by Jo Page // Sept 2018
A Day By the Sea? ... It's Lovely!
The dog days of summer have been and gone, but as the tourists pack up their buckets and spades, us dog owners can ring out cheers of delight - we can take the dogs to the beach again! It’s been a long, hot summer and even the beaches that allow all year dog access haven’t been the most dog-friendly places, thanks to the exceptional heat we’ve been experiencing. Now that autumn is creeping ever closer, one of the best dog environments is back in business and we couldn’t be happier!
Long walks on the beach are loved by dog and owner world over; they’re a great way to blow away the cobwebs and that time together is important. Our walks strengthen the bond we have with our dogs, which is paramount when it comes to recall! Our walks are also a great time to socialise with other people and dogs (if your dog enjoys it), build confidence (especially when meeting the sea for the first time) and to practice that all-important training.
When introducing new things like the sea, it’s vital to go at your dog’s pace and let them make the choice to go in. We don’t want them to feel like they’re being forced! If we let them to go at their own pace, they’ll grow in confidence much more quickly. Give gentle encouragement if they’re worried and reward them whenever they’re brave and take a step in! Keep things calm, patient and lighthearted. If you’re feeling brave, too, take a dip into the autumn sea yourself and you may well find your dog comes to join you!
As the weather becomes increasingly inclement, pay close attention to the signs around the beach that let you know about currents in the sea and rock falls. Autumn and winter are peak times for cliff falls, so if your recall isn’t 100%, why not use a harness and longline to prevent your nosy barker from exploring unsafe areas?
As it happens, the beach can be a great place to finesse your longline technique, as there is plenty of obstacle-free roaming. Longlines are fabulous tools that must only be used with a harness and are a useful aid for perfecting the recall. A longline keeps that physical connection between you and your dog, making them less likely to simply ignore your calls and assure a successful recall every time. Learning without mistakes, now if only I could have had that when I was in school!
In Dog School, we get asked a lot about digging (or rather, how to stop it!). Dogs love a good old dig and a little bit of what you love is good for you. However, to save frustration for both you and your dog (and give the roses a chance to blossom), we can teach our dogs to only dig in appropriate places. If you’re lucky enough to live near the seaside, take your mining mutt to the beach; let them dig for China! Chances are the roses will be safe when you get home.
Not near a beach? Try a sandpit: by giving them a place they can expend their digging desires and rewarding them for using that, the herbaceous borders remain bodacious. If your dog tries to dig elsewhere, just guide them back to their designated space and reward them for digging there instead.
Top Tip: Hide exciting toys in the sand or sandpit to encourage digging in the right spot!
Sometimes you just want to chill and that’s OK! Take the time to stop and smell the (sea)flowers with your dog. Watching the world go by is a great way to practice your ‘settle’ or simply relax with your favourite hound.