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Ginger at Montrose Beach

Taking your dog to the beach can be lots of fun, if you're prepared.

Things to Bring
This is a list of things we suggest you bring for a day at the beach. Things in bold are important items, others are extras/less essential.

  • A towel for drying that wet dog
  • A bottle of water and a bowl
  • Your dog first aid kit
  • Pick-up bags
  • A long line if your dog is not off-leash trained (see reliable recall)
  • A floating fetch toy (tennis balls work well and are inexpensive in case they float away!)
  • A life jacket, if the water is rough or your dog is not an expert swimmer
  • Sunscreen, for dogs with light skin/short fur (look for baby-safe, PABA free, hypoallergenic types)

What to Expect

Expect to see plenty of people, including children, and other dogs. If you plan to have your dog off leash, make sure s/he has a solid recall (most beaches are not fenced.) Many beaches are near bike paths, so joggers, inline skaters and bicyclers may be nearby.
The beach can present many hazards for your dog. Things to watch out for include boats, fishhooks, dead fish, garbage, and broken glass. We suggest you check out the area with your dog on a short leash or without your dog before letting him/her play. If you find any of the hazards above, look for a better area. If swimming in the Lake (Michigan) check the height of the waves before you allow your dog to get in the water. Even excellent swimmers can get into trouble when the waves are too high.
I suggest using a long line if you're not sure of your dogs swimming skills, or if you think your dog may swim too far. I don't recommend Flexis for the beach, mainly because sand will get into the housing, which would probably ruin them (we have firsthand experience!) I recommend tennis balls for water retrieving, because they're easy to spot and inexpensive- if your dog decides not to fetch the ball from the water, it's no big deal. If you do decide to use a 'fancy' retrieving toy, make sure that a) it floats and b) your dog will actually retrieve it, before you throw it into the water!

Where to Go

There are two official beaches within the Chicago city limits which currently allow dogs. Dogs are officially not allowed on other beaches in Chicago. However,
many people take their dog to other beaches during off-season and off-hours.
The Chicago dog beach/dog friendly area at Montrose Beach is a fenced off area at the north end of the beach. The second dog friendly beach is a smaller area north of this at Foster Beach. 

If you do visit the beach, please be sure to keep your dog within the fenced area and do not allow your dog off-leash until you are on the sand. People have been ticketed for letting their dogs off the leash on the sidewalks or rocks before they were actually on the beach.
 You can find some information on Montrose Dog Beach at MonDog.

IMPORTANT: The City of Chicago has recently enacted a new law which requires all dogs at "Dog Friendly Areas" including dog beaches to have a special permit. The permits are $5 and can be purchased at participating veterinarians.

There is also an "unofficial" dog beach at Belmont Harbor. It's not officially a beach, so there are no rules about whether dogs are allowed. This beach is small, but it is completely fenced in. One warning, though- if you do visit and allow your dog off leash, you can get ticketed as it is not an official dog friendly area.
Evanston does have an official Dog Beach which requires a season token.   For info on Evanston's dog beach, click here or call 847-866-2900.
You can get more dog beach information from the book Doggone Chicago by Steve Dale or (more up-to-date) The Dog Lover's Companion to Chicago by Margaret Littman.

Doggy Tip
(from Ginger)
Here's a tip! Before allowing 
your dog in the water, soak her fur with a 
pet creme rinse/leave-in conditioner
diluted with water.
Be sure this is a product that is meant to be left on the fur!

I use Lambert Kay's Fresh n' Clean.
When your dog dries off, she will smell 
and feel like she just had a bath!
Ginger in Wisconsin


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