TRAVELING WITH YOUR GERMAN SHEPHERD
BY RALF WEBER
Traveling with your German Shepherd is a wonderful experience. Most dog owners would love to bring their dogs everywhere, but we usually can't, so when we get a chance to take our buddy on a road trip, it's special. This article will cover some important considerations when traveling with your German Shepherd.
Bring enough water and food on your trip. German Shepherds must have consistent access to water, especially as it gets warmer. Your buddy will want to drink more than in the winter months. Several products on the market make that easy. Water bottles with attached drinking bowls are available in outdoor stores and online. It makes it easier to give your German Shepherd a quick sip here and there, without having to set up a water bowl each time. These work great wherever you go, let it be hiking, on the beach, or in the car. You can have up to 16 fluid ounces available for easy access while keeping the rest of your water in your car or backpack.
In terms of food, kibble is easiest to manage while on the road. If you're feeding raw, an alternative during a trip can be freeze-dried raw food, which is available commercially. However, if you're considering using alternative food during your trip, make sure to have tested that food at home way ahead of time so you know your dog likes it and it doesn't give them the runs.
Prepare and bring a good first aid kit for your dog and yourself. Things can happen when you travel and it's good to be prepared. As German Shepherds have long fur, make sure the bandages you bring will stick to your dog's body. Here are some other things that are important to have in your first aid kit: saline solution to wash wounds and eyes, vetericyn wound spray to disinfect injuries, paw cream, a tick removal tool, two or three tourniquets, Benadryl as first aid for snake bites and some pill pockets to feed them to your German Shepherd, noni bio bandage to keep wounds clean, 70% rubbing alcohol in case you need to bring down a fever. We also recommend taking a good first aid course for dogs to learn how to use all equipment correctly.
In the Car
Lots of things can happen in cars, dogs can get excited about things they see and pee a little or they could get carsick. It is a good idea to invest in a great back seat dog cover or cargo cover for the space your dog is riding in. 4Knines has a whole range of high-quality products and it is the only dog car seat cover brand we use. They protect your car from dirty paws, nail scratches and provide extra comfort and safety for your pet.
Please avoid traveling with your German Shepherd on an airplane unless it is unavoidable. The pressure differential and entire stress of the experience is not going to be a good experience for your dog. I personally would never put my German Shepherd in the cargo space on an airplane; too many dogs have died this way. This is somewhat different with a service dog traveling with you in the cabin, but it is still very stressful regardless.
Think about what you do with your dog every day and what you need to do it. All those things should be in your German Shepherd's travel bag. You should be brushing your buddy every day and FURminators are the best brushes for the thick undercoat of your dog. Canine cleaning wipes are a good thing to bring, you don't know what your German Shepherd gets into on the road. You may have to do a little cleaning session before he comes back into the car.
Also pack an additional collar, additional leash, maybe a long line, and possibly a tie-out if you're going to a camping ground. Don't forget your doggie’s vitamin supplements and possibly medications he needs every day.
Make sure you have current licensing, vaccination, and health records including negative fecal test results before you go on your trip. Many hotels and boarding places require that kind of paperwork to let your German Shepherd come in. Also, make sure there aren't any breed restrictions excluding German Shepherds at any of the stops during your trip.
We German Shepherd lovers cannot imagine why someone wouldn't embrace our wonderful dog with open arms, but many people are afraid of German Shepherds, and more and more breed restrictions have been observed in a variety of places. As sad and disappointing as that is, make sure you are aware of it before you go so you can patronize places that welcome you and your German Shepherd with open arms.
Ralf Weber is a certified dog trainer and behaviorist. A professional member of the International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP), an AKC evaluator for Puppy S.T.A.R., Canine Good Citizen and Community Canine certifications, author of the dog behavioral book: "If Your Dog Could Talk" and owner of the dog training company Happy Dog Training. Ralf works with clients in Southern California and can be contacted through his website at HappyDogTraining.info.