The sun is up, the weather is warm, and the ocean, lake, or river is calling your name! There are few summer activities that rival hitting the water on an idyllic summer day. A beach, lake, or river trip is fun for every family member, and that can include four-legged family members.

However, if you plan on bringing your dog along, there are a few things to consider. Follow this guide to ensure that you (and your pup) have the best day ever!

dog enjoying beach, beach safety

Plan Ahead

Always check to make sure that the beach, lake, or river you’re visiting is dog-friendly and be sure to check ahead for any leash laws. Every state and body of water has specific rules regarding when dogs can be on the beach, so you’ll want to double-check before you go. Websites like BringFido offer easily accessible lists of dog-friendly destinations. Almost any public place that is dog-friendly will request a visible rabies tag, so make sure yours are up to date, especially if you will be socializing with others.

dog enjoying beach, beach safety

What To Bring

You’ll be packing both your bag AND your dog’s bag, so you’ll want to make a checklist ahead of time.

Essential Items

  • A tent or umbrella to provide your dog shade
  • Plenty of fresh, clean water
  • Waste bags
  • A portable bowl
  • Treats or kibble
  • TWO towels, one for your pup to lay on, one to dry off with
  • Daily leash
  • Long-line leash (15-30ft)
  • Your pup’s favorite outdoor toys
  • A floatation device for your dog

Optional Items

Dog laying under an umbrella at beach, beach safety
So Much Space For Activities

You’ve packed up your bags and got everyone in the car and to the shore, riverside, or lake. Now what? Once you get to the beach, there are plenty of activities for your pup to enjoy. You can explore with them by going for a walk, using their long-line leash for a game of fetch, or taking a dip in the water. Remember to offer plenty of water breaks between activities and always make sure there’s a shady spot for your pup to hang out, especially if it’s a hot day.

Dog playing with beach toy at beach, beach safety

Stay Safe

The most important part of your beach, lake, or river trip is keeping your dog safe.

If your pup is swimming

Make sure your dog is wearing a life jacket, as even the most experienced swimmers can get caught in a strong tide.

Check to see if the beach has strong rip currents, and be sure to avoid them.

Some rivers also have strong currents that can carry your dog away if they swim out too far. Keep your dog as close to the riverside as possible.

If you are swimming in a lake, check local government websites for blue-green algae warnings to ensure the water doesn’t contain any dangerous bacteria.

Keep an eye out for areas with sharp rocks or shells, as they can damage your pup’s paw pads.

Check for any wildlife or beach advisories. If the body of water has active wildlife such as sharks, plan on spending your day out of the water.

On the beach

Ensure that the area you are spending time in is free of litter and potential broken glass.

If you’re taking a walk with your dog, avoid any wildlife that has washed up on the shore, such as birds or fish. Dogs are often attracted to the odors of these animals, but make sure to keep them out of your dog’s mouth. They can make your dog sick if ingested.

Don’t let your dog eat too much sand, as they can become sick with “sand impaction”.

Sun safety

Provide your dog with plenty of water breaks to ensure they stay hydrated.

Give them a designated area for shade and make sure they spend time out of the sun.

If your dog has short hair, no hair, or lighter-colored hair, you can consider a dog-friendly sunscreen.

New friends

Be respectful to other beachgoers.

Make sure you clean up after your dog and remain aware of your personal space.

Always ask owners before approaching other four-legged friends, and if prompted, introduce your dog slowly.

Dog meeting new friends at beach, beach safety


A trip to the beach is a fantastic experience for the entire family and can give your four-legged family members a welcomed change of scenery from their typical adventures. Remember to do your homework before you head to the beach, make sure you prepare for a safe trip, and be respectful of the beach and others on it. If you follow these simple steps you can ensure a day of fun in the sun!

To ensure your dog is staying safely within your area, consider the BigLeash® Remote Trainer from DogWatch®!