Travelling Australia With Your Dog - The Must Read Guide
Planning on travelling with your pooch in Australia? You’re in the right place!
Australia is a beautiful country with plenty of pet-friendly places to explore, from beaches and parks, to hiking trails and campgrounds. However, before embarking on a trip with your dog, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
In this article, I’ll break down everything you need to know about travelling in Australia with dogs. We'll discuss the regulations around dog parks, public transportation, and car travel. I’ll also give you some advice on how to prepare for travel in general.
There’s lots to talk about, so let’s get into it!
10 Golden Rules of Travelling in Australia With Dogs
Travelling through Australia with your dog can be a great adventure for both you and your furry friend. So here are the ten golden rules to having a smooth and joyous trip.
1. Plan ahead
Travelling with your dog requires some extra planning. It’s like travelling with a baby! Which means lots of gear, research, and more. So it's important to start early. I’d recommend preparing at least one week before your trip to ensure you have accounted for every eventuality. You want to plan in stops for long journeys, accommodation, and walking routes. Unfortunately, it can be harder to be a spontaneous traveller if you have a dog with you!
So what does planning actually look like? Consider the following:
2. Pack the correct gear for your journey
You’ll need quite a lot of stuff to make sure your dog is safe and secure as you travel.
Common items you may need include:
The gear that you’ll need depends on the length and distance of your trip, as well as your means of travel.
3. Ensure your dog is fully vaccinated
It’s important your dog is up-to-date with vaccinations before you travel in Australia. If you have a puppy, they need to have had all three rounds of their vaccinations before going out in public and interacting with other dogs. If your dog is already vaccinated, make sure they are up to date with worming tablets and flea treatments.
If you’re travelling to Australia from overseas, you may have to go through a full quarantine and vaccination process several months before your trip.
Check out our article on importing your dog to Australia for the full details.
4. Choose pet-friendly accommodations
There is plenty of dog-friendly accommodation available in Australia, from hotels and Airbnbs to vacation rentals and campgrounds. Be sure to research and book accommodation that allows dogs in advance. There may be an uplift in the rate for accommodating your dog so allocate extra funds just in case. If a dog-friendly place doesn’t have clear instructions on the listing, contact the reception or owners to ask. You need to know exactly what facilities the accommodation has and what gear you’ll need to bring.
5. Explore the great outdoors
Australia is home to some of the world's most beautiful hiking trails. Many of these areas allow dogs, but there may be restrictions, such as leash laws or certain trails that are off-limits to pets.
We’ve created a post all about how to hike in Australia with your dog. In that article, we mention some of our favourite dog-friendly hiking trails for every difficulty level.
Want to go camping with your pup? Check out this article for more about dog-friendly campgrounds in Australia.
6. Except for national parks
Most national parks in Australia do not allow dogs. This is to protect wildlife and keep the trails clean.
There are some national parks that allow you to drive through with a dog in the car.
But in some states, like New South Wales, dogs aren’t allowed in national parks at all.
There are also some national parks in South Australia that allow you to walk your dog in the park if you abide by strict rules.
7. Visit dog-friendly attractions
There are many dog-friendly attractions, restaurants, wineries, beaches, markets, and cafés in Australia that you can enjoy with your dog. Research the places you want to visit so that you can prepare your routes. Just be sure to keep your dog on a leash and clean up after them.
8. Be mindful of the weather
Australia can have extreme temperatures, both hot and cold (sometimes even in the same day!). Be sure to bring appropriate gear for your dog, such as a dog coat or dog booties, depending on the climate. In hot weather, be sure to provide plenty of shade and water for your dog to avoid heat stroke.
Here is a quick guide to the average temperatures for each state:
- NSW - 26C in the summer. 16C in the winter.
- QLD - 30C in the summer. 21C in the winter.
- TAS - 22C in the summer. 9C in the winter.
- SA - 30C in the summer. 15C in the winter.
- WA - 25C in the summer. 16C in the winter.
- VIC - 25C in the summer. 12C in the winter.
- ACT - 20C in the summer. 6C in the winter.
- NT - 30C in the summer. 24C in the winter.
9. Leave no trace
Heard of this motto? Well, it’s one to remember! ‘Leave no trace’ is a saying typically found in the hiking community. It refers to cleaning up after yourself and your dogs in public spaces.
Accidents happen, so be prepared!
10. Respect leash and muzzle laws
It’s a legal requirement for your dog to be on a leash when travelling on public transport and when walking in public areas. In fact, your dog should be on a leash in public at all times, unless there’s an area that explicitly states your dog is permitted to be off-leash.
As for muzzles, it depends on the state. There was once a nationwide law that greyhounds must have a muzzle on when walking in public. (1) However, some states, like Victoria, have abolished this law. (2) So check the states you intend to travel in for the latest information on muzzling.
Travelling in a Car With Your Dog in Australia
Knowing the road rules for driving a car with your dog is important for the safety of both of you.
So in this section, I’ll break down the regulations surrounding dog-in-car travel and my top tips for making it easier.
Dog in car safety laws
These are the laws for driving your dog in Australia:
These are the main laws you need to know on a nationwide level.
Here are some resources to investigate the road rules at the state level:
- Queensland – Department of Transport and Main Roads
- South Australia – Department of Infrastructure and Transport
- Tasmania – Department of Transport
- Victoria – VicRoads
- Western Australia – Department of Transport
- Australian Capital Territory – Transport for Canberra
- New South Wales – Roads and Maritime Services
- Northern Territory – Department of Transport
Top tips for driving with your dog in the car
Laws aside, I have driven with my dogs in the car for several years. Here are some top tips from a seasoned pro:
- Protect the seats
Whether you are hiring a car or driving your own, you should find ways to protect the car seats from dirt and damage. Car seat covers are wonderful inventions! They are scratch-resistant, easy to clean, and lightweight.
- Make sure your dog is safely restrained
Now that the seats are protected, you need to make sure your dog is secure. There are dog booster seats, car harnesses, dog car crates, and car gates that ensure your dog is restrained but still comfortable in the car.
Though not all states have laws regarding restraining your dog, here’s some advice from RSPCA:
“While RSPCA Australia does not have a specific policy on the appropriate restraint of dogs in cars we do have a policy regarding containers for transport. The container should enable the animal to lie down comfortably in a natural position, turn around, stand and sit erect and stretch with clearance.” - RSPCA, (3)
- Never leave your dog in the car alone
Though some states will allow you to leave your dog in the car alone if the air temperature is under a certain limit, I strongly advise against it. Leaving your dog in a hot car can cause heat exhaustion and death. Even with the windows open.
“According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), studies have shown that cracking a window changes these figures very little. A parked car with the windows cracked heats up at almost the exact same rate as a car with the windows rolled up, putting pets in serious danger.” - American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), (4)
So those are my top three tips for driving with your dog in the car.
Travelling on Public Transport With Your Dog in Australia
Want to ride on public transport with your dog? You have limited options available to you depending on where you go. Australia can be quite dog-friendly – especially if you have a small dog. Things are trickier if you have a large dog. But there are a couple of states that ban dogs from public transport regardless of size.
Let’s have a look at the public transport rules for each state in Australia.
Dogs on public transport in NSW
Dogs are allowed to be on buses, light rail, and ferries in New South Wales if they are in dog carriers. Therefore only small dogs can travel on public transport in NSW.
Dogs are allowed on Sydney ferries if they are in a carrier.
Dogs are not permitted on the metro, state trains or coaches unless they are assistance animals.
Dogs on public transport in QLD
Dogs of all sizes are permitted on Brisbane River ferries and CityCats.
They must be enclosed in a dog carrier or wearing a leash and muzzle onboard.
Dogs cannot travel during peak hours.
All other public transport is prohibited for dogs unless they are service animals.
Dogs on public transport in VIC
Dogs of all sizes are permitted to travel on the metro. If they are small, they need to be in a carrier. If they are large, they need to be wearing a leash and muzzle. You can travel during peak hours but it’s not advisable.
Small dogs are allowed on trams, buses and regional V/Line train services if they are in dog carriers.
Dogs on public transport in WA
According to the local authorities, dogs are not permitted to travel on public transport in Western Australia unless they are service or assistance dogs.
Dogs on public transport in SA
Dogs are not permitted to travel on public transport in South Australia unless they are registered assistance animals.
Dogs on public transport in ACT
Dogs are allowed on the light rail line and buses if the driver permits it. They need to be in a dog carrier so this is only suitable for small dogs.
Dogs on public transport in NT
Dogs are not permitted on public transport in Northern Territory unless they are assistance animals.
Dogs on public transport in TAS
The ferry to Tasmania, Spirit of Tasmania, allows dogs. They have a kennel deck to safely carry your dog, however, you need to provide your own bedding. You can’t check on your dog during sailing due to passenger safety reasons. The staff on the ferry will check on your dog and provide water regularly.
Once in Tasmania, dogs are not permitted on public transport unless they are assistance animals.
Final Thoughts: Travelling in Australia With Dogs
Travelling around Australia with a dog should be a fun and thrilling experience. To make it as smooth as it can be, use the tips in this article to plan plan plan. The better prepared you are, the better experience you’ll have!
Dogs are generally not allowed in national parks for three main reasons. First is that dogs can stress out the local wildlife. Second is that irresponsible dog owners do not clean up after their dog’s messes. The third reason is that dogs can spread diseases to local animals if they come into contact with them, and vice versa.
- “Greyhound muzzling”. February 28, 2017. Australian Veterinary Association. Retrieved May 3, 2023. https://www.ava.com.au/policy-advocacy/policies/miscellaneous-welfare-issues-events-and-exhibits-involving-animals/greyhound-muzzling/
- “Removal of muzzling requirements for pet greyhounds”. July 6, 2020. Animal Welfare Victoria. Retrieved May 3, 2023. https://agriculture.vic.gov.au/livestock-and-animals/animal-welfare-victoria/dogs/greyhounds/removal-of-muzzling-requirements-for-pet-greyhounds
- “Do I need to restrain my dog when travelling in my car?”. June 25, 2020. RSPCA Australia. Retrieved May 3, 2023. https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/do-i-need-to-restrain-my-dog-when-travelling-in-my-car/
- Burke, A. April 23, 2019. “Can I Leave My Dog in the Car If I Crack a Window?”. American Kennel Club. Retrieved May 3, 2023. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/dogs-in-hot-cars/