For most dogs, the beach with its sand, sea and fresh air is the best place in whole world. Whether you have a puppy or an older dog, there are a few things to consider before you let Fido loose at the sea side for the first time.
Your dog’s first trip to the beach can be a hair-raising experience if you don’t do your ground work first. There are also certain rules to bear in mind to keep the peace with your local authority and other beach goers.
Planning ahead will ensure you and your pooch have a safe and fun-filled day out – an experience you’ll no doubt enjoy for years to come! Here are my top tips for a fantastic first day at the beach with your dog.
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Find a dog-friendly beach
Not all beaches are dog friendly. Some will have strict bans right through summer, while others may ask you to keep your dog on a lead. Do your research before you head out so you’re not left disappointed when you arrive. You can check with your local authorities, or if you’re from the UK, The Beach Guide has a handy list of all the dog friendly beaches in the UK.
Pick up after your dog
Make sure you take plenty of poop bags to pick up after your dog and keep the beach clean. Our beaches are magnificent places that millions of people enjoy every year. Nobody wants to see or step in dog mess when they’re relaxing in the sun.
Dog poop is also a danger to our environment. Leaving it behind can contaminate our waters and kill marine life. It’s just not acceptable to walk away – so be a well-mannered beach-goer and do the responsible thing.
Provide shade and fresh water
If you’re heading to the beach in the height of summer, ensure your dog has relief from the sun. Take an umbrella or tent so your pooch can sit in the shade to cool off if they need to. The summer heat can make our dogs overheat and even suffer heatstroke. Be mindful of how your dog copes in the warm weather and be aware of the signs of overheating and heatstroke.
Consider buying some doggy sun cream to protect your dog’s skin. Their ears and noses as well as dogs with white coats are particularly prone to getting burnt.
Dogs can also drink lots of sea water when they’re splashing around in the wet stuff. But the salty water can leave them more dehydrated. Be sure to take plenty of fresh water and a collapsible bowl so your dog can rehydrate throughout the day.
Check out my article on how to keep a dog cool in summer for more top tips.
Protect your dog’s paws
It’s surprising how hot sand can get in the baking sun. Think back to when you walked barefoot on the beach on a hot day. It burns, right? Well it’s the same for your dog’s paws. You can protect them from burning and cracking by applying a little paw wax. The balm forms a protective coat over your dog’s sensitive paw pads offering relief from the hot sand.
Keep your eyes peeled for hazards
There are certain things on the beach that can be dangerous to your dog. Unfortunately, there are always a few irresponsible people that will leave their litter and leftover food on the beach.
If your dog happens to step on broken glass or eat any human foods that are toxic to dogs, this could mean an unexpected trip to the vet. Broken shells, washed up jelly fish and jagged rocks can also be a risk to an inquisitive pooch. Keep an eye on your surroundings and watch your dog as they explore.
Practice good manners
If you’re going to let your dog off lead, it would be wise to do so only if they have good recall. If your dog is inclined to bolting up to people and other dogs, this could upset those who are simply trying to enjoy their day. Other beach-goers may not appreciate your pooch storming through their family picnic!
Other dogs may not be too happy with your dog charging towards them either. If you have a puppy, they may not understand the basics of doggy etiquette, which could upset other dogs and end in conflict. To keep your dog safe and avoid any dramas, ensure they have great recall so you can call your dog back before they kick off any confrontations.
Watch out for choppy seas
Avoid areas where the sea is too rough. If you have a confident pooch but they don’t know how to swim, they could find themselves in a spot of trouble. Choppy seas can also be frightening for a young puppy if they get too close. If they have a bad experience this can make them too afraid to venture into the water again.
Choose a spot where the sea is calmer if your dog wants to dip their paws or fetch a ball from the water.
Be aware of hidden dangers in the sea
Some marine life like jelly fish and stingrays often stick close to our shore lines. But a nasty sting from one of these sea dwellers can be extremely painful and put a stop to your day out. If your dog is keen on wading in and out of the sea, just be aware of what’s around you. Stay on high alert and check the area before venturing in.
As I mentioned earlier, not everyone wants your dog crashing their party. And there may be some areas of the beach where your dog is not allowed. To prevent your dog from exploring areas they shouldn’t, keep them occupied with toys and games. Bring a ball or frisbee with you to keep them entertained and out of trouble.
Bear in mind, if it’s a particularly hot day avoid playing fetch as this can lead to overheating. Instead, bring some chew toys your dog can enjoy in the shade so they don’t exert too much energy.
Let your dog roam safely
If your dog’s recall is pretty awful, keep them on the lead. You could try using a long line if you want to give your dog a little more freedom. If you do let your pooch loose, make sure they have an ID tag with your phone number and address just in case they run off.
For recall training, the beach can be the ideal place to put your hard work to the test for the first time. In fact, it was the first place we let Loki off the lead.
Head to the beach early in the morning where there are few people and distractions. Take your tastiest treats with you and call your dog back intermittently as you walk along the shore. Offer praise and treats every time pup comes back to you. Your dog’s response will eventually become more reliable as you work on this training. By perfecting your dog’s recall, you’ll have a safer, more relaxed day at the beach when you know your dog will come back to you every time.
Wash your dog down afterwards
With all the joys of running around and splashing in the sea, your dog can get covered in salt and sand. But these substances can irritate your dog’s skin, so it’s best to wash them down after each beach trip. Especially if your dog has sensitive skin.
Either shower them down in the tub or brush their coat through to loosen any sand.
Where will you go for your dog’s first trip to the beach this summer? Do you have any other useful beach tips dog owners should know? Let us know in the comments below…
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