Can I take my puppy to the beach? This is a decision that will be different for every dog parent, depending on your puppy’s vaccination schedule and age. While you should follow your veterinarian’s recommendations for taking a puppy to the beach, I’m going to share my experience in taking my own puppies to the beach.

Planning Ahead is Important Before Taking a Puppy to the Beach

When thinking about taking a puppy to the beach for the first time, there are some key things to keep in mind. Most importantly, remember that a puppy has different needs than an older dog.

During the critical age window of 9-14 weeks of age, puppies’ immune systems are not fully developed. They also don’t have all of their shots. When taking a puppy to the beach at this age, take extra care to avoid situations that could cause a risk of contagious disease or parasites to your puppy.

Because we spend a lot of time at the beach, we brought our puppies to the beach after their first round of vaccinations. But, we were especially careful.

Zesty Paws

Puppies do not have complete protection from fatal viruses until after their final round of vaccinations. For this reason, we were extra prepared with the right supplies and a clear understanding of the dos and don’ts of taking a puppy out to public places.

Understand the Puppy Vaccination Schedule Before Taking a Puppy to the Beach

Puppies should receive their first vaccinations at six to eight weeks, with several vaccines every two to four weeks until they have complete protection at about sixteen to twenty weeks of age.

The primary vaccines are DHP (or DAP), which stands for Distemper, Hepatitis (or Adenovirus-2), Parvo (Canine Parvovirus); and Rabies. Other vaccines are Parainfluenza, Leptospirosis, Canine Influenza, and Lyme.

So before heading to the beach with a puppy, remember you’ll need to be extra vigilant in staying away from other dogs you do not know. You’ll also want to keep your puppy from running around in the sand where unvaccinated or sick dogs may have been. Also, don’t allow your puppy to smell animal waste, or interact with unknown dogs.

It’s also a good idea to carry your puppy in your arms across the beach before getting your area set up.

taking your puppy to the beach

Kai as a puppy on his first beach trip at Padaro Beach in Carpinteria, CA.

Once your puppy gets older, you’ll love your beach adventures together running around in the sand, jumping into the water, and playing fetch along the shoreline. Until then, you can still enjoy the beach with a young puppy as long as you’re careful.

So, here are some practical steps you can take to plan a safe trip when taking a puppy to the beach:

My Exact Puppy Beach Packing List: 18 Essential Supplies For Taking a Puppy to the Beach

Before your beach trip, you’ll want to pack a beach bag for your puppy. I always keep beach bag packed with these items so I’m prepared for a beach day at a moment’s notice. We like to put all of our supplies in this beach wagon with big rubber wheels for sand, so that we can easily transport everything from the car. It makes things easier to keep up with, especially when managing a puppy. All our beach supplies get pretty heavy if we have a long walk to the beach. 

Here is my exact puppy beach bag packing list:

  1. Dog organizing tote bag for food, water and supplies
  2. Extra large, absorbent dog towel, plus extra beach towels
  3. Plenty of fresh drinking water
  4. These collapsible travel bowls with water container
  5. Dog collar with ID Tag. Kai has this silicone tag with the beach theme design.
  6. Durable leash that can withstand puppy chewing.  
  7. Dog leash tie out to keep your puppy confined to your designated area
  8. Beach umbrella system – I like this one because it has everything you need to anchor your umbrella to keep it from blowing away.
  9. Beach tent – This one is easy to set up and perfect for two people.
  10. Dog sunscreen – especially important for short haired dogs and the sensitive skin on your pup’s nose
  11. Fine mist water spray bottle will help cool off your puppy on hot days without soaking.
  12. A variety of long-lasting chews such as Smart Bones, elk antlers and bully sticks to keep your pup happy.
  13. Powder sand remover makes it easy to brush off sand and is talc free. Vigorously rub into your puppy’s fur and follow up with a thorough brushing with your favorite dog brush. You can read about my top brush choices here.
  14. Puppy shampoo and bath brush if you use the outdoor showers
  15. These Dog cleaning wipes – Extra large, heavy duty pet wipes come in handy for those unexpected messes and accidents.
  16. Tar remover  – if you go to beaches with a tar problem, this is a must for you and your dog!
  17. Dog waste bags – I like this bulk supply of extra strong, lavender scented bags for picking up waste on the beach. They’re leakproof and easy to open.
  18. This pet first-aid kit is a two-in-one kit for both you and your dog.

Choose the Perfect Dog-Friendly Beach For Your Puppy

Many dog-friendly beaches are busy places just like dog parks. Your local dog beach may have lots of different dogs running around off leash and interacting with each other. You could encounter irresponsible dog owners, aggressive dogs, or unvaccinated dogs. This can be risky for young puppies who haven’t received all their vaccination shots.

For this reason, you want to avoid busy dog beaches with a young puppy that has not completed the entire vaccination schedule. You would not want to unknowingly expose a 9-week-old puppy to serious diseases such as canine distemper or fatal parvovirus.

Instead, find a more quiet beach that requires dogs to be on a leash. In the summer months, plan your visit in the early morning hours when the beach is typically less crowded.

One of the most important steps you can take is to keep a partially vaccinated puppy off of the beach sand. The best way to do this is to keep your puppy in a tent, or attached to a leash on several beach towels. When walking along the beach, it’s a good idea to put your puppy in a pet carrier.

Keep in mind that not all counties have dog-friendly beach areas, so follow the local rules. Remember, not all beaches are dog friendly. Some beaches are completely dog-friendly. Others may limit dogs to certain hours or in specific areas.

So before heading out, check online for the local regulations on dogs various beaches near you. If you live in the Southern California area, I’ve listed my favorite dog-friendly beaches at the end of this article.

How To Keep a Close Eye on Your Puppy at the Beach

Puppies love to explore and play, especially when they’re in new surroundings. They have a tendency to put everything in their mouths! That means you’ll want to keep a close eye on your puppy at the beach.

When taking a puppy to the beach, the first thing puppies want to do is dig and play in the sand.

Adult dogs eventually learn not to eat the sand, but puppies will likely dive in face first. This just isn’t a good idea for an unvaccinated puppy.

I recommend bringing a small tent when taking a puppy to the beach. It will keep your dog safe and ensures there is plenty of shade available. This is especially important on a hot, sunny day. Be sure to provide plenty of fresh water to avoid dehydration and heat exhaustion.

keep your unvaccinated puppy on a towel at the beach

Kai as a puppy in our tent on his first beach trip.

Keeping young puppies off the sand also helps avoid harmful items that could be hidden in the sand. Your puppy could ingest such as small shells or rocks, or even a dead fish.

Also, keep in mind that hot sand can burn your puppy’s sensitive paws. If you walk your puppy on hot sand, keep your puppy’s paws safe with protective booties.

Useful Water Safety Tips When Taking a Puppy To The Beach

When you arrive at the beach, the first thing you may want to do is head straight to the water. Before you do this with a puppy, there are a few things to keep in mind. Even though many dogs are natural swimmers, some dogs are not. For this reason, it’s a good idea to gradually let a puppy get accustomed to the ocean water.

When introducing your puppy to the water, take it slow. It can be traumatizing to force an apprehensive puppy into the water. You might want to go in the water first and call your puppy toward you. Until you’re sure that your dog is a strong swimmer, a dog life vest can be a wise idea for the ocean.

While in the water, keep an eye out for potential sea water dangers such as jellyfish and stingrays. If your puppy is walking in shallow water, be aware of unexpected waves and rip tides. The waves may look small to you, especially at low tide, but they can overpower a small puppy.

Also, don’t allow your puppy to drink salt water. If your dog swallows too much ocean water, it can cause stomach upset or harbor harmful bacteria. In fact, to keep unvaccinated puppies safe, it’s best to avoid the water completely until they have received all their shots.

Once your puppy is ready to go in the water, you’ll want to have the proper grooming supplies at home. This is especially important if you have a dog that has a coat that gets matted easily, as with Goldendoodles. I talk about more about this here

Top Southern California Dog-Friendly Beaches (That I’ve Actually Visited)

Now that I’ve shared the basics of safely taking your puppy to the beach, here are the best dog beaches that I’ve personally visited in Southern California.

Malibu, California, Leo Carrillo State Beach

North Beach at Leo Carrillo State Park is a dog-friendly beach in western Malibu. This is the most convenient dog beach for us, so we visit it frequently. The beach is right next to a large pay parking lot, which makes it easy to go back to your car if necessary. On summer days it can get crowded, so it’s best to get there early. Because dogs must be on a leash no longer than 10 feet, dogs there are relatively controlled.  

Leo Carrillo State Beach, Malibu CA

Kai at Leo Carrillo State Beach in Malibu, CA. This is on the hiking trails above the beach.

Ventura, California, Mondo’s Beach

Just west of Ventura, this is a small sand and rock beach situated in a break between beach houses along Pacific Coast Highway. A frequent spot for locals, parking is free along the dirt shoulder of the highway, so it fills up quickly on nice days.

Dogs are allowed on a leash, which makes for a more controlled dog environment. You can’t go to Mondo’s and let your dogs run wild. There are no bathrooms or trash cans at this beach.

Mondos Beach Ventura, CA

Zuma as a puppy in our beach tent at Mondo’s Beach in Ventura, CA

Carpinteria, California, Padaro Beach

Located along Padaro Lane and Santa Claus Lane, “Santa Claus Beach” is just north of the quaint beach town of Carpinteria. Free parking is along the road shoulder, and then you have to walk across the railroad tracks and over the rocks to the sandy beach.

There are no bathrooms or trash cans there, except one portable potty and one trash can by the road. This is a “locals” beach that is friendly to dogs. Although people take their dogs off-leash, there’s an understanding that your dog can’t run wild or disturb other beachgoers.

Padaro Beach, Carpinteria CA

Zuma at Padaro Beach in Carpinteria, CA

Long Beach, California, Rosie’s Dog Beach

The Dog Zone at Rosie’s Beach is in effect from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. every day. Located along Ocean Blvd in Long Beach, it has a pay parking lot, trash cans, and restrooms. Dog waste bags and pooper scoops are available.

This beach has a more dog park atmosphere with dogs running freely and playing with each other. If you don’t want your dog to interact with unfamiliar dogs, this is not the beach for you.

Rosie's Dog Beach in Long Beach, CA

Day trip with Zuma to Rosie’s Dog Beach

Orange County, California, Huntington Dog Beach

This is my absolute favorite dog beach of all time. Truly a dog lover’s paradise, it’s a beautiful, expansive, sandy beach that has all the amenities. They even have souvenirs and apparel! Huntington Dog Beach is a 1.5 mile area on Pacific Coast Highway where your furry friend can run and play off-leash.

The Preservation Society of Huntington Dog Beach relies on donations to monitor the beach, keep it clean and educate visitors on dog beach etiquette. There are a lot of dogs here, so if your dog has never been before, it’s best to take it slow.

Huntington Dog Beach

Zuma at Huntington Dog Beach

Del Mar, California, Dog Beach

North Beach in Del Mar is the only off-leash beach on Del Mar city beaches, which is why it’s known as Dog Beach. Located on the north side of the San Dieguito River Lagoon entrance next to Camino del Mar, it can get crowded quickly. This is a fairly confined area that sits right below the road.

Parking is free along the street, but it fills up quickly, especially on the weekends. If your pup is new to dog beaches, the number of dogs running around could be overwhelming. It has a “survival of the fittest” feel to it, so you want to make sure your dog is confident enough for this beach.

Zuma at Dog Beach in Del Mar, CA

Zuma at 9 months old visiting Dog Beach in Del Mar, CA

Whether you decide to take your puppy to the beach now or wait until a later time, you are sure to enjoy many fun-filled days at dog-friendly beaches in the years to come!


my favorite dog beaches in Southern California

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