What to Know Before Bringing Your Dog to the Beach

When temperatures soar many of us think about packing up the car with beach chairs, towels, and picnic baskets for a day at the shore. Those of us lucky enough to live near dog-friendly beaches throw in Frisbees, tennis balls and water dishes.

While it’s definitely more challenging to find beaches that allow dogs—especially in coastal cities or metropolitan areas in the U.S. and Canada—there are still many dog-friendly shore communities. DogFriendly.com and BringFido.com offer lists of beaches searchable by state. It’s always best to check with the township before heading out to make sure its rules and regulations haven’t changed regarding dogs.

Good Dog Beach Etiquette

Like us, dogs enjoy cool sea breezes and racing along soft stretches of sand. Many also love jumping in and out of the water or barking madly at the waves. Practicing good dog beach etiquette (and safety!) allows everyone to enjoy the shore.

Be considerate of others.

Being allowed to take your dog on the beach is a privilege, not a right. This privilege can be revoked at any time when dog owners don’t respect other patrons. Based on an unscientific poll by DogFriendly.com, the top reason park officials gave for banning dogs from beaches was a disregard for leash laws.

Once popular dog beaches are now off-limits to pets because off-leash dogs were not under the control of their owners and bothered other people on the beach.

Sunbathers were not happy about being jumped on by dogs whose paws were covered in sand, and children were scared to have a big dog rushing up to them on the beach. It doesn’t matter if your dog is friendly, not everyone loves dogs.

Follow the leash laws.

At many dog beaches, the rules state that dogs need to be leashed at all times. If that’s the case at the beach you’re planning to visit, then keep your dog on a leash.

If the law states that your dog has to be held on a leash of a fixed length (typically a 6-foot-leash), don’t use a retractable leash. Some of these leashes extend up to 26 feet allowing the dogs to invade the space of other dogs and of people.

How to Be a Good Dog Beach-Goer

Only allow well-trained dogs loose on off-leash beaches.

As tempting as it may be to release your dog on an off-leash beach, don’t do it unless your dog is totally under your control. That means that your dog will come back to you when called.

This rule tops the list at dog-friendly beaches. In Jupiter, FL the dog beach rules also specify that only behaved, obedient, well-socialized dogs should be brought to the beach. This coastal community also requires that dogs are leashed from the car to the beach, around small children and at water fountains.

Scoop the poop.

According to the DogFriendly.com poll, the second most popular reason for banning dogs from beaches was because owners weren’t picking up after their dogs. This is a common complaint on beaches and in local communities and it gives all dog owners a bad name.

When officials in Jupiter, FL were discussing a ban on dogs because of too much waste on Jupiter Beach. a local group of dog lovers took action. The Friends of Jupiter Beach raised money for poop bags and dispensers and once a month volunteers spread out across the beach to pick up dog poop left behind after irresponsible dog owners.

When your dog poops on the beach, don’t cover it up with sand or toss it into the dunes or water. Bring along poop bags, pick up the poop and place it in the trash can or poop dispenser.

Steer clear of the most crowded section of the beach.

Don’t allow your dog to invade the space of other patrons. If there is a more secluded section of the beach, choose to set up camp there. It will be easier to control your dog and pose less of a chance that your pet will bother other beachgoers.

Never allow your dog to poop or pee near sunbathers or where children are playing in the sand. Also, don’t allow your dog to shake sand and water all over other patrons.

Good Dog Beach Etiquette

Obey the off-limit laws.

Many beaches allow dogs during off times—early in the morning or late in the evening—when the beaches are less crowded. In fact, those times are better for dogs anyway, as it will be cooler.

Often shore communities allow a certain stretch of beach for dogs. Respect the rules and don’t cross the “No Dogs Allowed” signs.

Dog Beach Safety Tips

  • If you are hot, your dog is hotter. Make sure that your pet has access to shade, water and other methods of staying cool.
  • Do not allow your dog to swim too far from the shore as he or she may get caught in a current. It is safest to stay close to your dog when in the water.
  • If possible, avoid having your dog walk across the pavement during very hot weather. If the pavement is too hot, it could burn the pads of your dog’s feet. Instead, try to walk your dog across grassy areas. If this isn’t possible, carry your dog over the pavement.
  • Dogs can get a sunburn just like humans. If your dog has short hair, apply a sunscreen to all exposed areas. Even long-haired dogs should have sunscreen applied to their noses and ears. Be sure to use a canine-approved sunblock as some human-grade screens can be toxic to pets.
  • Be sure to bring along a water bowl and a supply of fresh drinking water. Do not allow your dog to drink sea water as it can cause dehydration, vomiting and diarrhea.
  • If there is a jellyfish warning, do not allow your dog to go in the water.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock


Ingrid A
Past Member 2 months ago

Thank you for sharing

Marie W
Marie W4 months ago

thanks for posting

Sophie A
Sarah A5 months ago

thanks for posting

Rosslyn O
Rosslyn O10 months ago

All excellent tips and warnings, this goes unsaid for many of us as we do the right thing. Shame that the responsible folk have to suffer for the irresponsible people. Please carry these ethics when in parks as well as walking along footpaths. Thanks

Hannah K
Past Member 10 months ago

Thank you

Barbara M
Past Member 10 months ago

thanks for sharing

Ann T
Ann Telfer10 months ago

A much-needed post, thank you. This goes for parks as well.

HEIKKI R10 months ago

thank you

Danii P
Past Member 10 months ago

Thank you.

Danii P
Past Member 10 months ago

Thank you.