Top tips for dog walking in the dark
It’s that time of the year where we start adjusting to winter routines, warm hats instead of sun cream, wellies replace flip flops and lots of winter dog walks in the dark. Whether you’re out early morning or during the evening here are our top tips to staying safe and having fun in the dark.
The main tip is to be prepared – don’t just rush out before thinking.
Be safe be seen. That’s you and your dog, wear bright or reflective clothing and make sure your dog can be seen – invest in a light up collar and lead or a reflective coat or bandana.
Remember your torch – a head torch is ideal as it keeps your hands free, helpful for picking up after your dog.
Take your phone but keep it for emergencies only – make the most of time with your dog.
Consider walking with a friend – or make sure someone knows where you’re going and when you’ll be back.
Walk in places that are familiar to you and your dog, explore new walks in day light first.
Always use a lead near roads and if you’re not really confident of a good recall. There can be more distractions for your dog in the dark so you might need to use the lead more than you would in daylight.
Carry some tasty treats to help with recall.
Walk confidently, if you behave as though you’re nervous, your dog will pick up on this and be nervous too.
Extendable leads can be confusing to others in the dark.
Stay alert and listen to your surroundings – don’t wear earphones, you’ll be less connected to your dog.
Remember that increasing numbers of dogs are involved in traffic accidents or get lost in the dark.
Dogs can see much better than us in low light, so they may spot something you haven’t seen and rush after it.
Everyday hazards such as potholes, broken glass, barbed wire, electric stock fencing and sudden drops are all much harder to spot in the dark.
If there’s no pavement, walk against the flow of the traffic and keep your dog on the side furthest from the road.
Meeting other dogs, walkers and cyclists can all be more challenging in the dark, especially for nervous dogs. Keep your dog on lead or in sight to keep them safe.
Attaching a bell to your dog’s collar can help you keep track of where your dog is, especially if you decide to let them off the lead. Make sure your dog is comfortable wearing the bell when you are at home and only go out with them wearing it if they are happy to do so. A bell can also alert other walkers and cyclists of your presence before they see you.
Finally darkness can be fun too – there are loads of light up dog toys and balls on the market, why not invent a whole new game for your night time dog walks.