Taking your dog out for a nighttime stroll is a primary pet parenting responsibility, especially during the time of year when the sun sets earlier in the day. Though it can be fun to venture out with your best friend under the stars, the night sky makes it more difficult to see—and be seen! Here are some tips for safely walking your dog in the dark.
Visibility is Vital
You and your dog should both wear reflective vests to not only keep you visible to each other, but to cars, bikes, and other pedestrians with pets, too. Not to mention, heading out in the dark means no sun to keep you warm, so vests double as an extra layer of comfort.
If you don’t have your reflective gear for dog walking, avoid wearing dark clothing to make it easier for others to spot you. Opt for fluorescent colors, light colors such as white and yellow, and even athletic gear, which often has reflective details that can help you stay visible.
Reflective Collar and Leash
Like reflective vests, reflective collars and leashes provide your dog ultimate visibility so you and onlookers can see your fur friend. You can choose from standard collars with reflective strips or even varieties with LED lights. A light-up collar not only ensures your dog is seen, but also illuminates the trail ahead (not to mention, the bright lights look super cool)! Regardless of which kind of collar you choose, your dog should always wear a collar with an identification tag in the event they get away and need to be returned.
Even if your dog is typically well-behaved off a leash and you are taking a low-traffic route, you should always walk your dog on a leash at night. Like humans, dogs tend to be more easily startled in the dark, so it is best to have them in your immediate sight and within your control. If you typically use a long or retractable leash during the day, consider swapping it out for a shorter leash at night to keep your dog closer for added safety.
Lights for Walking Dog at Night
Having a light source handy helps you better see your dog, your path, and any of your dog’s waste that you have to pick up. A headlamp is particularly useful because it is hands-free, allowing you to have more control when walking your dog on a leash. Any other kind of flashlight works as well.
Choose a Familiar Route
A nighttime stroll is not the best opportunity to explore a new walking path. Choose a route you can comfortably navigate, and try to stay on the sidewalk and avoid busy roads if possible. If you do have to walk on the street, ensure you walk against traffic so you can see what is coming your way.
Preferably, your route should be a well-lit road that is regularly populated—the more traffic a street has, the less likely nocturnal animals will make an appearance!
Embrace the Buddy System
Inviting a friend or family member to walk with you and your dog is a simple and fun safety measure. Not only is an extra person helpful for maneuvering through the dark, but they also provide a comforting presence. Because dogs can pick up on your emotions, if you are calm and relaxed, your dog will find the walk more enjoyable.
While it’s tempting to disconnect as you head outdoors, walking with your charged cell phone is essential. Besides having access to quick communication, most phones also have helpful features such as a built-in flashlight, navigation, and even apps designed for dog safety and fun. However, ensure your main priority is to pay attention to your Cadet in the dark—and not the phone screen!
Although you should carry your phone with you while on a nighttime adventure, you should leave your headphones at home. Because your vision is not as keen in the dark, you want to avoid distractions and stay mindful of your surroundings to avoid any potential hazards.
You may need to follow some extra precautions when walking your dog at night, but going for a stroll in the dark provides a fun opportunity to bond and exercise with your dog. Ensure you reward them with a healthy dog treat when you get home for being such a good adventure buddy!