Dogs on Beaches: Tips

Kay Aitcheson: Respect for other people and dogs.

Kay Aitcheson: Respect other people and dogs.

Planning to take your dog to the beach? Kay Aitcheson, a Melkbosstrand level 1 companion animal practitioner, has advice.

Be considerate of other dogs and people, Aitcheson says. She describes situations in which a dog on a leash is approached by dogs that are off leash. The dog on the leash can react in a threatened way, as it can’t run away. It does not help to say, “Oh, but my dog is so friendly.” The other dog(s) or the people might not experience him that way.

Don’t let them get a scare
Having your dog socialised at an early age is a golden rule in this  trainer’s book. “Dogs need to be socialised with other dogs and people in as many situations as possible.” This means taking them to a shopping centre and pooch-friendly restaurants. It also includes exposing the dog to as many situations as possible. “Don’t let them get a scare; it stays with them a long time.”

When on the beach
Don’t assume that all dogs are the same or will react the same. Your dog needs to respond to you, Aitcheson counsels. You have to be able to call your dog back for his own safety. In this regard a Border Collie is the easiest to work with “because it sticks with its person. You’ll see it on the beach. They’re focused on their person and the ball that he or she is throwing.”

Positive reinforcement
What to do if a dog looks as if it wants to bite you or your dog? Shouting in a commanding tone might ward this off, but for Aitcheson this is a situation that can be avoided by respecting other people’s and dogs’ space and not allowing dogs to roam unattended. A final golden rule. Don’t bully or dominate your dog; that line of thinking is old-fashioned and has fallen into disfavour. A relationship based on respect and positive reinforcement gets far better results.

Aitcheson started the Bodies in Balance dog training school in 2004 in Bryanston along with Niki Elliott. After moving to Melkbosstrand she started puppy socialising classes at Bloubergrandt High on Saturday mornings. Classes are small, with 5-6 puppies on an average, to allow for individual attention. She has three programs: Puppy socialising for pups aged 8-16 weeks. Puppy 11, which is aimed at adolescent or older dogs, and Advanced Obedience. Home visits can be arranged but coming to class is encouraged.

For more information contact Aitcheson at or visit



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