Our guide to walking your dog safely at night

Despite the restrictions imposed by COVID-19, many of us may need to, or want to walk our dogs during darkness.  As we approach winter, daylight hours will become shorter and hours of darkness will become longer and colder.

But how can you make sure that that you can do this with maximum safety for you and your pet? Walking your dog whilst dark can mean having to navigate busy city streets and dark side roads. If the correct measures are not taken, walking your dog at night might turn from the expected enjoyable experience to a nerve wracking episode.

In this post, we look at four things you can do to make your walks during darkness safer and more enjoyable.

Preparing for a safe night time walk isn’t difficult

Firstly, consider where and when you are proposing to walk.

While it can be a lot of fun walking your dog at night, some common sense is essential to do this safely.

By sticking to familiar and safe routes, you will minimise the chance of you and your dog becoming lost in unfamiliar surroundings.  Avoid alleyways and dark shortcuts by using well- lit roads.  If you have recently moved to a new neighbourhood, try to walk during daylight first.  This will help you to become familiar with the area, thereby avoiding taking a wrong turn in the dark and becoming lost. Also, in strange surroundings, you or your dog might be startled by nocturnal animals of which you were unaware. Avoid wearing earphones so that you will be more aware of what is happening around you.

Secondly, consider what to wear

Sometimes, it’s best to avoid going out for longer than necessary for your dog to answer the call of nature.  If the weather is very cold and wet and windy, your health and that of your dog may be put at risk, particularly if either of you is not clothed properly.  However,  properly prepared and wrapped in warm, waterproof clothing, you and your dog can have a very enjoyable night time walk together, whatever the weather.

Dark clothing should always be avoided.  Ideally, a lightweight reflective jacket worn over your normal clothing would make you very visible under street lights and to on-coming motorists.

A brightly coloured and/or reflective soft fleece, dog coat will keep your pet warm and visible.  If raining heavily, your dog should be wearing a waterproof jacket.  Being seen clearly will minimise the chance of you, or your dog being involved in a road accident.

Thirdly, always have your dog on a leash

Remember, that your dog’s senses are far greater than yours.  In the dark, your dog will sense things and creatures of which you will be unaware.  If startled, or scared and without a leash, your dog might run off.  In traffic, this could prove fatal.  Even away from traffic, finding your dog in the dark could be a daunting task.  With the leash on, it is impossible for your dog run on to a busy road, or to run off.  Most accidents involving animals happen at night on dark roads.

A reflective, static leash is essential.  Retractable dog leashes may not be visible to motorists at night and if your dog is some metres away from you, it may suggest to the driver that the dog is roaming free.  This may cause the driver to brake heavily and suddenly,  potentially causing other road users to take evasive action.  A retractable leash may also be a danger to pedestrians who  may not see the extended leash and may trip.

Lastly, you should light up

By carrying a torch, not only will you be able to see where you are walking more clearly, you will have light enough to tend to your dog, if necessary.

LED lights are now available that are incorporated into dog collars and leads.  These will make your dog shine brightly so that other pedestrians, cyclists and motorists can see your dog, even if there is very little other light source.  If you didn’t want to go to the expense of fully equipping your dog with LED collar and lead for safe walking in the dark, a bright LED pendant, specifically designed to be attached to your dog’s normal collar will improve visibility and safety.

To learn more about how LED collars, leads and pendants can help to make walking your dog in the dark safer, click here.

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