Beach Play Ideas for Dogs

August 12, 2014

beach steve stearnsBy Laurie Darroch

With all the open space, the beach is the perfect place to take your dog for an invigorating outing to get fresh air and exercise. Even in cooler months, the non-water activities at the beach can be a great way to burn off excess dog energy and provide refreshing outdoor play time. If you have kids in your home, this is a fun outing for the whole family and good bonding time with your dog.

During hot weather, pick cooler times of the day to go for a beach outing with your dog. Early mornings or evenings are best on excessively hot days. That’s when the sand is more tolerable for paws to walk on. Going at off times also makes it easier to play on the beach with fewer people there.

Some beaches allow dogs to roam freely. Others require all dogs to be on a leash. You can adapt any of the following activities for play on or off the leash. For play that involves running, if you are not physically able to run yourself, with the use of an extra-long lead instead of a standard shorter leash, your dog can still run and play.

Bring toys that are heavy enough to throw, even if the beach is windy. Include toys that can float if your dog goes in the water to play.

Water Play

Not all dogs enjoy the water and some are not good swimmers, but for those who can swim well and love the water, it is a wonderful way to play with your dog. On a hot day it’s also fun for both of you to cool off in the water. Dogs that are not good swimmers can still go in the water with an appropriately sized dog life vest.

beach lain farrellIf you are with a group of people, spread out in the water and take turns calling your dog to come. Swimming around between people is both exercise and sociable for your dog. When you are in the water together you are at the same level, face to face.

Bring a couple floating toys that you can toss in the water. Play fetch in the water while you are swimming with your dog.

Sand Play

Dogs who love to dig may enjoy a hide and seek game in the sand. Simply bury a toy while your dog is watching, and then tell them to dig it up. If they are diggers, they will figure it out quickly. You can dig together to make it more fun for your dog. Try burying the item on the dry sand and in the wetter sand down by the water for a variation. You can even bury a bone or a dry treat for your dog to find.


Frisbees are a lot of fun when you have plenty of open space on the beach. They catch the air and you can throw them a good distance. All of the running, leaping and jumping is great exercise for your dog. With training, you may find that your dog can even learn to perform tricks with the disc.

For fetching games, use dog balls in the appropriate size for your dog. With a larger ball you can play soccer on the beach with your dog. Use balls that can float for water play.

A ball chucker is nice for beach play if you don’t have the best throwing arm or have more limited function. You place the ball in the long handled ball chucker and let it do most of the throwing work. It provides more strength and a stronger arm to make the ball go further when you toss it.

A beach has so much space that throw and fetch games can provide major exercise where your dog can really run and stretch. To vary the games, you can play on the looser dry sand or along the water where the packed, wet sand is easier to walk and run on.


If you are training your dog to come, the beach is a good place to try the command from a distance. Start with a long lead and after the dog has mastered the behavior on leash, try it off the leash. If the beach isn’t crowded, there will be less distractions for training.

Don’t forget to bring along plenty of your dog’s favorite CANIDAE treat as a reward for a job well done when they learn the command or when they play fetch and return the object.

Beach play is great exercise for your dog that will really wear them out. If you have a very active or hyper dog, this type of play will help release some of that energy in appropriate ways. There is a good chance your dog will be ready for a rest when they get home, and you will too.

Top photo by Steve Stearns
Bottom photo by Lain Farrell

Read more articles by Laurie Darroch

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  1. We always play frisbee every time we are on the beach. It’s such a fun game. It is the favorite game of my Max. I also use dog balls if he doesn’t want to play frisbee. It’s a great exercise for me and for my dog as well a good bonding.