Autumn is in sight. Darker evening walks and gloomy mornings are drawing ever closer. By the time we travel home from work that dreaded darkness is already creeping in. And since our pooches still need their daily exercise, there’s no getting away from those night time strolls.
Walking Fido at night can be extremely peaceful and calming with fewer people around. But there are a few safety issues to bear in mind. Visibility is poor at night and drivers will have difficulty spotting you. Which is why you need to help people better see you and be super aware of what’s going on around you.
Follow my essentials checklist to ensure you stay safe and enjoy walkies with your pooch as we brave the chilly seasons ahead.
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- Reflective collars, leads and harnesses – Keep your pooch safe and visible with night time gear. Reflective collars, leads and harnesses are fantastic options to help drivers see where you are.
- Clip on lights – This flashing doggy light can be clipped onto your dog’s collar, lead or harness to give greater visibility in dark spaces. If you let your dog off lead in a park or they break free, you’ll always be able to see your dog and there’s less chance they’ll become lost in the dark.
- Reflective vests – Your dog’s not the only one that needs safety gear at night, keep yourself visible with your own reflective vest.
- Headlamp – This headlamp is a fantastic way to help you see better at night and be seen by others. It’s also hands-free, so it’s perfect when you need to hold the lead and pick up after your dog in the dark. With a headlamp, there’s no need to go on a blind poop search or juggle various items.
Wear appropriate gear
Both you and your dog will need suitable apparel for those cold, dark and damp nights. Choose bright colours and avoid dark clothes or it’ll be almost impossible for drivers to see you.
If your coat is dark in colour, you can either slip on a reflective vest or use stick-on reflective tape. To apply the reflective tape, you could keep an old coat you don’t use anymore as your designated dog walking coat, or the strips will pull right off when you no longer need them.
It can get pretty cold when the sun goes down, and those autumn days bring higher chances of rain. So your pooch will need a snuggly waterproof coat to protect them from the elements, especially if they’re short haired. This doggy jacket is waterproof and fleece lined to keep your dog warm and dry when they’re out and about.
Don’t forget pup’s ID tag
The law states all dogs must be microchipped if you live in the UK. So luckily, if your dog gets lost in the dark and ends up at a rescue centre there’s a far better chance you’ll be reunited. But if your dog gets loose and runs off, someone could find your pooch and return them to you quicker if they have an ID tag.
Always ensure your dog has an ID tag attached to their collar and etched with your address and phone number. If you do lose sight of your dog, you’ll no doubt be hugely grateful if a friendly neighbour calls to return your pooch just a couple of hours later.
Carry your phone
Ensure you have your phone with you on every walk in case of an emergency. There are fewer people around at night which means you’re less likely to find help from passers-by should anything go wrong.
If you or your dog has an accident, you need to be able to act fast and call for help. Being able to call the emergency vet or a taxi could save your dog’s life.
Walk in well-lit areas
It’s an unfortunate truth, but troublesome people do exist and they tend to hang around the darker areas of neighbourhoods. You wouldn’t want to put you and your dog right in the middle of trouble, so always stick to well-lit roads and street-lit parks where you can see what’s going on.
Roaming cats and wildlife also come out at night which could startle you both. You never know who or what could be lurking in dark corners. To stay safe and to keep both your stress levels down, avoid cutting across dark car parks or fields and down shady alleyways.
Take familiar routes
Stick to the walking routes you know around your neighbourhood. The evening darkness is not the time to explore a new area where you could potentially get lost. You don’t want to be wandering around panicked at night looking for your way home.
By sticking to a familiar area, you may also have neighbours close-by who will be able to help if you have an emergency. Having familiarity around you when you’re facing a problem will be a great comfort, especially at night.
Be hyper aware of your surroundings
Don’t forget to take your specs if you need them (my eyesight is particularly bad at night!) and ditch the headphones. It’s important that you can see and hear cars clearly as you cross the road. You also need to be able to hear any signs of trouble and can move away quickly if you get caught up in a conflict.
If a roaming cat catches your pup’s eye, you need to be able to hold on tight if they jump for the chase. Joggers running past quickly could also startle your dog, so you need to be on alert to spot them and move your dog into safety.
Walk against traffic
People usually say when walking at night, you should walk towards the direction of oncoming traffic. The idea is you can always see what’s coming. So if a driver has an accident and swerves towards you, you’ll have more time to move yourself and your dog to safety.
There’s another good reason to follow this rule of thumb. If a car pulls up in front of you or a cyclist rides past, you and your dog will be able to see them. If you were walking with traffic, the driver or cyclist would approach from behind, possibly startling your dog in the process.
Tell a family member where you’re going
When heading out after dark, always tell someone in your home where you’re going. If you do have a serious accident and you’re unable to call for help, your family member will know something’s wrong if you don’t return home when you said you would.
Although those glorious summer nights are almost a distant memory, walking in the wintery evenings doesn’t have to be scary. By using these night time walking tips you and your pooch can still have a safe and enjoyable walk all year round.
How do you tackle walks when the nights close in? Let me know in the comments below…
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