Walking my dogs at night means navigating dark, slick pavements and busy city streets. It can be nerve-wracking to be a single woman walking my dogs alone at night!
But dog walking at night doesn’t have to be unsafe. From eye-catching reflective gear to safe strategies, you can make nighttime dog walks fun and safe. Read on to learn how to safely walk your dog at night.
Always use a lead (preferably a reflective lead or harness)
This one is non-negotiable. Even if you live in an area without much traffic, and your dog has an excellent recall, you should always use a lead at night.
Just like humans, dogs get startled by people or animals suddenly emerging from the dark. If your dog gets scared while off-lead, she may run off, and it’s a lot harder to find a lost dog in the dark. Also, a lead will keep her from running into the road at night, where cars may not see her before it’s too late.
For the ultimate in nighttime walk safety, consider something like this reflective harness. There is no dog accessory that I have purchased that has gotten more envious comments than our light up harness. Whenever we bump into a neighbour on the road while out in the dark, they comment on how excellent it is. People up the street can see us coming when my dog is all lit up. Plus, the rotating colour option makes us look like a traveling disco party. You can’t beat that.
Dress for the weather (and the dark)
In addition to a reflective lead and collar, make your night walks colourful with reflective apparel for you and your dog. During wintertime especially, it’s important to stay visible and warm! For humans, try a lightweight reflective vest that layers over your favourite winter coat. The highly-rated Viz vestprovides 360° reflectivity, and comes in a few cute colours.
If you’re looking for value for money, this high-quality coat is made from a waterproof, windproof, and breathable fabric to protect your dog from the elements. The coat provides decent protection during heavy downpours and it has a removable polar fleece liner, making it perfect for both summer and winter months. To ensure a secure, comfortable fit you simply have to thread its Velcro straps through loops and fold them back on themselves. It’s also machine-washable, harness-friendly, and has a reflective band for visibility on night-time walks.
This post has even more walking gear for your dog.
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 lead. Amazon sells lots of waterproof headlamps for under £20.
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 her coming.
Take a familiar route
In addition to gearing up against the cold and dark, it’s important to use caution and common sense when walking your dog at night. You don’t need to be afraid, just cautious. Cars, joggers, cyclists, and other dog walkers may not be paying attention, and can startle your dog at night.
- Walk against traffic so you can see what’s coming.
- Ditch the headphones when walking your dog at night. You need to be able to hear what’s going on around you!
- Stay on the pavement along well-lit roads, and avoid shortcuts through dark carparks or alleyways.
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, main streets won’t only prevent you from getting lost in the dark. It will also help prevent run-ins with other creatures who may be prowling around at night. Badgers and foxes come out to play at night, and while they may be cute in pictures, they’re no fun to encounter with a spooked dog.
Carry your phone
This is just common sense: your phone may be a lifesaver in case of emergency. Be sure to keep it charged, and save the phone numbers for your local non-emergency police, emergency vet, and a taxi service just in case, or ensure quick access to a ride-sharing service via an app.
In addition to being a safety necessity, your smartphone may have several features to improve your nighttime walk:
- A built-in torch to use as a backup light source
- Navigational tools to help you map your route in the dark
Walking your dog at night doesn’t have to be scary. With a familiar route and the right accessories, your evening outing can be a walk in the park.
Stuck at the office late tonight? A dog walker will make sure your dog gets the evening walk (and loving attention) she needs.
Featured image: AMAZON.CO.UK