Being originally from Queensland, I didn’t realise there was a life for dogs that included going to wine bars, coffee dates or even into stores when their owner is shopping.
Then I moved to Melbourne...
Having now lived here with my dog for 4.5 years, I can definitively say that Melbourne is an incredibly dog friendly city. In fact, I'd say it is by far the most pet-friendly city in Australia.
But don't just take my word for it. In creating this article I chatted to Melbourne pet-store owner, Julie. Julie owns Hachi, a luxe pet grooming and retail boutique in South Yarra (she's also expanded into Sydney).
When I asked Julie what she, as a dog owner, loves most about Melbourne, she says she loves the pet-friendliness of the city and that dogs are really made to feel welcome. It's true. And Melbourne is known as the ‘Europe’ of Australia, so it’s no wonder there’s a certain European vibe towards incorporating dogs into your lifestyle, too.
Julie also loves the Melbourne fashion, which is often extended to dogs. Especially in the cold winter months, when the doggie jumpers, raincoats and puffer jackets come out, she says. Coming from Japan where the pet fashion is very prevalent, she says it's great to see Melbourne leading the way with pet fashion in Australia.
And after all, these products aren't just boujee with no functionality. In fact, the best selling products are things like heavy duty raincoats for dogs, high-quality collar and leash sets for dogs and super cute silicone treat dispensers, to name a few.
Here’s everything you need to know about visiting or living in Australia’s most dog-friendly city.
Whilst Queensland and WA may boast some of the most picturesque, pristine, and white-sandy beaches in Australia, Melbourne does have a very generous range of dog-friendly beaches.
Here Are My Top 3 Dog-Friendly Beaches in Melbourne:
Dogs who enjoy wading and splashing around in shallow water will find this spot to be a paradise. Your furry friend will have a blast frolicking in the surf and chasing after the waves.
St. Kilda Beach
Head to the designated dog friendly stretch where your dog can frolic off-leash, year round.
A beautiful beach that allows dogs to be off-leash from 5:30pm - 9:30am every day, and 24/7 during off-season!
I would be remiss of me to not mention the Melbourne park life - it's what Melbourne is really known for. If your dog enjoys a run in the autumnal leaves and cooling (off leash) under the shade of a big tree in the warmer months, Melbourne’s got your dog covered.
My Three Favourite Dog-Friendly Parks in Melbourne:
Fawkner Park, South Yarra
Popular dog store, ‘Hachi’, owner, Julie, says her and her two dog’s (Schnauzer’s Chloe and Ellie) love Fawkner Park, a huge leafy estate in the heart of South Yarra. I must say, this is probably my favourite too. There is ample off-leash space, complimentary doggie waste bags, and hundreds of beautiful dogs to watch if you’re travelling and need your doggie fix.
Botanical Gardens, South Yarra
Right next to Fawkner Park, but a little North, are the Royal Botanical Gardens. Unlike Sydney and Brisbane, dogs are allowed in the Melbourne Botanical Gardens - much to my delight. Spend a couple of hours strolling through the lush expanses or bring a picnic and perch on the grassy hill overlooking the city. Just make sure your fluffy bestie remains leashed.
Carlton Gardens, CBD
Just North-East of the city is Carlton Gardens. It’s a popular haunt for dog owners, with plenty to see. There’s a museum in the middle, basketball courts at the back and plenty of space to walk with your dog.
Pro Tip: Go in Autumn when the oak tree leaves turn and the whole park is a spectacular array of oranges, reds and chocolate browns. Oh Melbourne…
But First, Coffee
Not only does Melbourne have, ahem, THE BEST coffee in Australia, heck, the Southern Hemisphere, it’s also claiming my top pick of best quality dog friendly cafe’s in Australia, heck, the Southern Hemisphere. Whilst you can pretty much stop at any hole-in-the-wall joint and order a really decent cup of coffee, here are a few of my favourites, taste-tested of course.
Our list of the best dog-friendly cafe’s in Melbourne:
La Parisienne Pates, South Yarra
Sip your little oat latte and let your bestie chill next to you at this French classic at the park end of Toorak Road. It’s an upmarket area, so be prepared to spot an Aussie reality star or two.
Fourth Chapter, Prahran
Fourth Chapter is town house converted into a beautiful cafe with a garden at the back. The best part (apart from the avo on toast and fried Halloumi) it’s literally RIGHT next to a dog park, score!
The Farm Cafe, Abbotsford
Baby toting brunchers, bike-riders and dog-lovers abound at The Farm Cafe. This is a LITERAL farm in the middle of Abbotsford, yep, pig and all.
Code Black, Brunswick
Code Black is a gorgeous spot on the corner of two leafy streets in the uber-cool suburb of Brunswick.
Ini Studios, Fitzroy
Popping up over 2021, Ini is one of the coolest coffee stores in Melbourne. There, I said it. Walk into the clean white space and feel like you’re in more of a gallery than a coffee shop.
So, whether you like taking your dog to the beach, a picnic in the park or you enjoy coffee shop hopping and people watching, in terms of pet-friendliness, Melbourne's got you well and truly covered.