Providing daily opportunities for vigorous exercise is one of the tenets of responsible pet ownership, but sometimes other priorities take over. We want to give our sweet, deserving pup a good walk before the sun sets, and yet all that’s left sometimes is a dusky evening or pitch-black night time walk.
While better than no walk at all, walking your dog at night may not always be the safest choice. Fortunately there are ways to mitigate the risks and give your dog the healthful walk they need.
Many dog owners are able to get up early and give their dogs a life-affirming jog before breakfast. Others may have just enough time at the end of the day to satisfy their dog’s needs (unless, of course, its wintertime). Likewise, in the blazing heat of summer it isn’t ideal to stress your dog on midday walks.
As long as your dog gets enough physical and mental exercise each day, no matter the time, they are considered healthier and happier.
Walking your dog at night presents certain risks that just aren’t applicable in the daylight, and they all hinge on visibility. Despite your best intentions, strolling in low visibility can lead to accidental injury, loss, and even wildlife encounters.
We recommend the following approaches when walking your dog at night:
- Always have reflective gear. Flashlights, head lamps, or collar lights are great.
- Keep your dog on their leash at all times and choke up on the leash when you are walking near any traffic. Retractable leashes can lead to problems. Be sure ID tags are securely fastened to their collar.
- Don’t forget to pick up waste, taking care that your dog is not able to wrangle free from you while you do so.
- Plan your route in areas you know are well lit. If possible, your dog should be familiar with the surroundings. Avoid dark alley ways where there could be dangers like broken glass.
- Look twice for cyclists or other passerbys when crossing roads (they might not be in equally reflective gear).
- Dress for changes in weather. If your dog allows you to dress them in a rain jacket or vest, do so. Again, apply reflective tape to their gear.
- Take someone with you for added safety. Invite a friend or neighbor to join you and your dog.