Exploring with you fur buddy
Hiking with your dog is a great way to get some solid exercise. It’s also a great bonding experience for you and your pet. It can be challenging at times to find places to go hiking with a dog in Australia. Many Parks in Australia aren’t dog-friendly, so check before you go to avoid disappointment. These restrictions are in place to protect our fauna and fauna from disease or disturbance so it’s important to respect these regulations.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning to go hiking with your dog.
1. Understand the impact
Dogs can have a significant negative impact on wildlife in Australia if taken into the bush. They can chase, attack, and kill native animals, including endangered species. They can also spread diseases to native animals.
Here are some of the specific impacts that dogs can have on Australian wildlife:
- Predation: Dogs are natural predators and can kill a wide range of native animals, including mammals, birds, and reptiles. Some of the native animals that are most at risk of predation by dogs include small mammals such as possums and bandicoots, ground-nesting birds such as magpies and curlews, and reptiles such as lizards and snakes.
- Disease transmission: Dogs can carry diseases that can be fatal to native animals. Some of the diseases that dogs can transmit to native animals include parvovirus, canine distemper, and leptospirosis.
- Habitat destruction: Dogs can damage native vegetation by digging, trampling, and barking. This can lead to the loss of habitat for native animals.
- Disturbance: Dogs can disturb native animals by chasing, barking, and running around. This can cause stress and anxiety in native animals, which can make it difficult for them to find food, reproduce, and raise their young.
In addition to the direct impacts that dogs can have on wildlife, they can also have indirect impacts. For example, the presence of dogs can cause native animals to become more fearful and reclusive. This can make it difficult for them to find food and mates, and can also make them more vulnerable to predation by other animals.
It is important to note that not all dogs will have a negative impact on wildlife. Some dogs are well-trained and can be controlled by their owners. However, even well-trained dogs can chase or attack native animals if they are not properly supervised.
There are a number of things that you can do to minimise the impact of your dog on wildlife:
- Keep your dog on a leash at all times when you are in the bush.
- Do not let your dog chase or attack native animals.
- Pick up after your dog to prevent the spread of disease.
- Be aware of the presence of other animals in the area and keep your dog away from them.
- Educate yourself about the local wildlife and the threats that dogs can pose to them.
2. Research your destination
Most hiking areas in Australia, an example being a lot of the national parks, don’t often allow dogs on the trails. In general, dogs won’t be allowed in any National Parks or most State Parks. State Forests will generally allow dogs (even off-lead, assuming they are ‘under control’). Dogs in other parks are determined on a park-by-park basis so make sure you check before you go.
It’s important to check the land managers website for the park or trail before you go to make sure you understand the regulations.
There are some great dog-friendly hiking destinations in Australia. Some of these trails are:
- You Yangs Regional Park – VIC
- Coffs Coast Regional Park – NSW
- Byfield State Forest – QLD
- Coningham Nature Recreation Area – TAS
- Anstey Hill Recreation Park – SA
- Lane Poole Reserve – WA
These are certainly not the only trails in Australia that are dog friendly, just an example. Check the following links to land managers in each state. In some instances, you may need to search for the actual park you plan on visiting.
3. Understand how much exercise your dog can handle
It is important to understand how much your dog can handle before you pick a trail to hike. You don’t want to get started on a steep 12k hike, only to realise that your dog won’t be able to handle the physical challenges or terrain of the trail. Most of this comes down to your dog’s health, and their breed.
While large dogs appear to be more popular as hiking companions, there are many smaller dog breeds that are excellent at hiking and gain a lot from the adventure. By knowing what your dog can handle, you will be able to better choose the trail you want to hike together.
Dogs can get exhausted to an unhealthy level. While they are out hiking, keep a close eye on them to make sure that they are doing okay. Signs of exhaustion can include:
- Excessive Panting
- Excessive Salivation
- Muscle Tremors
- Rapid Heart Rate
If your dog shows any of these signs, let them stop and quickly get them water. Give them time to fully recover before moving on, and consider heading back to get your pet medical care if the symptoms persist.
4. Have plenty of supplies in reserve
What you take with you on any outdoor activity is important. This is especially true when you are accompanied by your dog. Just like you, they need plenty of water. Dehydration can be deadly for dogs, and you don’t want it to start affecting your dog when you might be hours away from the nearest vet.
For longer hikes, food for your pet might also be necessary. At the very least, they need to have had a good breakfast that morning.
Having first aid supplies that are safe for dogs is also a good idea. You can never predict when something will go wrong, and some human first aid supplies will be completely ineffective, or even dangerous, for a dog.
It is better to be safe than sorry if something were to happen, whether that be related to food, water, or a medical emergency.
5. Get creative
There are many people who enjoy the experience of hiking with their dog. If you don’t happen to have a dog friendly bush trail nearby, you might have to get a bit creative about where you go on a hike. Instead of searching for remote bush trails, destinations like beaches, metro or regional parks may be close by.
While one of the most enticing parts of hiking is getting access to remove and stunning locations, you may have to compromise when hiking with your dog. You can still go on a hike without needing to find a designated hiking trail.
6. Know the flora and fauna
There are a lot of dangerous creatures, plants, and bugs along most hiking trails that many of us aren’t even aware of. It’s a really good idea to research the area and find out what dangers might be around.
Snakes are common throughout Australia, so knowing what snakes you might encounter and how that snake behaves when threatened is useful. Being able to identify the snake and know the risk level associated with the species will help you know how much control you need to have over your dog.
After the hike, it is also a great idea to check your dog for ticks. Ticks are a common problem all over the world, spreading diseases and anemias in some of the worst cases. Dogs that are going to be out in nature should be on a tick preventative to keep them safe, but it is never a bad idea to make sure that a bug hasn’t latched onto your pet.
Knowing what to look out for can also help you to know what to keep your dog away from when hiking, so they don’t stick their nose somewhere and come out with a bite.
Even though hiking trails that allow dogs are not always easy to find in Australia compared to some other countries, it is not impossible and just takes a bit more research.
Hiking with your dog can mean hours of fun for you and your furry buddy. Be prepared by researching, planning, carrying extra supplies and first aid when hiking in Australia with your dog.