This weekend I visited Brigantine. The weather wasn’t conducive to a long beach day with the kids so we decided to take our newly adopted pup on his first trip to the beach instead.
He wasn’t sure about the water, but he thought the sand was great. After weeks of being shooed out of the garden that he desperately wanted to dig in, he finally had free rein to dig away! He’s currently passed out next to me enjoying a post-beach nap, something I think everyone can appreciate.
Brigantine is our beach of choice and we are fortunate to be able to enjoy the North End beach with our dogs anytime of the year. There are several beaches in New Jersey where you can bring your dog, the Longport dog beach or the Wildwood dog beach and park.
I found a great website called BringFido.com that lists not only dog-friendly beaches, but campgrounds, hotels and restaurants. While it’s fantastic that these opportunities have opened up, there are things that should be considered when deciding if and where to bring your dog.
Although so many of us consider our pets our family and want to include them, not every dog is going to enjoy being out and about. Just like people, every dog is an individual and while some may love the sensory infusion or meeting new dogs and people and sights and sounds, for some (many actually), it may be too much.
There are dogs that are simply happier being home in their comfort zone, and while it may be a bummer for us, there’s really not anything wrong with that, nor is it that unusual. In fact, the expectation that dogs will be able to go everywhere with us is a very high bar to set for a dog.
While I’m thrilled the puppy had a good trip to the beach today, I know that his temperament and sociability will change as he ages and has different experiences. If he decides that the beach isn’t for him as time goes on, that won’t be a problem for us.
Even for dogs who are okay going out, when we put our dogs in situations that may increase their stress level, we have to be committed to ensuring that we are watching them closely for those signs of stress and removing them from the situation if needed. These signs can be very subtle and easy to miss. They include panting, yawning, drooling, excessive licking, shedding, hiding, or changes in body language like eyes wide open, pupils dilated or ears pinned back.
If your dog shows any or especially several of these signs, a loving and compassionate owner will take steps to relieve their stress. Our first instinct may be to comfort them, but that can actually cause their stress level to increase. Instead, identify what is stressing your dog out (typically the presence of other animals, or noises/sights that are intimidating) and remove your dog.
Once you find a quiet spot for them to shake off the stress, you can try to gently reintroduce them using positive reinforcement or you can call it quits for the day.
It’s also critical that you respect leash laws and don’t use a retractable leash! The rules are there for a reason, so dogs and people don’t get hurt. Retractable leashes do not allow you to have enough control over your dog, any trainer, shelter worker, vet, etc., hates them for good reason.
Even if your pup is happy and joyful during their social situation, there may be dogs that are still learning or being forced out of their comfort zone and a dog unexpectedly running up on them could be enough to spark a dog fight. And which dog should we blame in that situation?
Trick question … we don’t blame it on the dog, we blame it on the owner who didn’t follow the rules.
Finally, when out and about, recognize that not every dog you see may be there just for fun. At the beach today we saw a gorgeous Belgian Malinois. It was clear to me they weren’t playing, they were working. So we made sure to give them plenty of space and keep not only the dogs, but the kids at a distance. Giving dogs space is never a bad thing to do, but especially important for working and service dogs.
The key to making social situations successful for both dogs and people is to be thoughtful, follow the rules, and act with respect. By being responsible and respectful of your own pet’s needs as well as what’s best for the pets around you, we can ensure that our summer fun is pleasant and safe for everyone.
Shelter needs: Dry cat food, canned cat food, cat treats, large and small dog treats, kitten bottles, Royal Canin mother and puppy food (wet and dry), baby wipes, and gift cards to grocery, pet and hardware stores.
South Jersey Summer Comedy Series: Pitman Revitalization Corp. will host a show featuring magician Eric Jones, who was a top 12 semi-finalist on Season 12 of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” and a successful contestant on Season 2 of “Penn & Teller: Fool Us.”
The show will start at 7 p.m. June 19 at Sunset Auditorium in Pitman. Tickets start at $20 and can be purchased in groups of two, four or six. A portion of ticket sales generated by this link will be donated for the care of SJRAS pets: https://bit.ly/3ikWSP6.
Shelter address: 1244 N. Delsea Drive in Vineland.
To submit an adoption form for one of the Pets of the Week or another animal at the shelter, visit https://southjerseyregionalanimalshelter.org