Travelling Australia with Dogs

12+ Tips for Travelling Australia with a Dog

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Dog owners are faced with a huge decision when it comes to planning their caravanning and camping travels. Should they take the dog along for the ride, or come up with other arrangements and leave their beloved pet behind?

It’s fair to say that travelling Australia with a dog comes with limitations, such as no camping in National Parks and not being able to embark on certain activities without pre-organising a Dog Sitter first. While camping and caravanning with dogs sounds easy enough, compromising a few things along the way will be part of the trade-off of having your cherished pets with you.

With a few extra preparations, travelling Australia with a dog is totally possible and can even make your travels all the more enhanced because of it.

Here we will cover everything you need to think about when it comes to caravanning and travelling Australia with a dog so that you can figure out whether you should take yours with you or not.

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Travelling Australia with a Dog

Travelling with Dogs - Wandering with the Williwalkers
(Photo: Wandering with the Williwalkers)

Should You Travel Australia with your Dog?

First up, you need to make an honest call on whether your dog is actually cut out for this travel business or not. If you’re not sure, do a test trip and see how your dog goes with it all.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

❓ Is your dog quiet, or does it prefer to be vocal with the barking?
❓ Is your dog happy and well-behaved on a lead (because there will be a lot of that!)?
❓ Is your dog happy to be left by themselves for short stints of time?
❓ Is your dog obedient enough to come to you when called?
❓ Is your dog a runner and likely to take off into the bush at every opportunity?
❓ How is your dog around other dogs (friendly or aggressive)?
❓ How is your dog around other people and children (friendly or aggressive)?
❓ Does your dog get car sick?

Securing Your Dog in the Car

Navigator Dog Seat Buddy
Navigator Dog Seat Buddy (Adventures Awaits)

It’s important to make sure that your dog is both secure and comfortable for those long travel days. Much like having kids in the back, it’s imperative to stop every two hours so that your dog can stretch their legs, relieve themselves and have some water.

Your dog must be safely restrained, but still have the freedom to move and lay down for comfort.

Options for securing your dog in the car:

  • Seatbelt attachment for your dog’s harness
  • Put them in the back of the car if you’ve got a wagon or ute with a canopy
  • Add a crate to the back of the ute, specifically set up for your dog on travel days

Make sure your dog always has plenty of flowing air, shade and room to lay down while travelling in the car.

Finding Dog-friendly Camp Sites

WikiCamps Dog-friendly Camps

Finding pet-friendly camping while travelling Australia with a dog is very easy with the WikiCamps app.

Just go into ‘Filters’ and switch on ‘Dogs Allowed.’ Now all of the camps that will pop up on your map will be dog-friendly.

There are an abundance of Free Camps, Showgrounds, Farm Stays and Caravan Parks, which all offer pet-friendly camping. Finding accommodation that will allow dogs shouldn’t be a problem as you travel around Australia.

Using WikiCamps (Full Guide) →
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Packing Up to Travel Australia (Planner)

Packing Up to Travel Australia

The ultimate pre-travel planner for anyone hitting the road for a big trip!

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Tips for Your Dog Around the Campsite

Keeping your dog happy around the campsite is just as important as making sure they’re fed, watered and safe. Here are some tips for creating a nice dog-friendly campsite for your furry companion.

  • Portable fence – set up a portable fence around your awning area for the dog to be able to roam without always being stuck on the lead
  • Comfy bed – invest in a mat or bed for your dog that can be used outside for comfort & warmth
  • Clothesline runner – attach a wire clothesline-style runner underneath your van that your dog’s lead can be attached to for extra space
  • Dog zip line – get a zip line runner, which can be mounted in the ground where possible for extra freedom & exploration
  • Multiple water bowls – always have multiple water bowls outside that can’t be knocked over and are in various spots to allow for sun movement

How to Keep Your Dog Cool While Travelling

Indefinite Leave - Travelling Australia with Dogs
(Photo: Indefinite Leave)

Camping and caravanning with dogs can have its own set of challenges in the heat, which makes it all the more important to keep an eye on your dog during hot weather.

Signs of heatstroke in dogs:

🔥 Excessive panting and/ or drooling
🔥 Collapsing
🔥 Vomiting
🔥 Lethargy, confusion & excessive drowsiness

Here are some tips for cooling your dog down:
(various dog accessories can be found on eBay)

  • Dog Cooling Vest – wet it & cool it down in the fridge, then strap it around your dog to cool them down
  • Dog Cooling Collar – a bandana that you can wet and tie around their neck
  • Dog Cooling Mat – a mat filled with cooling gel
  • Dog-friendly sunscreen – for dogs with white fur, short hair and/ or pink skin
  • Damp towel – place a damp towel on your dog if they’re showing signs of overheating
  • Full water bowls – always make sure the dog’s water bowls are full and in the shade
  • Window shades – for the car windows on travel days
  • Early/ late walks – go for walks early or late, then let them rest during the heat of the day
  • Dog Boots – for walking on the hot ground during the day
  • Swim – if you’ve got a safe waterway nearby
  • Collapsible water bowl for walks – take water & a collapsible bowl with you on walks
  • Ice cubes – give your dog some ice cubes to lick
  • Shade – make sure your dog always has access to a cool, shady area
  • 12 volt fan – sitting your dog in front of a 12v fan can help on a hot, still day

Where to Leave Your Dog While Doing Activities

Our Whittle Adventure - Travelling Australia with Dogs
(Photo: Our Whittle Adventure)

There are some places that you just can’t take the dog while travelling Australia. National Parks, the supermarket and tourist attractions are a few that spring to mind.

Here are a range of options available to you for making sure that your pet is looked after while doing activities on the road.

→ Tie them up somewhere safe (short-term only)

If you’re just ducking into the grocery store or a small-town attraction, you can quite often tie your dog up somewhere nice and safe out the front in the shade with a bowl of water. Tying them to the car or caravan might be a good option, if you’ve parked in a safe place away from people and traffic. Or, there may be a spot out the front of the business or attraction that would suit well.

→ Leave them at the Caravan Park

Many Caravan Parks will stipulate that you cannot leave your dog unattended, while others will be fine with you going out for a while and leaving them there in the shade with some water. Be sure to ask the question when you book/ check-in.

→ Dog Kennels

As much as we often don’t want to put our dogs into kennels, at least you know that they will be safely looked after while you’re occupied for hours on end. It’s essential to make sure your dog is up-to-date with their vaccinations for kennel stays.

Dog Kennel CostsFrom $30/ day

→ Pet Sitting

There are loads of Pet Sitters around Australia who will happily look after your dog for the day in their own backyard. This can be a far better option than kennels, because your dog has the freedom and excitement of hanging out with an animal-lover for the day while you’re off doing things.

Pet Sitting CostsFrom $20 – $30/ day

→ Tag Team

Sometimes the only or easiest option is to tag team, meaning that while one of you duck into the attraction or activity, the other stays with the dog. Then you swap so that the other person can then go and do the experience. Unfortunately, this means that you both don’t get to experience the activity together and often results in the activity being highly rushed and under-experienced.

→ Friends & Family

If you happen to visit friends and family while you’re travelling Australia with a dog, see if you can line up some doggy daycare while you explore the local area. Most people are happy to oblige if they can!

→ Swap with other Travellers

It’s always nice to get to know your fellow travellers in the campgrounds as you wander through. Sometimes you might even be able to swap some pet sitting with other travellers along the way. You could look after their dog one day, while they watch yours the next. Alternatively, you might have some other skills or services you could offer in exchange for pet sitting (e.g. car maintenance, hair cut, web design, PT session, campfire meal).

→ Other Ways to Find Pet Sitters

  • Talk to the local Vet
  • Ask at the local Information Centres
  • Join related groups on Facebook
  • Have a look on Gumtree
  • Ask the Caravan Park staff

Eating Out with Dogs around Australia

As of October 2012, Food Safety Australia and New Zealand (the official governing body) amended the legal regulations to allow dogs in outdoor dining areas for cafes and restaurants.

However, each individual establishment still reserves the right to not allow the presence of dogs at their restaurant or cafe, so just check that it’s okay before you settle in.

You can also use Pawtal to search for pet-friendly cafes, pubs and wineries in different areas as you’re travelling.

Common courtesy when eating out with dogs:

  • Keep your dog on a lead
  • Keep your dog on the ground (no jumping onto people, chairs or tables)
  • Don’t take your dog through buildings to get to outdoor areas without checking with staff first
  • Don’t take noisy dogs or ‘dogs that don’t like other dogs’ to eateries

How to Keep Your Caravan/ Set-up Clean while Travelling with Dogs

While you might care about your travelling home remaining as clean as possible… your dog couldn’t give a toss!

Here are some tips for helping to reduce the amount of grass, dirt and prickles being traipsed inside.

  • Floor towel – place a towel on the floor inside the caravan for wiping wet & dirty paws
  • Body towel – use a super absorbent microfibre towel for drying off the dogs
  • Muk Mats – keep multiple Muk Mats at the various steps and entry point into the caravan, camper or tent
  • Seat covers & throws – make use of seat covers and throws that can easily be shaken off outside and thrown into the washing machine
  • No late swims – avoid the dogs swimming or getting wet later in the day as they mightn’t dry off before night time
  • Dirty Gear Bag for poo – store used doggy poop bags in a Dirty Gear Bag on the spare tyre to avoid a smelly car or caravan

Keeping Your Dog Safe While Travelling Australia

1080 Baits Signage
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Dogs are curious creatures and with that comes many factors you’ll need to consider for keeping your dog safe while travelling. A few things to mention include crocodiles, snakes, ticks, 1080 baits, sickness and injuries.

Here are some important safety considerations while travelling and caravanning with dogs.

Microchip your Dog

Microchipping is an absolute ‘must’ when travelling Australia with a dog. If your dog goes wandering off, you want to make sure you’ve got every chance possible in finding them, particularly if they’ve lost their collar with your contact details.

Keep your Dog on a Lead

Although dogs just want to be free and run, they can get into all sorts of trouble in strange places if you’re not careful. Keeping your dog on a leash will prevent them from getting hit by cars, following their nose through the bush and even going for a dunk in the croc-filled waters of the north.

Be Aware of 1080 Baits

Unfortunately, the use of 1080 baits are still widespread throughout Australia for the use of culling wild foxes and cats. In fact, the 1080 poison is prevalent throughout Australian National Parks, which is one main reason for dogs not being permitted.

Keep an eye out for 1080 Poison signs (as pictured above) and keep your dog well away from those areas. A good idea is to muzzle your dog when wandering unknown land, which will prevent your dog from eating anything there.

Watch out for Snakes & Spiders

There’s no getting around it, Australia is home to a rather large number of toxic snakes and spiders. While we all must coexist together, it doesn’t mean that we need to be rubbing shoulders with each other!

The most preventative way to keep your dog safe from snake and spider bites while travelling is once again to have them on a lead. Avoid letting your dog wander off through the bush, particularly through long grass and heavy leaf litter areas.

If you do suspect that your dog has been bitten from something, get them to the nearest Vet ASAP!

Unfortunately, time is not your friend in this scenario. I personally know the heartache as I lost my own dog to a Brown Snake bite. It was all over in about 15 minutes flat.

Additional Dangerous Animals

Don’t discount the presence of Crocodiles, Dingos, Cane Toads, Wedge-tailed Eagles (they’ll pick up a small animal) and Blue Bottles while travelling Australia with a dog.

Below are some dangerous Aussie animals and what you can do to avoid your dog coming face-to-face with them.

CROCODILES• QLD – North of Gladstone
• WA – North of Broome
• Across top of Australia
– Don’t camp within 20m of waterways
– Don’t let your dog swim in waterways
DINGOS• Rural & Outback regions– Don’t let your dog sleep outside at night
– Take your dog to the toilet on a lead at night
CANE TOADS• Northern NSW, QLD, NT, Northern WA– Take your dog to the toilet on a lead at night
– Don’t let your dog eat anything found outside at night
WEDGE-TAILED EAGLES• Mainland Australia & Tasmania– Will pick up a small dog
– Keep dogs leashed and attended at all times
BLUEBOTTLES & BOX JELLYFISH• Coastal waters (Nov – May)
• More prevalent in the warmer north
– If you see Bluebottles or Jellyfish washed up on shore, keep your dog out of the water

Crossing Australian State Borders with a Dog

Vet in a Van
(Photo: Vet in a Van)

Travelling between Australian states with a dog is a simple enough task with no specific restrictions or requirements except for Tasmania.

Tasmania is currently the only state with entry requirements for dogs.

Tasmania is the last remaining state to be free of hydatid disease and they’d obviously like to keep it that way. They also have no known presence of the brown dog tick (a transmitter of ehrlichiosis), which can be present in some parts of mainland Australia.

To combat the introduction of these issues into the Tasmanian ecosystem, Biosecurity Tasmania requires a Declaration Form to be filled out upon entry via the Spirit of Tasmania or air travel.

Requirements for Bringing Dogs into Tasmania

1.Treated for Hydatid TapewormEvidence required (pick one):
• VET LETTER with dog’s name, date of treatment, active ingredient name, dosage rate, vet’s signature & contact details
• EVIDENCE OF TREATMENT such as pill packet & purchase receipt
2.Healthy & free from Ticks
Declare on the form that you’ve inspected the dog for ticks within the past 24 hours

From time-to-time a biosecurity or quarantine rule may come into place if any of the states are dealing with an outbreak of any sort. You can always find the most current information on the Australian Interstate Quarantine website as you get closer to each border crossing along the way.

Dog First Aid While Travelling

Australia is one extremely large plot of land with many hundreds of kilometres between towns once you disembark from the cruisy coastlines. There are some things you can do to help with your dog’s health and safety to hopefully prevent some unnecessary incidents from happening.

  • Vaccines, worming & flea treatments – Keep up to date with them as you travel
  • Ticks – Check your dog for ticks every single day
  • Observe – If your dog shows any signs of lethargy, weakness or loss of appetite – whisk them off to the nearest Vet pronto!
  • First Aid – Carry a Pet First Aid Kit with you (in the car & while out exploring)

Pet First Aid Items to Carry:

(all found on eBay)
Tick Removal Tool
SMART Bandage (for snake & Funnel-web bites)
Pet Bandages
Saline Solution (cleaning wounds)
➕ Various dressings & swabs
Emergency Foil Blanket

Online Vets

If you find yourself in a situation where the nearest vet is too far away or you are outside of business hours, provided you’ve got internet reception you can try an online Vet. They offer 24/7 on-demand care at affordable rates.

Pet Insurance

Consider whether or not it’s worth getting Pet Insurance for your dog. This is going to be a very individual decision and may even depend on the age and breed of your particular dog.

If you don’t go with Pet Insurance, I highly recommend setting up a bank account named ‘[insert dog’s name]’ and put a set amount into it each week or month. Accidents happen, illnesses occur and strange things can pop up. Even if you don’t pay an insurance company, you can still provide yourself and your dog with an emergency insurance fund so that you’re always covered.

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Advice From the Experts

No Regrets!

It was a no brainer for us to travel with our dogs especially our old girl who was 14 when we left. People often say that we must miss so much travelling with dogs. Yes we miss some things, but we also miss things because of the weather, we miss things because we have 3 kids, we miss things because we don’t have an unlimited budget and we miss things as some places are closed on certain days. No one is seeing everything on their trip. Your dogs will only enrich your trip for both you and them.

– find Wandering with the Williwalkers on Facebook

Stick to a Routine

Preparation is key, so chat to your usual veterinarian at least 6 weeks before travel to ensure that your dog is healthy, fully vaccinated and on appropriate parasite preventatives. Routine, routine, routine! Dogs cope much better with the constantly changing environment and situations of travel if their basic routine is kept consistent. Keeping the timing and type of food and exercise the same (or allowing for gradual rather than sudden changes), makes for a happier and more relaxed furry family member. Most of all, have fun and enjoy your travels!

– Tania from Vet in a Van

Make full use of Pet Sitters

We travelled around Australia with our gorgeous Gold Retriever MACKS for 16 months. To enable us to visit amazing locations such as Fraser Island, Whitsunday Islands and Kakadu for example we used Mad Paws (pet sitting service). Every time we used them the carers were fantastic. Often they’d send us photos of her enjoying herself, playing with other dogs, going on walks or enjoying a treat. Mad Paws really helped us to explore National Parks, go on trips to islands and explore the parts of our amazing country that we couldn’t have done with her.

– Kev & Adele from Indefinite Leave

Our dogs make us feel at home

We think travelling with dogs can be quite rewarding but yes it has its challenges too. Our pups keep us grounded, they give us a routine and regardless of where we are we feel at home and we feel safe.

– find Our Whittle Adventure on Facebook
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Caravanning with Dogs FAQs

Can you leave dogs in a caravan?

It’s common for people to leave their dogs in the caravan these days with the air conditioning running. While it can often seem like a better idea to leave the dogs locked safely in the van with the temperature controlled, there have been cases of vans randomly going up in flames.

From a safety standpoint, your dogs are better off left outside on a chain with shade and water. In the case of emergency, other campers can see the dog and get them to safety. If your dog is locked inside the van, it’s likely no one will even know that they’re in there.

How do you travel with a dog in a caravan?

When caravanning with dogs, it’s important to make sure you’ve got all of their accessories and comforts to make the trip easier for all. Plan to stop every 2 hours on travel days for stretching legs, toileting and rehydrating. You won’t be able to take your dog into National Parks and various other businesses and attractions, but there are plenty of Dog Sitters and kennels along the way.

Can you caravan around Australia with a dog?

You can absolutely go caravanning with dogs! With a bit of extra planning and an element of flexibility you can take your furry friends with you. There are loads of dog-friendly campsites to be found on WikiCamps, with Pet Sitters and kennels all over the place to help you out while doing activities.

Where do dogs sleep in the caravan?

It is recommended to have your dog sleep inside the caravan with you at night, to reduce the risk of incident with dingos, cane toads and crocodiles etc. During the day, dogs can sleep around or underneath the caravan with shade and water provided. A clothesline-style runner is a popular installation to put underneath the caravan so that the dog can be attached to a good length runner via their lead or harness.

Can I leave my dog at the campsite?

It’s not recommended that you leave your dog at the campsite unless you’ve arranged it with the camp managers or have a fellow camper keeping an eye on them for you. Dog Sitters and kennels are a better option for lengthy day activities while you’re caravanning.

Can you leave your dog in the caravan on holiday?

You should never leave you dog in the caravan while on holidays unless it’s only for a short amount of time. Ducking off to the toilet block or while having happy hour drinks with the neighbours is fine, but not while you’re off day-tripping around the region.

Can dogs travel in a moving caravan?

The dog must travel with you in the car while moving from one camp to the next. It’s not safe to leave your dog back in the van while you’re on the road as the caravan is at a much higher risk of damage in an accident.

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Checklist for Travelling Australia with a Dog

✔️MicrochippingGet your dog microchipped & ensure your phone number is up-to-date
✔️Vet CheckDo a pre-travel check-up at the Vet to make sure they’re fit & healthy
✔️Vaccines, Worming & FleasStay up-to-date with treatments (keep paperwork in the glove box)
✔️Prescriptions & Special NeedsMake sure you’ve got plenty of scripts & supplies (if applicable)
✔️RegistrationMake sure it’s up-to-date
✔️Collar & TagWith your dog’s name, plus your phone number
✔️Poo BagsLots of them!
✔️Water BowlSolid bowl that can’t be knocked over on a hot day
✔️Dog Food & SnacksStock up in the larger towns (small towns may not have what you need)
✔️LeadsMultiple leads in the car & van
✔️Extension Runner/ LeadFor a bit of extra freedom outside when possible
✔️Dog Bed/ MatSomething lightweight, but super comfy for your dog to sleep on
✔️Grooming EquipmentNail clippers, brush etc.
✔️Balls & ToysFor exercise & enrichment
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