Green Room: Eco Dogs Beach Guide

We know Goletans love their dogs! Read on for ways dog owners can enjoy Santa Barbara County beaches with their pup, while keeping our beaches clean. For a list of dog-friendly beaches, click here. Rules in place for our dogs help with public safety, pet safety, human health, water quality, and wildlife protection.

Pawsitive Beach Tips

  • Always pick up after your pet, even if your pet goes “off trail” or in vegetation. All creeks in the area have unfortunately been impacted with pet waste and have elevated levels of fecal bacteria in some areas. Any pollutants in our creeks drain to the beaches and ocean where we swim and play, so picking up all pet waste is incredibly important.
  • Keep dogs on leash to avoid harming wildlife, ingestion of anything harmful, and pet waste accidents.
  • Bring fresh water & provide shade for your dog to avoid heatstroke on hot days. Drinking seawater can make your dog sick and cause diarrhea.
  • Rinse off salt water that can irritate your dog’s skin and paws.
  • Remove tar with cooking oil, not solvents.
  • Sunblock can prevent sunburn on noses & pink skin.
  • Very hot sand or asphalt can burn paw pads.
  • Practicing the “come” command before you go helps your dog with voice control at the off-leash beach. For the safety of all, dogs not under voice control should not be off leash.
  • Bring treats for training.
  • Check to see if the off-leash beach is underwater at very high tide.
  • Carry biodegradable bags with you. Leaving bags on the beach is illegal litter & will pollute the ocean even more than dog waste alone.
  • Training your dog to go to the bathroom at home before you leave can keep the beach cleaner and reduce the environmental & financial costs of plastic bags. You can also train your dog to go near a trash can or convenient spot in order to make pet waste disposal more convenient.
  • There is a convenient self-serve Monarch Pet Spa warm water dog wash at Arroyo Burro Beach.
  • Bring your cell phone in case of emergency & call 911 so your call will get to the right dispatch for that beach.

Sharing the Beach

Our beaches are a thin ribbon of habitat that shorebirds need to rest and feed during their long-distance migrations. As our population increases, places crucial for shorebird survival are decreasing. You as a dog guardian can help. We can be aware and share the beach with four simple actions:

  • Walk around birds instead of through their flocks.
  • Leash pets before they chase birds.
  • Respect closed areas set aside for endangered or nesting species.
  • Stay away from birds or wildlife that look sick or are unable to get away from humans. Sick birds are vulnerable and will try to defend themselves with their sharp beaks.

Shorebirds see our pets as predators and become stressed. Also, harassing wildlife is against the law. Unleashed pets harass and kill birds on our beaches every year. This problem is easy to fix. Watch for shorebirds and leash your dog as needed.

Dogs like to run free on the beach. Happily, pet owners have two miles at Shoreline Park Beach from Thousand Steps to the east of Arroyo Burro County Beach where off-leash dogs are allowed. By law, all off-leash dogs must be with a responsible person carrying a leash, properly licensed with tags, healthy, not in heat, not aggressive or dangerous, and all waste collected. Dogs not under voice control should not be off-leash.

If you find an injured bird, call the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network at 805-681-1080. Call the Channel Islands Marine and Wildlife Institute (CIMWI) at 805-567-1505 if you see an injured marine mammal. If you find a dead dolphin or whale, please call the Channel Islands Cetacean Research Unit (CICRU) at 805-500-6220.

Helpful Websites

For more information on being eco-friendly with your pup, check out our Eco-Dog’s Beach Guide in English and Spanish.