Cooling off with your pooch at the beach

Posted July 07, 2010, at 8:30 a.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 12:21 p.m.

Summer is a great time to have some fun in the sun with the whole family — including the family dog. But before hitting the beach or the trails, be sure to check that your favorite beach, trail or park is dog-friendly.

Many Maine beaches either restrict access to certain hours of the day or prohibit dogs entirely. Commonly cited reasons include: owners not cleaning up after their dog, loose dogs interfering with other beach-goers or dogs, and dogs approaching people who don’t want to be approached. For these reasons as well as others, more Maine beaches are being closed down to dogs and their owners.

However, there are many havens for dogs and their owners who just want to have some summer fun. The following tips will allow you and your pooch to have a summer filled with fun outings.

Research your area

A recent publication by the owners of the Downeast Dog News has a comprehensive listing of dog-friendly beaches, parks, trails, and recreation areas. Coupled with a Web site, “The Ultimate Guide to Dog Parks, Beaches and Trails in Maine” ($4.95) is a gem every dog owner should have in their travel bag.

The book is organized by geographic area and town, allowing a dog owner to quickly find the place they’re headed to and a corresponding dog-friendly area. If there are restricted hours or ad-mission fees, the book indicates that too.

Researching the area can help stave off disappointment and keep both you and your pooch cool and happy.

Respect the signs

So what happens if you think the beach you want to go to is dog-friendly, but it’s not? As a dog owner, respect the signs. If the beach is posted as restricted to your pooch, then don’t just set up on the beach anyway. Instead, if you’re set on spending the day at that beach, see if there’s an area near the water — off the beach — that you can set up at. If there is not an area, then it’s time to look for another beach or trail.

Be prepared

Pack all the essentials your pooch will need to have fun and stay cool. Always carry a leash for your dog, fresh and clean water, and poop bags. Consider also carrying some additional bags just in case.

The summer sun can cause pavement and sidewalks to get hot quickly. Before asking your pooch to walk long distances on pavement or sidewalks, ask yourself if you’d walk on it barefoot. If you wouldn’t, try to find grassy or dirt areas to walk on instead. Periodically check your pooch’s pads to make sure they’re not burned.

Don’t leave pooch in the car

Summer is a great time to experience nature, but don’t leave your dog in the car during the summer months. The inside of a car can become like an oven and dogs are not equipped to deal with extreme heat situations. If you don’t think pooch will be able to enjoy outside activities with you, then leave her home. Even five minutes on a hot day can be dangerous for pets.

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