Taking your dog to the beach can be the highlight of the day, especially if your dog loves the water. We’ve all seen videos of dogs surfing with their owners, dogs running into the surf to retrieve a ball, or just plain having a blast splashing in the water. If you’re lucky enough to live near a beach, or you and your best friend are visiting on vacation, hitting a dog beach is a great way for you and your Alpena, MI, dog to get some fun in the surf and sand.

Locating a dog beach in the US is fairly easy by going online and searching state-by-state listings of dog-friendly beaches, and dog owners can find beaches that allow dogs on leash as well as off-leash. However, before you hit the water, you may want to know what makes a beach dog friendly.

Six things that make a good dog-friendly beach

Enclosed area

First and foremost is safety, and a good dog beach is enclosed with fencing so that dogs cannot escape and run into traffic, or bother sunbathers or other beachgoers on other parts of a beach. As with many dog parks, there should be a two-tiered entrance area where you can safely enter with your dog, and if the beach is off-leash, you can release Fido to run free and frolic.

No glass allowed

The last thing dog owners want is for their best friend to cut his foot on broken glass or a beer bottle, so glass mustn’t be allowed on the beach.


An ideal dog beach is clean and free of litter, trash, and dog poo. There must be no articles left on the premises that can cause harm to you or your pooch.

Poop depositories

Just as with dog parks, it’s ideal for a dog beach to provide trash bins for dog poop disposal as well as poop bags.

Soft sand surface

Just as important as a clean play area, your dog needs to have a soft sandy surface to run and play on.


One of the reasons people go to the beach is to escape the heat. An ideal dog beach will provide shaded areas for you and your pooch, as well as benches and chairs where owners can relax.

Know the rules

Another thing to consider when looking for a dog beach is knowing the rules. Since most public beaches restrict dogs or require dogs to be on a leash, it can be a challenge to find a beach where dogs can run free and cool off in the water. Some public beaches allow dogs only during the winter months or off-season or restrict dogs to only certain times of the day. Other beaches designate a fenced-off part of the beach where dogs are allowed.

Find an off-leash dog beach

Some beaches offer dedicated areas where dogs are allowed to run off-leash and swim and play in the surf. Internet research can help in locating a dog-friendly beach.

Safety tips for taking your dog to the beach

The beach is a wonderful place to spend time with your dog, and most dogs love playing on the sand and in the water, but it’s important to be careful of potential pet hazards. Below are some tips on how to keep your best friend safe at the beach.

No Saltwater

Cool ocean water can be tempting to a dog, but don’t let him drink the seawater because that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration

Keep Watch

Never leave your dog unattended and be aware that rocks, hooks, broken glass, and trash can pose a danger to your dog

Stay Linked

Keep your dog on a leash where required

A Little Lower, Please

Keep your dog under voice control when off-leash

Leave No Mess

Always clean up after your dog

Socialize Before Unleashing

Make sure that your dog is socialized enough to play off-leash with other dogs

Hydrated and Cool

When taking your dog to the beach, make sure there is plenty of fresh water and shade

Lather Up

Dogs can get sunburned just like humans, so limit your dog’s exposure to the hot sun and apply pet appropriate sunscreen to his ears and nose before going outside (this is especially important for pink-skinned dogs)

Watch for Fatigue

Swimming is fun for dogs, but ensure that your best friend doesn’t get too tired. Running on a beach is a strenuous exercise, but if your dog is out of shape, don’t encourage him to run on the sand.

Hot Sand Hurts Them, Too

Be careful not to let your dog spend too much time on hot sand or asphalt as he can burn his paw pads

Be Informed

Keep in touch with lifeguards about daily water conditions like riptides, sharks, or jellyfish

Common beach etiquette for dog owners

  • Dogs should be on a leash at all times if required
  • Take your dog home at the first sign of unfriendly behavior, or if he is acting aggressively towards other dogs
  • Supervise your dog at all times
  • All dogs should be fully vaccinated and healthy
  • Females in estrus/heat should probably stay home
  • Pick up and dispose of dog waste

Ready to Go to a Dog-Friendly Beach in Alpena, MI?

Taking your best friend to the beach should be a fun and safe activity that you can both enjoy, but always remember that safety comes first.

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