A dog in Wales had to be rescued at sea this week after chasing some seagulls. Here’s how to avoid a similar mishap.

By Austin Cannon
September 03, 2020
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A big key: Keep your dog from running out to sea.
Andrey Tumanov / EyeEm / Getty

Look, we all make mistakes, and this spaniel in Wales is no exception. 

On Monday morning, the pup was accompanying her owner on a beach in Rhyl when she saw some seagulls. She soon chased them out to sea and didn’t come back, North Wales Live reports

The owner called 999—the United Kingdom’s 911—and a rescue boat was dispatched to find her. The crew from the local Royal National Lifeboat Institution outpost soon found her, more than half a mile off the coast. 

“You’re not supposed to be this far out,” one of the rescuers told the soaking wet pup as they hauled her aboard. She was soon returned to a grateful owner.

With that close call in mind, here are some tips for having a safe, fun time with your dog at the beach—and how to avoid calling the Coast Guard yourself. 

Bring a Leash

Not to shame the owner of the spaniel in Wales, but there was an easy way to prevent what happened. Plus, a leashed dog makes other beachgoers lives’ easier. “Unleashed dogs, covered in sand and salt water, can create unpleasant conflicts when approaching people and pets,” the commonwealth government of Massachusetts says.

According to the Animal Behavior College (ABC), a long leash will work best. That way, your dog can still play in the water with you’re attached.  

Respecting other people on the beach: great. Preventing your dog from running out into the ocean, bay, or lake: even better. 

Check out Beach Policy

Some beaches might not allow dogs, whether that’s because of poor pup behavior in the past or due to wildlife concerns. If you plan to go to a specific beach, check online or call ahead to see if you can bring your dog. 

Beaches also might only allow dogs at certain times or during specific times of the year, so check for that, too, the UK’s People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) recommends. 

Protect Your Dog From the Sun

Neither you or your dog wants to get sunburned, so bring sunscreen for both of you, especially if your dog has a short coat or was recently shaved, the ABC writes. 

Reapply the sunscreen after each romp in the water or the sand. If you have an umbrella, use it to provide a shady spot for your pup to rest away from the hot sand. That’s where you’ll put the bowl of cool water for her, too. 

Avoid the Beach Wildlife

Massachusetts tells dog owners to stay away from any other animals they might see. First, the birds, turtles, or aquatic creatures can pose a danger to your dog. On the flip side, pups with a high prey drive might take off after the animals and all of a sudden you’re chasing your pup into the ocean. 

So, just keep to yourselves and stay connected via a leash. 

Know Your Dog’s Limits

Know if your dog can swim before you go to the beach. If the answer is no, then don’t let them go more than a few feet into the water. If they’re a water dog who can swim, it’s obviously still a good idea to keep an eye on them as they venture away from shore.  

An important note from the PDSA: If your dog does swim too far out, don’t try to rescue them yourself. Call the Coast Guard or lifeguards. Odds are if you take off in hot pursuit, you’ll be stranded out in the water, too. 

Even if your dog can swim, be aware of the problems seawater can cause, the PDSA says. Ingesting it can cause diarrhea—gross—and other illnesses. It can also exacerbate ear infections, so clean your pup’s ears after a swim, too. 

The saltwater can also make your dog very dehydrated, so be sure to have a bunch of fresh water with you. 

Keep Your Eyes on the Ground

PDSA tells dog owners to look for any hazards that could hurt your dog, like broken glass or other sharp things. You’ll also want to routinely check whether the sand is too hot for your pup’s pads. 

Also on the ground: dog poop. Pick up your pup’s droppings. It’s common courtesy. 

Otherwise, have a great time soaking up the sun with your toes in the sand and your best friend.