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 beginning to fall, and the woollies and warm coats have been brought out of hibernation. For those of us who have to walk the dog in the evening after work, or in the dark mornings before work, this time of year brings new challenges. The fading light means we must take a little more care on our daily walks.
There are things we need to do to keep ourselves and our pooches safe. Remember that reduced visibility works two ways; if we can’t see what’s around us then we can’t be seen very well either. 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 or potholes or uneven terrain.
Below is our safety checklist to help you and your dog stay safe and warm whilst out o 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 such as amazon. They range from a couple of pounds for a small collar upwards.
Reflective jackets – Hi-viz, or reflective jackets, are available for dogs and are a cheap option at £2-3 for a medium-sized dog jacket. Hi-viz jackets for people can be bought for just a few pounds too.
Reflective tape – Another inexpensive option is to use reflective tape, of the type which glows when light falls on it. You can wrap this around your dogs lead and collar and can even stick some onto your boots or sleeves. This is a potentially messy option though as the tape can be quite 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
A torch – Carry a fully charged torch with you, not only to light your way in the dark but also to assist in accurate poop scooping! If you can get a torch that is 2000 lumens or ore then 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 night time dog walking
As autumn can bring cold, damp, dark and miserable nights it is important to wear the right clothes which ideally should be bright so you can be seen. Dark colours are a drivers 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 jacket 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 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 r jumper is that it makes them easier to clean after a muddy walk – just chuck the jumper in the washing machine
Make sure your ID tag is up to date
In the UK by law, your dog needs to be microchipped and wear an ID tag. With fireworks etc suddenly going off the chances of your dog getting lost are higher and they are also harder to see. It is therefore important to make sure your dog has an updated ID tag on his collar and/or harness with your name and address and ideally two numbers so if a stranger finds him they can return the quickly
As an extra tip, I carry one on my keys which also has my mums 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 most essential dog walking aids is your mobile phone. Make sure 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. Making a call 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 out there is nice so in order 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
When out and about try and avoid taking short cuts down dark alleys or across dark car parks
If you are attacked, then shout and scream as much as you can if you have a loud whistle then blow t whilst 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 then make sure you take routes you know well as it is certainly not the time to explore a new route and run the risk getting disoriented and possibly panic
Walk against traffic
It is generally recommended especially at night to 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 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 it is important yo 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 hep if you are much over the time you said
We hope by following our night time dog walking tips that you and your dog can enjoy some evening walks without feeling too scared