Being a dog owner provides a number of health benefits like stress relief and social support. Just the simple act of taking Fido for a walk gives us the chance to sustain our physical and mental wellbeing, along with the added bonus of helping us manage our weight and cardiovascular health.
Did you know your dog can even help you find love? Research shows that 38 per cent of people who meet at dog parks become more than just passing acquaintances! Dogs are also a conversation starter for 94 per cent of people who take their pooches for a walk. Australia is blessed with plenty of dog-friendly parks and beaches – here are our top 10 picks. For a comprehensive list, visit the website www.petnet.com.au.1. HAWTHORNE CANAL RESERVE, LEICHHARDT, NSW
A group of dog-walkers regularly meet at this inner-city Sydney dog park and have turned it into a social networking hub for canines and their owners. The aptly named Cafe Bones serves coffees for humans and 'Pupaccinos' (a stock-based drink) for hounds. This doggy social scene is so popular that many of the dog-less locals have joined in as regulars. Visit www.cafebones.com.au.2. SCARBOROUGH, WA
Starting at Peasholm Street and extending 1.5km along the beachside Perth suburb, this is the place that humans and their pooches can catch a few waves. Be sure to make use of the mobile dog-washer in the car park to get rid of those sandy paws.3. YOU YANGS REGIONAL PARK, VIC
The granite peaks of the You Yangs rise from the plains between Melbourne and Geelong. Take your dog and explore the tracks in this park, enjoying superb views.4. TEDDER RESERVE POOCH PARK, FLINDERS PARK, SA
A popular spot in Adelaide's western suburbs, Tedder Reserve has a water fountain and jumps for dogs to play on.5. RIVERSIDE GARDENS, BAYSWATER, WA
Take in a lovely view of Perth's Swan River, plus there's oodles of green space, a beach and a small island for your dog to visit.6. ALBERT PARK, MELBOURNE, VIC
Albert Park’s picturesque lake and network of trails offers your dog a variety of off-lead areas. It’s also the home of the RSPCA Million Paws Walk every May.7. POWERHOUSE PARK, NEW FARM, QLD
Dog lovers in Brisbane should look out for the dog treasure hunt that occasionally takes place at this park on the banks of the Brisbane River.8. SUNSHINE BEACH, QLD
A handful of minutes drive south of Noosa on the Sunshine Coast, this tranquil beach offers lots of sandy white paradise for the entire family to enjoy ... whether they have two legs or four!9. SIRIUS COVE RESERVE, MOSMAN, NSW
Child-friendly and dog-friendly, Sirius Cove Reserve on Sydney Harbour is a popular swimming and romping spot for local canines. They’re permitted all day during the week and 4pm to 9am on weekends.10. TATHRA BEACH, TATHRA, NSW
Located on NSW's far south coast, Tathra has been voted the state's cleanest beach. With dog-friendly cafes and a caravan park nearby, it's pet-owner bliss.
As dog owners, we need to respect those around us. This is a great start:
- Never allow your dog to urinate on anyone's garden. Make sure it sticks to the nature strip only, or designated areas.
- Always have your dog under control when you're out and about.
- Carry a poo bag ... and use it! If you're one of those sly types who gets the bag out when someone walks past as Fido does the deed, then puts it away once everyone is out of view, beware. If you're caught, the council can issue a nasty fine.