Caravanning with a dog
Updated: Mar 1
Not only are we travelling with our three kids but our dog Ted as well, he's an 1.5yo Spoodle and very much part of the family. The kids got him from Santa Christmas 2018 and they wouldn't have forgiven us if we left him at home.
We're often asked how we go travelling with our dog? For us it's been great, and we wouldn't change a thing. I've dotted down some common questions below with detailed answers which will hopefully provide a bit of an insight and some different things to think about if you are planning a camping holiday with your dog.
Why did we bring him?
Could you leave that sad face behind!? For us we felt 12 months was too long to leave him with someone, as they would have well and truly bonded with him over that length of time and we would then feel awful asking for him back. And of course we would all miss him like crazy! It also helps to make the van feel like home having him with us.
However, in saying that we did leave our 12yo cat Cruz at home with Nana. He wouldn't have coped with life on the road. So it totally depends on your pet. Cruz has never been happier and is getting spoilt rotten.
How does he travel?
Ted was a puppy when we left and knows no better, he sleeps in the back of the car and often we have to check if he's still there as he doesn't make a peep. He's an easy dog, he's not anxious, not yappy and gets along with people and other dogs and animals.
Is it limiting?
Finding caravan parks that are pet friendly is generally easy, there are many pet friendly parks. Wiki Camps and AirCamp both have filters, where you can search for parks that are pet friendly. The only time we have had an issue is during school holidays, as many of the pet friendly parks, don't allow pets during these busy times.
Where are the best dog parks?
Starting with the best, to say we were impressed by the Capital Country Holiday Park in Canberra would be an understatement, we booked their newly launched dog freedom site and it was brilliant for the fur-kid and our human kids ;)
We've encountered some other great caravan parks with off-leach dog areas which are awesome.
Here's a list of some of the parks with facilities for dogs where we have stayed:
- Discovery Forster in NSW has a huge grassy off-leach area.
- Cairns Coconut Caravan Park has a small dog agility park.
- Julia Creek Caravan Park in QLD has an off-leach park opposite the caravan park.
- Dubbo, NSW has a small off-leach area.
- Big Valley, Margaret River, WA
Do we worry about dog baiting?
Yes, absolutely we do, we've heard awful stories of dogs ingesting 1080 baits. We have seen warning signs in different areas that 1080 has been used and we are very careful to avoid these areas with our dog. You can never be too careful, it can be used without warning and this is frightening. The bait is used to control wild animals (rabbits / foxes / wild dogs / feral pigs /cats etc) who cause issues for farmers or disrupt native animals. The tasteless poison is put into meat balls to make it appealing to animals.
If you‘re heading to an area where 1080 has been used, it would pay to look into purchasing a muzzle for your pet so they cannot ingest the poison bait.
Have you seen other pets on the road?
Yes heaps of pets! All very well behaved. We've even seen a few people with their cat, on a leach outside their van and birds in cages, so anything is possible.
Are many places pet friendly?
Touring is also possible with a pet, you just need to do your research first. Whilst in the Atherton Tablelands, our caravan park kindly shared with us the local pet friendly companies. Ted then joined us at The Crystal Caves and Herberton Historic Village.
Utilising pet sitters / kennels
We are lucky to have friends and family in Canberra, Brisbane and Melbourne who have been kind enough to look after Ted at various times. If we want to do a full day touring or visit a national park in other areas we organiser a pet sitter. We've used local doggy day care in Cairns.
You can seek out local pet sitters, either locally through word of mouth or ask around at the caravan park. Or check out the Mad Paws App, it helps you find trusted, local Pet Sitters around Australia who look after your pet in their home.
We have factored this cost into our budget. So far we have only needed a few days, but know when we head North West next year, we will need to book him into kennel for a short-term so we can explore incredible national park locations.
Deciding whether or not to bring your pet is such a personal decision, it really depends on your style of travel and what the priorities are for your holiday and whether bringing your pet will be limiting or enhance your holiday and the memories of your travels. Also it's important to have a pet that is easily adjustable to different situation and friendly in nature with other pets, animals and children. We're lucky Ted has such a beautiful nature and is always up for a pat.