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Dog Friendly Beaches: Rules and Etiquette You Should Know

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Do your summer plans include travel to the beach for you and your dog? Not all beaches permit dogs–partly because some dog owners have disregarded public laws in the past. When you do find dog-friendly beaches, it’s more important than ever to exhibit good petiquette!

And just what is good petiquette while at the beach? We’ve got tips from the expert, Charlotte Reed, the author of The Miss Fido Manners Complete Book of Dog Etiquette!

Check In Advance

Prior to arriving at your beach destination, with your dog in tow, check with the city, municipality or state park to determine if your pet is allowed on the beach.

During peak tourist season, typically May-September, there is a greater likelihood that dogs will not be welcome on the beach or may be subjected to restricted hours (before 9:00 AM or after 6:00 PM).

Find out a beach’s pet policy in advance of your visit so, if needed, alternate accommodations for your pet can be secured.

Pack Prepared

Your dog has needs at the beach just as they do at home. To ensure your dog has as great a time as you do, pack:

  • extra water
  • a plastic reusable water bowl
  • doggy clean up bags and/or pooper scooper
  • water safety equipment, such as a life vest or preserver
  • a first aid kit
  • waterproof and/or antimicrobial leash and collar,
  • floating dog toys that can be seen on the top of the ocean, thwarting a dog’s need to dive beneath the waves in pursuit of a beloved toy

Comply with Leash Laws at Dog Friendly Beaches

Allowing your dog to roam free on the beach can be dangerous to both your pet and other occupants. By keeping your pet on a leash at all times, you ensure that your pet is under control, out of harms way, unable to bother other beach goers or have an altercation with another dog.

In many cases, leash laws can regulate the lengths of leashes to 6 or 8 feet. In that case, your pet may not be able to run at the end of a retractable.

Be aware of all leash laws as most are coupled with a monetary fine for those choosing to disregard this common sense, and common courtesy, rule.

Training for Good Measure

Teach your pet to recall, or to come on command so that you can have verbal control over when he is off-leash.

Take Care of the Environment

Environmentalists, state and local agencies are concerned with the preservation of wildlife that nests and plants that are grown on the coastal shore. Be sure your frolicking dog does not disturb nests or destroy area wildlife in their quest for enjoyment.

Frequent Dog Friendly Areas

As a conciliatory measure for dog owners some local governments and state parks have designated shoreline dog play areas. Such areas are like a dog park at the beach! As a result, treat the dog beach like your dog park at home. Show your appreciation for local government and state parks recognition by complying with the posted rules and regulations. Supervise your pet at all times as they revel in playing with the other dogs in the water and swimming. And just like at home, remove your pet from the action if a fight breaks out.

Pick-Up after Your Pet

Dog waste on the beach can ruin any beach lover’s day. One of the main reasons pets have been prohibited at the beach is because of the waste their owners choose to leave behind, polluting the sand and surf. Be respectful of the beach and its patrons, pick up and dispose of all dog waste in appropriate receptacles. This does not necessarily include the garbage cans of a homeowner that lives on the shoreline. Use public access waste facilities or take dog waste with you for disposal.

Quick Rinse

Being itchy and irritated isn’t fun for anyone, this includes your pet. After a day at the beach rinse your pooch off with water at a convenient beachside shower to remove sand, salt and small beach bugs. This will keep your dog comfortable and your hotel, rental home or beach house clean.


This post was originally published in 2009.

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