The sun's out and temperatures are finally starting to climb, so that only means one thing – beach!
It feels like we’ve waited ages for a beach day, one where we don’t need to pack our raincoats or dive into the nearest shop when the heavens open.
And there’s no question, on our next trip to the coast, our dogs will definitely be coming with us. They enjoy a day by the sea just as much as we do.
But we’re not alone in our desire to head to the seaside, hoards of others probably have the same idea, and big crowds can be a little overwhelming for our dogs, especially pups.
So, as part of its dog-friendly beaches campaign, researchers at Uswitch have teamed up with Wendy Kruger, dog behaviour and training specialist at Wood Green, to provide some tips on how to prepare your dog for a busy beach.
If you're heading to one of the UK's most dog-friendly beach destinations, here's Wendy's advice to keep you and your pup safe on the sand this weekend.
Do you have any advice for first time dog owners taking their pup to the beach for the first time?
Wendy stressed the importance of making sure you’ve taken the required precautions to ensure you can be reunited with your pet if you do become separated.
She said: “As we approach the holiday and travel season, ensure your dog’s microchip and collar tag details are up to date – just in case.”
She also added: “Get used to checking ground surface temperatures before you take your dog out, as dry sand can be too hot for dogs’ paws on sunny days.
“To check the ground temperature, place the back of your hand on the ground. If it’s too hot to hold comfortably for at least five seconds, it’s too hot for dogs’ paws.”
How can dog-owners prepare for it? What training can you practice ahead of time?
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Wendy said: “Practising basic, reward-based training when out and about will help your dog to maintain focus and engagement on walks.
“Recall is also an area that needs particular attention. Even if your dog has a great recall at home, it’s not something that can be guaranteed in unfamiliar environments with exciting new distractions.
“Games with toys are a fantastic way to help your dog engage with you when there are other distractions around.”
Wendy also advised on the importance of being well prepared.
She said: “Always pack fresh water and a bowl, as well as some tasty training treats and a toy.
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“If your dog goes in the sea, rinse them down so they don’t lick the salty water off.
“Sometimes it’s not suitable to have your dog off lead, so take a harness and longline lead.”
And just like us owners, our dogs can be affected by too much sun.
“Dogs are highly susceptible to heatstroke, so it’s critical to take precautions when the temperatures are higher too,” said Wendy.
“It’s a good idea to take something to provide shade, like an umbrella or windbreaker, and there are also cool mats and cooling coats available, which can be effective if used as per the instructions.
“You’ll also want some blankets or towels to protect your car from wet, sandy dogs on the drive home!”
How can you reduce your dog's anxiety around water and crowded beaches?
The animal behaviour expert advises: "If your dog is worried when you are on the beach, move further away from what they are showing concern about, and use play and food rewards at a distance to help them relax.
“Never make your dog approach anything they are worried about. Depending on the dog, it may take some time and several trips for them to learn to enjoy their seaside outings.”
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And while our dogs often love the water, some might experience some anxiety around the sea, especially if it’s a bit choppy.
Wendy said: “Being cautious of the waves is normal for dogs.
“If you paddle and are having fun, this often helps them gain the confidence to dip their feet in too – but never force them into the water as it can break their trust in you, and make them more worried about the sea."
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