Sun, sand, surf—and Spot: all the ingredients for a great summer getaway! Your dog’s first beach vacation is a time that you’ll remember for years. Whether your dog is still a puppy or a seasoned traveler, that first visit to the beach is a time when you can enjoy the beach through new eyes, and your dog can experience all the new sights, sounds and smells of the ocean.
First, though, you want to make sure that you set your dog up for success by planning a trip that you’ll both love. I remember Irie and Tiki’s first visit to the beach; we headed to Port Aransas, Texas. Although we’d traveled locally with them, this was their first time to play in the surf and dig to their heart’s content in the sand.
What’s the secret to a successful beach trip with your dog? Like any good vacation, it starts with good planning—and packing. I’ve teamed up with the NexGard team and below you’ll find more information on how to create an online pet gift registry with dog essentials, including items for traveling.
Before Your Trip
The fun of a beach getaway starts before you grab the leash and the car keys—it begins with your pre-trip planning. When we travel with our dogs, we plan more than we do for a traditional trip, making sure we’ve found a destination that will welcome us all with open paws.
Research dog-friendly beaches
Not every beach is dog-friendly — and not all dog-friendly beaches are open to four-legged visitors during peak periods. We’ve seen some beaches that permit dogs only in off-season, and other beaches that welcome dogs only early in the morning or late in the evenings. Do some checking before you book your getaway (a quick call to the destination’s parks department will usually fetch you the current regulations).
Consider your dog’s temperament
If your destination has a designated dog beach (which usually means one that allows off-leash romping), ask yourself if that’s the best option for your dog. Dog beaches are a good fit for dogs who enjoy dog parks and all the social interaction that goes along with off-leash play. Other dogs—including ours—are more comfortable at on-leash beaches, walking and playing at our side.
Prepare for safety
Our dogs Irie and Tiki are happy just playing in the surf; they don’t want to get out and swim—but if your dog is a swimmer, consider packing a dog life vest. Surf and riptides can quickly tire even the best swimmers.
Pack for success
We all know that a trip to the beach means plenty of special supplies, from beach chairs to sunscreen—and that applies to four-legged travelers, too. Our beach packing list for Irie and Tiki includes dog shampoo, old towels, extra dog waste bags, a beach umbrella for shade, a large water bowl (we use a silicone cake pan for travel), and liter bottles to fill with fresh water. We like to pack spare collars not only so we’ll have one in case of breakage, but also to give the dogs a dry collar after a day in the salt water. We also pack not only a spare fixed leash but a retractable one, too. Irie likes to romp in the shallow water and, in the shallow water of our favorite beaches, we don’t have to worry about underwater hazards snagging the leash.
During Your Beach Visit
Hooray—it’s time for your dog’s beach vacation! It’s time to make some memories—but make sure those memories are good ones by heeding a few precautions.
Tag your dog
It may be hard to get your dog’s attention at the beach. Even the best-trained dogs will be distracted by the fun, the activity on the beach, plus all the new sights and smells—and the surf may drown out your voice. Be sure your dog’s collar includes at least one ID tag with your name and cell phone number. (If you’ll be staying at the beach for a week or so, consider adding a temporary tag with your local address, too.)
Don’t let your dog drink salt water
Along with lapping up the fun of romping in the waves, most dogs will also want to lap up some salt water—a recipe for diarrhea and other potential problems. The best way to keep your dog from drinking sea water (which must be a canine cocktail of salt and fish-tinged water) is to hydrate your dog before he steps into the surf. We carry a water bowl to the beach and a collapsible water bowl on beach walks—and Irie and Tiki are encouraged to drink before every visit to the water. If you’re staying at a hotel with a freezer, you can also freeze plastic liter bottles (leave them 1/3 empty so they don’t burst) to provide cool dog water throughout the day.
Follow the rules
OK, we’ve all seen those people that walk right past the sign specifying that dogs must be on leash at all times—then turn their dogs loose. Don’t be that person. Even a few incidents and complaints can mean a dog-friendly beach one season becomes an off-limits beach the next summer. If your beach destination requires a leash, it may be due to crowds, wildlife, or dangers like car traffic on the beach, situations where leashes keep your dog and everyone else safe. And always, always pick up after your dog.
Watch for litter
Another good reason to keep your dog on leash at the beach is to keep him out of any litter that may have washed up on the sand. More than just discarded soda cans, beach litter can span everything from industrial waste to rotting fish. Sharp fishing hooks—and frightening tangled fishing line—are hazards both in and out of the water.
Watch out for jellyfish!
The beach itself makes the perfect place for a nice, long dog walk, but you’ll need to keep an eye out for a few troublemakers including the Portuguese Man-Of-War. The tentacles of these iridescent purple creatures produce a nasty sting.
Don’t overdo it
All that fun makes a puppy tired! In your dog’s excitement, he might want to play and play, but make time for a good nap in the sand and plenty of down time.
Rinse – and repeat!
After a day in the salt water and sand, be sure to rinse your dog in fresh water, even if you don’t have time for a complete dog bath. Rinse off—then rest up for the next day’s fun in the sun!
The maker of NexGard worked with bloggers like me for its It’s A Dog! program. This blog has been written by me on behalf of the NexGard team. I received compensation for my time.