Words by

Rebecca Russo

If you, like me, have already filled your Insta feed with cute animals but are in need for some puppy loving IRL, you’re almost always faced with the same dilemma: 

  1. You don’t own a dog, and 
  2. Rocking up to a neighbouring dog park sans dog could be considered a little creepy.  

But don’t worry. We got you. We’re here for you. Here’s seven of our favourite places for dogspotting around Melbourne because, well, why the hell not? Grab a pen and get ready, you’re going to want to remember these. 

Camberwell Market

I don’t know if you know yet, but Camberwell’s infamous Sunday morning market is like a breeding ground for dogs (and mediocre ‘why is there a stereo built in this suitcase?’ crap). As you meander through the crowds, it’s almost a given you’ll see a friendly pup nudging its way into that $2 box of headscarves you’ve been eyeing off. There’s almost always an angry dog encounter down aisle two so keep your eyes peeled and your heads down. Also, you know that thing where pets and their owners start to look alike after time? You’ll definitely see that here. 

Dog types: Big, small and everything in between. You’ll see chow chows hanging out with pomeranians, and maybe even a dog in a child’s stroller (seriously, I saw it, it totally happened). 

The Maribyrnong River Loop Trail 

This 4km loop is what we call a dog hotspot. Almost everyone around here owns a dog; it’s like some weird rule that if you buy a house in the surrounding suburbs your contract stipulates you immediately buy a dog and walk it here. And because it’s the newly gentrified West, we’ve started to see an entirely new breed of dog owners: those who can afford a car that is specifically used for transporting their dog. No, seriously. I once overheard someone say, “We’ll just pop Jerome in the Lexus, there’s more room in the back… that’s why we bought it in the first place! *rich person cackle*” 

I’m not even exaggerating. 

Dog types: Hypo-allergenic spoodles and overly friendly golden retrievers that get groomed weekly and probably never poop.  

Clayton Reserve Dog Park

It might seem pretty obvious to include a dog park here because, well, by definition, there will be dogs there. But North Melbourne's Clayton Reserve is where it’s at when it comes to cool, inner-city dog parks, and no joke, it’s always brimming with dogs. Stand outside the park’s gate (or get stuck in traffic long enough on Macaulay Road) and witness the glory of dozens of dogs running after the same chewed-up ball. 

Dog types: Lots of medium-sized breeds as well as a bunch of ‘trendy’ dogs like frenchies and cavalier king charles spaniels. 

The Premises

While we’ve already filled you in on some of Melbourne’s best dog friendly cafes, there was one glaring omission that’s perfect for a little mid-morning dogspotting: The Premises in swanky Kensington. Enjoy a tasty brekkie while staring out the floor-to-ceiling windows where it’s common knowledge that at least one dog every 15 minutes will walk by. FYI, this isn’t just some made-up statistic. It’s been tested, time and time again, and it never fails. Get ready for a doggy overload. 

Dog types: It’s almost always fluffy dogs: poodles, border collies, and lhasa apsos are pretty popular around here. 

You Yangs National Park 

Ideally located between Melbourne and Geelong, the You Yangs are pretty unique in that they’re one of a small minority of the state’s National Parks that allows dogs. Though our four-legged friends have to remain on-leash, you’ll still be able to enjoy watching dogs with way too much energy propel their owners up hills with the strength and power of a freight train. 

Dog types: Athletically-inclined dogs that are way fitter than you. 

Prophecy Hair

Collingwood’s Prophecy Hair is known for two things: excellent and well-priced haircuts, and resident salon dog, Bass. This shop dog sits among a host of other dogs (mainly ceramic) and flits around the store with a delicate ease. It’ll certainly ease the stress of a big chop when there’s a handsome white beast sitting by your side, telepathically telling you it’ll all be right. 

Dog types: Just one big mumma bear, Bass, though the store does welcome your own pup if you want a little extra company while you colour and cut. 

Flagstaff Gardens 

Sitting right on the outer edge of the city, this place is the perfect spot for those inner-city dog owners to get out and stretch their legs. The park is big enough for a good game of catch and there’s always a chance (if you park yourself right in the middle of the field) that a furry fellow might just run right into your lap. It’s glorious. 

Dog types: Mostly small dogs with a hankering to run fast. 

Illustration by Twylamae who can also draw you hanging out with the Seinfeld crew here.

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