The do’s and don’ts of playing in the sand and water.
There is no better feeling than an ocean breeze in your hair and the salt water from the Pacific Ocean lapping at your toes. It’s the perfect way to cool off on these increasingly hot summer days.
Dogs love the beach as much as their human companions, but unfortunately, irresponsible owners have found their dogs banned from thousands of beaches around the country. It only takes one irresponsible owner to ruin a beach experience for everyone. For the few remaining dog-friendly beaches around the states, I present my official guide to dog beach etiquette.
The top reason for banning dogs from beaches is a disregard for local leash laws. Violation of the leash law is a hot topic and park officials can be very sensitive about this issue. Keep your dog on a leash, particularly if a leash law is in place.
Know Thy Dog
Not all dogs are comfortable around vast expanses of water and not all breeds are swimmers. For a list of dogs that are just naturally terrible swimmers, check here.
We have to work together to keep our beaches pristine. So far, the human race has done a lousy job of this, so it’s up to pet owners to take the lead. Take extra doggy bags to the beach with you and offer them to unprepared dog owners. If you see a mess, pick it up.
Keep Your Pet’s Paws to Yourself
Even the most devout animal lover can become angry at unwelcome water spray as they lie in the sun. Keep your pets away from other people. This means you can’t let your dog explore, root through lunches, eat suntan lotion or seek out shade in another’s cabana.
Leave Wildlife Alone
Respect wildlife and teach your pets to respect it as well. Your dog shouldn’t chase after seagulls, harass seals or illegally fish for fun.
Stay home until you can seriously say you have at least modest control over your dog. At the minimum, your dog should know five basic commands: sit, stay, come, drop and leave it. If your dog can’t do these things on command, stay home until he can.
You should have a doggy beach bag with you when you hit the beach. Some ideas for what to keep in said bag:
- Water: Fresh, clean water should be available at all times – no matter where you’re partying.
- Bowls: Don’t get there and have no way of providing fresh water. Thousands of dogs die each year due to unprepared owners.
- Food: Your dog is going to burn off a lot more calories running the beach than they will at home taking a nap. Be sure you have some extra treats and food with you so your dog.
- Paw protection: Sand gets hot and if it’s too warm for you to walk on it, rest assured it’s too hot for your pets’ paws. Bring along a set of dog boots. (As a bonus, it often makes for great entertainment as your dog learns to walk in them).
- Towel: In the “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” Ford Prefect said, “A towel … is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.” I find that as a dog owner, this is a true statement. There are many ways to use a towel, from wiping off sand and water, to providing shade, to offering a cool place to sleep. Bring a towel.
- Shade: Don’t force your dog to sleep in the hot sun while you lounge in the cabana. Dogs need shade. There are several great ways to do this from pup tents to easily setup beds.
Keep your pets safe in the water. Here are some things you should keep on your pet; you never know when he might get caught up in a riptide.
- Waterproof GPS tracker
- Personal flotation device (PFD) is a must-have.
- Beacon: There are small flashing beacons that available nearly anywhere that hook to your dog’s collar. This can help if you find yourself at a bonfire while your dog decides to sneak off to the ocean.
Not everyone likes dogs and some people are even fearful of dogs. I know it’s hard to read that statement, but it doesn’t change the truth. You should always be respectful of other people. Don’t let your dog run up on others without an invitation.
It’s easy to get caught up in the rules, but with commonsense and courtesy, as well as a little preparation, you and your dogs can have a great day at the beach.
Remember, we hold the safety of our dog-friendly beaches in our paws. It’s up to responsible pet owners to set the example. At one point, California had 3,000 miles of beaches where dogs were allowed, and now there are fewer than 50 pet-friendly beaches. We can take the beaches back but only by being respectful, courteous and responsible dog owners.
About the Author: Stacy Mantle is the founder of PetsWeekly.com and the bestselling author of “Shepherd’s Moon.” Learn more great tips for living with animals by visiting PetsWeekly.com or get to know a little more about the author at www.StacyMantle.com.