Top 10 things to do with your dog during the holidays
It’s time to escape from the daily grind and take that well-earned break. You’re keen for some quality family time, but what about your four-legged family members? Spending quality time with your pets is a must for their emotional health, and can be great for yours too….!!!
Luckily for you and pet lovers everywhere, furbaby-friendly options are more prevalent now than ever. There are dog friendly cafés and restaurants, hotels and camping sites, beaches and parks, and even fun attractions that are perfect for you and your panting companion.
These options will provide you and your pooch with everything you’ll need for an enjoyable and memorable experience, whether you’re on a stay-cation, day-cation or pet-inclusive vacation!
1. Dog friendly cafes and restaurants
Sometimes you just want to pop into a place for a quick coffee or a bite while on a long walk. Other times the walk is just a means to a great drink or meal. These venues fit the bill, either way.
- Café Bones in Leichhardt first opened its doors in 2000 and quickly brought dog friendly dining to a whole new level. Its menu has a range of delicious options “For the Furry One” and “For the Furry One’s Friend”.
- Naked Brew in Erskinville is super dog-friendly and has a whole menu dedicated to your little furry friend, featuring yummy pup-safe treats such as peanut butter doggie doughnuts, Belgian waffles and berry and banana doggie ice-cream.
- Puppy Tail Cafe in Lane Cove is a mini cafe-kiosk situated right next to the off-leash fenced dog park, so your dog can socialise and exercise while you grab a steaming hot cuppa. You can also treat your furry friend to a doggie woffle or a doggie latte!
- The Carrington in Surry Hills is a pawsome pub that invites you for a drink or meal alongside your furry best friend. It offers a selection of doggie dishes such as brown rice & veg, steak & veg, beef tartare and pup cakes.
- The Scratch in Milton is a beer bar featuring an ever-changing selection of independent tap beers from Australia and abroad, as well as a selection of wines, cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages. They are b.y.o dogs and food (you can even order delivery from a neighbouring takeaway restaurant to your seat at the bar!).
- Snag & Brown in Annerley is pet friendly and has a puppy playpen in the backyard garden where your pooch can run around while you enjoy your meal. Puppuccinos are available for a refreshing treat.
- Frenchies Cafe in Wynnum welcomes all breeds, not just the Frenchies of its name! It has a dog menu featuring woofachins, scrambled eggs, bacon and Hugos dog ice-cream.
- A Minor Place in Brunswick is a character-filled cafe with a dog-friendly outside area featuring milk-crate seats. They provide plenty of water bowls and dog treats are available for purchase.
- Union Kitchen in Mindarie offers waterfront views and is proudly dog-friendly. Its dog menu that features puppiccinos, mutt shakes, pupsicles, a dogs bark-fast and K9 cookies and pupcakes!
- Fare and Square in North Adelaide claims to have Adelaide’s best dog menu. It features fuchinos, snoopy eggs, Beethoven bolgnese, Scooby Doo stew and Goofy snacks.
Have we left off your favourite pet-friendly eatery? Send us the details.
2. Dog friendly beaches
Australia is known for its wonderfully pristine beaches, so it’s not surprising that many of us love nothing more than a beach holiday in the summer.
The same can be said for our furry friends – most dogs enjoy running on, or digging in, the sand, going for a swim or splashing in the shallows, all of which will provide a great workout and lots of fun and stimulation. Just make sure your chosen beach is a designated “dog beach”, where dogs are officially permitted to be off leash, otherwise you may land up with a hefty fine.
If you aren’t stay-cationing or vacationing by the ocean, try to find a beach alongside a nearby river, lagoon or other body of water where dogs are permitted.
Some of our favourite dog-friendly beaches in and around Sydney include:
- Rowland Reserve at Bayview is a great place to spend the day by the water and meet other dogs and owners as well. The place is beautiful and very popular—perfect for socialising your dog while spending the day on the sand. There are plenty of grassy areas and shade, as well as heaps of sand and water for the more adventurous dog. And with one hour free parking thrown in, Rowland Reserve is a great seaside spot to explore.
- Sirius Cove in Mosman is another great spot to take your dog for a run and paddle. The small harbour-side beach is connected to a lovely park with shade and play equipment for the kids. If you’re after other dogs to socialise with, there are usually a handful of playful pups running up and down the beach.
- Kurnell’s Silver Beach, on the peninsula overlooking Botany Bay, offers another fantastic opportunity for dog friendly beach days. The beach is usually nice and quiet and the water is often still, making for stress-free swimming.
Where to find more dog beaches around Australia:
- NSW – https://www.dogsnsw.org.au/media/3235/top-dog-beaches-in-nswapril-2020.pdf
- VIC – https://www.visitmelbourne.com/Regions/Stay-close-go-further/Victoria-for-dogs/Best-dog-beaches
- QLD – https://www.queensland.com/au/en/places-to-see/experiences/beaches/best-dog-friendly-beaches-queensland
- WA – https://www.outdoorswa.org.au/dog-friendly-places-to-go/
- SA – https://www.trulyaus.com/dog-friendly-beaches-in-south-australia/
3. Dog friendly accommodation
Sometimes you just want to gather up every member of the family, including the furry ones, and take off for a great trip away. While options are still quite limited, luckily there are now a number of fabulous hotels that welcome the canine family members too!
Here are our picks for top dog-friendly luxury stays around Australia (be sure to read the T&C’s before booking, as conditions apply):
- The Langham Melbourne: Pampered Pets Staycation
- The Langham Sydney: Pampered Pets Staycation
- The Crystalbrook Albion : Furry friends welcome (Surry Hills, Sydney)
- The Crystalbrook Bailey : Pet Friendly Accommodation (Cairns)
- QT Melbourne : Fur-Friendly Stays at QT Melbourne
- QT Sydney CBD : Fur-Friendly Stays at QT Sydney
- QT Newcastle : Fur-Friendly Stays at QT Newcastle
- QT Perth : Fur-Friendly Stays at QT Perth
- QT Gold Coast : Fur-Friendly Stays at QT Gold Coast
- Pier One Sydney Harbour : Pups on the Pier
- Ovolo Hotels : V.I.Pooch (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra)
- Abode Apartment Hotels : Pet Package (selected hotels in ACT and NSW)
- Mecure Hotel Canberra : Pet Friendly Accommodation
- The Old Clare Hotel : Pet Friendly Room (Chippendale, Sydney)
- Adelaide Inn : Pet Friendly Room
- Hilton Hotel Adelaide : Dog Friendly Package
4. Dog friendly activities
Believe it or not, there are dog friendly activities beginning to pop up all over the place.
- Gourmet Pawprints in Melbourne offers food and wine experiences including the amusingly named Doggy Winery Tours, Peeps and Paws High Tea, and Doggo Friday Wine Down in the Yarra Valley. Other activities are available in Inner Melbourne, Geelong and further afield, all chauffeured on Bella the dog friendly bus. There is also a Paws and Pubs experience that combines a fab walking trail with some great pub food, each of the six expeditions being to a new mystery destination!
- Vino Paw Tours in NSW offers a dog friendly Hunter Valley Wine Tour that includes two night’s accommodation in pet-friendly accommodation, a dog friendly wine tour and a three course dinner in a dog friendly restaurant. Your dog can go everywhere you do – even in the cellar doors.
- Scavenger hunts are no longer just for kids’ birthday parties! Also known as “immersive urban adventures”, they are a great opportunity to explore a city – your own or one you are visiting – as you search for clues in the streets, buildings and monuments via cryptic messages sent to your phone. Having your furry friend by your side as you solve the mystery adds another dimension to the fun! See here for options in Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney or more info.
- Take your dog to the movies! Moonlight Cinema runs through the summer months in Sydney’s iconic Centennial Park, and the good news is, dogs are welcome as long they are not aggressive and are kept on a short leash (under 2m) at all times.
We’ll be sure to update this list as we come across more dog friendly activities around the country!
5. Dog parks with a difference
There are dog parks and then there are dog parks. Some are just an open patch of ground, while others have exciting obstacles like hurdles to jump, poles to weave through and other challenges to conquer.
- Shale Hills Dog Park is Western Sydney Parkland’s largest off-leash dog area, featuring 5-hectares of open space with state-of-the-art dog agility and self-guided training facilities and two separate dog areas. There are also shaded areas, fresh water fountains and a scented garden.
- The Junee Agility Dog Park in the Riverina is a popular spot for locals and visitors with their canine companions. Let your furry friends roam free and watch as they have a ball running, jumping and climbing through and over obstacles.
- Parkes Dog Park at Kelly Reserve is an off leash, fully fenced pet’s paradise. It has a general exercise area and a separate agility yard with permanent fixtures. There is plenty of shade, a drinking bowl, bag dispensers, and even bench seating for owners who might not have as much energy to burn.
- Musgrave Off leash Agility Dog Park in Labrador (perfect suburb for it!) is Brisbane’s largest dog park. It is equipped with an array of obstacle courses, water taps, and doggy bags,
- Tallebudgera in Elanora is a huge open space with plenty of agility equipment to keep your furry friend entertained. It has plenty of shady trees and seats, and being close to the beach, it’s the perfect place for a refreshing dip.
- Alexander Clark Agility Dog Park in Loganholme is a fully fenced off-leash area with agility equipment such as weaving poles, jumps and ramps. You can even get in a workout of your own with the exercise equipment scattered throughout the park. Or, for a more relaxing experience, meander along the shaded walking paths and admire beautiful river views.
- Stackpole Street Fenced Agility Dog Park in Wishart has separate areas for small and big dogs and an obstacle course. When it’s time to cool off after all that exercise, there’s a nearby stream for a refreshing dip. The park also features a kid’s playground, sports field, as well as a picnic area so the whole family can join in on the fun!
- Alf Pearce Reserve Fenced Dog Park in Strathmore is a large fenced dog park with various sections, including a run about area, a time out area, and an agility area. The agility equipment will keep you and your doggo busy while you train, and there is plenty of seating, water taps, waste bags, shade trees and garden beds.
- Stevens Reserve in Fremantle has various obstacle courses and expansive fields for pooches to explore (just keep them away from the cricket pitches and covers, which can be damaged by their claws). There’s a fancy water tap to quench your dog’s thirst and stunning views for you to enjoy.
- Ozone Dog Agility Park in East Perth is tailor-made for dogs. It includes a fenced obstacle course with jump bars, weave poles and a pyramid ramp. It also features dog park essentials such as park benches, a water fountain and a dog waste bag dispenser. When your pup needs a break, they can cool off by the pond or take a leisurely stroll through the picturesque parkland and over the charming bridge.
6. Get pampered
It’s your break away and there’s no better way to relax than to go for a day spa. There are a number of great spas around our cities, and if you’ve got the dog with you, why not treat them to the same treatment?
Sydney offers countless high-quality pet salons where your dog or cat can be pampered and groomed beyond what you thought possible. Some great options include For Dog’s Sake in Chippendale, Secret Dogs Business in Willoughby, Hachi in Haymarket and Dogs @ Play in Surry Hills.
Dogue dog day spas and boutiques are another great option for some pooch-pampering, with locations in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
7. Hiking in the great outdoors
If you and your dog are generally fit and healthy and you both love a long walk, consider hopping in the car and heading for a dog-friendly state forest or reserve in your region. Be sure to pack all the necessary gear, including the lead, poo bags, lots of water and some snacks.
Where to hike:
- NSW – dogs are allowed in all state forests. See the complete list of NSW state forests here.
- VIC – dogs are permitted in all state forests except for Murrindindi Scenic Reserve. See here for further information.
- QLD – dogs are allowed in some state forests, parks and recreation areas. See here for more information.
- SA – dogs are allowed in certain parks and forests. See more information here.
- TAS – some reserves permit dogs. Find more information here.
- WA – some reserves permit dogs. Find more information here.
8. Dog sports are fun for dogs and owners!
Did you know that there is a vast range of dog sports available right across our vast country, from obedience and agility to dockdiving, doggy dancing, nose work, flyball and many more? There’s sure to be something to suit any dog and any owner!
Many dog sports are open to canines of any breed, size and age, even older dogs who haven’t competed in sports before. If competing isn’t your thing, you can participate for fun in many of the dog sports, or if that’s not your thing either, you could set up a modified version of some of the activities in your own backyard.
See our article for a comprehensive list of dog sports in Australia and where to find more info about them.
9. Take your dog camping
Introduce your pup to the wonders of the real great outdoors. Of course, if camping isn’t your thing, you may prefer to go on a day trip with your furry family members instead…
Most national parks across the country don’t allow pets at all, never mind on a camping trip. What many people don’t know is that it’s not the case with state parks and state forests.
Did you know that your canine friend is welcome in ALL State forests across NSW? And, camping is permitted in all State forests (except for Cumberland and Strickland State forests), free of charge.
Just remember that many State forests are adjacent to National Parks, where dogs are prohibited, so make sure you are aware to stay within a State forest while visiting with your dog.
You can find the complete list of NSW forests with campgrounds here.
In Victoria, dogs are allowed in all state forests (except for Murrindindi Scenic Reserve). There are more than 250 free camping areas in Victoria’s state forests, from remote bush locations to sites conveniently located close to towns.
You can find more information on VIC state forests here.
Things are a little bit different in our other states.
In Queensland, dogs can stay overnight in only a few state camping areas. These include Amamoor Creek camping area, Benarkin State Forest, Brooyar State Forest, Inskip Peninsula Recreation Area, Kalpowar State Forest and Wongi State Forest.
For more information on pets in QLD parks and forests, see here.
Camping with dogs in Tasmania is permitted in certain reserves with campgrounds, provided they are well-controlled and on-lead in the appropriate areas.
These include Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area, Bay-of-Fires Conservation Area, Humbug Point Nature Recreation Area, Peggs Beach Conservation Area, Recherche Bay Nature Recreation Area and Waterhouse Conservation Area
In Western Australia, you can camp with your dog at: Big Brook Arboretum, Blackwood River National Park – Sues Bridge, Warner Glen, Lane Poole Reserve – Baden Powell, Charlies Flat, Chuditch, Nanga Brook, Nanga Mill, Nanga Townsite, Stringers, Tonys Bend, Yarragil, Logue Brook – Logue Brook, Rapids Conservation Park – Canebrook Pool, Stockton Lake, One Tree Bridge – Greens Island Campground.
Dogs must be controlled and kept on a lead at all times and are not permitted in all areas of the park, only particular places or campgrounds.
Many privately run campgrounds and holiday parks around the country permit dogs, including:
- Flinders beach on North Stradbroke Island permits 2 dogs per campsite, on leash at all times.
- Turon Gates in the foothills of the Blue Mountains offers several pet-friendly accommodation options, including vehicle campsites, glamping tents, log cabins and cottages.
- Discovery Parks have a number of pet friendly caravan parks. Please note that each park has an individual “Dog friendly” policy and it is advisable to check with the park before booking.
- NRMA Parks and Resorts have a number of pet friendly cabins, camping and caravan sites spacious enough to fit the whole family, in a variety of pawsome locations such as Coffs Harbour, Gold Coast, Port Macquarie and South West Rocks.
- Also check out these fab recommendations from the pet people at Lyka: Get out of town: Dog-friendly campsites in Australia
10. Summer school for dogs
Relax – it’s not as bad as it sounds. By summer school I mean your holiday period is a great time to enrol your dog into obedience training or puppy school.
Obedience training isn’t the chore it sounds and, if you’re thinking of taking advantage of all the other great activities we’ve covered in this article, you’ll need a well behaved pooch. Obedience school can be a lot of fun for the both of you, especially when things start to go right and you both begin to achieve.
There are great obedience schools all across Australia. Call around and ask about holiday specials and short courses perfect for your break from work. Puppy schools are also great places for you and your dog to meet both dogs and people and make friends.