The Best Dog Friendly Beaches on the Emerald Coast
Plan a beach day for your four-footed friend
As an Emerald Coast dog mom, I can attest there’s nowhere a pup would rather be than chasing seagulls through the sand and splashing along the breakers at the beach. But before you embark on your day of fun in the sun, it’s important to pack accordingly and identify the proper places for your pooch.
Finding Your Beach
I’m fortunate to live in Walton County, the only region along the Emerald Coast that allows dogs on the beach if they have a permit (Bay, Santa Rosa and Escambia Counties enforce a strict ordinance, save for service animals.) That means my best boy and I can run across the street to Miramar Beach and play to our heart’s content during designated, seasonal hours. Though Fido must be kept on a leash at all times, there are miles of shore to roam for a mutually beneficial workout. Scenic U.S. 98, Miramar Beach
Dog Beach Pier Park
If you’re looking to mix it up from your conventional dog park, there are 400 feet of designated, dog-friendly sand and surf west of the Russell-Fields Pier. Ideal for the social dog, this is the hot scene for sniffing out new friends, playing tug-of-war with driftwood and racing to the waves. 16230 Front Beach Road, Panama City Beach
Bayview Dog Beach
For the spunky Spot who refuses to be tied down, the one-acre, fenced-in facilities of Bayview Dog Beach allow for hours of off-leash action. This is where you can bust out the Frisbees and floaty toys. With the added amenities of Bayview Park’s picnicking pavilions and hiking trails, why not make a day of it? 2003 E. Lloyd St., Pensacola
Pensacola Dog Beach East and West
Pensacola dogs have two beaches at their disposal, with Pensacola Dog Beach West along Fort Pickens Road, and Pensacola Dog Beach East on Via de Luna Drive’s Lot E. Though limited by leash laws, the ample, but intimate spaces are ideal for introverted canines and smaller breeds that prefer peace to rambunctious play.
West: Fort Pickens Road, Pensacola Beach, Parking lot 21.5. East: Hwy. 399, Pensacola Beach, Parking lot 28.5
It’s always a good idea to load your dog’s own “diaper bag” with necessities. A compact water bowl, treats, towels and baggies are obvious, but there are a few more essentials to keep in mind.
If your beach doesn’t provide any shady spots, bring your own umbrella to offer Rover some shade. Your pups — especially fair, short-haired breeds — are susceptible to sunburn, too. Apply your own SPF to their ears, nose and vulnerable spots and be alert for signs of overheating.
If spot gets a nasty sting, a sprinkle of vinegar will eliminate toxins and soothe the affected area. Look out for debris that may be poking through the sand, and be sure to disinfect/wrap their paws if they get a poke.
It’s easy to lose control of the leash with all the excitement that comes with the sea. Even if your dog is swimming, ensure their collar always remains on in the event you get separated. Rabies tags and proper ID also lets other owners know your pal is safe to play with.
Obtaining a Permit in Walton County
Dog Beach licenses cost $40 per year and require documentation of a current rabies vaccination.
Dogs must remain leashed and may visit from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. in the spring/summer, and 3 p.m. to 9 a.m. in the fall/winter months. Permits expire each year on the 1st of August, so don’t forget to renew.
It’s a privilege to have pooches at our beaches, so please remember to pack your baggies and pick up after them. co.walton.fl.us/FormCenter