used to the motion of the car and will be less apt to become ill. If you take him to a pleasurable place such as a park, he will associate the car rides with good things.

Remember to always bring along some paper towels in case he should have a potty accident in the car or become carsick.

Air Traveling

Air travel is fairly safe for dogs but should not be undertaken at whim. Your German shepherd will only be able to travel with you in the passenger compartment of a plane if he is your own certified service dog and must be with you at all times or he is a puppy and still small enough to fit in and airplane-approved carrier.

If you are traveling by airplane to pick up your shepherd puppy from the breeder, you should make arrangements with the airline well in advance of your fight to bring your puppy in the cabin with you. To do this, you will need your breeder to obtain a health certificate for the puppy from her veterinarian stating that the puppy is healthy and able to fly. You will also need to make reservations for your new puppy and will be asked to pay for the puppy's passage which could be anywhere from $50-$80 or even more, depending on the airline. Your puppy will receive his own ticket that you must present at bording.

Due to tighter flight restrictions, you can expect the employees at the counter to inspect your puppy's carrier to make sure that it meets their travel standards and fits your puppy. Your puppy must be able to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably.

On the airplane, you will be required to keep the puppy in his carrier at all times and the carrier must remain under the seat in front of you.

Canine Cargo

If you can avoid it, do not have your German shepherd fly cargo.

Contact your chosen airline before proceeding with your travel plans that include your German shepherd. The dog will be required to travel in a fiberglass crate and you should always check in advance with the airline regarding specific requirements for the crate's size, type, and labeling. To help put the dog at ease, give him one of his favorite toys in the crate. Do not feed the dog for several hours prior to checking in so that you minimize his need to relieve himself. For long trips, you will have to attatch food and water bowls to the dogs crate so that airline employees can tend to him between legs of the trip.

Although baggage compartments are heated, they are not air-conditioned, and in hot weather dogs have been known to overheat while the plane was still on the runway. Never ship a dog in the heat of day or the middle of summer.

Do not ship air freight on Fridays or the day before holidays. Dogs do occasionally get misrouted and have been found Monday after spending a weekend alone in a closed freight office.

The night before the trip , fill the water bowl with water and freeze it. Take it out of the cooler just before the flight and attach it to the inside of the cage. As it melts during the flight, the dog will have water that otherwise might have spilled out during the loading process.

Fortunately, air travel usually goes right many more times than it goes wrong. Of course, if it goes wrong just once and it happens to be your shepherd, it becomes a tragedy. The only reason you should put your German shepherd in cargo is if you are moving overseas or attending a competitive event that you can not reach by car without giving up your day job. In all other cases, keep your German shepherd's best interests in mind and drive to your destinations.

Finding the Right Boarding Kennel

Whether for business or leisure, there will be times when your dog will not be able to accompany you on your travels. Of course, your best option in this situation is to leave the dog with a responsible friend or relative with whom your German shepherd is comfortable. If this is not possible, you will need to look into some other alternatives.

The facility that is most often used by pet owners in this case is a boarding kennel. Boarding kennels range from five-star facilities that offer private suites for your dog and anything else you could possibly imagine for your dog to kennels that offer only the basics; a clean, dry place to sleep and an outdoor exercise pen.

Before you make reservations for your German shepherd to be boarded, visit several boarding facilities that have received good referrals from your veterinarian, friends, and other dog owners. Ask questions about how often the dogs are exercised, what types of services the facility offers, if your shepherd can be fed his regular diet prepared according to your instructions, what the facility's fees are, how they charge for add-on services, and pick-up and drop-off times.

The staff should be polite, friendly, and knowledgeable about dogs. The facility should be clean and well ventilated, with large kennels. Beware of overcrowding. Good kennels not only look clean but smell that way too. Good kennels have heating and air-conditioning. The other dogs should be in good condition and look happy.

If you are uneasy about anything concerning the boarding facility, or if the operators can not answer questions to calm your apprehension, do not board your shepherd at this facility. Go with your gut instincts and find another location.

Working with a Pet Sitter

If you can not trust your German shepherd to stay alone in your apartment or home without tearing anything up and if she will be fine with only three opportunities per day to relieve her self, a pet sitter might be a good option for you.

A pet sitter will come to your home and offer pet services personalized to your German shepherd's needs. This person will feed, water, and walk your dog. He will also play with your shepherd, brush her, give her medications (if prescribed). Additionally, he will bring the newspaper, retrieve your mail, turn lights on and off, and open and close blinds. Whatever you specify.

A pet sitter will usually spend between 30 minutes to an hour with your shepherd during a visit. He will charge a fee per visit which could range from $10-$12 or more, depending on the going rates in your area. Before you hire him, the pet sitter will come out to meet you and your shepherd and write up a contract. Make sure that you have a system in place so that the pet sitter will continue caring for your dog if you do not come home when scheduled.

While hiring a pet sitter it is a great option for short trips, you will not want to rely on his services for an extended period of time. A dog of any breed, but especially German shepherd, will become bored if left alone in the house for more than a few days. Even though the pet sitter will come over a few times a day, the shepherd will still be aware that she is alone. Keep these trips short, and get back to your shepherd as soon as you can.

Preparing for the Unknown

Severe weather, changes in travel plans, and vehicle breakdowns can all influence whether you are able to return home according to your schedule. If you have your German shepherd at a boarding facility, he is not going anywhere until you can pick him up. If you have employed a pet sitter to care for your shepherd while you are gone and can not get in contact with her, she should be prepared to continue taking care of your shepherd until you have safely returned home. If the sitter leaves her key on the table thinking that you are arriving that evening, a delay in your return could leave your shepherd lonely and hungry.

Double-check that the emergency contact information you leave with your shepherd's caretaker is current and accurate. The contact that you list should be someone who knows you well, knows your dog well, and who will know exactly what to do if something serious happens to you. No one can anticipate a car accident, a sudden serious illness or injury, or death. However, for your shepherd's sake, is important that your emergency contact knows your desires for the dog should you be separated from him for a great length of time or permanently.

Dogs are considered property and therefore cannot receive any inheritance. But you want to ensure that your dog is provided for should the unthinkable happen. Make sure that the person you have asked to take your dog really wants him. Often, just to be kind, friends or relatives will agree to take your shepherd, but when the situation becomes real, they are not willing to fulfill their promise.

If you leave money to someone to care for your dog, they could keep the money and get rid of dog. If you leave your dog to someone, he/she does not have to accept the dog. Unless you know someone who truly adores your shepherd and would follow through in adopting him, it is wise to make other arrangements. Contact your local German shepherd rescue and ask them questions about willing the dog, with funds to support the rescue, so that they can take him in and place him in an exceptional home.

Though dogs are legally considered property, they are more than this and they deserve more. Your dog is a member of your family, and he requires just as much love and attention as a person. As long as you keep your German shepherd's best interests at heart at all times, you and your dog will always be prepared to handle any situation.

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