Four Ways To Keep Your Four-Legged Friend Safer During Night Walks
While the longest night of winter may be behind us, there are still plenty of early nights ahead.
For those of us with dogs, or dogs in our lives, knowing how to keep safe during late evening and early morning strolls is crucial.
The challenges of a low-light walk, wintertime walk are many. It could be that the cold temperatures mean you’re wearing gloves, which makes it harder to keep your grip on the leash.
Visibility is always a big concern, too. As important as seeing other walkers, runners, and cyclists is being seen by them - and by passing motor vehicles.
And as much as we might like to stay cozy and bundled up until daylight breaks again tomorrow, our pups have needs, too, so it’s important that we figure out a safe, repeatable way to get outside with them - even when it’s dark.
So while we wait for the longer days of summer to return, we’ve put together four tips that will help you and your pup stay safer during low-light walks.
1. Keep It Simple, Scooby
Your nighttime walk is first and foremost about safety. To us, that means making simple choices to make sure you and your pup get in a great walk without any unnecessary stress.
Choose familiar routes - You can explore more tomorrow. For now, walk a route you’ve walked before. Your pup will stay more under control with an area they’re familiar with, and you’ll feel more comfortable leading the way.
Walk against traffic - If ever there was a time to follow traffic rules, it’s now. If you can’t walk on a sidewalk, then make sure you’re walking against traffic. This not only gives cars a better chance to see you, but it gives you a better chance to see them, too.
Don’t listen to music - If you must wear headphones, keep them for calls. Listening to music can block out what’s happening around you, from approaching cyclists or runners to the sounds of other animals.
- Save the shortcuts - Now’s not the time to explore that shortcut you’ve been eyeing. Whether it’s a dark alleyway or an unlit trail, save these for the daylight when you can be fully aware of your surroundings.
For your own protection, look to free up your hands however you can.
Hands-free leashes - Having a leash that you can keep around your wrist (like our useful, multifunctional hands-free retractable leash) means your hands are free, ideal if you have to catch your balance or steady yourself in the dark.
Go Bluetooth - If you do bring your phone, keep it in your pocket. Relying solely on the phone’s flashlight can be tricky, especially if you trip and it falls out of your hands.
- Leashes with built-in lights - Like the hands-free leash above, finding a leash that has its own light frees up your hands so you can stay focused on the route in front of you.
3. Learn To Love The Leash
While there are certainly situations where taking your dog off-leash is more fun, a nighttime walk isn’t one of them.
New critters - There’s plenty of new wildlife for your pup to meet after the sun goes down - which is exactly why you should keep them nearby. Without being able to see what it is they’re chasing after - or how big that ‘it’ really is - it’s best to not introduce your old dog to any new critters during the evening.
- Unseen dangers - From cyclists whizzing by to drivers speeding home after work, walking your dog at night presents new risks. Keeping them on-leash keeps them close by and out of harm’s way.
- Better safe than sorry - With sudden movements and new smells, your pup may either experience the temptation to run off exploring or feel startled. Either way, having a leash will keep them safe by your side instead of running off to explore or running off in fright.
4. Light It Up
The brightest idea you’ll have is to stay illuminated during your nighttime dog walks.
- Reflective vests - Whether for yourself, for your pup, or for the both of you, a reflective vest is one of the smartest ways to make sure you are seen while walking at night.
- A leash with a light - Making sure you can see clearly where you’re walking is going to make sure your walk goes safely, something that’s much simpler to do with a leash like the Bond, which comes with a light included.
And if you need to, you can use your phone to help light the way. Still, it’s not only safer to keep your phone tucked away, it’s also going to make the time with your dog more special.
Because as important as it is to take a nighttime walk seriously, it’s also a unique way to experience the world with your dog. After you wind down from your own busy day - or before you start off on the day’s adventure - time spent with your dog in the calm, cool moments can be a great way to build your bond.
Follow these four steps to make that walk a safe one and we’re sure those night walks with your pup will soon become some of your favorites.