Travelling Australia with your Dogs | The ins and outs

Travelling Australia with your Dogs | The ins and outs

We are currently travelling Australia with our two border collies Loki and Akeela and we have learnt some great tips and tricks as well as how to make life more manageable on the road. Over the past few months we have had countless questions about how we go travelling with our four-legged friends, so this blog post will dive in to some of our experiences.

Wyatt & Dogs on beach

First and foremost, yes, travelling with your dog has its limitations and certain sacrifices. One of the main sacrifices you will face is your access to national parks. The majority of national parks across Australia are not dog-friendly, however saying that, a lot of state parks or state forests do allows dogs and are often right beside the national parks.


Preparing in advance

Being prepared is a huge part of travelling, and having dogs with you makes this part even more crucial. For us, we tend to be a minimum 10 day in advance pre-planned. It can be particularly annoying if you are not prepared, travel a great distance out to something you want to see, or simply take a particular route, and there are not many options for dog-friendly activities, camping or even sitters available. For this reason, we will generally have a running list on each state of what we want to see and have this in order of how we are approaching them. We will then formulate a plan for the coming week(s) to ensure there are sitters available if we need them, camping options and activities that are dog-friendly. we use WikiCamps to find all of our campsites and dog-friendly activities, there is a 'dog-friendly filter' you can apply when you search.


Reaching out 

One of your most useful tools when travelling is the use of social media platforms such as Facebook. Groups such as Travel Australia with dogs is full of information and advice from fellow travellers and vets alike. In this group there are many people who organise pet sharing which we will detail later in this blog. 


National Parks and State Forests

One of the biggest limitations when travelling Australia with your dog is your limited access to national parks. The majority of National Parks in Australia do not allow dogs in them, however the rules vary from state to state. Some will allow you to have them in the car with you if you are simply travelling through, others will have a flat out blanket rule. Having them with us in the car is something we will do if we research the park beforehand and decide we can see most of what we want to by driving through or stopping for short periods. Another option, especially at shaded areas, is leaving them in the camper. No, not everyone will agree with this option, however for us with the pop top roof, the air flow, all fans running and water available, staying in the car with a cow hoof or some sort of enrichment is a very viable option while we duck off for half hour to a swimming hole. We do not recommend doing this in hot weather or in non-shaded areas for your dogs comfort and safety.  What we have found however, is that a lot of state parks or state forests are dog-friendly, and more often than not reside next to the national park or have less touristed attractions/camping so you get more privacy.

 Wyatt Tayla and Dogs by the Fire

Dog Sitting 

Having someone take care of your pooch when you need is one of the most expensive parts of travelling. When it comes to having your dog looked after while you visit your desired location, for us this usually is national parks, there are a few options that we consider. While paying for the kennel itself is a large factor, something we did not really consider was how much fuel we would use back tracking. That is, dropping the dogs off at point A, travelling to destination B,  back tracking to point A again and then moving on. Whilst this is only a small inconvenience, generally each time we travel an extra 30-120km. 

  • Kennels
  • Doggy Day Care
  • Dog Sitting
  • Vet Services
  • Dog Sharing

One of the most available and reliable services there are is dog kennels. Kennels are often available in most major towns and some more rural areas. Prices generally range from $25-$45 per dog per day we have found. This will mostly include a walk or play session per day along with their food. The important part to note about this pricing structure is the majority of kennels will charge on a daily basis, so if you need them to stay overnight, you will be paying for 2 days regardless of what time you pick them up. Some kennels work on a nightly fee, however it is less common. Before using a kennel, a good google search will bring up reviews. We are very selective about which kennels we use, and always talk to the owner first to get a guide of their ethics and ensure our two can be kept together and not separated. The downside to using a kennel is often our dogs can get quite anxious being surrounded by so many other noisy dogs of different temperaments in a new environment. For this reason we try to use some of the other options listed below. Another thing to note is sometimes with kennels your dog will come back smelling, this is generally due to the residual animals smells/urine that is in bedding, so again be picky and be prepared. A sign that kennels have good standards is if they require proof of vaccination we have found. 

Doggy day care and dog sitting are two options which are offered through online platforms such as Mad Paws or Paw Shake. Both of these applications work by providing access to approved pet sitters who will look after your loved one in their own home. Being every day people like you and me, they treat your dog as if it were their own, often getting free unrestrained access to the whole yard and house. Many of the pet sitters have their own dog or pet at home, so it can be a much better relaxed environment for your dog to be socialised during their stay without the need to be anxious of 30+ other dogs barking all day and night. Fees can range greatly as they rely on the sitter setting these themselves, but generally will be in the range of $35-$45 per day per dog. Many will also offer a second dog discount for say $25 instead of $45, so it pays to reach out to the sitter and not just rely on the rates they have listed. The downside to these applications is that they can have slow response times, so if you are short on time and need an answer, it can sometimes take 6+ hours for a response. 

One of the overlooked options for pet minding is the use of local vet services. This is generally offered in more rural locations, where vets rely on this as an additional income. We only recently used this option for the first time in Blackdown Tablelands in Central QLD. We payed around $28 per night at this vet, not per day so this was very affordable.  Accommodation is often very simple in the way of a pen, but food is provided and generally less busy. 

The last option is dog sharing and generally will involve a pre organised or spur of the moment arrangement with fellow travellers to mind your dog(s) while you visit your attraction/national park for the day(s). In return, the favour is repaid while they visit the park. A lot of these arrangements are made through the Travel Australia with dogs Facebook page. 

Loki at Waterfall

Baiting, Vaccinations, Flees and Ticks

One of the most concerning things before leaving for our trip was learning about the wide use of 1080 baiting. Australia is one of the only countries in the world that persists with the use of 1080 as a method of controlling wild dog/fox populations. Its use throughout Australia varies, but as a general rule of thumb, you can expect to find baiting regimes in all national parks & state forests. In addition, private land owners are able to use this bait to protect their livestock from losses. By law, when the bait is in use the area has to be sign posted. However, the signs are often few and far between, damaged, missing or simply not put up.

Ingestion or contact with 1080 results in a horrific and slow death for most animals that are not native to Australia, and domestic dogs are no different. Native animals can have a higher tolerance to 1080 but they are never 100% safe and it can kill them too. By the time you realise you dog has come into contact with it, even with prompt veterinary attention and IV fluids the majority of dogs will sadly die. 1080 is generally laced in raw meat so that it is attractive for wild dogs, however this can vary. Any animal that has ingested the bait will also have traces in their faeces, vomit, and throughout their body, so do not let your dog sniff, eat or roll in any poo etc. in these areas. Additionally, birds have been known to pick up bait and then drop it in an entirely different area. The mode of bait distribution will often involve aerial drops, thus not always accurate in their placement, so again do not rely on signage and always keep your wits about you. The 'leave it' command has been super important for us on this trip as our dogs used to pick things up and eat them, now they know to leave it when we say and they will be rewarded and praised. 

In order to prevent your dog coming in to contact with bait, keep your dog on leash and invest in a muzzle if you have any concerns about their scavenging. Whilst it is not suggested by vets for 1080, ingestion of other toxic materials can be prelmimarny treated by the use of soda crystals to make your dog vomit - but always try to consult a nearby veterinarian and ask for their opinion, let them know what your dog has ingested and what you have then given them induce vomiting. 

Before you leave for your travels we strongly recommend making sure your dogs vaccinations are up to date. With using kennels and the alike, making sure your dog will not contract or minimise the effects or transmissible diseases is extremely important. Many kennels will not accept unvaccinated dogs either. Both Loki and Akeela are C5 vaccinated. Note some vets will insist on heart worm annual boosters, but consider the point below and make your own decision. 

The next biggest concern when travelling is ticks. Coming from South Australia we were very sheltered from this side of travel. The presence of paralysis tick on the east coast of Australia meant that tick prevention is 100% necessary. The paralysis tick is a tick which as the name suggests will cause paralysis in your dog and death if not treated by vets. Another more concerning tick is the brown dog tick, especially since the introduction of the tick borne bacterial disease Ehrlichiosis in 2020. Both of these ticks can cause considerable issues and death to your dog. In order to protect against this, we use Nexguard Spectra every month. This covers flees, ticks, intestinal worms, and it also covers the dogs heart worm, therefore we decided against the annual vet heart worm injection so we weren't double dosing. Products such as Nexguard will only kill ticks once they have bitten the dog, which is fine in the case of normal brown dog tick and paralysis tick. However, with the new tick-borne bacterial Ehrlichiosis this will not work as effectively as the ticks saliva is already in the dog. For better protection you can double your tick prevention with a Seresto collar which will aim to keep ticks off your dog before they can bite. Always do your research and talk to you vet though, as these preventatives will sometimes have adverse effects. 

Loki Snoozing


Know Your Dog | Training 

This might seem really simple, but it is crucial to making life on the road enjoyable for you and your loyal companion. Akeela and Loki both being border collies are naturally energetic and inquisitive, but this comes with anxiety and reactivity for them. This is a common trait with the breed and takes a lot of work to calm them and normalise situations. Having reactive dogs means that they can be triggered by anything: bicycles, people, other dogs, kids, loud noises etc. Unfortunately, there are a lot of dog owners out there and a lot that are travelling who are what we would call inconsiderate. Understand that just because your dog may be friendly, it doesn't mean someone else's is. They may struggle with social interactions and another dog coming up to them unannounced may cause defensive behaviour, especially when their home territory is changing on a daily basis and they feel the need to protect you and their home. 

One thing we have found to help alleviate this stress for them and us is to look at reviews for campgrounds and they often give good insight into whether 'residents' live there with their dogs, as we have found some campgrounds have dogs and they let them roam off lead harassing others. 

Akeela Socilising

Other things to help is to keep them stimulated and active so they are obedient and satisified. To keep them both stimulated, we try as often as possible to do trick training, new and old. Simple things such as teaching new tricks, and stay and leave commands go a long way. Walking each day will also give them a lot of mental stimulation as they pick up all the new smells around them. 

Tayla & Akeela Playing with a Ball

Must haves

Now we're going to go through some of the things that we have taken with us or picked up along the way. 

First of all, a good long lead/rope so that you can give your dog room to move when at your camp ground. We opted for a simple cord from Bunnings, it's easy to attach to any part of our car and keeps the dogs within our reach but allows them some sort of freedom. Before we left we invested in a solid dog harness. We believe a check collar or similar works much better for training and walking than a harness, however when around camp or out exploring and we don't want our dogs to run off and hurt themselves while on a collar, we use a perfect fit harness which the dogs were fitted for by a vet. A good floor mat to keep them clean around the car is great and keeps as much dirt and sand as possible out of your living area. We also have a pet cooling mat which acts by absorbing their body heat and displacing it into the air. Buying bones or cow hooves is a great way to mentally stimulate our dogs, especially if we plan on leaving them in the car, a stuffed cow hoof gives them a long time of munching. Being double coated dogs, brushing is an every day effort, and we find having both a rake comb and a slicker brush works best. We alternate each day between dogs, one gets the rake one gets the slicker. This way both lose less hair in the car, and they stay cooler in the warmer months and warm regions. 


In general, dogs on beaches are quite a common thing and most states allow it to some degree if not all the time, it will be before or after peak times such as before 8am and after 6pm. Being South Australian we are biased, but South Australia has a large array of dog-friendly beaches and campgrounds. QLD has a few but you start hitting crocodile territory quickly. WA has a lot of options, again however you have to be very wary of baiting as WA is bad, particularly in the south. We have found so far NSW to be the least friendly in regards to dog beaches, but if you want a truly spectacular place, visit Jenny Dixons Beach, this beach is very private and if you walk and venture past the rocks you will have your own private beach. 


So what do you need to budget for your trip of a lifetime with your loyal pooch?What we have found is each week, including tick prevention, food and kennels is $60-$70 per week. If there is anything we want to visit but don't want to put the dogs in a sitter, we will add it to our list for our holidays in the future, however we try to prioritise what we can do in the Troopy while we are there and what is easy for another day. Whilst travelling with dogs is an added expense and they certainly have their moments, what price can you put on the company of your best friends?! Be careful, know your dog, and don't take any unnecessary risks and you will have the time of your lives. 


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