As the weather starts to warm up again, many of us find our minds turning towards all the joys of summer and topping the list would have to be visiting the beach.
Why should humans have all the fun though? The beach is a natural playground for canines. But there are a few things you need to consider to maximise the fun and minimise worry about the safety of your four-legged pal.
Before anything else, you need to pick a beach which is dog-friendly. Taking a dog onto a beach where dogs are prohibited is a huge no-no and will likely result in a stressful day for everyone involved. Once you’ve picked an appropriate beach, it’s time to start packing! But if you’ve never brought your dog to the surf before, what kind of things should you bring?
Doggie ID is the most important thing to remember to ensure both you and your pooch come home safe and sound, especially if your dog has never experienced a beach before. The sights, smells and sounds may be overwhelming and cause an otherwise obedient dog to turn tail and run away like its life depends on it. This is obviously not something that you want to happen, but if it does, the best thing you can do is have a dog collar with your name and mobile clearly legible.
Microchipping is great, but unless your average beach-goer has a chip reader on them it’s not going to do a lot of good in the short term. A collar with a phone number on it is something that anyone can use to track you down and reunite you with your animal companion so you won’t have to potentially make the heartbreaking choice to leave alone.
Fresh water and a bowl
Just like us dogs need a lot of water, even more if it’s a particularly hot day. Offer them fresh water often to deter them from giving the salty ocean water a try. One or two ocean laps is nothing to worry about, but if you spy your dog drinking ocean water make sure you provide the delicious, fresh, healthy alternative that you’ve brought along with you. Bring their usual bowl too as it will add an element of familiarity if they’re finding the whole beach thing just a bit much.
Source of shade and sunscreen
Research the beach first and work out how much shade cover there is going to be. If it’s going to be pretty sparse in the tree department, make sure you bring along a beach umbrella to provide refuge for your pet from the hot summer sun. Regardless of tree cover, something you will need to bring is sunscreen, which, if you’ve never taken a dog to the beach before sounds odd, but they can burn just the same as any mammal. Pay particular attention to areas with light fur covering, such as the nose, belly and ears. Avoid sunscreens containing zinc oxide, as dogs have a habit of licking themselves and zinc can be toxic to them. Best to have a chat with your vet first.
You may have an image of you and your dog freely frolicking through the waves together, and if that’s the kind of thing your dog enjoys, then that’s fantastic! Bear in mind though, that as much as you love your dog and appreciate their company, other people on the beach might not. Pack a leash for those times when you two encounter other people or dogs, especially if you would describe your pooch as hyper friendly. If it is your dog’s first time at a beach, having them on a leash at least initially to ensure they don’t run off in an overwhelmed frenzy is not a bad idea.
If your dog loves the water, you’re going to need some of these to dry them off before the drive home. If you’re unsure whether or not your dog will love the beach water, bring some anyway just to be safe. A wet and sandy dog on the back seat is going to make more of a mess than you think!
Bags to pick up poop
Bring along the usual gear to clean up after them when nature calls. Don’t think it doesn’t matter because it’s essentially one huge sandpit. It does matter and it’s gross so be responsible.
Finally, don’t forget to have fun! Bring some of your dog’s favourite toys along for when they’re not playing in the surf. If your dog is feeling timid this will help them adjust to the whole experience, and if they’re afraid of the waves then this is a great alternate activity.
All that’s left now is to pick a sunny day, pick a beach, pack and get down to enjoying some quality time with you and the pooch.