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Chances are your dog loves to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. The beach is the perfect place.
The beach has everything your dog could want, including wide open space for running, plenty of visibility, other dogs, sand to dig in, and water to cool off in.
Unfortunately, many dogs are scared of the ocean and the water. So, how do you get your dog to like the ocean?
You never want to force a dog to do something they don’t want, but you can encourage them to relax and venture in the surf.
I grew up taking my dog to the beach. Sometimes we’d go for runs, other times we’d play in the sand, but usually, we’d play fetch in the shallow water. It was great exercise for both of us.
Below, I’ll share 9 ways to teach your dog to like the ocean. I’m no dog whisperer but hopefully, these tips can help you and your dog enjoy the ocean.
9 Tips To Help Your Dog Like The Ocean
Take Your Dog When They Are Young
As the saying goes “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. This may not be true, but I believe most people would agree it’s easier to train a young dog.
Dogs love to learn and are super observant when they’re young. If you set an example and introduce them to the ocean at a young age, it’s likely they will feel comfortable around the water as they mature into an adult.
Take your pup to the beach as often as possible when they are young. Play with them in the shallow water and chances are they will begin to enjoy it.
Adult dogs, who haven’t seen the ocean before will understandably be more hesitant. The ocean will be unfamiliar and something new. Dogs can be cautious when they experience new activities, but as pups, they don’t think twice about following the boss – You!
Let Them Hang Out With Dogs That Go In The Ocean
Dogs will learn from you, but they might learn better from watching other dogs. Introduce your dog to new friends at the beach so your dog can become part of a “pack”.
He/she won’t want to be left behind if other dogs are enjoying the water. Everyone wants to feel like part of the group.
Even if your dog doesn’t venture into the ocean, they can observe. Over time, he/she might be inspired to try it.
Rushing your dog can backfire, making them more hesitant in the future. Be patient!
Tempt Them With Toys
Toys can help take a dog’s mind off the vast ocean and encourage them to go places they wouldn’t otherwise.
If your dog doesn’t respond to being called into the water, don’t worry it’s common. Find out what your dog likes and see if your dog’s fears can be forgotten by engaging their instinctual behavior.
Tempting your pup with a ball is a great way to get your dog in the ocean.
Most balls, including tennis balls, float in the water. Even if your dog can’t muster up the courage to chase it into the water, you’ll be able to get it before it floats away.
My favorite toy for the beach is the ChuckIt ball launcher (check it out on Amazon). It’s great for the beach, for the park, and for the backyard.
Distract Your Dog While Playing Close To The Water
Similar to playing fetch, you can try other ways to distract your dog from the ocean. Ideas might include:
- Digging a hole
- Playing Frisbee or Football
Not all dogs like playing fetch, and not all dogs like digging holes. Depending on your dog’s personality, plan an activity to keep your dog occupied and moving.
A dog that is distracted might end up wandering in the shallow water.
Beach Runs (Your Dog Will Want To Cool Off)
Do you and your dog like to exercise? If so, there’s no better place to run than a beach. And the best thing about it, it’s not a road!
Running on the road can be brutal on the joints, but we tend to run on what our environment provides.
If you live near the beach there’s no excuse not to run on the sand. Your lungs will appreciate the fresh air and your legs will like the soft landing in the sand.
Don’t forget about your dog. Dog paws have a smaller surface area and their paws aren’t immune to arthritic problems. More exercise on the sand could potentially add a few more years to your dog’s legs (after all, many dogs have difficulty with their legs as they get older).
On a run, you and your dog will get hot and your dog just might decide it’s time to cool off. Exercise is a great way to coax your dog in the water. Hard work on the sand and refresh in the ocean.
You Can Jump In The Water
If you’re the leader of a pack, you can try to set an example for your dog. Believe it or not, this usually works.
I remember my dog would always follow me in because he wanted to save me. It might take a while but your dog might be curious if you’re drowning or playing (he/she will need to get a closer look).
Dogs hate to be left out, so a dip in the water could be all it takes to get your dog on the water. That doesn’t mean your dog will enjoy the water, but even if they enter reluctantly it’s a win!
I carried my scared dog in the water a few times – as I mentioned earlier, I wouldn’t recommend taking your dog in the water by force.
Stay Out Of The Waves
How your dog responds to the water will also depend on the current and waves. If you frequent a beach with a shore-break, your dog will likely be intimidated to enter the water (that goes for humans too).
Strong currents, water that becomes deep quickly, and rough waves are enough to scare your pup.
If the beach is always rough, consider a calm beach or a bay. Otherwise, keep an eye on the tide and the surf report and choose to hit the beach on calmer days.
Reassure Them With Petting and Treats
Dogs love treats and they love receiving attention. This will encourage them to be braver on the beach and in the water.
Disciplining a dog because they are scared of the water doesn’t work, nor is it healthy. Bring your dog’s favorite treat to the beach and slowly wade in the water as you feed them.
Or squat down like you’re ready to pet them in the shallow water. He/she might wander over to get some love.
Research Your Dog’s Breed
As a dog owner, try not to get frustrated. It’s common for dogs to be afraid of the water and some of the fear is innate.
Sure, exposing a dog to water as a pup will help train them to be comfortable around the ocean but not all dogs will warm up to the beach life.
Some breeds just don’t like water, while others thrive in the water and take advantage of every opportunity to jump in.
Observe your dog’s behavior around the water for a few months. If they won’t go near the water, do some research to see if your breed of dog does well in the water. As shared by Rover, a few examples of dogs that love the water are:
- Portuguese water dogs
- New Foundland
A few examples of dogs that hate the water are:
- Basset hound
Dogs are our best friends. They’re always game for an adventure and love to be outside, playing and sniffing.
Taking a dog to the beach is a fun activity for everyone. There’s plenty of space to run, fresh air, sun, and water. It’s always interesting to observe how your dog acts when he/she first views the ocean. If you’ve been taking your dog as a pup, then he/she will think it’s natural.
But not all dogs like the water and it’s difficult to train a dog to like the ocean. The most important thing you can do is make your dog feel comfortable, have fun, and set an example. If your dog finds dog friends at the beach they can learn from their peers.
As an owner, be patient, take balls, dig holes, and bring a few treats. It may take a few visits to the beach but we’re sure you can enjoy the water with your dog.
Thanks for reading another Beach Life article. Check back for more tips about the beach, products, and advice!