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What we learned while traveling with our dogs to the beach. See what mistakes we made on our trip to the Outer Banks and what we did right.

The local wildlife can be a bit crabby!

We just got back from a wonderful vacation to the Outer Banks. I miss the sun and sand but boy howdy do I have some things to tell you! And I do mean a lot of things. I’m going to condense this the best I can for easy reading and reference. If you have more in-depth questions visit us at our facebook page and ask away!

First let’s start with our packing list. The essentials and then some for the dogs.

Things I brought:

Harnesses for the dogs (To hook up to on the beach with a longline) We went with nylon ones for easy drying.

Biothane Long Lines (This material is magic. Dries quick. Easy to hose off)

Collapsable water bowl (Hydration is a must on the beach)

Poop Bags (It’s gonna happen on the beach. Just accept it and be ready to clean up)

Mushers Secret (This is THEE stuff to have to protect paw pads from the hot sand)

Tennis Balls (Don’t go toy fancy here. You’re likely to sacrifice a few to the ocean gods. Tennis balls are the way to go)

Dog Towels (If you share your bed with your dog be aware no matter how much you hose and scrub them down sand will be joining you)

Airline Crate (If your dog isn’t used to being left alone in a new location bring the crate. It’s safer for everyone)

Identifying Collars (We got ours from gun dog supply with brass inlays with our name, dogs name, contact number and city)

Bag to carry all your dogs stuff (We bought a 10ml dry bag from amazon that we loved. Waterproof and large enough to fit a good amount without being weighted down)

There’s the obvious stuff like leashes, collars, food, etc but we think you’ve got that bit covered. (Caveat: we are going to talk about food in another section)

I should make note that we kept the dog’s beach time to early morning and late evening. No full sun and heat times. If you are going to have them out during that I highly suggest a pop up beach tent for shade and a beach blanket.

Things I wished I’d brought

Baby Gate – Houses in North Carolina are weird. (If you’re an Ohioan like me) Every things on the top floor and bedrooms are on the bottom. It would have made my life so much easier to be able to block off the staircase and keep the dogs upstairs during the day while we were gone.

First Aid Kit for Dogs (We did bring a human one but I left my modified dog kit at home. A mistake. Jasper has a skin tag he scratched that refused to stop opening up and bleeding. A bit of vet wrap would have been a luxury.)

Sunrise on the beach

Let’s talk food while traveling

So if you know me you know I’m a big cheerleader for a balanced raw diet for dogs. My own are on it and many of my clients. That being said I recognize it’s not the right fit for everyone. And traveling with it can be a pain in the bum. But you should consider a dehydrated raw diet for the trip.

Hear me out. Kibble is naturally dehydrating. It lacks moisture and fats and it pulls water from their system instead of adding it. Hydration is not only important it can be life saving on the beach. Salt water intoxication is a very real danger. (More on that later)

So why go dehydrated raw? Because you put moisture back in. The one specifically we used and recommend is Volhards NDF2. It looks like a dried oatmeal that you pour into a bowl. You then add water and a protein source. (We picked up some 80/20 hamburger meat at the grocery store in NC) The protein itself has a ton of water in it plus the added water to rehydrate the food.

The other option we recommend is adding Endurance. Another product from Volhards that helps deal with stress and prevent diarrhea. It’s a dehydrated product as well that you sprinkle over kibble and add water to make a gravy. The bonus of all the nutritional goodies found in it and hydration)

Safety on the beach

Salt water intoxication and heat stroke are two main factors to keep in the back of your mind while at the beach. I’m not going to get into everything about them. I highly recommend you speak with your vet on preventing and signs before you go.

A few tips I can offer:

Romi, my malinois, is a bit of a nutcase and despite my best intentions she swallowed a fair amount of salt water on her first trip. I monitored her like crazy but she’d race through the water and snap up a few gulps here and there. That does add up.

Her reward for it? Explosive watery diarrhea. Now it’s not pleasant but in of itself is not life threatening. I made sure she gots lots of water and rest and the next time we went to the beach kept a ball for her to carry. That stopped the excess snatches of water.

Make sure your dog is in good physical condition. If you plan on taking 30 minute or hourly daily walks on the beach but your dog typically only gets one walk a week you’re in trouble. If your dog is not used to the heat you definitely need to keep a close eye on them.

Signs of heat stroke? Get them out of the sun into a shade preferable air conditioned space. Lay them on a cool wet towel. Apply cool water to their inner thighs. Check their temperatures frequently. Make sure it’s not rising. Know where the nearest emergency vet is to you ahead of time.

Fetch on the beach is the most fun

Obedience? Manners? What should your dog practice before going?

One of the biggest downsides to going to the Outer Banks? The drive. It’s long. It’s boring. It’s tiresome. So be ready for some fidgety dogs.

Luckily with my profession I begin training my dogs from the get go for proper car manners. They start in an airline crate until they show me that their habit is to go in, lay down and relax. Then short trips out of the crate to see what they do. Do they lay down and take a nap or act like a fool? If it’s fool territory it’s back into the crate for a few trips. Create the habit you want to see by limiting options and utilizing structure. DON’T make the long trip down their first car ride outside of vet trips.

Car sickness? Crating can help to limit the tossing around, light flashing and looking out windows. I also like the essential oil mix G.I. Joe by Animal E.O. You can try ginger as well and Dramamine if need be.

If you’re going to be taking your dog with you a lot of places it’s incredibly important they know how to walk on leash politely, lay down at your side, come when called and we think place is super helpful.

Don’t be the jerk who let’s their dog off leash but can’t get it to come back. We got accosted by a pair of unruly labs while their owner yelled they’re friendly. I’m sure they are but that doesn’t mean it’s not rude to allow them all over my dogs. I stepped in and blocked them from getting to my two and calmly asked him to collect his dogs. I’s important you advocate for your own. If you don’t know their dogs keep on moving.

Where we stayed

We choose to rent a house in Corolla on the northern side of the Outer Banks. We love the beaches there and when I went for early morning walks (some sunrises, some as late as 7) I didn’t see but one or two other people pass by on the beach. The beaches there do ask the dogs to be on leash during peak times (Though the city down is Duck and dogs are allowed off leash there)

We broke up the drive down and stopped in Williamsburg. An interesting place if you like history and a great deal of the areas down there are dog friendly. Grab a hotel, check out the old Williamsburg, Yorktown or Jamestown settlements and stretch your legs for the remaining morning drive.

The Outer Banks is a great vacay spot if traveling with dogs

End of the day OBX was a fun trip, relaxing and enjoyable with well trained dogs. If you think you’re dogs not ready for it yet? Then wait and board them with a trusted facility. (We offer boarding for dogs that have trained with us)

Need help getting them vacation ready? Reach out at www.VictoryTails.com

Happy Training!