Garanimals Blog

June 13th, 2012 at 5:00 am

Visiting the Dog Beach

The dog-days of summer are really pretty inviting if you have a dog and a beach nearby, as we do. Just steps away from the shores of gorgeous Lake Michigan, you would think we would take our dog to the beach all the time, but we don’t.

Our city has a lovely dog beach not far away. It comes with a load of rules and regulations, including the requirement of a valid city pet license ($10/year for a spayed or neutered dog; otherwise $15/year) plus a $60 dog beach pass. That’s $70 a year to take my dog to the beach. My teenage kids get free 10-punch beach cards. I understand the rules, but the fees are a bit out of our budget.

Just down the road a piece, Chicago’s Montrose Dog Beach is available and much more affordable. It was also voted one of the top 10 dog-friendly beaches in the country for 2012. You still need a valid pet license, plus something called a DFA (Dog Friendly Area) tag, available for $5 to dogs with current vaccinations. Both beaches fall within the same county, so the vaccination/test requirements are the same. You must show proof that your dog has been protected from: rabies, distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, parvovirus, bortetella, and leptospirosis.

There are many dog-friendly beaches throughout the country. Each has a different set of rules, so check them out first. Some require the dogs to be leashed, others are specifically designed for off-leash play. In addition to the health requirements, there are many rules common to dog beaches. Most are really common sense, but some others are you might not have considered.

  • Clean up after your pet.
  • Even when your dog is off leash, you should have his leash in your hand at all times.
  • If your dog does not play well with other dogs, stay home. Dog beaches are often very crowded and can be overwhelming to skittish pups.
  • Many dog beaches do not permit food (except dog training treats). It makes sense, since most dogs are so food motivated.
  • No unaccompanied dogs. Your dog should be in your sight and control at all times.
  • No kites, which can be a safety hazard.
  • No whistles. Some dogs are trained to the whistle, but a whistle is an important lifeguard safety tool, so leave your whistle at home.
  • Never bring a dog in heat to the beach.
  • Bring water. Dogs can get dehydrated quickly in hot, sunny weather. Don’t let your dog drink salt water.

You are responsible for the health and safety of your pet, as well as anyone (and any other pet) she comes in contact with. Follow the rules. Be a good visitor. Take home all your toys. And have fun.

Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of PeopleMike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blogas well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.

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