Walking your dog in the brisk hours of dusk can be a great way to burn off the extra steam and stress of the day. Plus, it might even be unavoidable if you have certain work schedules.
But walking at night isn’t always safe if you aren’t prepared. In hours of low viability, taking the necessary steps to keep you and your canine safe is crucial.
Here are ten tips to best prepare you for your nighttime outings.
The 10 Tips to Safely Walk Your Dog in the Dark
1. Plan Your Pathway in Advance
Before you even leave your home, know the path you’re taking to get to your destination. Not only should you know exactly where you’re going, but somebody else should also be aware.
Giving your dog a late-night routine will help them get used to the walk. Each time you get the leash, they know what to expect and anticipate. Plus, you’ll know what to watch for based on traffic.
2. Use Visibility Gear
Sometimes seeing in the dusk and twilight hours can be challenging for people. After all, our eyes aren’t built for superb nighttime vision like some other animals.
If you were going to be walking your roadways or across intersections, you must have some type of reflective gear to make you and your dog easier to see.
Visibility gear is essential when you’re walking any animal at night. Many leashes, harnesses, and human-made reflective gear will help on your journey.
You can buy vests, shoe reflectors, and headlamps for optimal viability. The headlamp is an excellent addition to walks, so you don’t have to bother with handheld flashlights.
3. Avoid Long or Retractable Leashes
At night, it’s even more important to have full control over your animal. That is why it is incredibly important to avoid long or retractable leashes.
Accidents can happen—and it would be dangerous if your pup darted out with you unprepared. It’s equally hazardous to potentially get wound up in the leash, creating a fall risk.
4. Have Your Phone on Hand
Take your phone with you on your journey. If any type of accident occurs or if you feel unsafe at any point, you have a way to communicate with the world.
The world can be a dangerous place sometimes, and it’s best to have safety measures on hand to call for help if needed. Also, it is a great way for people to get in touch with you in any case.
5. Bring a Bag of Essentials
Bring a backpack or satchel of essentials with you on the journey. This way, you can keep your arms free of additional items so you can fully concentrate on your dog. Have all the necessary nighttime items on hand, like:
You can add and subtract items as needed.
6. Watch for Wildlife
On your walk, you should always be aware of the wildlife around you. Many predators come out at night. While they might not mean to stumble on your path, you might have an interaction. Some people like to bring defense mechanisms, especially if they live in an area that has larger predators such as bears.
7. Never Let Your Dog Off Leash
If it is dark outside, it is crucial to never let your dog off a leash, even for a moment. Even the most well-behaved dogs can get spooked or run off and find it very hard to find their way back to you.
If your dog gets separated from you at night, it can cause lengthy searches and even risk your dog getting hurt or picked up by a stranger.
8. Keep a Lookout
Being visible to drivers and other pedestrians is essential when you’re walking at night. But it’s equally important for you to be aware of your surroundings at all times.
Make sure to obey road rules, crossing intersections only when it’s your turn. Take paths, if you can, but avoid a lot of street interaction. If you are in the country, people may go a little faster on back roads, so try to get ahead of it by staying out of the way completely.
9. Make Sure All Your Dog’s Information Is Up-to-Date
Before you start taking nighttime walks, it’s best to ensure that your dog’s information is up to date. Accidents happen, and sometimes our pups can get away from us. If someone has to identify your pup, it’s best for their microchipping information and dog tags to be completely relevant.
So if you have had any moves or haven’t remembered to update, put that safety measure in place.
10. Remain in Well-lit Areas
As tempting as it might be to take shortcuts or detours, stay on the beaten path. At night, it’s for your safety to stay away from dark bike pathways, poorly lit parking lots, and alleyways. Even though we would like to think people have the best of intentions, sometimes it’s simply not true.
It would be a shame to put you or your dog in a predicament that could have been avoided. Even if there is no impending danger, it’s always better to be safe rather than sorry.
Check for Dog Parks Nearby
If you’re looking for other nighttime play events, you can always check locally to see if there are dog parks nearby. Certain dog parks have well-lit enclosures where pups can play any hour of the night or day.
It is worth checking out if you’re looking to switch things up and don’t mind a small drive.
Even if you’re well acclimated with how to walk your dog at night, brushing up on some tips never hurt anyone. If you have recently changed your routine or location, map out the best route that is the safest and most efficient for you and your dog.
Don’t forget to check for other late-night activities that might be around your area. As we mentioned in the article, some dog parks are open late hours, which is perfect for twilight playtime.
Featured Image Credit: Jenson, Shutterstock