Dog friendly long weekend activities

dog friendly - Noel LopezDog friendly places are becoming more and more popular. And why not? Bringing the family together for a long weekend is a lot of fun- especially if you can get the dog involved. We’ve put together a few jaunts you may wish to try when you have a long weekend and a dog that’s up for an adventure.

Dog Friendly Camping at Budgewoi (Central Coast)

Set on the banks of Lake Munmorah is the Budgewoi Holiday Park. It’s a cheap yet cheerful camping holiday. Pet friendly and available as a tent site or as a cabin, if you and your dog are looking to have a change of scenery without blowing the budget, this is for you.

There are also a lot of pelicans, water fowl and other wildlife to take in.

Just make sure your tick prevention is up to date before you leave as the Central Coast is a tick hot-spot.

Berry Island Reserve (North Sydney)

Want to take the kids into town and spend some quality time with your dog while you wait around to pick them up? Discover one of North Sydney’s hidden gems in the Berry Island Reserve. A popular off-leash exercise space, Berry Island has water, bush and a few other dogs to meet along the way.

Umina Beach Off-Leash (Central Coast)

Enjoying a nice dig and play in the sand at Umina Off leash beach

Enjoying a nice dig and play in the sand at Umina Off leash beach

If the idea of heading out of Sydney appeals, why not try the beautiful Umina Beach on the Central Coast? Umina Beach Off-Leash area is a favourite among tourists and locals alike. Here you can often see kites and para-sailing, surf practise for the yearly carnivals and of course, people enjoying a lovely stroll with their pets.

The Umina Beach Off-leash Facebook page is also a great place to meet other locals and find out about dog friendly activities happening in the area.

Cafe Bones on Leichardt Canal

If you’re looking for a cafe where you’ll be happy to shout “who let the dogs out!” check out Cafe Bones on the Leichardt canal. A highly successful experiment by the council, Cafe Bones is a cafe that is geared towards dog treats, toys, puppacinos and light meals for the family.

They also run obedience classes for that naughty puppy who needs a top up in training and the kennel club in the area has a strong presence.

Cafe Bones is an excuse for the non-retail therapy lover in the family to cool their heels in a fun and relaxed environment while everyone else shops until they drop at the local precincts.

McCauley’s Beach, Thirroul (Northern Illawarra)

A bit of a trek from Wahroonga or Turramurra but still worth the look if you are keen on visiting Wollongong and the Illawarra is McCauley’s Beach at Thirroul. A wave beach where dog surfers get to strut their stuff, it’s a great place to meet some locals while your ball crazy dogs spend time working with the waves.

The surf is strong on occasion, so we recommend McCauley’s for confident swimmers only.

After you’ve had a great day throwing the ball, you can take a 7 minute drive to the charming suburb of Thirroul and enjoy lunch and a puppacino at Honest Don’s dog friendly cafe.

Honet Don's cafe Thirroul

Honet Don’s cafe Thirroul

Out and about etiquette for dogs

When spending time in new areas with your dog, always be aware that due to new territory, sights and sounds, your dog will be in a heightened state. They may be more excitable or anxious than usual.

Beyond your own dog’s heightened state of arousal, remember that:

  • Your dog should always travel in a safety harness when you travel in the car. The Purina Roadie is one of two car harness that has been NRMA approved and tested.  We now proudly stock these.
  • Even if your dog is friendly, be aware others may not be. Look for signs your dog may accidentally be overwhelming another dog to avoid fights and injury.
  • Picking up your dog’s poo is a must. It’s not only keeps the place tidy, it also means you can enjoy the space without worrying about complaints from the locals or impact on the natural environment.
  • Looking for the colour coded jackets and/or collars on other dogs can save fights and issues with your dog. Rescue dogs that are learning to love life again after a hard knock time at the hands of humans will display red, yellow or orange jackets to let people know there may be issues. If you see a dog in a brightly coloured traffic light coat, please keep your pet and child contact to a minimum so as to reduce the chance of anxiety and/or strong response from a dog during this crucial part of their psychological rehab.
  • Teaching your kids to respect a dog’s space is important in all shared spaces. How your pets respond to your children is not universal. And to a dog who feels anxious, overwhelmed or trapped, an overly friendly child or a child who is tugging on ears and tails or making other kinds of challenges to a foreign dog can be bitten.
  • To keep your pet close in new places. Your dog may see the fence line hole you don’t. Or it could not see the traffic you do. So always explore a new space together to minimise accident and injury.
  • Treats are your best friend in retrieving man’s best friend. Treating your dog reminds them to come when they are called rather than dash off after the new exciting things they’ve discovered.
  • Car sickness not only affects us, but also our four-legged friends.  It may be worth trying an anti-static strap on the car or even travel sickness medication. Fox Valley vet nurses can answer any questions you may have.


Whether you’re staying away for the long weekend, or you simply feel like a change of scenery for the day, there are plenty of interesting and attractive dog friendly options available.

Happy long weekend!

About the Author
Owner and Vet Alex Brittan, Vet Katie Syms and the team of Fox Valley Animal Hospital pride themselves on quality service. Fox Valley Animal Hospital is the one you choose for your family pet when the care your animal receives really matters.