The New Forest is a dog's paradise

The New Forest makes an excellent holiday base for all the family, and dogs are no exception to this. With miles of off-road paths, idyllic countryside and even an extensive coastline, there is no need to leave your dog behind on a holiday here.

What is there to do with my dog in the New Forest?

With miles and miles of off-road paths and bridleways, The New Forest is a dog-walker’s dream. Get exploring our tranquil woodland, take wanders on paths that wind their way through our open heathland or take to the coastal footpath, the Solent Way for a long-distance dog walk with fantastic sea views! No matter what the season, you will enjoy the tranquil scenes and the beautiful nature on offer here.

Many of our attractions allow access for dogs so you don’t have to leave your four legged friend behind when you go out and about exploring. Exbury Gardens and Steam Railway, in the south of the New Forest welcomes dogs. The grounds feature over 22 miles of pathways, perfect for an explore with your pooch with water bowls dotted along the way. Well-behaved dogs may also take a 20 minute ride on the railway, it’s not every day that your pet gets to ride on a miniature steam train! Look out for the gardens’ regular ‘Devoted to Dogs’ days as well.  

At Beaulieu, dogs on leads are welcome in the grounds (please note, access is not permitted into Palace House, The National Motor Museum and other indoor attractions) so you can wander around and take in some of the sites of this pretty place. At nearby Buckler’s Hard dogs on leads are welcome in the village and on the Beaulieu river cruise. Why not make the 2 mile walk between Beaulieu and Buckler’s Hard? Passing through woodland and follow along the route of the Beaulieu river as it meanders its way to the coast this is a peaceful walk with some beautiful scenery and plus there is the lure of an afternoon tea or a drink at the end of the walk for you!

New Forest Heritage Centre in Lyndhurst, with its museum and gallery space, is another place that welcomes dogs through its doors. Come and learn more about the unique history of our national park and discover places you can take your dog.

Another place you can visit with your dog is the Sammy Miller Motorcycle Museum, near New Milton. Dogs are welcome in the museum’s grounds so long as they are kept on a short lead at all times as there are guinea fowl and chickens running freely. Nearby, you will also find the New Forest Reptile Centre where dogs on leads are welcome to visit with their owners!

On the coastline, near Milford on Sea, Hurst Castle is also a wonderful place for your dog to join you on a day out. Explore the English Heritage site and take in the views across the Solent to the Isle of Wight as well as the amazing history of the castle. Then take your dog for a walk along Hurst Spit, the shingle bank that links Hurst Castle to Milford-on-sea and take a paddle in the sea. If you don’t fancy this walk then there’s also the option of taking the Hurst Castle ferry back to Keyhaven where friendly dogs on short leads are welcome aboard.

Well-behaved dogs are welcome into the woodlands of Insight Activities, near Fordingbridge to join those that are booked on to any of the outdoor activities. You may even get to meet Charlie, the centre’s resident cocker spaniel!

If you fancy cycling whilst on holiday here in the New Forest, again, your dog doesn’t have to be left behind. New Forest Cycling in Burley, Cyclexperience in Brockenhurst and Sandy Balls Holiday Village all offer dog trailers that can be attached to bikes (advanced booking is strongly recommended particularly during school holidays and weekends).

Of course, there is also the annual Dogstival, a fantastic festival for dogs, dog lovers and dog owners! Expect to find all sorts of doggy activities including Flyball, over 200 stalls, delicious local food and drink, live music, live arenas and loads more. Dogstival takes place at the beautiful Pylewell Park, just outside of Lymington, and is the perfect location for this brilliant day out. If a dog could have the best day of its life it would go to Dogstival!

Come and explore our pretty towns and villages and take your dog on a walk around whilst you pop into the shops. Many of our shopkeepers will allow well-behaved dogs in.

Just outside Ringwood, Moors Valley Country Park is a large site that offers off-road walking paths, ideal for exploring with your dog. Well-behaved dogs are welcome to follow the route of the Play Trail and Treetop Trail so long as they are on leads and are not allowed onto the play equipment. There are water stations and dog bins located around the site. There are also two areas of Moors Valley where dogs are allowed into the water to cool off and paddle; Crane Bridge and at the top of Crane Lake. Maps are available from the Visitor Information Centre near the car park.

You will also find plenty of places to eat and drink within The New Forest that are dog-friendly including pubs, restaurants, cafes and tea rooms. Browse our dog friendly places to eat and drink page for ideas of where you can stop off with your four legged friend for a spot to eat or a refreshing drink.

For specific information on where dogs can and can’t go at the various places to visit in and around the New Forest, we recommend that you take a look at each attraction's website first as details may be subject to change.

Places to stay with your dog

We have a wide-range of accommodation options available that are pet-friendly so your dog can enjoy your New Forest adventures just as much as you. Including self-catering, holiday lodges, campsites, hotels and B&Bs, take a look at our dedicated dog friendly accommodation page to get more ideas on where you can stay in the New Forest with your dog.

Find out more about bringing your dog to the New Forest

The New Forest National Park is a wonderful place to visit and you can help it stay that way by being a Forest friendly visitor.

To minimise disturbance to wildlife, livestock and other people, please keep your dogs close by you and visible at all times – if necessary use a lead. Pick up after your dog, especially around car parks, on paths and where people play or picnic, and take bagged waste home if there is no litter bin. Check your dog and yourself for ticks when you get back home – they can lead to Lyme Disease.

Take a look at the New Forest Dog Owners Group, who promote responsible dog ownership in the New Forest. They have come up with a brilliant Dog Walking Code for residents and visitors of the New Forest to follow, to ensure the safety of our dogs and the wildlife in the New Forest. 

The New Forest Dog Owners Group promotes responsible ownership, welfare for dogs, and engaging with the authorities (in close and good cooperation) to promote the activities of dog owners and walkers. A key element is visitors who may not know of our unique environment. Supporting work around Ground…

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