Check out some fun beach games you can your furry friend can enjoy this season. By Carrol Baker.
If your dog could talk, they’d probably tell you their absolute favourite place to be in summer is chilling by the beach. What’s not to love about plenty of warm sunshine, sand and surf, as well as other doggie pals to meet?
Whether your dog likes running in and out of the waves, romping along the sand dunes with new doggy friends, or just hanging beside you watching the surf roll in, there’s lots to do and see.
Before you head to the beach, pack plenty of cool drinking water and a bowl, a shade umbrella, some doggy sunblock, a blanket, doggy treats and, of course, some toys. Choose waterproof toys and those heavy enough to withstand windy beach conditions.
If it’s summer it’s also a good idea to time your beach visit to avoid the middle of the day, when hot sand can burn your dog’s paws.
Most dogs love to splash in the waves, dig for buried treasure, go for beach walks or play Frisbee. More adventurous dogs even enjoy jumping on a paddleboard or surfboard with you.
Use something that’s going to float but not float away too easily. For dogs that are hesitant to play in the water, trainer Craig A Murray says tethering the ball or toy to a string is a good idea. “The movement of the toy through the water can encourage an otherwise reluctant dog to want to chase and have fun with it,” he says.
Tennis balls are a great option as fetch toys — however, Craig cautions they can be abrasive. “The combination of sand and water will wear a dog’s teeth,” he says.
Craig adds that when playing games such as fetch on a beach, dog owners need to be vigilant about their dog’s safety. “Always be aware that if you’re tossing a toy another dog might think it’s theirs and intervene,” he says.
With dogs that are closely bonded to their owners, the human can be the target of a game. That also helps a reluctant dog get used to the water.
“Very slowly get the dog to come to you with water lapping at your foot, then your ankle, going in a little deeper each time,” says Craig.
Encourage your dog with verbal praise. And, of course, give your brave pooch lots of pats and cuddles when you get back to dry land.
The beach is also a great place for your canine to give their nose a workout. Simply bury something they love so the dog has to dig it up.
Daniel Mannix from Victorian Dog Training Academy says the nose is a dog’s primary sense and, by burying balls or toys for your dog to dig up, you’ll be exercising this all-important sense as well as their bodies.
“Start by walking a few metres ahead of the dog and covering a ball with just a small amount of sand,” he says. “Give the command ‘Get the ball’ and then progress to burying it a bit deeper and a bit farther away.”
The idea, according to Daniel, is to not make it too difficult at first. “If it’s too much of a challenge, the dog may just give up before the game has really started,” he says.
The beach is such an exciting place for our four-legged friends it’s often difficult to get some dogs to come when called when it’s time to leave.
Daniel says the trick is to condition your dog that when you call them it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to go. “Call your dog back to you every now and then. Reward them with a treat or their favourite toy and let them go and play again,” he says.
Too pooped to play
To maximise your dog’s enjoyment and minimise the risk of overexertion, pace your dog.
Craig A Murray says beach games can be quite tiring, as dogs exert a lot of energy in the hot sun. “Short play periods are better,” he says. “The last thing you want to do is fatigue or injure your dog, or make the dog reluctant to go to the beach next time.”
Tip: If your dog has drunk too much seawater, they may be unwell and vomit or have diarrhoea. Try to encourage your dog to drink plenty of fresh water to avoid dehydration.
Games at a glance
Bubble trouble: Blow some non-toxic bubbles and encourage your happy hound to chase and catch them.
Shell game: For a variation on digging for toys, take a few small containers, pop a treat under one and let your dog sniff out the one with the prize.
Hide & seek: If there are sandhills to hide behind, one person hides while the dog seeks them out.
Fun with a Frisbee: These are very versatile and lots of fun for a dog. They can hover, skip off the hard sand and be rolled along.
Make sure your furry friend is always looked after at our DOGSLife Directory