With weather warming up it’s time to dust off the bathers and head down the beach for some fun with the dogs. So it’s also the time to talk about “beach etiquette” and how to make sure that everyone gets to enjoy the beach this summer.
Every dog owner has a responsibility to keep their dog under control and adequately supervised at all times when out in public. Everyone is entitled to enjoy their surroundings and it’s really important to respect everyone’s space. For some reason I’ve found that the dog beach tends to be treated as a free for all with many dog owners, believing that once they arrive in the parking lot at the beach, they no longer need to take any responsibility for what their dog does and how it behaves.
Beach etiquette should start in the car park. I am constantly surprised by how many people let their dogs out of the car without their lead on to either stand in the middle of the road or run through the car park and down onto the beach, completely unsupervised. Not only is this dangerous for the dog if there was a car driving through the car park but it is also dangerous for any unsuspecting adult, child or dog that your dog may run into. It is also very annoying when you are trying to get your own dogs out of the car and have to fend off strange dogs who have wandered over while their owners aren’t paying attention.
If your dog does not come back when he’s called, do not let it off the lead. I see so many people let their dog off lead and then spend the next hour trying to catch them. These dogs are often the ones who are off annoying everyone else’s dogs, stealing other dog’s toys or trampling on children’s sandcastles. Make the effort to teach your dog a reliable recall and until that happens leave your dog on lead so they remain under your control and don’t become a nuisance.
Not all dogs are going to like each other just as not all people like each other. I have always found it interesting that a lot of people assume that all dogs should get on and if their dog is “friendly” every other dog will automatically like it. This is not the case. You should never assume that it’s ok for your dog to run up and play with other strange dogs. Most dogs aren’t bothered by another dog that has a quick passing sniff but it is not ok for your dog to fly into a group of dogs it doesn’t know and bounce all over them.
To help put it in perspective, would you consider it appropriate behaviour for a person you’ve never met before to rush up to you unexpectedly, get right in your face and jump on you? Probably not. With that in mind, I’ve always wondered why many dog owners think it’s ok for their dogs to do just that to other dogs. One of the biggest causes of dog fights is when a dog who doesn’t appreciate being jumped on retaliates when put in this position. And rightly so!
If you have a dog who is unable to resist running up to other dogs put your dog on a lead when around other dogs or make sure they have a reliable recall so you can call them to you when you encounter other dogs. Or check with the owner of the dog first if it’s ok for your dog to play with them before letting them interact.
I probably don’t need to state the obvious but please pick up after your dog on the beach! Not only will it make it a more comfortable place for others to spend time but it keeps the environment and water cleaner for our marine life and will reduce the opportunity for flies to breed.
Don’t forget to take dog toys to the beach to play with. There are plenty of great floating toys available these days for dogs to fish out of the water and many dogs will lose interest in visiting other dogs when they have something constructive of their own to do. For food motivated dogs, take down a container of your dog’s favourite treats and reward it for appropriate behavior.
Above all take responsibility for your dog, be aware of what they are doing at all times and keep them under control to ensure that everyone gets to enjoy the beach.