For some of us, nighttime walks with our dog may be our only choice. But before you go on your second week of walking your dog in the evening, you need to be aware that doing so involves so many hazards that are absent from morning walks. Walking your dog at night means diminished visibility, ground level hazards, nighttime critters, busy city streets, slick sidewalks, and possibly crimes.
There are so many useful and easy to find products for night walking to get you started. From eye-catching reflective gear to safe sidewalk strategies, you can make nighttime dog walks fun and safe starting tonight.
Safety Tips for Walking Your Dog at Night
Use a reflective or light-up leash and collar.
The easiest and cheapest way to do this is to get a roll of reflective tape and attach it to your dog’s collar, leash, and harness. But if you want a product that has been specifically designed for nighttime visibility, there are also plenty to choose from. You can find reflective or light-up collars at pet stores or online.
Dress for the night.
Evenings are usually cold and dark. If you are wearing dark clothing, you will basically be invisible in the darkness. Make your night walks colorful with reflective apparel for you and your dog. At the very least, you should have a light-colored jacket or vest to wear at night. If your dog is susceptible to cold, you might consider adding a vest to help keep them warm, especially if you have a small dog. As a bonus, you can add reflective tape to the vest to make your dog more visible.
Wear or carry lights.
Reflective gear is a good idea, but battery-operated lights are an even better way to illuminate your path and make you and your dog more visible. For yourself, a headlamp will help you navigate the night while your hands stay free for holding the leash. Adding light makes you much more visible, thus increasing your safety. For your dog, consider a clip-on collar light. They attach easily to your dog’s collar and shine bright so motorists, cyclists, and other walkers can see your dog coming.
Stick to well-lit areas.
Unfortunately, the world keeps getting scarier. You are much safer if you walk on lighted paths and sidewalks. Dark areas are a perfect place for crimes to take place. Don’t try to cut through places like parks or alleys if they’re dark. Staying in the light will keep you and your dog safer, and it’s much easier to see where you’re going.
Walk in familiar places.
It’s best to stick to familiar routes when walking your dog at night. There’s no good time for a dog to get lost, but it’s especially dangerous in unfamiliar territory in the dark. Walking on familiar streets won’t only prevent you from getting lost in the dark; it will also help prevent unexpected encounters with nighttime critters that may be prowling around in the dark. Opossums, skunks, and raccoons usually come out to play at night. They may look cute in pictures, but they’re no fun to encounter with a spooked or overly curious dog that may find them interesting to chase.
Ditch the headphones.
It can be fun to listen to some tunes while you’re taking a walk. However, that can distract you from your surroundings, making you less safe. It’s best to be fully aware of your surroundings when walking in the dark, and with headphones on, you won’t be able to hear what’s going on around you. Take the headphones out, and put your phone in your pocket. Enjoy being with your dog instead.
It’s National Animal Safety and Prevention Month, so stay safe.