Sometimes it’s fun to walk your dog at night, and more often than not it’s simply necessary. Most of us get in from work after 5PM in winter, which means it’s automatically going to be dark by the time we get home to walk our beloved pooches. In fact, it starts getting dark from around 3PM at the height of winter in the UK and doesn’t start getting light until around 7-8AM some days, so it’s more than likely certain months of the year will involve some night time doggy walks.
Although fun and necessary, night time dog walks can also be hazardous. You have less visibility, which means you won’t see all ground level hazards like pieces of glass or other harmful debris, but you will also be near enough invisible to other walkers, motorists and cyclists who may not see your dog and unintentionally collide with them. You will also have nocturnal animals to take into account like cats and foxes, which could serve to be distractions for your dog.
Getting Visibility Right
There are lots of products on the market to help you walk your dog at night safely. For last minute night time walks where you haven’t been able to plan ahead, you could tape reflective tape onto your dog’s harness, collar and/ or lead. However, for more long term solutions, there are lots of super cool products for you to choose to make your night time walks with your dog super safe.
There are lots of products with attachable and build-in lights, some with lights as strong as torches. There are also lots of reflective products for you and your dog. As a general rule, if you’re opting for the types of products with lights, check the battery capacity and always carry spares with you on a walk.
Examples of visibility products:
- Collars, harnesses and leads with reflective materials that enable your dog to be seen when a light is shining on them.
- Collars, harnesses and leads with lights that enable them to be seen even when lights are not shining on them. These products may also have reflective strip lights for double effectiveness.
- Detachable light products that connect to you or your dog. These may have different settings so you can create a constant light or a blinking light depending on your preference.
- Name tags with a reflective coating. It may be worth ensuring your dog’s permanent name tag has this coating so it’s easily visible at all times of the day.
- Dog reflective coats or neon coats. These are jackets your dog wears that make them either visible if a light is shining on them (reflective) or more visible day and night (neon).
- Reflective leg bands. If you want to place something reflective elsewhere on your dog, reflective leg bands could be a great option.
As well as visibility items for your dog, it’s worth considering getting a reflective coat or lit armband for yourself, especially if you are walking in a very dark area. You should also consider taking a safety whistle, head torch and normal torch with you just in case you need them. It is also very important you ensure you know where you are going, areas you may have walked in the day can look very different at night so it’s important you don’t leave easily navigated areas unless you know the route well.
You will also want to make sure you stick to walking on the pavement where possible, remain aware of your surroundings and be prepared to move quickly if you need to.
It may seem like being this cautious is being fearful, but it isn’t, it’s a case of being aware so that you and your dog can safely enjoy your nighttime walk together. There may be people walking their dogs off the lead, cats, loud people or people acting in a way they might not during the day. There could also be people jogging, walking and cycling – and they could all be paying less attention than they need to potentially colliding with your dog or startling them.
With these potential issues in mind, it is important to always keep your dog on a lead ensuring you have a firm grip on it. Be aware of what you wear for your dog walk. It can be all too easy to head straight out with the dog as soon as you get in from the office, but wearing dark clothing makes you pretty much invisible at night time so at the very least you should pop a lighter jacket on.
Being aware means keeping you and your dog safe.