Dogs love our beaches and luckily, the Outer Banks loves our canine friends just as much! Every dog is a beach dog once they arrive over that bridge with their tails wagging. Our pups are a big part of our lives and you’re sure to encounter dogs just about everywhere you go while you are here on vacation. You’ll see doggie water dishes outside of stores and restaurants, dogs riding and walking with their people, and of course lots of four-legged fun on the beach. But there are a few things to know if your dog is vacationing with you. Here’s a rundown on tips, regulations and other useful information so your pooch can have as much fun on the Outer Banks as you do!
From north to south, here’s a breakdown on the leash laws by area or town:
>>In Corolla, dogs are allowed year round on the beach and at the Whalehead Club’s Heritage Park, but they must be on a leash.
>>In Duck, there are no leash laws on town beaches, however dogs must be supervised and under control at all times. Dogs must be leashed throughout town including the park, boardwalk and Duck Trail.
>>In Southern Shores, dogs must be on a leash year round on the beach and during the season, can only be on the beach (leashed) before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m.
>>In Kitty Hawk, dogs on the beach must be on a leash from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the summer. After Labor Day, Fido may run on the beaches of Kitty Hawk leash free only if they can stay within 30 feet of their owner.
>>In Kill Devil Hills, dogs are not permitted on the beach between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. during the summer months and must be leashed at all other times.
>>In Nags Head, pets are welcome at any time as long as they are leashed.
>>On Hatteras Island, including Rodanthe, Waves, Avon and Salvo, leashed dogs are allowed with the exception of some designated swim beaches.
You can find more detailed information about regulations in each town by visiting their websites. Unless your dog is extremely obedient and comes when called, it’s probably a wise idea to keep him leashed at all times. This is for your dog’s safety as well as the safety of other people and pets on the beach. Your dog is in a strange environment, with new sounds and smells, and may be more likely to run off or behave differently than he does at home. It’s great if your dog is friendly, but not every other dog on the beach plays well with others. Large, excited dogs can scare little kids and most people wouldn’t want a sandy, wet, slobbery pooch interrupting their beach nap.
Just remember, if someone asks you to call your dog, you yelling “he’s friendly” while Rover happily ignores you won’t prevent a fight from happening or keep your 110-pound Goldendoodle from knocking over a toddler.
Another important thing to remember before you bring your pet on vacation is that it can get very hot in the summer, especially on the beach! The sand can reach temperatures of 120 degrees at mid-day. If it hurts you to walk across it, you know your pooch is going to be hating it, too. A simple way to test the temperature of the ground is to place the back of your hand on the pavement/sidewalk/sand for five seconds. If it’s too hot to leave your hand there for that long, it’s too hot for your dog. Their paw pads can burn and blister, which could require an ER vet visit and result in a very miserable dog.
Just like humans, dogs can suffer from heatstroke. This can cause major organ damage and even death if not addressed quickly. Signs to look for are excessive panting and drooling, wobbly (drunk-looking, disoriented) movement, vomiting, and a rapid heart rate. Dehydration is also common in the summer, especially if your dog ingests too much salt water or sand. Be sure to keep cool, clean, fresh water readily available at all times. Overweight dogs, the very young and very old, and breeds with long hair or flat-faces (like pugs and bulldogs) are at a higher risk of heat stroke.
Last but not least, pick up the poop! Dog poop is a huge pollutant. Letting the ocean wash it away or covering it with sand is bad for the environment. Many public beach accesses have stations with bags and trashcans, but it’s always a good idea to bring your own clean up bags. Keep in mind that most locals (and tourists, too!) will call you out if they see you leaving the poop behind. Not only is it really unpleasant to step in or lay your beach towel next to, it is also full of bacteria that can be harmful to both people and wildlife.
If you follow these simple guidelines, you’ll discover that the Outer Banks is the perfect place to visit with your four-legged pal! Miles of beaches, trails, walking paths, and parks make it simple and fun to get out and explore with your best friend. You’re likely to find a cafe or two that will welcome your pooch on their outdoor patio, and many of our shops even have souvenirs for Fido as well. More and more of our rental homes and hotels are becoming pet friendly, making it easier than ever to bring your canine buddy along with you on vacation. There’s no reason to leave your dog at home anymore, and as long as you play it safe and are respectful of our unique local environment, you’re both sure to have a tail waggin’ good time!