Walking your dog in the dark
As the days are getting shorter, we start doing more things with our dogs after dark. But night-time brings with it a bunch of risks that can endanger you and your dog, from predators to cars. Are you being safe?
Night-time walks with your dog are fun and necessary, but they can also be hazardous. Visibility is diminished, meaning that not only will you not see all of the obstacles and ground level hazards (e.g., sharp objects like rocks and glass), you will also not be as visible to motorists and other pedestrians, such as bikers and joggers, who may unintentionally invade your dog’s personal space. Even the neighbourhood cats that prowl at night, all can be distractions for your dog.Improving Visibility
There are so many useful and easy to find products for night walking that we only need to list them to get you started. Of course, the easiest and thriftiest solution 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 night-time visibility whether light is shining directly on you and your dog or not, there are plenty to choose from.
The most no-nonsense are the blinking light collars, leashes and attachable collar lights (similar in size to a typical collar tag), the latter which can be found in long lasting, far reaching lights as strong as a standard flashlight in some cases. Look for the products that have easy battery replacement to guarantee that you always have what you need.Using Caution
Even if you have outfitted your dog with the best lights and reflective gear, it is still best to carry your own flashlight to be sure that you are in control of your own field of vision. We recommend a headlight, the style worn by mushers and miners, so that your hands are free to hold onto your dog and clean up.
Other precautions to take at night are to walk against traffic if you must walk on the roadside (you should stick to the pavement otherwise). While walking toward traffic might seem counterintuitive, it enables you to see what it coming so that you can get out of the way quickly, if need be. Always stay aware of the sounds and movements around you, and be prepared to move quickly. We are not advising an attitude of fear, just an attitude of awareness. There may be loose dogs, nocturnal wild animals, roaming cats, and in some places, troublesome people. There are also joggers and bicyclists who may not be paying attention and come up on your and your dog too quickly, startling your dog. And with these things in mind, always keep your dog on a leash, and always keep a firm hold on the leash. Night-time is an especially bad time to lose your dog. Don’t forget about what you are wearing. If you are wearing dark clothing, you will basically be invisible in the darkness. At the very least, you should have a light coloured jacket to wear at night. Better is to have reflective clothing for your night walks. A reflective jacket and trainers will improve your visibility tremendously, and if you reinforce the outfit with a couple of blinking clip-on lights and a head light, you can be sure not to be missed in the dark. Remember, you can always make your own reflective gear using a roll of reflective tape. Last but not least, make sure you have your mobile phone tucked securely into your pocket.(Article source: Pet MD) Tips for walking your dog at night
Darkness is not the best time to go exploring. Pick a well known route which is familiar both for you and your dog. Walks along the side of the road are not ideal but if you don’t have any other options and this is the only walk route with lights along it, then pick it. Remember to walk against the flow of traffic and keep your dog on the side furthest from the road (i.e. your right hand side). Alternatively if you have a bit more time on your hands and have some well lit place which is away from home, then jump in the car and drive with your dog to that walking spot.
Keep control of your dog and do not let him/her off the lead unless you are in a well lit area. Your dog might be well trained but you never know what will happen and there is always a chance of something unpredictable happening so why be tempting fate? Unless your dog is extremely well trained avoid retractable leads. They are dangerous in daylight and can be deadly in the darkness. Also if you are going to let your dog off the lead make sure you have your pockets well stocked with some yummy treats which will help you with that quick re-call if needed.
Walks in the dark are as much about your safety as your dog. If you are walking along the road make sure you wear something reflective.
Dog clothing and accessories
Nowadays there is a huge choice when it comes to reflective accessories for your dog. Pick something both you and your dogs are comfortable with. It might be a high visibility dog jacket or maybe just a reflective neck band; if clothing isn’t really your thing invest in a reflective collar, harness or a lead; if these choices aren’t “speaking” to you either at least get a safety light for your dog. A safety light is small and will clip onto any collar or harness. It will illuminate or flash depending on the program and it will help you easily locate your dog in the darkness.
Stay alert and wary of your surroundings. Listen to what is happening around you. You might follow all these tips and be ready for a walk in the darkness but you can also be sure that someone else might not be so well organised. Don’t be scared! If you are scared your dog will feel it and you really don’t want to be projecting fear into your companion.(Article source: Barktime)