Tips for Walking Your Dog at night
Autumn evenings are lovely. The leaves are beginning to turn beautiful shades of gold and amber. Temperatures are starting to fall, and the woollies and warm coats have been brought out of hibernation. This time of year brings new challenges for those of us who have to walk the dog in the evening after work or in the dark mornings before work. The fading light means we must take more care on our daily walks.
There are things we need to do to keep ourselves and our pups safe. Remember that reduced visibility works two ways; if we can’t see what’s around us, we can’t be seen very well. There are increased risks of minor accidents on dark nights when we are more likely to be bumped into by joggers or cyclists, or the dog lead trips someone up because they couldn’t see it. It is more difficult to spot hazards on the ground, such as glass, potholes, or uneven terrain.
Below is our safety checklist to help you and your dog stay safe and warm whilst out on our autumn and winter walks in the dark and murky mornings and evenings
Nighttime Dog Walking – wear something bright.
Flashing lights and collars – You can buy flashing light collars, leads and harnesses. These are available from most large pet stores and online companies like Amazon. They range from a couple of pounds for a tiny collar upwards.
Hi-viz, or reflective jackets, are available for dogs and cheaply priced at £2-3 for a medium-sized dog jacket. Hi-viz jackets for people can be bought for just a few pounds, too.
Another inexpensive option is to use reflective tape, which glows when light falls on it. You can wrap this around your dog’s lead and collar and stick some onto your boots or sleeves. This is a potentially messy option, though, as the tape can be pretty sticky, so don’t use it on anything which could spoil. Why not keep a jacket just for dog walking that you can put reflective tape on, etc
Carry a fully charged torch to light your way in the dark and assist in accurate poop scooping! If you can get a torch with 2000 lumens or more, you can use this for self-defence should you be attacked. Flash the torch in their eyes, and they will be disoriented enough for you to get away – bright flashing lights also draw attention.
Wear suitable gear for the time of year and nighttime dog walking
As autumn can bring cold, damp, dark and miserable nights, it is important to wear the right clothes, which should be bright so you can be seen. Dark colours are a driver’s nightmare as they only see you at the last minute.
Ideally, wear a reflective vest over your jacket and, previously mentioned, keep an old warm coat for dog walking, which you can cover the arms with reflective tape – maybe also consider a set of waterproof over trousers that you can do the same with around the ankles.
As well as a warm jacket for yourself, as it gets cold at night and there is more of a chance it being wet, you will probably want to invest in a doggy coat (see my article on does my dog need a coat). A decent doggy jacket will be waterproof and fleece-lined to keep them warm and protected from the winter elements when they are out on their walks.
The other advantage of a doggy jacket or jumper is that it makes them easier to clean after a muddy walk – chuck the jumper in the washing machine.
Make sure your ID tag is up to date.
In the UK, your dog must be microchipped and wear an ID tag by law. With fireworks, etc., suddenly going off, the chances of your dog getting lost are higher and harder to see. It is, therefore important to ensure your dog has an updated ID tag on his collar and harness with your name and address and ideally two numbers, so if a stranger finds him, they can return them quickly.
As an extra tip, I carry one of my keys, which also has my mum’s number, so if I have an accident, they can return me (and not just to the pub)
Ensure your phone is fully charged.
One of the essential dog walking aids is your mobile phone. Ensure it is fully charged and with you when you go out with the dog, as no one knows when an emergency could happen to you or the dog. Calling is far easier than shouting for help, especially at night when fewer people venture out the door once they get home from work.
Stick to safe and well-lit areas.
Unfortunately, not everyone is friendly, so to try and stay safe, it is best to keep to well-lit streets and parks as you never know what is lurking in the shadows. This way, you can avoid putting yourself and your dog in danger as much as possible.
The advantage of staying in well-lit areas is you can see what is going on and won’t suddenly have a cat or some wildlife suddenly appear out of the shadows and spook you and your dog.
Avoid shortcuts down dark alleys or across dark car parks when out and about.
If you are attacked, shout and scream as much as you can. If you have a loud whistle, blow it while shining the torch on their eyes. This will provide you with enough time to escape.
Don’t try and explore
When taking your dog out for a walk, either in the dark mornings or evenings, make sure you take routes you know well, as it is certainly not the time to explore a new route and run the risk of getting disoriented and possibly panic.
Walk against traffic
It is generally recommended, especially at night, to walk against the traffic, i.e., so you can see the cars etc. approaching. This not only helps the driver see you better but can help keep you safe. If the driver has to swerve to miss something, you have a better chance of getting out of the way.
Tell someone where you are going and approximately how long.
When going out for a walk on your own with the dog, especially at night, you must tell someone where you are going with the dog and approximately how long you will be. That way, if something happens to you and you are unable to make a call or attract attention, the person in your house will hopefully be concerned and raise help if you are much over the time you said
We hope that by following our nighttime dog walking tips, you and your dog can enjoy some evening walks without feeling too scared.
This is just one of the winter dangers for dogs
Please find below a list of other posts that you may be interested in