As summer comes to an end, our days are getting shorter, and our nights are starting ever earlier. Because of this, a lot of us are having to do our evening dog walk in the darkness. This can raise all sorts of worries – visibility and general safety being top of the list.
When it comes to walking in the dark, it’s always best to go prepared. Light is absolutely key – for you, for your dog, and for passers-by.
Take a torch
Lighting your own way is hugely important – it will help to show you any holes or uneven ground, stopping you from stumbling or falling. It will also prove useful when the time comes to pick up your dog’s poo – no one likes fumbling around blindly for that!
Light up your dog
Whilst dogs are more than capable of navigating by their nose alone, a light will help you to keep track of them. The Orbiloc Dog Safety Lights are a great option, as you can attach them to near anything – ideal for sticking on your dog’s harness and/or collar.
You can also get light-up collars, which offer a large light across the whole collar. Both of these options come in multiple colours, so those of you with larger fur-families can still keep an eye on which dog is which.
Wear reflective gear
Wearing hi-vis equipment is vital if you’re walking around motor traffic, cyclists, or even other pedestrians. It allows everyone to see you and your dogs from a distance, which means they can safely avoid you or brake if required.
It’s important to dress yourself in reflective gear, but also your dog. Reflective harnesses are the best way to do this, as they cover the most space, but collars and leads are also available. If you have a reactive dog, you can get hi-vis gear that also asks for your dog to have more space.
Know your route
The last thing you want is to get lost in the dark, so it’s important you’re familiar with the route you’re taking.
This not only stops you from becoming disorientated, but also helps you to know the layout of the terrain and reduce the chances of a fall. Walk the route in the daytime first to become more familiar with it – this will stop any surprises when you’re off-guard in the dark.
Check if it’s safe to let your dog off-lead
If you’re letting your dog off-lead at any point, or even using a retractable lead, knowing your walking area is vital. You want to make sure that there are no roads nearby, and no temptations (such as ducks and rivers!) that will entice your dog away from you. It’s also important to remember that other dog-walkers may well be around. Owners of reactive dogs, for example, favour walking at unsociable hours, and can often be found out-and-about after dark. This is why, now more than ever, it’s important that your dog has a solid, reliable recall.
If your recall may be problematic for any reason (for example, if it’s not yet reliable, or if weather conditions will make it hard for your dog to hear you), it’s always wise to not let your dog off-lead unless you can control the situation.
If you’re worried for any reason about letting your dog run free after sunset, you can rent an enclosed field – this is a great way to let your dog run free without worrying about them running off and getting into trouble.
Walk with a friend where possible
Taking someone with you on your walk is not only a great way to catch up with an old friend, but it’s much safer than walking on your own.
If an accident does happen, one of you can stay with the dog and the other can get help. If you’re nervous about walking in the dark, they can also offer some moral support and safety in numbers.
Do you have any top tips for keeping safe in the dark? We’d love to hear them! Let us know in the comments or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org