It is decided, after careful consideration, that your dog will be travelling around Australia with you. It is now time to prepare and plan a trip around Australia with your dog. Here, based on our experience, we share tips on how to best plan a trip around Australia with your dog.
Caravanning Australia with a dog is possible and highly enjoyable for you and your dog. Planning for your dog to go on the road is essential to preparing for them and you. It will make a positive difference to your entire trip and is easy to do.
Related read: Should You Travel Australia with Your Dog?
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Plan a Trip Around Australia with Your Dog | Top Tips
Make Sure Your Dog Has Basic Training
I cannot stress enough how much better your Australia road trip with your dog will be if your dog has at least some basic training and manners. Never does an owner look relaxed if they have to constantly tell their dog to stop barking, if their dog will not come back if called or if their dog cannot walk on a lead.
There is a list of dog commands I recommend you teach your dog before travelling. The most important are:
- Being able to walk on a lead,
- Not to bark excessively or stop on command,
- To enjoy off leash beaches, walks and parks, to come back when called.
When travelling with a dog, if you are fighting with them to walk on lead properly, it will make doing anything with them a chore and less enjoyable. Every dog should be able to walk on a lead.
I believe it is unrealistic to expect a dog never to bark, but there is a difference between an occasional bark and excessive barking at everything, disturbing other campers.
Some dogs are easier to train to come back on command than others. Luckily for us, Chika is one such dog and because her recall is instant, we can comfortably let her enjoy what she loves most – off leash beaches and walks. If you can, it is worth the effort of training your dog to come.
Prepare Your Dog
Microchip, Collar and Tag Your Dog
Dogs get lost, wander off and run away. Having your dog microchipped and for your dog to have on a collar and tag with your phone number is crucial.
Chika has our mobile number written on her collar because the tags we bought kept falling off. Her microchip has our phone number listed. A family member’s phone number is also listed, for those times we may not be able to be reached due to poor mobile phone reception. The family member can explain that we are travellers and get details to pass on to us via other communication such as messaging.
Vaccinations Up to Date and Preventatives
There are variations in vaccine requirements from state to state, so it is best to book an appointment with your vet for your dog and be guided by them. Also, have the vet write a letter stating the vaccines administered to your dog to take on your travels. When visiting your vet get repeat prescriptions for any medication your dog is taking.
The other recommendations are to have your dog on a monthly preventative for fleas, ticks, mites, heartworm and other worms and put a tick collar on your dog. Ehrlichiosis is a disease carried by ticks, killing dogs in northern Australia and spreading to southern regions.
Do Some Short Camping Trips
Camping and travelling in a caravan will provide your dog with new things to experience. It is helpful for you as their owner to know how your dog behaves camping:
- Do their sleeping or eating patterns change when camping or somewhere new?
- How well do they listen to you when distracted by new and exciting smells and sights?
- Is your dog more outgoing or timider in unfamiliar situations?
- What does your dog enjoy most and least when camping?
Short camping trips over a weekend or a few days can help answer these questions if you have not camped with your dog before or in a long time.
If answering those questions for Chika, our reactive dog we introduced to camping through short trips, I would say she is the same dog in all situations. Her eating and sleeping patterns are the same and she is neither more timid nor outgoing. Sometimes I have to use my more firm voice to get her to listen. What she enjoys most is campfires and anything off leash and dislikes the most is high pitch noises and storms.
Knowing your dog will make travelling with them more pleasant.
Decide These Things for Your Dog
Where Your Dog will Travel in Your Car
Perhaps you already know because it is where your dog currently travels in your car. However, if you have a new vehicle or are considering your options for setting up your vehicle, you may need to rethink where your dog’s car spot.
Our dog Chika travels in the back seat of our 4WD since we have no kids travelling with us. I highly recommend a car hammock and a dog car restraint is required.
The other main option that may be suitable for your dog and set up is the back of your vehicle or a dog cage on the back of a ute.
Where Your Dog will Sleep
Where will your dog sleep when camping? Your dog will need somewhere safe, dry, well ventilated and warm or cool (depending on the weather) to sleep.
During the day, Chika loves to chill out under our caravan. At night, she sleeps inside. We made her a dog bed off the floor by pulling out a single seat we did not use because we got tired of tripping over her.
Other ideas are to let your dog sleep on your bed. I have heard of travellers buying caravans with bunk or second beds for their dogs. Another alternative is a dog pen or cage outside that is secure and latched.
How You will Tether Your Dog at Campsites
No caravan park anywhere will let dogs roam around and it is highly frowned upon for dogs to wander into other people’s campsites at low cost or free campgrounds.
Tethering your dog is a must, more often than not, when at your campsite.
Decide What Kind of Traveller with a Dog, You will Be
Will You Visit National Parks and Do Tours?
Dogs are not allowed in National Parks in Australia. It is possible to do national parks (and tours) if you are willing to use pet sitters or kennels for your dog, or if suitable for your dog, leave them alone in your caravan.
It is up to you. Over the years we have travelled with Chika, we have only missed one national park we wanted to visit, and that was because the weather was too scorching hot, not because we had a dog. You can read here how to do national parks and travel with a dog.
Will You Only Do Things Your Dog Can Do Too?
National Parks and paid tours are not the only activities and experiences your dog will not be able to do on your travels. There are dog friendly options for beaches, parks, cafes and restaurants, walks and hikes and so on, but still, there will be no alternatives for some things. Just know, if you are an ‘if my dog cannot go, I won’t go’ doggy owner, you may miss out on a fair bit on your lap of a lifetime.
Us, we are selective when deciding what we do without Chika. She is good at being tied up and waiting for us to return if we want to check a museum for half an hour or so.
Will You Use Pet Sitters and Boarding Kennels for Your Dog?
Using pet sitters or boarding kennels to care for your dog is a personal choice. Not all dogs respond well to being cared for by strangers or being in unfamiliar places. Plus, it can be expensive.
We used a boarding kennel very sparingly. Chika, as a reactive and anxious dog, does not adjust to unfamiliar care arrangements easily. On the other hand being able to do a tour such as the Horizontal Falls, the number one bucket list experience we wanted to do on our travels, was worthy of putting her into overnight boarding.
It is up to you if you use pet boarding on your travels regularly, sometimes, rarely or not at all.
Get Pet Insurance or Have Funds for Pet Emergencies
When you plan a trip around Australia with your dog, it is a good idea to have pet insurance or money set aside for medical emergencies or treatments your dog may unexpectedly need. Hopefully, it is one of those things you plan for and never happens, but that is better than it happening and there being no plan.
Chika has had surgery once to remove two teeth. She is ten years old, so we have the funds to maintain her health as she ages.
How you best plan a trip around Australia with your dog entirely comes down to what will work for you and your dog. On our Travel with a Dog page, we have many other blog posts that may also help you when travelling Australia with your dog.