I have spent the last few weekends visiting California. Of course we had to go to the dog friendly beaches in each city but I had some anxiety since I generally despise dog parks and all the rude interactions and bully play I see when I am there.
I have to admit I was really surprised to see happy, engaged dogs and their parents as far as the eye could see. There were a few very minor altercations with the resident "bully" looking for trouble by sticking his chin over any available shoulder but the dogs sloughed him off easily enough and he moved on without incident. Wow!
Why was the beach so much better than the dog parks and day cares I have visited? I have a few ideas. First of all, there is endless space. Dogs can get away if they want to do their own thing. No one was cornered, felt trapped or ganged up on. How lovely is that?
I also noticed almost immediately that the dog parents were very engaged with their dogs. Most of the time when I visit dog parks I see the humans in one big group having social hour as their dogs run wild. The dogs go looking for something to do and sometimes those 'things to do' are not in their (or another dog's) best interest. At the beach, people were swimming with their dogs, digging holes with them, running with them, playing Frisbee, etc. And because the humans were so closely involved with their dogs the Frisbee (and balls) were rarely an issue. Wow!
Third, because the people were so engaged and relevant to their dogs, if there was any kind of issue (like a little guy I saw who tried to boss a puppy who was running around having a great time), the parents were right there and intervened immediately before anything could even get ugly. Wow!
It was really fantastic to see all kinds of dynamics with dogs being appropriate with one another but my favorite thing was to see so many people who were having SO MUCH FUN with their dogs! How cool is that?
So if you find yourself on the coast and think your pup might enjoy playing in the sand and surf, you should definitely check it out! It might be the most fun you OR your pup have had in a long time!