Walking at Night With Your Dog: Keep These Safety Tips In Mind
Walking dog at night — is it safe?
Many of us lead busy lives and in the winter months walking your dog at night or during the hours of darkness is often the only option. It goes without saying that one of your — and your dog’s — major senses, sight, is seriously impaired when it’s dark. There are several dog walking safety measures to consider to keep you and your dog safe when walking your dog at night or early morning.
When dog walking, light and bright is the best way forward. Lighting, terrain, weather, and wildlife are just a few of the dangers that you can encounter while walking your dog at night with low visibility. When walking your dog at night, there are two things you can do to make your walks easier and keep yourself safe. These are:
- Always carry a light. Or better still, wear a head torch, as these leave your hands free
- Wear bright hi-visible clothing. It’s equally important you wear a bright coat, ideally one with reflectors
Walking your dog can be challenging in the autumn and winter months, as the temperatures start to drop, the weather can be more unpleasant and it starts to get darker earlier. As the nights grow longer it can be hard to know when to walk your dog safely, and if walking in darkness cannot be avoided, how best to do it in a way that is safe (and fun) for you and your dog.
LED Dog Lights
These types of lights clip on to your dog's collar, it is important to think about your dog's normal behaviour and the types of walk that you take them on before you buy. For example does the light need to be waterproof or splash proof, is something best that hangs from the collar (dangling down) or attaches on the collar in two places (so it is not dangling down and can be placed at the top of the collar, side or under side of the collar). The other things to bear in mind before choosing LED lights for your dogs collar is to consider whether something that is battery charging, rechargeable battery operated or USB charging would be best for you based on how often you might need to remember to replace and recharge them. Some lights come in multipacks meaning that you can always have a back up at hand should one of the lights run out or need charging.
Orbiloc Dog Dual
The Orbiloc attaches to your dog's collar or harness in two places, making it extra sturdy. You can purchase it in a range of different colours including white, blue (pictured), green and pink. It is highly visible up to a range of 5km (3 miles) and is impact resistant to 100kg, and waterproof to 100m. You can have the light in steady-on mode or flashing modes and it takes batteries which are very long life (CR2032 batteries which last for 100-250 hours).
Benefits of walking your dog at night
To start off we will outline some of the benefits to walking your dog at night and hopefully this will encourage you to get out with pooch when it is dark.
- People often avoid walking when it is dark as they fear being attacked. Potential attackers are usually looking for someone who is vulnerable, its not often a personal vendetta. Taking your dog with you on a walk can often bring you great confidence as criminals may be put off by the prospect of taking on a rather large protective dog or even a small dog that is particularly noisy.
- Your dog can benefit from night time walking if they are nervous around other dogs or possibly temperamental.
- One main benefit to walking your dog at night is the fact that the streets are less crowded at night giving the perfect opportunity for some alone time.
- There’s nothing better than going on a brisk walk to relieve the stresses of a hard day. People underestimate how much help walking and exercise give to relieving stress. Walking at night can have added stress relief benefits as its usually peaceful.
- Another great benefit found from walking your dog at night is the way in which it settles your pooch down. If you have ever been sitting watching telly and your dog has come over and started staring at you, this may ring some bells. On the other hand, this can vary from dog to dog, so don’t count on it being the perfect lullaby.
How do I keep my dog safe when walking in the dark?
You’re far more likely to lose your dog in the dark, which means they run a greater risk of being knocked down by a car, motorbike or lorry. There are lots of things available to help you find your dog more easily. These include:
- Reflective gear. As well reflective collars and leads, consider putting reflective strips on their legs. If your dog wears a coat these can be bought with reflective patches, too
- LED lights. These lights are now lighter and brighter than ever and batteries last much longer. The clip-on versions can also usually be recharged via a USB
- LED collars. These can make it much easier to find your four-legged friend in the dark
Stick to the paths you know
While exploring new avenues and walking routes is always fun, be sure to avoid trying out new trails at night. For one, this will prevent you and your dog from getting lost. However, it’s also smart to stick to well-worn paths at night to avoid chance encounters with nature’s nocturnal creatures. There are plenty of night time animals you don’t want your pup chasing after. Walking on populated paths means other animals will be less likely to rear their heads.
Things to be aware of when walking your dog at night
Familiarity helps, so if you plan on taking your dog on a new walking route you should try to do it in daylight first. Other things to consider are:
- Other dogs. Meeting other dogs is more of an issue in the dark, so if your pet is nervous it’s probably best to keep them on a lead or within sight
- Other people. Consider joggers on paths and cyclists on bridleways
- Potholes and other objects. Be aware of broken glass and other sharp objects which can injure your dog’s feet. Lively dogs may also attempt to jump over fences or walls and may be unable to see the depth or the drop on the other side, or other hazards like barbed wire
- Cars and other vehicles. Road traffic accidents are a common cause of emergency admissions, particularly during the hours of darkness
Can dogs see in the dark?
Dogs see much better than we do in low light for a number of reasons, including:
- Their pupils are bigger so let in more light
- They have more rods in their retinas and these are designed for low light
- They have a tapetum behind the retina, which reflects light back again, so technically they see twice as bright
For those reasons don’t take anything for granted when walking your dog in the dark. Your dog may spot something you don’t and rush away in search of it. It’s often those unexpected bursts of speed that lead to an accident.
Dog gear for walking your dog at night
To help you on your night time walks, here are some items to make life a lot easier.
- Reflective collars – most collars come with a reflective strip which are great for cars to identify your dog.
- Light up collars – these days you can get collars with all sorts of lights on them and tags with in built torches. This is certainly a great way to keep your dog visible, although expect to be the centre of attention to passers-by.
- Reflective leash – These can be helpful to on coming cars, it helps them see not only your dog but you also.
- Dog walking light – A torch of some kind is so important when night time walking, head torches are the best as they give you the ability to use your hands.
- Reflective jacket – its not just your dog that needs to be visible. Why not treat yourself to a great winter jacket with reflective capability, this will ensure your safety on night walks.
Don’t forget your phone
To be safe, it’s always smart to carry your cellphone with you when you are going for a night walk with your canine. Ideally, you should walk your pup at night with a friend or companion so you aren’t alone, but of course that’s not always feasible. In those cases, always make sure you at least have a cellphone for backup in case of an emergency.
Always stay on guard and alert while walking your dog. There are so many unknown dangers that could happen at any time of night.
Dogs feed off of our energy. Remember to not panic or get overly excited. Use a shorter leash. It’s very important to keep your dog closer than normal to you at night. An evening walk with your best friend is something we all look forward to at the end of a hard day’s work. Just remember to be vigilant and have fun.
Do you have any other tips for how to stay safe and have fun with your canine at night? Share your tips in the comments!