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Traveling Australia with a dog: The Ultimate Guide to Unleash the Fun [From a local]

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Katherine loves traveling with her dogs all around Australia. We are so excited she’s willing to share her expertise and local knowledge with all of us!

This ultimate guide includes tons of great information for locals travelling with their dogs. We also included Pet Quarantine Info for those people who are moving to Australia with their pet that way everyone can get the information they need to have a great experience!

Traveling parts of Australia with Murray my Golden Retriever is one big adventure. Together we love to get out and explore our own backyard and discover new hidden gems this vast and diverse country has to offer. From stunning beaches to rugged wilderness, there are many dog-friendly activities to enjoy. Together we wanted to create an overview of travelling with a pet in Australia to make the most of your trip which includes;

  • How to prepare for your trip
  • Choosing pet-friendly accommodation
  • Packing the essentials for your dog
  • Getting around Australia
  • Dog-friendly activities
  • Safety precautions

It is because of people sharing their stories and opinions that we are able to make this site. If you have traveled with your pet in Australia or other countries, share your experience!

Planning a dog-friendly trip in Australia does not need to be daunting as there is help at hand. A great place to start is pet travel services such as Pawtal who can map out a pet adventure and provide you with local knowledge including all the best places to see

Pawtal has connections throughout Australia who can help plan a tailored pet-friendly itinerary jam-packed with all the best things to see and do alongside your furry friends. Let’s get started.

Katherine & Murray

Katherine and her furry companion, Murray a 6-year-old Golden Retriever, love to find new adventures in Australia. They have hiked and explored numerous destinations in our hometown of Melbourne and want to inspire others to do the same. Their goal is to one day buy a campervan and travel Australia stopping off at all the pet-friendly spots along the way.

Preparing For Traveling Australia with a dog

What vaccinations and health checks does my dog need to travel?

Before I embark on a trip with Murray, it’s important to make sure he is up to date on all the necessary vaccinations and preventative medications. This is particularly important in Australia, as there are several diseases and parasites that can affect dogs. Some of the vaccines and medications you may need include:

  • Rabies vaccine (if you’re traveling from outside Australia)
  • Distemper vaccine
  • Parvovirus vaccine
  • Canine hepatitis vaccine
  • Bordetella vaccine (for kennel cough)
  • Flea, tick, and heartworm preventative medication

If planning a long trip, we recommend for your pet to have a check-up with their veterinarian to make sure they are healthy and fit to travel.

Choosing pet-friendly accommodations:

When I travel with Murray, we need to choose pet-friendly accommodations. Unfortunately, not all hotels, motels, and campgrounds allow pets, so it’s important to do your research in advance. Here are some things to look for when we choose our accommodation:

Check for pet policies: Look for hotels and campgrounds that explicitly state that they are pet-friendly and have policies in place to accommodate pets.

Look for nearby parks and walking areas: When choosing your accommodation, we try to find places that are near parks or other outdoor areas so Murray can get exercise and we can explore.

Consider the size and temperament of your dog: Some accommodations may have restrictions on the size or breed they allow, so we always check before booking.

Packing essentials for your dog:

When packing for a trip with Muray, there are several essential items we always bring. Knowing what to pack when travelling with dogs can ensure your dog’s well-being and will keep your dog comfortable and hydrated, and well fed.

Here are some of the most important items:

  • Food and water: Bring enough food and water for the duration of the trip, as well as bowls for feeding.
  • Leash and collar: Make sure you have a sturdy leash and collar, and consider bringing a backup in case one gets lost or damaged.
  • Bedding: Bring a comfortable bed or blanket for your pet to sleep on.
  • Toys and treats: Bring some of your dog’s favourite toys and treats to keep them entertained during the trip.
  • First aid kit: Pack a first aid kit with items like bandages, antiseptic, and tweezers in case your dog gets injured on the trip.

Getting Around Australia With a Dog

By taking the time to prepare in advance, Murray and I can ensure that our trip wherever we go in Australia is a safe and enjoyable adventure for both of us!

Traveling Australia with a dog by car and having a picnic

Do you need your own car, or can you take public transportation (trains/buses)? 

Travelling by car is the most convenient way to travel with Murray in Australia, as it gives us more flexibility and control over where we go. However, it is still possible to take public transportation with a dog, including trains and buses. Rules and restrictions can vary depending on the carrier and location, so it’s important to check in advance. 

Some long-distance buses and trains do allow pets, but they may require you to purchase a separate ticket or book in advance. Short-distance public transportation, such as city buses and trains, may have different rules and may not allow dogs on board. Always ensure you do your research, so you do not get caught out.

Can dogs go on public transportation?

Australia is bound by individual state and territory laws so you need to research and understand each states laws before boarding public transport. Be aware, restrictions can vary depending on the carrier and state you are travelling in. The good news is that most public transportation options in Australia do allow dogs but as a general rule, you’ll need to keep your dog on a leash and under control at all times, and some carriers may require a muzzle.

Do dogs need to wear muzzles in any situations?

In some situations, such as on public transportation or in busy public areas, dogs may be required to wear a muzzle. However, this can vary depending on the location, breed and rules, so it’s important to check in advance. Luckily Murray is a friendly and loving Golden Retriever and I can pretty near take him anywhere with no issues.

Do car rentals allow dogs?

Some car rental companies in Australia do allow pets, but it’s important to check in advance as policies can vary. Some companies may charge an additional fee or require a deposit for traveling with a dog. You’ll also want to make sure the car is big enough to comfortably fit your dog and any supplies you’ll be bringing along including pet harnesses or a crate.

If you would like to rent a car in Australia, check out the rates and availability with Discover Cars


Is having a camper van a good idea? 

Traveling Australia with a dog by campervan parked in the forest

Is it better to camp with a dog in Australia or does it work just as well to stay in hotels?

Travelling Australia in a campervan is a very popular option right now as it gives you the flexibility to camp in remote areas and explore off the beaten track. It also allows you to bring along all the supplies you’ll need for your dog, including food, water, and bedding. However, if you prefer staying in hotels, that can work well too – just make sure to choose pet-friendly accommodations.

Is there a lot you would miss by not being able to “get off the beaten track”?

Australia has a lot of stunning natural beauty to offer, so if you’re able to get off the beaten track and explore some of the more remote areas, you’ll likely see some amazing sights that you wouldn’t see otherwise. Some of the most memorable adventures Murray and I have enjoyed together are exploring new tracks and yet we always find our way home. If this does not appeal, there are still plenty of beautiful and dog-friendly places to explore that are well-signed.

Is it better to fly long distances in Australia?

Flying can be a good option for long distances, as it can be less stressful for your pet than a long car trip. However, in Australia this is very expensive and not many airlines offer this service. It can also be stressful for your dog as they are not allowed to travel in the cabin. All dogs who are flown domestically in Australia are placed in the cargo section underneath the plane and restricted to their cages.  

It is important to check with the airline in advance to make sure they allow pets and to find out about any restrictions or requirements they have.

Is there anything to know when going between Australian states?

Yes, when traveling between states in Australia with a dog, you’ll need to make sure you comply with all relevant regulations and requirements. For example, some states may require a health certificate or proof of vaccination. It’s important to check the specific requirements for each state you’ll be visiting and plan accordingly. This is particularly important in Tasmania as they have separate rules being an island state.

Dog-friendly Activities

Golden Retriever sitting by a lake in dog-friendly Australia
Photo of Murray visiting the Berwick Wetlands courtesy of Katherine English

Does Australia generally allow dogs in places or not? What kind of places? Indoors? Outdoors?

One great thing about exploring Australia with Murray is that it generally allows dogs in most outdoor spaces. As Murray loves to swim in the ocean, many beaches have restricted hours or areas where they can go. Parks and walking trails are same as long as they are under control and on a leash. However, dogs are not typically allowed in indoor spaces like museums, galleries, and shops, unless they are service dogs.

Are Dogs allowed in national parks?

Dogs are not typically allowed in national parks in Australia, as these areas are protected and conservation efforts are in place to protect the local wildlife. Some parks may have designated dog-friendly areas or trails, so we always check in advance and follow any rules or restrictions in place to ensure we can both explore.

Is there any place dogs can go that might be surprising?

While many indoor spaces in Australia do not allow dogs, there are some surprising exceptions. For example, some cafes and restaurants may allow dogs in their outdoor seating areas, and some shops may allow dogs if they are in a carrier or on a leash. There are also several dog-friendly wineries and breweries throughout Australia which is our favourite thing to do as mum loves a wine! In some locations you can also book pup winery tours, so nobody needs to miss out.

Pet Safety precautions to keep in mind while exploring

Traveling Australia with a dog leads to exciting adventures such as swimming in a lake
Photo of Murray swimming in Wilson Botanic Gardens courtesy of Katherine English

When exploring Australia with your pet, it’s important to take certain safety precautions to ensure that both Murray and I are safe. Here are some top risks to be aware of:

What are the top risks for pets in Australia and how to mitigate them?

Wildlife encounters: Australia is home to many unique and potentially dangerous wildlife species, including snakes, spiders, and crocodiles. When hiking or exploring in nature with your dog, I always try to keep Murray on a leash and be aware of signs of wildlife including kangaroos. Although they usually keep their distance, it has been known for dogs to intimidate wildlife which can cause them to react in defense. They are bigger than me and I do not wish to box a kangaroo! 

It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the types of wildlife that are common in the area you’ll be visiting, and how to respond if you encounter them as each state has their own predators. 

Safe and Toxic plants: When hiking or exploring in nature with your pup in Australia, it’s important to not only be aware of potentially dangerous wildlife species such as snakes, spiders, and crocodiles but also to be mindful of the plants that may be toxic to your furry friend. Australia is home to many unique flora, and some of them can be harmful to dogs if ingested. 

To keep your dog safe, here is an article, safe and toxic plants for dogs which will help you to familiarise yourself with the plants which are dangerous to dogs and how to identify them. 

1080 poison: 1080 is a poison used to control wild pests such as foxes, rabbits and wild dogs in Australia. It is a danger to dogs as it can cause severe poisoning and death. To mitigate this risk, keep your dog on a leash at all times when in areas where 1080 poison may be used, such as national parks and reserves. If you suspect that your dog has ingested 1080, seek veterinary care immediately.

Heat stroke: Australia can get very hot, particularly in the summer months. Dogs are especially susceptible to heat stroke, which can be life-threatening. To prevent heat stroke, I always pack plenty of water. If the weather forecast exceeds 30 degrees, we will avoid exercising or walking in the hottest parts of the day.

Water safety: Australia has many beautiful beaches and waterways, but it’s important to be aware of potential hazards like strong currents, rip tides, and jellyfish. When swimming or playing in the water which you are not familiar with, try to keep them on a leash or ask a local for advice. If you are still not sure, avoid the area.

Vehicle safety: When I travel with Murray in my car, I always make sure he is properly secured and restrained with a harness. This will prevent him from becoming a distraction to me whilst driving or worst case becomes injured in the event of an accident.

By taking these safety precautions and being aware of the potential risks, you can ensure that you and your dog have a safe and enjoyable time exploring Australia.

Importing a Dog to Australia & Pet Quarantine Info

Traveling with a pet in Australia might sound like an exciting adventure if you are already in the country. For those people considering a relocation or a holiday in Australia, you should be aware that Australia is one of the most difficult countries to bring a dog. It is also incredibly expensive! So, unless you are moving, you may want to consider other options for what to do with a dog when you travel.

Step 1: How to Travel With My Dog to Australia

The government website suggests hiring a pet shipping company due to the complexity of the process. They also suggest you start getting ready 6-7 months before you plan on arriving in Australia due to the length of time necessary to complete the requirements.

Step 2: What Vaccinations Does My Dog Need To Travel To Australia?

Australia has different requirements depending on what country you are coming from. If you are coming from a rabies-free country, the focus is more on tests and vaccinations around parasites and Leptospira interrogans.

If you are coming from a Group 3 Approved Country such as the US that is not considered rabies free, you will have to get a rabies titer test (blood test) 180 days before import and obviously, your pet will need to be vaccinated against rabies as well.

Step 3: Does My Dog Need To Quarantine When I Get To Australia?

For people coming from New Zealand, the regulations are more manageable. For everyone else, even countries that are rabies-free, your pet will spend between 10 and 30 days in a quarantine facility in Melbourne. Some people wonder How to Avoid Pet Quarantine in Australia? It isn’t really possible, but with a complex process to verify your pet’s identity, you can reduce the quarantine time from 30 days to 10.

If you plan on bringing a dog or cat with you to Australia, it will be essential to read through all the regulations and requirements very carefully.

Final Thoughts: Why travelling with a dog in Australia is a true adventure

Travelling in Australia with your dog can be the ultimate adventure however it is important to properly prepare for the trip. This includes ensuring your dog is up to date on health checks and vaccinations, choosing pet-friendly accommodations, and packing essentials for your dog. When it comes to getting around, having your own car or a camper van can provide greater flexibility for exploring Australia’s many dog-friendly activities, but public transportation is also an option for some.

Always be wary of the local wildlife and fauna as Australia is home to some deadly and dangerous species. 

By keeping these factors in mind and taking the necessary precautions, you and your furry friend can have a safe and memorable trip exploring all that Australia has to offer as it truly is a remarkable experience on 4 paws! 

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