Recall at the beach
Here's a discussion of the options from our very own certified, Fear-Free (R+) trainer, Andrea! Lessons on teaching recall (and many other topics, co-written with experts) will be available in the brand new Pack Animals app that will be launching soon. And if you'd like to have a private virtual or in-person training session with Andrea, click here to schedule!
(A) Keeping your dog on leash and exploring together is a low risk option and still enables you both to have a good time at the beach. Just because it's an off-leash beach doesn't mean you need to let your dog off. Just because it's a beach doesn't mean all humans need to be in their swim suits. Some humans are more comfortable fully clothed, and some dog-human pairs are more comfortable staying connected. It's a great way to get your dog used to a new environment and start building the foundation for future outings when you will be able to let your dog increase distance and practice recall. This is also the best choice if your dog is selectively reactive and you need to manage their access to other people or dogs.
(B) Unclipping your dog to test out their recall is a very high risk option, and one that trainers would not recommend. It poses a danger to your dog, other dogs and humans, and to yourself if you have to chase after your dog in unsafe situations. Please avoid this option at all costs, even if peer pressure tries to make you believe it’ll be okay.
(C) Attaching a long lightweight drag line could be a good option if you feel that your dog has some general understanding of recall and how to interact with other humans and dogs. A long lightweight drag line means you will have a way to grab hold of your dog if they don’t come to you directly, which decreases some of the risk. But it's still not recommended for dogs that are selectively reactive, get scared easily, or may run towards/jump on other adults or children.
(D) Staying at home is the lowest risk option, but it would rob you and your dog of a fun adventure! You don’t need to avoid the beach entirely just because you can’t let your dog off leash. You can consider option A above, or find a less crowded beach and practice recall with a long line (option B).