Want to bring your pooch to the beach? You’re not alone! If you’re like many dog owners, you know your best furry friend loves playing on the sand and in the water. To make sure you and your dog are welcomed back to your favorite neighborhood beach, abide by these rules and assure a fun day for every beachgoer.
Find a Dog-Friendly Beach
Although most beaches restrict dog access or don’t allow dogs at all, many do — and to protect the few that remain, following the rules is essential. If you have a local beach that permits dogs, ask if there is a leash law in place. If so, plan to keep your dog leashed during your visit.
Even friendly, well-trained dogs can get into trouble in an environment filled with interesting smells, new people and other dogs. Families with small children may find even a gentle dog frightening, so be respectful of the rules — and keep your dog leashed when necessary.
Also, some beaches permit dogs during the off-season but not during the busy summer months. Just because you’ve seen a dog at your favorite beach before doesn’t mean he’s allowed all the time, so make sure you know the rules before planning your outing.
ABC (or Always Be Cleaning)
You don’t want to step in dog poop, and neither do other beachgoers — which is why cleaning up after your dog is one of the most important ways you can protect your dog’s rights at your local beach. Although many dog-friendly beaches have bag dispensers and plenty of places to safely dispose of your dog’s messes, don’t assume they’ll be available. Keep a stash of old grocery store bags in your car, along with some antibacterial wipes, and you’ll be all set for a long day on the sand.
When approaching a new dog, always ask if the dog is friendly before touching or encouraging playtime. Watch both dogs carefully for signs of aggression or unfriendliness, such as growling and snarling or aggressive changes in posture. The “play” posture, in which your dog bows down with his rear haunches in the air, is a friendly sign. Keep visits with new friends brief and reward your dog for friendly behavior with healthy treats.
Provide Access to Water and Shade
Would you want to spend all day outdoors when it’s hot while wearing a fur coat? Probably not, and neither does your dog. Bring an umbrella and blanket for your dog to escape from the sun. Don’t forget water and his bowl, too. He’ll wander back into the sun when he’s ready. Frequent panting may be a sign that it’s time to bring your pooch back indoors.
Well-trained dogs respond instantly to commands even when they are not tethered to a leash. Only bring your dog to an off-leash beach if he responds to basic commands, such as “come” and “stay,” without fail. Although your dog probably loves running off-leash, aggression between dogs can build quickly, so stay alert and pay attention. Never let your off-leash dog wander out of your sight and have the leash ready in case there is a problem.