By Laura Boren, dog owner and Marine Science Advisor.
The days will be starting to get longer, and more people will be hitting the beach. Following on from my series of blogs, me and my dog-buddy Mack are back to give dog owners some easy tips for managing dogs in coastal environments.
In some cases our native species will fight back and inflict injuries on your unsuspecting pooch too. To avoid this here are some simple steps dog owners can take to lead the way as ambassadors for our wildlife.
Seven Simple Steps to Share the Beach
1. Know before you go
Check your council or DOC websites for information on where dogs can visit.
2. A wildlife scan makes a good game plan
Scan the beach upon arrival for any wildlife so you can be prepared, and keep an eye out while your dog is having a sniff around, for any potential wildlife ahead. It’s our responsibility as pet parents to ensure our fur babies are safe when playing and exercising.
3. A toy is a great decoy
Sea gulls are wildlife too! Take a ball or toy to the beach for your pup to chase instead. Also, if your dog is anything like Mack, a ball will mean you have their undivided attention if you need to keep them away from the appealing aroma of seal or penguin.
4. Walk on the wet sand first-hand
Many shorebirds or penguins like to use the dry sand areas with driftwood, sand dunes, or rocks and crevices. Walk with your pooch on the wet sand or stay on designated tracks to avoid the key areas where wildlife is more vulnerable.
5. ‘Feet on sand, lead in hand’
Remember it’s a legal requirement to have your lead with you when your dog is in public. Loose lead walking can make all the difference in your enjoyment of a walk, if your dog walks happily on lead then you never have to worry when you get to an area when you need to clip them on. Check in with your local dog club for some tips on how to get your dog to stop pulling.
6. Keep 20 metres from coastal creatures
Don’t let your dog go astray – keep them leashed 4 car lengths away! 4 car lengths is about 20 metres, a safe distance for both wildlife and pooch. If you spot wildlife be sure to call your dog back and place them on the lead and keep them under control. If your dog doesn’t recall when distractions are present keep them on lead.
7. ‘Help ‘em out and give a shout’
If you do see wildlife, let others know so everyone can be better prepared. We’re privileged in New Zealand to be able to see such diverse wildlife on our coasts, even around cities.
Have fun and be wildlife safe this summer with your canine friend. It’s easy to be a responsible dog owner as there is space for each, just share the beach!