Hiking With Your Dog In Australia:
The Complete Guide
Hiking with your dog can be both a source of excitement and stress. It’s thrilling to explore new places with your trusty furry friend alongside. At the same time, heading into the wild can be a dangerous feat for both of you.
Related: Travelling Australia With Your Dog.
In this guide, we’ll talk about how to go hiking with dogs in Australia. We’ll discuss the gear you’ll need, the rules of hiking and the best places to hike in each state.
Is It A Good Idea To Go Hiking With Your Dog?
Before you dive into the planning of your hiking trip, let’s take a step back and review whether this is a good idea. This thought is not to scare you. It’s more so that you and your dog need to have a certain level of skills to be able to hike freely on the many trails of Australia. Here are a few key questions to ask yourself before you take your dog hiking.
Does your dog have good recall skills?
Your dog’s recall skills are absolutely paramount to their safety on a hike. (1) Even if the trail requires you to have your dog on the leash the entire way. It’s important that you can command your dog’s attention quickly and easily whenever you need to. You may need to pick them up or remove them from a situation.
With that in mind, your dog needs to have obedience training to listen to you clearly and allow you to take control when necessary. If your dog’s recall skills are a little shaky, spend some time strengthening them before taking on any long hiking trails.
Are they physically able to do the hike you’re planning?
There are hikes of all different difficulties of course. There are 4-hour hikes uphill and 1-hour hikes on flat, meandering grassland. Both provide excellent exercise and are physically demanding in your own way. When reviewing the hike you want to do with your dog, don’t just consider the altitude and length of the hike.
Consider the sun exposure and pathway. Are the pathways wide or narrow? Is it open to elements? Are there animals or bugs to be wary of? Depending on your dog’s age and activity level, they may be better suited to some hikes than others. If you’d eventually like to do more challenging hikes with your dog, you can build up their strength and capabilities over time.
Does your dog have deathly curiosity?
Curiosity killed the cat, right? Well, it can kill the dog too! If you have a puppy on your hands that loves to explore new interesting plants with their mouths, you might want to sharpen those aforementioned recall skills before you consider any hikes in the wild. Or you may choose a trail that has fewer dangers.
If your dog is the type to get distracted and follow a creature wherever it leads, that can be dangerous. You’ll likely need to keep them on a leash for the duration of the hike. Be honest about your dog’s nature. If you think they’ll get themselves into trouble, choose your hikes wisely!
Is your relationship at a strong point to allow your dog some independence?
I promise you this is not a judgement, but a chance to reflect. I often find that new dog owners want to do everything and anything with their dogs. They are so excited to have this new bundle of joy in their lives that they sometimes rush the bonding process to bounds that they aren’t quite ready for.
Your relationship as dog and owner needs to be quite solid when hiking in the wild - particularly off-leash. You need to trust each other totally. They need to see you as their guiding light through this path. That’s not to say that you can’t develop this bond extremely quickly. You can! Just be honest about the stage you’re at. If you go into adventures like this too soon, it could lead to dangerous situations in which the anxiety of your dog or mistrust takes over. As long as you’re a solid unit and your dog listens to you, you’ll have a great hike!
Do you know how to do simple first aid on your dog should anything happen?
I’m not saying that you should know how to stitch injuries. The basics are simply being able to stop bleeding with styptic powder, and applying bandages and ointment creams to rashes or burns. You should also have a number for an emergency vet handy should you need it.
Are you aware of any crawlies or animals that could harm your dog? Can you identify them by sight?
Your dog unfortunately probably won’t know which bugs are safe and which aren’t. The same goes for plants. Work on having a good mental library of any dangerous crawlies, animals or plant life that you need to be wary of when walking in the wild. You can avoid certain trails if you don’t feel confident in this area. However, for future reference, Google some of the wildlife you're likely to encounter so you can call your dog to safety if you cross paths.
Does your dog get along well with other dogs or people that you may come across during your hike?
Lastly, it’s unlikely that you’ll be hiking on trails completely alone. If you come across other people or dogs on the trail, how will your pup react? Have they been sufficiently socialised that you can trust them off leash? If not, you might want to spend some more time in safer outdoor encounters before you attempt your first hike.
If you answered no to any of these questions, you might want to seriously consider the trail you choose to walk or if you’re ready for hiking in general. But importantly - this is not a “no” forever! Spend a little more time preparing and you'll soon be ready to explore the wild with your trusty canine companion.
How To Prepare
Once you’ve determined whether your dog is ready for the hiking life, here’s how to prep for your first hike together!
Research the route
The cornerstone of preparing for your hike is to acquaint yourself with the route. This could involve speaking to others who have been on the trail before or using online resources to understand the elevation and difficulty you can expect. Use this research to choose the right hike for you and your pup, as well as prepare a packing list that’s appropriate for the journey. We have some recommendations for the best trails in Australia later in the article.
Make sure your dog is vaccinated and health checked
As with camping, you’re exposing your dog to the elements. Make sure all of your dog’s vaccinations are up to date before you go hiking. This is less important for short hikes but it’s worth checking anyway if you plan to go on frequent hikes together.
Learn hiking etiquette
Here are the basics of hiking etiquette with dogs:
What Gear Will You Need To Hike With Your Dog?
Let’s get into the specifics! Here is a list of items you’ll need to take your dog hiking in Australia:
Where Can You Go Hiking With Dogs In Australia?
So you’re ready to explore Australia with your pup in tow. Here are some great hiking trails across the country for you to discover. Note: Alltrails.com is an excellent resource for available hiking trails!
Best Dog Friendly Hikes NSW
Best Dog Friendly Hikes QLD
Best Dog Friendly Hikes VIC
Best Dog Friendly Hikes WA
Best Dog Friendly Hikes SA
Best Dog Friendly Hikes NT
Best Dog Friendly Hikes TAS
Best Dog Friendly Hikes ACT
Molonglo Gorge Trail
Conclusion: Happy Hiking!
Hiking with your dog is honestly so fun! As long as you prepare adequately for the journey, you’ll have a great time exploring a new space with your pup. My parting advice would be to start slow. Start with the easier hikes before progressing to the harder, overnight hikes if that floats your boat.
- Lowrey, S. October 28, 2019. “Come! Tips For Training A Reliable Recall”. American Kennel Club. Retrieved July 31, 2022. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/reliable-recall-train-dogs-to-come-when-called/