Activities For Dogs In Dry Tortugas National Park

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Introduction

Dry Tortugas is actually a group of islands about 75 miles from Key West, Florida. The only way to get there is by charter plane or boat, which vary on prices and rules, so you will need to check with the park officials about which of these allow canines. The park is dog-furiendly, and your dog can join you on many of the activities you can enjoy here. The Garden Key island has a historic building called Fort Jefferson that you can explore and Loggerhead Key, which is the largest, has a lighthouse and sandy beaches. You will not find any technology here though. In fact, there is no running water or electricity, but you can go snorkeling and swimming to see some of the most vibrant coral reef gardens in the world.

Walking the Moat Wall

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Sunny Day
Free
Easy
1 - 2 hrs
Items needed
leash
water
doggy cleanup bags
Activity description
Fort Jefferson on Garden Key is an American landmark which was built in 1846 to protect the harbor that patrolled the Gulf of Mexico and Straits of Florida. It was also used to house the prisoners during the Civil War. While the building is starting to crumble and become dangerous, the park has been fortifying the structure for safety. There is a moat around the building that you and your pooch can walk on to see the massive structure up close. While the park is free, getting there can be expensive. From about $200 to $400 per person depending on the type of travel you choose, and dogs are free. You should also bring water to drink and snacks as well as poop cleanup baggies.
Step
1
Walking on a leash
Your dog has to know how to walk on a leash to walk on the moat wall. You need to get them used to the leash before coming to the park, so they are not fighting with it the whole time. You will also need to get to the moat wall by swimming or boating so your pooch should be adept at those as well.
Step
2
Let's go swimming
If your dog does not know how to swim yet, teach them before you go. It is not enough to just put a vest on them and throw them in. They will be scared and miserable the whole time and so will you. Teach them slowly in a pool or small lake and always use a vest for them even after they can swim.
Step
3
Kayaking
They do make kayaks especially for dogs, but most have plenty of room for both you and your pooch in the seat. Your dog must wear a personal floatation device and be able to sit still for a long time. If your pup is small, they can probably walk or stand on the hull, but you have to be very careful.
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Snorkeling

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Sunny Day
Free
Easy
1 - 2 hrs
Items needed
doggy life vest
snorkeling equipment
leash
Activity description
Since almost 99% of the Dry Tortugas National Park is water, you will be spending most of your time in the water so if your pooch is not a water lover, this is not the right place to go. Snorkeling may not be something that you would think your dog could do but dogs are actually very good at swimming and diving, which is all there is to it. And you don’t have to take a boat to get to the best snorkeling sites because you can walk into the water and be there already. The coral reef that surrounds the islands are unlike any other and you and your canine kid are going to see some amazing colors down there.
Step
1
Swimming
If your pooch cannot swim, they need to learn before the trip. Start small and shallow in a pool or lake. You can get in with your pooch or get in alone and encourage them to come out with a treat or toy. Once they get in the water, praise your pup and give them a treat. Start getting deeper until your dog is swimming on their own.
Step
2
Safety
You should keep a doggy life vest on your canine kid at all times. First, because it is a safety thing, and second, because you don’t want them stepping all over the delicate coral. Not to mention the sharp edges of anything that is submerged they may step on if not for the vest. Stay close to your pup at all times while here; don't get distracted by the coral!
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Dog Beach

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Sunny Day
Free
Easy
2 - 3 hrs
Items needed
doggy life vest
water
doggy cleanup bags
leash
Activity description
Yes, Dry Tortugas National Park has a dog beach. It is actually a dog park that is on a Key West beach, but it is the one and only dog beach in Key West, so you and your canine kid should visit this fur sure. Not only can they swim and play, but they can also run off-leash in the off-leash area. Your poochie will love playing in the surf and digging in the sand all day while you relax and watch them enjoy. The park is free, but you will need to bring your own water and plastic poo bags to clean up after your pupster.
Step
1
Socialization
Make sure your canine kid knows how to play nice with other pooches before you go to this dog heaven. Take your dog to a dog park or a park where dogs are welcome or just invite your friends with dogs to bring them over for a puppy play date. Once your dog spends some time with other dogs, they will be ready to head out to the beach.
Step
2
Swimming safety
Always have a life vest on your dog and make sure it fits properly even if your fur buddy is a good swimmer. Accidents can happen, and you don’t want them to happen to your best fur-iend, right? Keep the vest on while at the beach even if you are not in the water because you never know when Fido may decide to jump in and cool off.
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More Fun Ideas...

Fishing

Even if your pup is not into fishing, all they have to do is lay around on the beach and soak up the sun while you try your luck. Of course, if you have a water baby, they may decide to go in after the fish or chase the ones that got away, so you should keep your pup on a leash.

Photo Shoot

Take your canine kid all over the Dry Tortugas National Park for a photo shoot. You can take selfies with your dog and then some with just your dog posing in all the fantastic places you want to remember later. You can also get some video of your little buddy to share on Facebook.

Conclusion

Whether you are camping or just here for the day, the Dry Tortugas National Park has something fun for everyone to do. The views are furfectly amazing, and you can truly get away from it all with no phones or other technology. Your canine kid will enjoy having your full attention, and you can relax and have a stress-free vacation.