Having dogs on beaches can be a contentious issue for many people — from locals who baulk at the thought of having certain doggie deposits in their sandy front yards, to holiday makers who don’t want to share their children’s playground with other people’s fur friends, to environmentalists who want to keep the beach for birds and natives.
But for dog owners, off-leash beaches are a fantastic opportunity to see their beloved hound race around in a large, open space, dig madly in the sand, and leap into the water, biting at waves.
Have you ever known a dog not to love the beach, after all?
Luckily, there are a few simple tricks to making sure the right to have dogs on beaches keeps everyone happy. And when it comes to beachside etiquette, we find a little goes a long way.
1. Pick up your poop!
Sounds like a no-brainer, right? But this is the fastest way to ruin the fun for everyone. And it’s a simple one to solve. Pick up after your dog and half the dog-beach angst disappears. Take your poo bags! No excuses!
(We find this is especially important in locations with lots of official off-leash areas, like Coffs Harbour, Hervey Bay or Kununurra, as opposed to those with less formal designated pet areas… maybe the more pet owners there are in a place, the less likely you are t get away with little slip-ups!)
2. Read the signs.
Make sure you’re in an off leash area if you plan to have your dog off leash. Every beach is different, and many beaches only dedicate certain areas to off leash access. Know where you need a leash, where you don’t, and where dogs shouldn’t be at all. Pleading ignorance won’t get you anywhere!
3. Control your animal.
Where there are families, there are potential problems. If your dog isn’t used to young children, make sure they stay away from families on the beach, or tell a child patting your dog to be gentle in case your fur friend gets the wrong idea. Have a leash handy in case you come across a particularly anxious parent or fearful child to avoid any hassles. Not everyone is as cruisy as you when it comes to pets. Boo hoo!
4. Take a towel.
This one’s more for your own sanity than any official etiquette! Your backseat will thank you for it, as will that wet dog smell that likes to linger in the car or couch.
5. Stay hydrated.
We’re talking to you, Fido. Most dogs will drink saltwater in the process of crashing through the waves and chasing fish, so counteract the dehydrating effects by carrying plenty of fresh water and a travel container for them to drink from. You might like your own bottle, too.
6. Beware the fisherman.
Dogs love fishermen — and why wouldn’t they? They smell good, stay in the one spot, and seem to be throwing an imaginary ball into the ocean all the time. But for dogs, these strange beasts can hide a multitude of dangers — the most obvious being hidden hooks in tempting pieces of bait. Avoid any impromptu trips to the vet by calling your dog away from these exciting dangers in the first place.