Summer time is playtime. Of course, in Florida, we can enjoy lazy days at the beach and afternoon romps in the park year-round. But before you and Fido head out for some well-deserved rest and relaxation, make sure your destination accepts your furry friend.
If it does, you'll need to follow just a few rules to make your experience fun, and safe.
In Palm Beach County, only one beach allows dogs. Jupiter Beach, about two miles long, is popular with many dog lovers. Bags are provided for owners to pick up waste. Use them! Many parasites can be transmitted to humans via dog feces, so leaving waste on the beach or burying it is not safe.
Friends of Jupiter Beach is a volunteer organization dedicated to keeping Jupiter Beach a safe haven for our four-legged friends. Rules governing behavior of the beach are posted at each entrance, though common courtesy is the underlying message.
Beach etiquette includes keeping your dog leashed or, if permitted off-leash, under voice control at all times. Don't let your dog approach other beachgoers or dogs unless invited. Not everyone appreciates slobbery kisses — let alone a dog shaking sand and water on them.
Dog parks are another way to enjoy the sunshine with your canine. These are fenced, safe areas for dogs to play off-leash. Some parks provide separate areas for large and small dogs. Water might or might not be provided, so bring your own just in case. Only friendly, vaccinated dogs are allowed, but playtime is at your own risk.
Two dog parks are in the northern end of Palm Beach County: one in the Bluffs community in Juno Beach, another at Anchorage Park in North Palm Beach. Cleanup bags are usually provided.
As you plan for summer fun, keep safety in mind. As I discussed in a prior article, heatstroke is a real problem in South Florida. Avoid the hottest times of the day; therefore, early morning and late evening are best. Carry along plenty of water, and leave if your dog shows signs of overheating, such as excessive panting or weakness.
Brachycephalic breeds, such as English bulldogs and pugs, are more susceptible to heatstroke; so are heavily coated and/or Nordic breeds, such as huskies and Samoyeds. Use common sense: If you're too hot, so is your dog.
Going on outings with your dog enhances your bond with each other and keeps your dog socialized and happy. With just a little preparation, you and your dog can enjoy the "dog days" of summer together.