With the summer season upon us there’s no time like the present to enjoy the beach with your dog. For most dogs dipping their paws in the sea or chasing a ball across the sand makes for the best day ever! But in summer, when our beaches are at their busiest, it is important to be a responsible dog parent so it remains an enjoyable experience for all beach-goers. To ensure it is a fun experience for all involved prepare yourself with poo bags, sunscreen, a leash and plenty of fresh water. And be sure to understand the restrictions and know your dog’s swimming and recall abilities.
Know before you go
Although dogs are welcome on many beaches across New Zealand, owners need to be careful to read signs at each local beach to understand the restrictions. As a rule of thumb if in doubt, check your local councils website for full information.
In general beaches operate in two seasons summer and winter which have different hours that dogs are allowed or not allowed on the beach. Generally the summer beach hours apply from Labour weekend to 31 March, but this can change from region to region so it is important to know before you go.
Supervise your pet
Once you are aware of the hours that your pet is allowed on the beach it is important to consider whether your dog responds well to basic commands such as recall. As even if your dog is allowed to be off-leash on the beach, it is vital that you are able to call your dog back to you if needed, and that you are supervising them at all times.
Although for many dogs the beach is a very exciting place! Which can mean they struggle to listen or are easily distracted. But that does not mean they have to miss out on the fun and freedom of running and playing at the beach. For young dogs or dogs with poor recall, the use of a long line or Flexi Vario Retractable Tape Lead can help to give the dogs freedom to run and move - while still providing owners with peace of mind and control.
Keep them safe
Dogs, just like humans, are at risk of sunburn, especially here in New Zealand where our strong sun can burn the skin in as little as 10 minutes in the heat of the day. Most at risk of sunburn is dogs with thin wispy coats, or white or light colouring.
Thankfully, we can prevent sunburn in our pets in much the same way we prevent our own sunburn. Through providing shade, limiting time spent in the sun and putting doggy sunscreen on. Dogs most commonly experience sunburn on the ears, stomach or nose, so it is important to apply a pet friendly sunblock to these areas 30 minutes before taking your dog out in the sun.
The beach is somewhere for the whole family to enjoy, so it is important to be prepared with poo bags and keep your dog in sight so that you can pick up after them. After all nobody likes the surprise of stepping on a dog poo. Plus by doing your part in keeping the beach clean you will help to ensure dogs are allowed to enjoy our beaches for years to come.
Know your dog
Don’t assume your dog can swim, like humans most dogs need to learn to swim. Although all dogs can swim with patience and practice, it does come more naturally for breeds like golden retrievers, Labradors and Newfoundlands. Whereas other breeds with short noses and legs such as Corgis, Bulldogs and Pugs generally struggle with swimming.
So it is important to know your dog's ability, and keep a close eye on them to ensure their experience is a positive one. If your dog is not a strong swimmer but you still want them to enjoy a dip in the water, you can get keep them safe with the Alcott Mariner Life Jacket, that helps them to keep them safe and comfortable in the sea. But be sure to let them take their time to adjust to the waves and current and always stay within arm’s reach of your dog so you can help them if they get into trouble.
Keep it cool!
With sun comes heat! Which is something you need to keep in mind when going to the beach with your dog. At the heat of the day it is easy for dogs to burn their paw pads on the scorching hot sand. So we recommend venturing out in the early mornings or late evenings when it is not so hot. If you need to visit the beach in the middle of the day, we recommend finding a cool and shady area to play or even better let your dog have a dip in sea to cool themselves down!
It is also important to watch for the warning signs of heat stroke in dogs, which include, rapid panting, drooling, coordination issues, vomiting, diarrhoea and loss of consciousness. If you suspect your dog has heat stroke move into the shade and apply cool water all over their body to help gradually lower their temperature. Let them drink small amounts of water and apply ice packs or cool towels to their body. If they do not improve be sure to take them to the nearest vet.
Keep them hydrated
In addition to overheating, dogs can become dehydrated very quickly in summer, so it is important to ensure you pack plenty of fresh drinking water and a dog friendly bottle or travel bowl.
If your dog loves swimming, you also need to keep an eye on them to make sure that they don’t drink too much sea water. As drinking large amounts of salt water can result in dehydration, vomiting, and diarrhoea for your dog. To prevent your dog from drinking salt water, make sure you have plenty of fresh water on hand to give them throughout the day.
Be considerate of others
It is important to remember that not everyone loves dogs! Some people may not be comfortable around dogs, so it is important that you show respect to other beach users. By when you come across other beach goers when walking your dog off leash, be sure to call your dog back to you and keep them close until they pass. If your dog struggles with recall it is good etiquette to keep them on a leash or use a long line.
Share with care!
In New Zealand we are lucky enough to share our beaches with a range of wildlife from birds, to seals and penguins. It is important to keep an eye out for wildlife at the beach and have your leash handy, as dogs can destroy wildlife nests and injure birds in a matter of seconds. If you do encounter wildlife it is important to immediately call your dog back to you and put them on the leash to protect the animals. It is also good to carry your pets favourite toy with you, to use as a distraction in case you encounter wildlife on your walk, as this can help to redirect their attention back to you.
Most importantly be sure to have a great time with your dog! Toys are a great way to keep your dog happy and focused on you at the beach. There are a wide range of toys that are suitable for use at the beach from balls and frisbees to specially designed cooling dog toys like the Bark-a-Boo Hydro Long Penguin Toy that is designed to get wet to help to keep your pet cool and hydrated.
There is no denying that a day at the beach with your dog is part of the quintessential kiwi summer. From running through the sand to playing fetch and swimming in the surf, the beach is the perfect place to exercise and spend quality time with your dog. But it does requires planning and preparation to ensure both you and your dog and other beach-goers are all able to enjoy a safe and fun day at the beach.