Woof Woof! Guess who’s back? Back again? It’s your friendly neighborhood retriever, Rufus Woofman! I was off last week, as I was on vacation. I was running around the hills, chasing rodents, and relaxing on the beaches of Long Doggie Island. That brings me to the topic of the blog: Beach Trips! There is still one month of summer left, and you’re probably thinking that you haven’t gone to the beach nearly as much as you’d like. Time to get going! Taking your dog to the beach can be more work that it seems like, but with these tips, you and your dog should have a blast!
1. Find a Dog-Friendly Beach
This is an important step, obviously. Some beaches may not allow dogs, and others are not very dog friendly. For example, most Rockaway beaches unfortunately restrict dogs to small, specialized areas during the summertime. However, there are several beaches in the New York area that should be a good fit. Manhattan Beach Park, Prospect Park Dog Beach, and Brooklyn Bridge Park Dog Run are all dog-friendly destinations within the city limits. If you want to take a little trip outside the city, East Hampton Main Beach, Montauk Beach and Lake George Dog Beach are very accessible for dogs.
2. Get A Beach Umbrella and Blanket
As I wrote about in a previous column, dogs can be very sensitive to the heat and the sun. Have a beach umbrella so your dog can have a shady place to lie down when he or she gets tired from running around in the sand. Look for signs of overheating, such as rapid panting and drooling, and coordination problems. Make sure to have a blanket or towel to wrap around your dog to protect your dog’s paws from getting scorched by the hot sand. Dogs with small noses, such as pugs, boxers, Boston terriers, or shih tzus are especially vulnerable to the sun.
3. Bring Fresh Water!
Make sure your dog has access to fresh water! There is a good chance that your dog may take in a little bit of salt water. This isn’t particularly dangerous unless your dog takes in too much, but make sure to have fresh water around so that he or she doesn’t look to the ocean for a source of hydration, because the salt water won’t help. If it’s a very hot, sunny day, bring lots and lots of water. You won’t regret it.
4. Apply Sunscreen
Chances are, if you need sunscreen, so does your dog! Ask your vet what type of sunscreen is best for your dog. Also consider trimming your dog’s hair if they have a thick coat before applying sunscreen.
5. Know if your dog can swim!
Not all dogs have the natural swimming ability of Michael Phelps, or of Rufus Woofman. (OK, maybe that’s a stretch, but I’m a decent swimmer. No, really, I am.) You can try to teach your dog how to swim if you feel comfortable doing that, but don’t run into deep water or large waves expecting your dog to know what they’re doing. Stay safe out there!
6. Have fun playing, but be aware of your surroundings
There’s nothing wrong with playing around in the sand, or teaching them new tricks. In fact, it can definitely be the highlight of a beach trip! Just make sure to be aware of your surroundings, especially if there’s other doggies around. They may get aggressive, especially if there are a lot of male and female dogs nearby. I don’t think I need to explain this part any further. Also, make sure that your dog knows to come to you when you call. It can be easy to get lost on a large beach, and it’s up to you to make sure that doesn’t happen.
7. Dry Off and Clean Up!
Use a towel to dry off your dog after he or she plays around in the water. At the very least, they will smell better on the ride home. Some dog friendly beaches may have “Mutt Mitts” at the entrance of the beach, and you should use this to clean your dog’s waste. Help clean off your dog, and clean up your surroundings.
Puppies under four months old are highly recommended to stay away from the beach. Otherwise, follow this advice, and have a lot of fun! Play some Frisbee and football, build some sandcastles, go in the water. Dogs like that stuff too!
For more info on the topic, see http://www.animalplanet.com/pets/taking-your-dog-to-the-beach-happy-everything-animal-planet/, https://www.animalbehaviorcollege.com/blog/7-tips-for-bringing-your-dog-to-the-beach/
Editor’s Note: In an earlier edition of this article, Rufus Woofman claimed to have won the 100 meter doggy style in his high school’s county swimming championship. Upon further review, it was revealed that his claim was false; Mr. Woofman did indeed swim the doggy style, but never placed higher than 3rd in a county-wide swim meet.