The New Forest is a fantastic destination for dog owners looking to enjoy the great outdoors alongside their furry companions. With gorgeous woodlands, vast heathlands and even coastal trails, the area offers a long list of activities that are perfect to enjoy with dogs. Here are some of the best ways to spend a day in the New Forest with your dog:

1. Dog walking adventures

The New Forest is crisscrossed with trails that are ideal for walking with dogs. There’s a brilliant choice of walking routes to enjoy with your pooch. One of the most popular routes is the Tall Trees Trail near Brockenhurst. This easy, flat walk takes you through some of the most impressive woodland scenery in the park, featuring towering Douglas fir and redwood trees. The trail is well-marked and suitable for dogs of all fitness levels. Remember to keep your dog under control and on a lead where required, especially during the bird nesting season from March to July.

Dog walking in woodland in the New Forest

2. Visiting dog-friendly beaches

For those sunny days, head to one of the New Forest's dog-friendly beaches. Lepe Country Park offers a picturesque coastal stretch where dogs are welcome year-round on certain sections of the beach. Both Hordle Cliff beach and Hurst Road beach at Milford on Sea welcome dogs all year-round, too. The New Forest’s beaches are great spots for your dog to play in the water and for you to enjoy the stunning views across to the Isle of Wight.

3. Exploring historic sites

The New Forest isn't just natural beauty; it's also steeped in fascinating history. Many of its historic sites welcome dogs, including the grounds of Beaulieu Abbey. As you wander through these ancient ruins and gorgeous gardens, your dog can enjoy a variety of smells and sights along the way. Hop on the ferry with your dog (dogs go free!) and explore Hurst Castle, where there are no limits to where dogs are allowed, so they can enjoy the incredible history of this site, too. 

Hurst Castle visitors with dog
Image - Hurst Castle

4. Picnics in ancient woodlands

Choose a spot for a relaxing picnic with panoramic views of surrounding heathlands and ancient woodlands. The New Forest is a hub for dog walkers, offering expansive space for your dogs to play and enjoy being outside. 

5. Dog-friendly trips to local attractions

Four-legged friends are welcome at a number of the amazing visitor attractions in the New Forest. At Exbury Gardens, dogs can wander the gardens with you, as well as riding the steam railway! Your pooch can also join you on a fun day out at Dorset Heavy Horse Farm Park, where they can even take the horse-drawn carriage ride with you. How about learning more about the heritage of the New Forest at New Forest Heritage Centre, where dogs are also welcome?

Exbury Gardens - family with dog on steam railway
Image - Exbury Gardens

6. Enjoy activity sessions with your pooch

For the more adventurous, there are several companies in the New Forest that offer dog-friendly activity sessions. From watersport fun such as canoeing with your dog at New Forest Activities, to land-based thrills together including a medieval trio with Insight Activities, everyone can get involved in the fun!

7. Stop by a dog-friendly pub

After a day of exploration, there’s nothing better than relaxing at a dog-friendly pub. The New Forest has several pubs that welcome dogs, such as The Waterloo Arms in Lyndhurst, where you can enjoy delicious local food and ales, or The Filly Inn, Walhampton Arms, The Royal Oak, Monty's Inn and many more. These establishments often provide water bowls and treats for your dog, ensuring they’re as welcome as you are. As well as pubs, there are also many dog friendly cafes and restaurants in the New Forest, too.

Dog at Monty's Inn in Beaulieu
Image - Monty's Inn

8. Top it off with a dog-friendly overnight stay

Make a break of it! After a brilliant day of exploring and enjoying the New Forest with your dog, there are many places to stay that welcome dogs! From cosy hotels, spacious self catering cottages and quaint B&Bs, to campsites, holiday parks and glamping.

Tips for a successful day out

- Always keep an eye on your dog and ensure they are under control, especially near livestock and wildlife.
- Bring plenty of water and a portable bowl to keep your dog hydrated.
- Check the local guidelines on where and when dogs need to be on a lead.
- Be considerate of other forest users and clean up after your dog.