Westies and the beach

Many people take their dogs to the beach and the outing is greatly enjoyed by both dogs and owners. However, if you have never taken a dog to a beach area, there are some serious considerations to insure the safety and pleasure of all concerned.

For the Very Young?
Very young puppies should put off this experience until they mature. They can suffer more from the heat than adult dogs, be more easily scared by the water and are less discriminating in what they decide to eat.

Know Your Territory
Look at the place where you propose to take your dog. Do local by-laws allow dogs on this beach? Some places don’t. Do they require the dogs to be on leash at all times? What type of beach is it - sandy or rocky? If it is an ocean beach, is the surf heavy or light, is there an under-tow? Strong under-tow can very quickly carry both animal and human out under the surface beyond their capability to swim. So can swiftly flowing rivers. Is the beach clean or does it harbour dangerous debris. Westies being earth diggers by nature find sand wonderful, especially if they can turn up the occasional sand crab, but if it’s broken glass, tin cans, metal bits etc. that they uncover, you’ve got trouble. These can cut feet, even feet with good pads on them.

Training is a Definite Asset
If you want your dog to run loose at the beach, he should be obedience trained to the point that he always comes when called, and also can lie quietly in one place without barking at or jumping on other beach users. Provide cooling shade, lots of fresh water and keep an eye on him at all times as you would a very small child. Perhaps the beach umbrella and a long leash should also be packed in the car along with the plastic bags for ‘poop pickup’.

Parked Cars and Children
As you wouldn’t think of leaving your Westie in a parked car in town, the same applies to parking at beaches even with windows down a bit - you should discuss this with your Vet if you have questions. Never leave a Westie alone on a beach. His natural instinct to follow delicious smells will soon have him out of sight.

Energetic children sometimes try to throw, pull or force the dog into the water. Dogs will go in on their own if they want to and you will have a much more confident, happy dog.

Safe Boat Rides
Also, if boats are part of your outing, Fido needs a life jacket too. Little dogs are natural swimmers, but not necessarily strong swimmers. Life jackets are not that expensive and come with a handle on the back to pluck him from the water like a wet suitcase.

Now, with your preparations made and supplies in hand, you can look forward to a delightful outing at the beach. Your Westie will love it, and when you get home, a quick rinse under the shower will remove any remaining salt, sand and odour.

Author: Anne Matheson.