Dog Friendly Things to Do in the New Forest

With miles and miles of open heathland, ample walking routes and some fantastic attractions, the New Forest is a great place to bring your dog on a day out or even on holiday.

A dog walker’s paradise!

There are more than 140 miles of tracks and footpaths here in the New Forest - what better a place than our fantastic National Park to get exploring and exercising with your dog? Whether you fancy a walk in the woods, on the open grassland or perhaps a jaunt along the coast, there are many options available to you. According to the New Forest National Park Authority, there are an estimated 25,000 dog walks per day here in the New Forest!

Take a look at our walking routes for ideas of some of the walks you can take with your dog in the New Forest. If you are staying locally, it’s well worth asking for the locals’ favourite routes too. And why don’t you include a pub stop along the way? You will find plenty of places to eat and drink that are dog friendly, many will even offer your dog a treat or two as well!

The New Forest National Park is a wonderful place to visit and you can help it stay that way by following the New Forest Code and 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. 

Get involved with the New Forest Dog Owners Group and help promote and practice responsible dog ownership in the New Forest, including following their Dog Walking Code, for residents and visitors to the New Forest to follow. 

Here are some of the top dog walks we recommend:

  • Beaulieu to Buckler’s Hard - a two-mile way (see more information below)​
  • Bolderwood - walks of differing lengths where you can often spot the resident deer of the New Forest
  • Lyndhurst Parish walk - an eight-mile walk skirting the perimeter of Lyndhurst
  • The Solent Way - in total this route is 60 miles, however smaller sections can be enjoyed taking you along the New Forest’s coastline

Dog friendly attractions and days out

Many of our attractions in the New Forest allow access for dogs so there’s no need to leave your dog behind on a day out.

Exbury Gardens and Steam Railway is a fantastic place to take your dogs, with over 22 miles of pathways it’s the perfect place to explore, particularly if you have a passion for flowers and nature. Well-behaved dogs may also take a ride on the railway, it’s not every day that your pet will get to ride aboard a miniature steam train! Within the gardens, there are several dog water stations and staff are on hand to suggest walks that you and your dog can enjoy. It’s worth looking out for the ‘Devoted to Dogs’ days that take place throughout the year whereby dog owners who bring their dog along for the day receive discounted admission.

At nearby Beaulieu, dogs on leads are welcome in the ground (please note, access is not permitted into Palace House, the National Motor Museum and other indoor attractions).

Just a few miles away from Beaulieu, you will find the pretty village of Buckler’s Hard. Dogs on leads are welcome in the village and on the Beaulieu river cruise, and why not take your dog on the two-mile walk between the two villages? This walk is nicely shaded, mostly traffic-free and offers spectacular views over the Beaulieu River along the way.

New Forest Heritage Centre, in Lyndhurst, with its museum and gallery space that also welcomes dogs through its doors. Here you can not only learn about the rich history of the New Forest, but find out about the wide range of things you can do here on a holiday or short break.

Hurst Castle is also a wonderful place for your dog to join you on a day out – explore the English Heritage site, take in the views across the Solent to the Isle of Wight and the New Forest coastline or relax in the castle’s café. After learning all about the site’s history, take a walk along the pebbly Hurst Spit back to Milford on Sea and let your dog go for a paddle in the sea. Or if you don’t fancy the walk then hop aboard the Hurst Ferry for a short journey through the harbour to Keyhaven. Dogs are welcome on the boat provided they are both friendly and kept on a short lead.

Learn about the native reptiles at the New Forest Reptile Centre, near Lyndhurst. Dogs are welcome in the centre provided they are friendly and are kept on leads. Or come and learn all things equine at the Dorset Heavy Horse Farm Park. Dogs are welcome in most areas of the site provided they are kept on leads.

Dogs are welcome at Lepe Country Park, which overlooks the Solent. There is signage on-site with suggested routes for dog walkers and dog waste bins on site. Please note, dogs are not permitted on the family friendly beach, between April and September, follow the signs for these diversions.

At Moors Valley Country Park, near Ringwood, dogs can enjoy a variety of walks around the woodlands. There are some areas of the park where dogs can be let off leads however they are requested to be on leads around the Play Trail and Treetop Trail. Small dogs may also be allowed to ride aboard the miniature railway, although this is down to the conductor’s discretion on the day.

Make a visit to the Sammy Miller Motorcycle Museum, near New Milton to discover a great collection of bikes from around the world. Dogs are welcome in the museum’s grounds, provided they are kept on leads. Assistance dogs are allowed within the museum.

If you fancy cycling whilst on holiday here, again, your dog doesn’t have to be left behind either. Cycle along the many off-road paths and trails with a dog trailer attached to the back of a bike. New Forest Cycling in Burley and Cyclexperience in Brockenhurst offer these trailers as part of the daily cycle hire options (advanced booking is strongly recommended particularly for school holidays and weekends).

Calling all dog lovers, make sure you add Dogstival to your summer ‘things to do’ diary. Taking place at the beautiful Broadlands Estate on Saturday 3rd & Sunday 4th June, your four-legged best friend will be treated to a festival dedicated to them. Filled with arena displays, doggy demonstrations, a Canine MOT Centre and activities such as agility, flyball, the scurry village and a giant dog-diving pool. There’s over 140 stands, live music, street performers and vintage funfair to sniff around!

Plus, if you are here in July for the New Forest & Hampshire County Show at Brockenhurst then you will be delighted to know that you can bring your dog along too! The organisers of the show just ask that dogs are kept on leads and aren’t permitted into certain marquees (such as the ones for poultry, rabbits and sheep).

Make a stay of it

Why not take advantage of all the fantastic walks and places to visit in the area and make a break of it? There are plenty of places to stay here in the New Forest that are dog-friendly so why not book your holiday today?

Save money on your day out or short break by buying a Go New Forest Card. This card offers discounts on places to visit, things to do, accommodation, eating out and even bike hire in the New Forest, helping you to save pounds off your visit.

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