Your dog has been exceptionally good lately, and he or she probably really digs the beach and is ready for you to pack the bowls, bones, and leashes for a fun getaway. Whether your dog is jogging with you at a lake or frolicking in the Gulf of Mexico surf with the kids, all but one of the public beaches in Louisiana require dogs to be on a leash. Your dog can look forward to barking at seagulls, safely sniffing washed-up marine creatures, and excavating the sandy seashore looking for hidden treasures. Remember to bring along doggy pit-stop supplies, drinking water for the pack, and beach toys. Look for dog-friendly Louisiana vacation rentals within 20 miles of these top dog-friendly beaches, most of which are in sparsely populated areas.

1. Rutherford Beach, Creole

An hour south of Lake Charles, and an hour east of Holly Beach, almost-deserted Rutherford Beach gives dogs a lot of freedom to chase the waves, roll in the sand, and bark at birds. Just turn Fido loose and watch your fur kid’s joy explode. It’s a great place to look for shells, swim, surf, enjoy a bonfire, and drive on the beach. With some your toes in some sand and some sweet tea in your hand, kick back and use one of the BBQ grills to stage an epic cookout. The beach amenities include showers, Porta Potty facilities, and trash cans to make your visit convenient and enjoyable year-round. T-Boys Cajun Grill, in Creole, serves up burgers, catfish, frog legs, okra gumbo, and seafood in a casual atmosphere. For a change of pace, drive the 14 miles over to Cameron and ride the ferry to Holly Beach and back to look for dolphins.

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2. Holly Beach

The locals refer to Holly Beach as part of the Cajun Riviera, a 30-mile piece of coast that includes marshes, rivers, and a few beach houses on stilts. About an hour south of Lake Charles, Holly Beach vacation rentals seek to get visitors to hang around for a few days to enjoy this long stretch of clean, white sand. Some areas allow driving on the beach while other areas restrict it; just look for the signs at the parking areas on the town side of the dunes at the end of any street. This beach is popular for crabbing, shelling, and just hanging out, which makes it ideal for outings with leashed dogs. In winter months, you find the beach mostly deserted, and low-tide walks make the best times to look for shells.

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3. Little Florida Beach

Vacationers typically head to famous beaches in Florida and Texas when they want to spend time on the Gulf Coast. Let them have South Padre Island and Pensacola. Some of the Pelican State’s best beaches are hidden gems that glisten with subtle charms. Little Florida Beach, the best-kept secret on the Cajun coast, enchants visitors with shimmering, turquoise waves breaking on the shore. Keep your dog on a leash as you enjoy walking, shelling, swimming, and sunbathing on this quiet beach. Between May and September, look for signs that state whether the water is safe for swimming, which it usually is. If there is a warning to stay out of the water, this includes Fido.

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4. North Beach, Lake Charles

From Texas to Florida, zero in on North Beach, just off I-10 in Lake Charles, to find the only inland beach that has sparkling white sand. More than 20 miles north of Gulf waters, this stunning recreation area sits next to the tourist bureau. Get in a good walk with Fido on the beach, and note the grassy areas set aside specifically for dog business. Pets need leashes, and it’s your job to finish the “paperwork” if Fido leaves a calling card. Visitors access this beach daily, from dusk to dawn, year-round. The boardwalk connects three great parks, including Millennium Park, the September 11th Memorial, and Veteran’s Memorial Park. Lake Charles features other dog-friendly spots, including Rikenjaks Brewing Company where you can enjoy a meal on the largest pet-friendly patio in Southwest Louisiana. The staff greets your pup with a refreshing bowl of water. The City Market & Deli carries sandwiches and salads, which you can eat at one of the picnic tables with your fur kid by your side.

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5. Port Fourchon Beach, Golden Meadow

Be the coolest pet parent by taking your pooch to Port Fourchon Beach, where there are no restrictions on dogs. Sound savvy when you pronounce it “foo-shawn,” the way the locals do. When you turn Fido loose to let him kick up his paws, he needs to stay within your eyesight and under voice control for his safety and for the safety of others. A buoyant life vest helps keep your dog safe when he’s swimming and frolicking in the waters offshore with you. This beach allows swimming, crabbing, surf fishing, and diving, and you and your pet can have a fine time while you keep him away from the activities of others. This is Louisiana’s southernmost point, with access to stunning Grand Isle vacation rentals along the Caminada Bay side of the island as well as the Gulf of Mexico beach side. Grand Isle State Park welcomes you, and your leashed pup, to enjoy strolling along the waterfront.

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