Jersey shore beaches are fun, but they can be even better if you bring your four-legged friend! It’s important to be prepared and careful to make sure your day at the beach with your pooch goes off without a hitch. Here are some tips on taking your dog to the Jersey Shore.
Before You Go
First of all, make sure you know where you’re allowed to go! Choose dog friendly beaches and familiarize yourself with their rules beforehand. Some common rules are that sand dunes (often full of protected plants and animals) may be off limits or that ID tags for your dog may be required. Make sure your dog is up-to-date on vaccinations so that all pets on the beach can stay healthy. Finally, if your pup is really young (usually less than 4 months old), they might not be allowed on the beach for safety reasons.
If you can, teach your dog to swim in a lake, stream, or pool near your house before you take them to the beach. Even experienced swimmers can struggle in the waves, so teaching them to swim then and there can be dangerous if the waters aren’t calm. At the same time, if you find that your dog doesn’t like swimming, or that your particular breed is prone to issues with swimming, don’t force it on them! Some dogs have more fun running in the sand or shallow water.
Also make sure your dog is trained with the basic commands (sit, stay, lay down, roll over). At the very least, your dog must know recall (a.k.a. comes to you when their name is called). If you have trouble teaching a young dog any commands, treats serve as great positive reinforcement!
Look up the tide forecast for whatever beach you plan to visit. Try to plan your beach day when the waters are calm. If the beach you wanted to visit has rough waters, it might be a good idea to pick a different one, especially if you’re dog is a swimming beginner.
What to Bring
Life jacket – Especially if your dog is a beginner or has small legs that require them to kick more to stay afloat. However, this is handy for any dog if they get tired after a long day of swimming or if there’s an emergency. Some life jackets have handles on the back that allow you to pick up your pooch straight out of the water, for example, if they approach something dangerous.
Cool water and a bowl – Dogs might try to drink salt water if they feel dehydrated, but this can induce vomiting or act as a laxative. Yuck! Bringing cold fresh water will keep your dog happy and hydrated, and will give them another reason to come when called. A bowl just makes it easier for your dog to drink.
Doggie sunscreen – Yes, dogs can get sunburned, too, especially if they have light colored fur and noses or if they are hairless. You can find this at most pet stores, especially during the summer. Make sure it doesn’t have Zinc oxides (as most suncreens for humans do) or fragrances that could cause a reaction.
Doggie sunglasses – You might be surprised to hear that they make these, but they’re quite useful. Dogs see best in the dark, so the bright sunlight on the beach can make it harder for them to see. Not only will your dog be able to see any possible threats better, but he’ll be the coolest looking canine on the beach!
T-shirt – This can protect your dog’s body from sunburn, especially if your breed is hairless.
Laser pointer – If your dog is more of a night owl, bring this to make sure they never lose you on the beach in the dark!
Floating toys – You don’t want your dog (or you) having to dive to the bottom of the ocean to retrieve a toy! Floating toys decrease the risk of drowning, keep your dog’s muzzle cleaner, and are less likely to get lost in the water.
Wastebags – While some beaches provide this for you, you can never be sure, and they might run out on busy days. You wouldn’t want to leave your pooch’s poop for a child to find buried in the sand later!
ID tag – Whether it’s required or not, ID tags are the easiest way for people to return your pet to you in case they get lost. Microchips can only go so far.
Leash – This might not be required, either, but you want to make sure your dog doesn’t venture too far from you when you’re walking around or swimming in the water. This helps especially on busy days when people might come up to pet your dog – or might actually be afraid of them!
Treats – Use these to coax your dog to you when all else fails. And of course, they’ll need some food throughout the day to keep running and swimming.
First aid kit – We like to pretend this would never happen, but in case of an emergency, bring a first aid kit stocked with gauze, antibiotic cream, and any medications your dog might need.
Umbrella – Keep both you and your dog shaded.
Now that we’ve covered the “before” of taking your dog to the Jersey shore, stay tuned for what you should do during your trip and after it’s over.