You’re on the way to the seaside, taking your dog for the first time, and you can’t wait to see their reaction. You imagine your pup racing off towards the water, tail helicoptering with excitement. They’re running backwards and forwards from you to the surf, splashing in the waves, having the best time ever.
But it doesn’t always turn out that way. For some dogs, their first day at the beach is not a non-stop wagfest. Seawater is no fun to drink, sand tastes awful and the sun leaves them hot and bothered.
With a bit of forward planning, you can avoid these problems. Here are a few ideas on how to make sure that your dog loves their first day at the beach.
Check the beach is dog-friendly
It’s wise to check first that the beach you’ve chosen is dog-friendly. Here’s a great guide to places that will welcome your pooch with open paws. Also check out some of YuMOVE’s favourite dog-friendly beaches in the UK.
Keep your dog on the lead – at first
If it’s your pup’s first time experiencing the sand between their paws, it makes sense to keep them on a lead at the start. Use a lead around 3-4 metres in length: long enough for them to explore, short enough to keep them out of trouble!
Get your pooch a doggy life jacket
Not all dogs like swimming. Not all dogs are even capable of swimming. And you don’t want to discover that your pooch isn’t a water baby when they’re out of their depth and out of your reach.
That’s why doggy life jackets are such a brilliant idea. The best ones have floatation sections underneath the belly and at the sides for buoyancy, are brightly-coloured for visibility and have handles so you can haul your pup out of the water if necessary.
We’ve heard good things about Ruffwear dog life jackets. They’ll help keep your pooch safe alongside you whether you’re swimming, kayaking, surfing or paddle boarding.
Don’t let your dog drink seawater
It looks like water. It is water. But it tastes nothing like the water your dog’s used to drinking at home. And the more they drink, the thirstier they’ll get.
Seawater contains high levels of salt, and if your dog drinks too much, it can lead to vomiting, dehydration or ‘beach diarrhoea’.
The effects can be really serious, so you need a solid strategy in place to ensure your pooch has fresh water to drink and isn’t tempted to take a slurp from the ocean.
- Taking a pet water bottle along with you.
- Filling a one litre plastic bottle with water and using a collapsible water bowl.
- Giving your dog extra fresh water to drink if you think they’ve been drinking seawater.
- Making sure your dog has regular breaks from swimming in the sea, at least every 15 minutes.
Your pooch could also get too hot from running around in the sun, enjoying themselves so much that they forget to drink.
To avoid your dog becoming dehydrated or suffering heat exhaustion, make sure they take time out from running around, have fresh water to drink and a shady spot where they can lie down out of the direct heat of the sun. For more on preventing dehydration, read our blog on Pet First Aid: Dehydration in Dogs.
Litter on the beach isn’t just a menace for children; it’s dangerous for dogs too. When you’re walking along, keep an eye out for anything that could be hazardous for your pup, from discarded fishing hooks, litter and e-cigarettes to broken glass or even jellyfish.
And as for that pile of leftover mackerel bait, that’s not going to harm your pup, but you know it will stink worse than fox poo if you let them near it. As far as we’re concerned, that’s another argument for keeping your dog on a lead on the beach.
Just good manners
Your dog will have a better first day at the beach if you make sure they’re on their best behaviour.
Keep your dog under control at the seaside, particularly if you’re walking near other dogs, small children or picnics. If you want to see a Labrador break the sound barrier, just put them within sniffing distance of a sausage roll. And, of course, clean up after your dog.
How to overcome anxiety
If your dog doesn’t have the best first day at the beach, they might become anxious or phobic about the seaside. No one wants that! We all want to enjoy being beside the seaside.
Help your dog to overcome their anxiety by taking them to an animal behaviourist who can recommend exercises to soothe their fear response. You could also give your dog YuCALM, a clever supplement that supports the natural calming pathways in your dog’s brain.