Just like people, many dogs enjoying playing in the sand and splashing in the waves at the beach. Before packing up Fido and heading to the nearest beach, though, there are some things you need to keep in mind.
Not all beaches are dog friendly
Many beaches limit dogs to certain times of day or even certain times of year. And there are many more than don't allow dogs at all. Always check a beach's dog policy before bringing your pet.
Respect the rules
Does the beach you're on require dogs be leashed at all times? Are dogs only allowed in specific areas? Disregarding the rules is disrespectful to the other people trying to enjoy the beach. If a beach has rules you don't want to follow, find another area that's a better fit for you. Remember that many beaches have discontinued allowing dogs because pet owners did not abide by the rules.
Be mindful of others
I love dogs, but that doesn't mean I want your dog barreling across my beach blanket or bothering my dog when she wants to be left alone. Keep an eye on your dog at all times and make sure he is not being disruptive. Remember that not everyone is comfortable around dogs. Your dog should not be running up to strangers to greet them. You may know your dog is friendly, but a stranger doesn't. Always make sure your dog is welcome before letting him interact with new people and animals.
Clean up after your pet
If you have a dog, you should always travel with poop bags. Cleaning up after your dog is the number one rule anywhere you bring your dog. Picking up after your dog not only helps keep the beaches clean, it helps prevent the spread of illness. Plus, keeping the beaches clean of dog waste will help ensure that the beach remains dog-friendly.
Teach Fido some off-leash manners
If the beach you're visiting allows dogs to be off leash, be sure that your dog is ready for that freedom. If your dog doesn't play well with others, doesn't come when called, or likes to get in the middle of everything, he's not ready to be off leash. Taking your dog off leash to the beach is much like taking your dog to the dog park. For everyone's safety - your dog included - it's important your dog learn his basic manners and understand how to greet people and dogs in a friendly manner.
Although I've touched on it multiple times already, this final tip really cannot be said enough: always be aware of your dog. If your dog is off leash, your eyes need to be on your dog and not on your latest beach read. Remember that the beach is a public area and not your backyard, so your dog is not free to run amok. On top of that, though, it's important to remember that beaches pose lots of safety hazards, as well. If you're not paying attention to your dog, you may not see him struggling in the water.
A trip to the beach with your dog should be a fun experience. By being mindful of other people and the rules of the beach, you can have a great day out with your four-legged best friend!
Alaina Goodnough is the Promotions Coordinator at Cocheco Valley Humane Society in Dover, NH. She lives in Sanford, ME with two parrots, a cockatoo, a cat, a bearded dragon, and two dachshunds. She can be reached at CVHS at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about Cocheco Valley Humane Society, go to www.cvhsonline.org or call 603-749-5322.