The beach is Shiva’s happy place.
Water. Waves. Salt air. Fishy smells. Shells tinkling in the surf. And, best of all, acres of sand. Man, that dog digs like he’s headed for China. It’s great exercise. And running on the shoreline is far lower impact on joints than a cement sidewalk. Not to mention swimming. There’s so much to like, whether you’re dog or human.
If you’re wondering how to stop a dog digging where he shouldn’t.. dog beaches are great on that front too. They provide an acceptable outlet for the in-built urge to dig.
Beaches vs Dog beaches
Dogs on beaches are a delight to behold. It’s unbridled joy. But there is a big difference between taking your dog to the beach, and taking your dog to a dog beach.
Dogs friendly beaches near me are super popular. Unfortunately though, dog beaches are a lot like dog parks. Great in theory, but in practice? Best avoided.
Picture the scene. The dogs at dog beaches are off-leash. There’s lots of them. Now picture the potential scenarios that can unfold. The situation is ripe for pack dynamics, and for conflict. The owners who take their dogs to the beach are usually less tuned out than at dog parks. But they will almost certainly have different expectations of their dog than you do of yours. As a result, you just cannot guarantee that your dog won’t be hassled by unknown dogs, or worse.
I still remember the shot of cold blood to the heart when we got rushed by an out-of-control black Labrador that ran full pelt at us, leaving his owner out of sight.
There is a more relaxing way than dog beaches
Once you’ve experienced a dog attack, even a mild one, off leash dog beaches can become stressful places.
You’re better off finding beaches that aren’t designated dog beaches but where it’s acceptable to have a dog there. Or at least where you can get away with it at certain times of day. Super early is usually good. Catch the sunrise and be done and gone before the hoards, or the inspectors, are out.
And of course, pick up after yourselves.
Which brings up another point:
Are dogs allowed at the beach?
For a dog swimming is great exercise. Dogs dig for the pure fun of it and it’s a great way to burn off pent-up energy. But make sure you know the dog beach rules.
Outside of designated dog beaches, you can still find stretches of sand that welcome dogs at certain times of year or certain times of the day. Check the signs. Many beaches permit dogs during the colder months of the year but not at the height of summer. Often dogs you can have dogs on the sand between certain hours of the day, but not all day long.
Hazards for dogs at the beach
Beaches are one of the few places where the modern dog is less likely to be exposed to the herbicides that are ubiquitous in parks, sports fields and other urban green spaces. That said, good idea to avoid the shoreline after heavy downpours when polluted stormwater can flow into ocean outlets.
2. Sealife & fishing hooks
Look out for critters that you don’t want your dog messing with. Dogs and jellyfish are not a good mix. Fishing line and hooks can cause injury. Keep a lookout so your dog doesn’t snaffle up leftover food scraps buried in the sand. A fun time at the beach is easily ruined if your dog ate something bad.
If there’s a road nearby, stay alert. I have seen an off-leash dog bolt from the waterline to the dunes and almost over a wall onto the footpath and into four lanes of traffic beyond. Dogs can be unpredictable. You can’t be certain what they’ll do if they get a scent in their nostrils or if they get spooked, or excited. If Shiva finds the tire marks of a grader on the sand it’s like he’s hit a race track and he’s off, following the trail as far as it leads.
4. Discourage any lapping of sea water
Dogs have died after exposure to salt water bacterial blooms. For the same reason it’s a good idea to rinse the sea water from your dog’s coat under the showers before you head home. This way he cannot ingest nasties when he grooms himself.
Have fresh water on hand to avoid a dehydrated dog but equally don’t let your dog guzzle gallons of water while running about, because that’s a risk factor for bloat in dogs.
5. Sun protection
Dog sunburn is a real thing. It’s best to go early morning or late afternoon.
There is dog sunscreen and you can get dog hats. There are even dog sunglasses. (Not to mention dog life jackets and dog life vests. Most dogs can swim happily but if you’re worried about your dog drowning, consider a jacket.) But honestly, the simplest and most effective thing to do is avoid spending too long in the sun at the hottest part of the day.
Because the beach is so much fun, it can be easy to lose track of time and overdo it. Be sure to prevent dog overexertion and dog heat stress. An overheated dog is a particular risk if your pup is, like mine, a brachycephalic dog i.e. a pug or a boxer.
Consider a long leash
If you don’t have a rock solid recall — that means it works 100% of the time in highly stimulating conditions — a waterproof long line (like the orange one Shiva’s wearing) wouldn’t go astray. A dog long leash gives you some hope of saving your dog if something unexpected happens. The beach is actually a great place to practice dog recall training.
Otherwise, happy beach hunting!
PS If you find a good spot? Keep it to yourself 🙂