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On a hot day, there’s nothing like walking barefoot in the sand as you soak up the rays on one of Canada’s many vast and sandy beaches. Just as kids and adults alike rush into the water on a hot day, some of our canine companions like to join us in a good romp, or just to cool off.

With all the adventures and activities a family can explore at the beach, all too often important considerations like pet safety and beach pet-iquette can be easily forgotten.

Here’s a few to keep in mind the next time you’re out with your dog at the beach:

Read the signs. They’re there for a reason.

If your local beach has big signs forbidding dogs, then take heed and find a friendlier spot to visit. The fines for breaching these bylaws can run up to hundreds of dollars. Not to mention that your family pet might end up in puppy jail. There’s a reason the signs are there. As much as you love your dog, others may not. They could have severe allergies, timid children, or just simply aren’t dog lovers like the rest of us. Regardless of the reason, it’s our responsibility as pet owners to make sure that we don’t push our pets into other people’s lives and space.

Take the lead

Anytime you’re outdoors, no matter how well-trained your dog, leashes are an important tool. So when you head to the cabin or beach make sure your dog is always secured to your hip, preventing random seagull chases and children’s sand castle disasters. Just as you would reign in your kids if they got out of hand, your dog needs similar controls. Keep some treats nearby to encourage positive behavior and to help prevent the other kind.

Drink. Drink. Then drink some more.

Can you imagine how hot and thirsty you would get with a coat of fur? Always remember to bring along enough drinking water for you and your dog. Even if there’s plenty of H20 around you, it’s very unhealthy for your dog to drink from lakes and oceans, and in some cases this can actually increase dehydration. Your dog needs clean and cold drinking water just like you. Keep an eye on them throughout the day to monitor their liquid intake, and encourage them to drink often. They can sometimes ‘forget’ they’re thirsty with all the new smells and distractions of the beach.  In a pinch, most concession stands today sell bottled water – although it’ll be a lot more pricey than tap water from home.

Watch what you leave behind.

It’s bad enough stepping in doggy-doo at the best of times, but it’s truly disgusting in bare feet. Try to watch for the tell-tale signs your dog needs to go, and take him away to a grassy area to do his business. If you’re too late to react, clean it up right away and be sure to include the sand under and around his business. Then, to be extra safe, pour some water over it and cover it with fresh sand. Your neighbours will appreciate your extra precautions and demonstrating this kind of responsible pet ownership may even help them to be more relaxed around your dog if they get a little rambunctious throughout the day.

Seek out a quiet, more secluded spot.

With our shorter summers, beaches can really get packed on nice days. If at all possible, with your furry friend in tow, try to keep to an area with less people, and ideally, more shade. It ensures everyone is more comfortable, and you won’t need to spend your day worried that a happy bark might create a disturbance or even a disagreement. It also gives you more room for a game of fetch.