Karen Wild: Essential guide to dogs on the beach

Karen Wild column EMN-140715-124751001
Karen Wild column EMN-140715-124751001

It's that time of year where the beach beckons! We have spent many happy picnics with our dogs along our beautiful east coast. The fresh air, the sand under feet and paws, and the sea to paddle in. Not to mention the ice-creams and taking in the sunshine, even though we cheerfully resign ourselves to British summers being a bit variable!

It is no surprise that our dogs love it too, although they may be a little surprised at the change in scenery from a grassy field to an endless beach. I once walked happily along the Skegness beach to see a black Labrador and a black pig walking at heel next to their owner, the pig's tail swishing like mad. To really enjoy your time at the beach with your dog, make sure you follow a few simple rules and habits that we have learned from those dog owners and experts that have gone before.

Firstly, check that your planned destination allows dogs. Beaches are usually sectioned off for certain times of year and may not allow dogs at all, or only in specific areas. Check the local tourism website or give them a call before you pack your bucket and spade!

Cafés and shops often allow dogs more readily in holiday sites than in cities, perhaps recognising that people bring the whole family, which includes the pooch, on holiday. They are great to get to know, and let's reward those dog-friendly places with our trade. The best ones provide fresh water and even a biscuit for your visiting dog. Above all, when you are seated, remember that your dog can see across to others underneath the table. You might place your dog away from the general footfall, and away from the route that café staff take. I have worked with clients whose dogs have not appreciated a stranger walking directly towards them, not realising that this is a waiter delivering tea and buns to the table! Choose a quiet corner for your dog, so that they can rest and enjoy their tea-break as much as you do.

Scavenging on the beach can become a serious problem. Litter and dead sea creatures are tempting for most dogs. It can be difficult to monitor where things are buried, but your dog won't have any trouble sniffing things out. A yummy dead crab to crunch, or a rotting starfish to roll in, can be a delight! How about the whales that arrived on the beaches not so long ago, causing one gentleman to ring me in a panic when his dog took off towards their rather pungent scent!

Finally, keep fresh water with you, and shade your dog often. A fur coat is not quite the same as a bikini.