It’s usually quiet with few other people and dogs out and about. During the summer, it’s often the coolest option for a dog walk. And, during the winter, it’s dark before you’re out of work leaving you no choice but a dark walk. However, enjoying that solitude comes with some safety risks. Take a few precautions for you and your dog to make your dark walks fun and safe.
Both you and your pup need to be seen at night. The cheapest way to make that happen is to purchase a roll of reflective tape from the hardware store. Wrap your dog’s collar and leash in the tape—and if your apparel such as shoes and jacket don’t have reflective piping, add strips of the tape. If you’d rather purchase nighttime specific gear, LED collars and leashes that light up and flash are available at most pet retailers, and any sporting goods store will have reflective gear for you. No matter how well-lit you and your dog are, be sure to carry a flashlight. Seeing changes in terrain becomes a challenge at night—as does picking up after your pup—so a small LED flashlight that clips to the leash handle or to your jacket helps provide that needed visibility.
Always assume drivers don’t see you, especially when you're walking your dog. Even if you and your dog are reflective, even if you’re carrying a flashlight, never presume that a car spotted you both. Move to the shoulder of the road if you’re not on a sidewalk for an oncoming car, and err on the side of caution and let cars cross intersections before you do.
Especially during the summer, it’s easy to think the cooler temps are safer; however, you and your dog still need to stay hydrated for long walks or jogs. Don’t assume you’ll sweat less just because the sun has gone down. In the winter, too, you and your dog both need water despite the cold.
Avoid Remote Areas
When you’re getting your exercise at night, it’s safest to stay in populated, well-lit areas. First, if you were to have an accident, you’d want to be somewhere easily accessible and somewhere you’d be spotted right away. Further, if you’re in a wildlife-inhabited area at night, you and your dog could be more susceptible to encountering an unfriendly nocturnal animal.
With busy work schedules, early sunsets in the winter, and sweltering temps in the summer, sometimes nighttime is the only time to get exercise. Sure, there are risks associated with walking or running your dog at night that you wouldn’t encounter during the day. But with a few simple precautions, you and your dog can enjoy the solitude of nighttime walks safely.
Maggie is a writer and author, whose first book, Clicker Dog Training: The Better Path to a Well-Behaved Pup was published by Open Air Publishing. When she's not writing (or reading books about grammar), she teaches writing courses to college students and professionals who want to nail down the basics of communication. Outside of work, she hikes, throws dinner parties, plays with her three dogs and cat, and travels as much as possible.