Mangrove swamps are a bad idea…as seen at Rotary Park, Cape Coral.
The good news, is there are plenty of places to take your dog that won’t put your pooch in peril. But in general, taking dogs into Florida’s swampy areas is a bad idea. Alligators do look for easy prey, and a dog of any size can fall victim. Be cautious with your dog around shorelines – not just mangrove shorelines, but freshwater lakes and rivers as well.
Eglin Air Force Base explicitly prohibits dogs on all trails. This affects Florida Trail thru-hikers, since you cannot bring a dog through this section of the trail, nor can you take your dog along the beaches of Gulf Islands National Seashore at the northern end of the trail. At the southern end, while Big Cypress National Preserve allows dogs, you aren’t doing yours a favorite to have them wade through the swamp. Hookworm parasites are easily transmitted through the warm waters, and there are alligators, of course.
Although Florida State Parks used to have a very liberal dog policy, they no longer allow dogs near swimming areas such as beaches and springs. Dogs in the parks MUST be leashed, especially if you are in a campground.
In our National Forests in Florida, policies have also changed, too. Dogs are not allowed in the recreation areas around swimming lakes and springs.
Our National Parks, such as Gulf Islands National Seashore and Canaveral National Seashore, do not allow dogs on the beach. They are welcome on other trails and in the campgrounds, but again, on a leash.
Other public lands have posted prohibitions, particularly when there are concerns about protected species such as the Florida scrub-jay. We know that all Orange County Natural Lands (Orlando area) prohibit dogs, but Orange County Parks welcome dogs.