The Essential Guide to Dog Beach Etiquette and Safety

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It’s understandable wanting to bring your dogs with when you go to the beach. After all, they’re part of your family, and you’re likely to have a lot of fun with them running in the sand, playing in the surf, and relaxing at the end of the day. However, just like planning to bring the human members of your family, you need to make sure that you plan ahead so your dogs stay safe, and so they don’t bother other beach goers.

Unfortunately, many people don’t think about the importance of how to control their dogs and keep them safe on the beach. But this is essential in ensuring that you have a safe and fun day with your furry friend. By understanding how to properly control them, how to prevent accidents, and how to make sure they don’t bother others it will help to ensure that you have a great vacation!

To help you out, we've got 10 tips to help you and your dog enjoy your day at the beach.

Understand the Rules of the Beach

The most important thing to do before heading to the beach is to make sure that you understand the rules of the beach that you are visiting. Since rules can vary from location to location, do your research to make sure that you understand the details. Look into time restrictions, find out if there are leash restrictions or if any vaccines are required to join in on the fun. If you don’t do your research beforehand, it's likely you’ll be disappointed to find out that your dog can only go to certain areas or isn’t allowed to be off of the leash like you had hoped. Do your research.

dogs at the beach

Keep Your Dog Under Your Control

If you are unable to control your dog verbally, or if your dog hates being on a leash and will fight you the whole time, then you need to work on training before you take you dog out in public. There’s potential for you to lose control of your dog’s leash, it could get into people’s faces, eat something it isn’t suppose to, or even scare other people on the beach. Nobody wants to go to the beach and be afraid of the dogs there, so make sure that you can keep yours under control when around other people. Be respectful of both your dog, and those around you.

Bring Doggy Bags

While there are plenty of dog owners who bury their dog’s waste in the sand, this is unsanitary and bad etiquette. It’s imperative that you are prepared with bags to pick up after your dog. Many beaches have bag dispensers available, but you can’t rely on these dispensers to have bags when you need them- so plan ahead! 

dog beach etiquette

Don’t Look Away

Just like you wouldn’t look away from your child at the beach or the park, make sure that you can always see where your dog is and what they are doing. Although some owners do let their dogs off leash allowing them to run and play without being watched, this is not only dangerous for the dog, but also for other people. Unfortunately, not all dogs are the best swimmers, and if you are not paying attention to your pet, then they could get into danger without you realizing it.

It’s important to keep an eye on your dog to ensure that they don’t bother other people, too. There are few things that will ruin a child’s day faster than being knocked over by a dog or having a dog run through their sand castle. Just like you wouldn’t let your child knock over another child’s castle, make sure that you don’t let your dog do it, either.

Be Prepared with Water

Your dog is going to get very hot when running and playing on the beach and you will need water to ensure that they are not dehydrated. Unless you bring ample fresh water with you, they are very likely to attempt to drink out of a tide pool or the ocean, which can be very dangerous for your dog due to the high salt content. For this reason, you need to make sure that you have a lot of water for them, as well as a bowl big enough for them.

If you don’t have enough water, then you will need to make trips back and forth to the car or to your hotel. It’s much better to be prepared so that you can give your dogs the water that they need when they are thirsty- don’t wait to give your dog water. It can be frustrating to carry a lot of water with you, but without water on hand your dog can suffer.

Related: What to Bring to the Beach With Your Dog: 10 Essentials

Talk to the Lifeguards

Before allowing your dog into the water, it’s important you speak with the lifeguard to make sure the conditions are safe. While a beach may allow dogs to go off leash and swim, you need to ask about the tide as well as if there are any sharp rocks or seaweed underwater and close to shore that you need to worry about. If the water isn’t safe for your dog, then it’s a much better idea to skip the swim that day and try it on a safer day or in a safer location.

Related: Keep your Dog Safe with a Life Jacket

Bring Vinegar for Stings

Dogs love to be in the water, but there are jellyfish and sea lice lurking. If your pooch is going to go swimming, remember to pack a small bottle of apple cider vinegar. If your dog is stung, pour the apple cider vinegar onto the sting, which will help both to kill off any stinging barbs left behind and to dull the pain. This will help your dog sit still long enough for you to be able to remove the tentacles and will help them feel more comfortable.

dog beach safety 3

Check the Information on Their Tags

It’s easy for homeowners to get lax about updating information on their dog’s tags, but if your dog were to become lost, the information is only good if it’s correct and updated. By making sure that your dog’s name, your address and phone number, and any major health concerns are clearly listed, you can take steps to ensure that your dog will be returned to you safely if it is lost.

Now is also a good time to check the fit of your dog’s collar. You don’t want them to be able to slip their collar and run around the beach without any identification, but the collar shouldn’t be too tight either. Ensure you can comfortably fit a couple fingers under the collar, and also that it won’t slip past the dogs ears. 

Protect Their Skin

Some people feel silly putting sunscreen on their dogs, but animals can get sunburned just as people can, especially if they have pink skin and short white fur. Make sure that you apply sunscreen to their body, ears, and nose before going outside into the sun, and provide them with ample shade throughout the day so that they can take a break and cool down out of the direct sun. It’s important to reapply sunscreen to your dog the same way that you do to humans to ensure that they are protected throughout the day.

Protect Their Feet

Sharp rocks, bits of shells, and broken glass on the beach can all cut into the pads of your dog’s feet. If your dog is willing to wear them, beach shoes are a great way to protect their feet and ensure that the hot sand doesn’t burn their paws. Many dogs are unwilling to wear shoes, especially if they weren’t exposed to them as puppies, so dog owners need to be vigilant about watching for damage to paws. If an injury happens, clean and dress the wound as you would if it were your own, and take the dog to a Veterinarian if necessary. Remember, if the sand is too hot for your feet, it’s too hot for their feet too.

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Other Dog-Friendly Beach Tips

Remember to leash your dog before you get out of the car, and make sure you allow them to get used to being around water in a calmer area just as you would a child. Skip the bigger waves for now, and allow them to become accustomed to dealing with their first water experience so that they will be safe and feel more confident. When you’re done at the beach you will want to rinse off your dog to remove any minerals and salt from it’s coat and make sure that you wipe gently inside the ears to clean them, too.

Final Thoughts

You can have a great day at the beach with your dog if you make sure that you’re prepared to keep them, and others around you, safe. By planning ahead, working on training, and making sure that you’ve prepared supplies, you’ll be set to have a great vacation! There’s nothing like seeing your dog run free on the beach or playing in the surf, just make sure to plan in order to make that happen.