Most dogs love to accompany their owners to the beach. There are even surfing competitions for dogs! If your dog isn’t fond of surfing, he’ll still enjoy running along the sand or splashing in the surf. The beach offers lots of new sights and smells for dogs to enjoy. However, there are also numerous safety hazards for dogs as well as native wildlife that could be disrupted or harmed by under-supervised dogs. If your nearest beach allows dogs and you supervise your dog carefully on the excursion, trips to the beach can provide both fun and exercise.
Finding Dog-Friendly Beaches
Many beaches do not allow pets. If you’re having trouble finding a beach that you can visit with your dog, try networking with other pet owners in your area to ask if they know of dog-friendly beaches nearby. Check the website Meetup.com for dog owners’ meetups near you and see if any meet at the beach. Some areas even have dog parks located along the shoreline, creating a beach specifically for dogs and their people.
Beach Manners for Dogs
If you plan to visit a beach with your dog, she needs to follow several basic rules and avoid disturbing other beachgoers. Some beaches allow dogs but require that they remain on-leash. If your beach has a leash rule, keep your dog on leash whether enforcement is present or not. If a few dog owners don’t follow the rules, complaints about off-leash dogs might result in a complete ban on pets on the beach.
Even if your dog is permitted to play off leash on the beach, don’t take the leash off until you’ve trained a solid recall and a “leave it” command. That means practicing these cues in at least 20 different situations with 20 different distractions and being successful in each. Don’t allow your dog to pester other visitors to the beach or eat food or rubbish left on the beach. Keep your dog in a heel position, on or off leash, in crowded areas. Wait to allow him to run and play until you’ve reached an area with plenty of free space where your dog won’t interfere with anyone else’s fun.
Keep your dog safe at the beach by inspecting the area for broken glass or food hazards like chicken bones before letting your dog off leash. Don’t take dogs to areas where there may be dangerous wildlife such as jellyfish or alligators. Never allow your dog to harass native wildlife. In most areas, you could receive a big fine for permitting a pet to chase wildlife, including shorebirds.
Don’t let dogs swim out too far into the ocean. Most dogs are not naturally very strong swimmers. Strong currents could be very dangerous to dogs, causing them to be swept out to sea.