A Helpful Guide to Walking Your Dog at Night
There is always something quite tranquil about walking your dog at night. Maybe it’s the sparkling nights sky or echoey silence. Whether you love the night time or it’s the best opportunity to walk your dog, our helpful guide can give you the advice you need to be safe and feel relaxed.
Benefits of walking your dog at night
To start off we will outline some of the benefits to walking your dog at night and hopefully this will encourage you to get out with pooch when its dark.
- One main benefit to walking your dog at night is the fact that the streets are less crowded at night giving the perfect opportunity for some alone time.
- Your dog can benefit from night time walking if they are nervous around other dogs or possibly temperamental.
- Walking at night helps to digest any food you have had prior to going out, this in turn helps you to lose weight which is always a plus
- There’s nothing better than going on a brisk walk to relieve the stresses of a hard day. People underestimate how much help walking and exercise give to relieving stress. Walking at night can have added stress relief benefits as its usually peaceful.
- Another great benefit found from walking your dog at night is the way in which it settles your pooch down. If you have ever been sitting watching telly and your dog has come over and started staring at you, this may ring some bells. On the other hand, this can vary from dog to dog, so don’t count on it being the perfect lullaby.
- People often avoid walking when it is dark as they fear being attacked. Potential attackers are usually looking for someone who is vulnerable, its not often a personal vendetta. Taking your dog with you on a walk can often bring you great confidence as criminals may be put off by the prospect of taking on a rather large protective dog or even a small dog that is particularly noisy.
What is the best time to walk your dog at night?
Depending on your schedule this can be entirely down to convenience. Many of the benefits of walking your dog at night come from the fact that there are less people around. If you go during the early evening then you may find lots of cars or people rushing home after working overtime at their jobs. There’s nothing worse than an endless stream of cars zooming past or a multitude of people to avoid… what’s relaxing about that. Remember if your going to walk your dog at night don’t take them out straight after they have eaten. Dogs can get stomach problems if they do too much exercise after eating and because the evening is crammed with tasks you may find it difficult to time both correctly. If your not sure how much exercise your dog should be getting everyday then have a look at our post on a dogs daily exercise needs.
Controlling your dog when walking at night
This is very important as it determines both your own safety and the safety of others, including your dog. Although walking at night can be relaxing it is still important to be alert and ensure that you have full control of your dog.
As you will probably know dogs can have a tendency to see something and instantly chase after it. Something like a cat in the darkness may find itself being pursued by your furry friend. Its important to realise that people and cars will find it difficult to see your dog if it is running around where ever it pleases. You should always have your dog on a lead when walking during the night, this allows you to know exactly where your pooch is and make sure no unsuspecting drivers or people get a sudden fright.
Retractable leashes are not recommended when walking your dog at night, as they have a tendency to tangle up when meeting other dogs on walks. These tangles can be difficult to undo, creating an awkward moment with you and the other owner. Retractable leashes also cannot be seen in the dark, this could cause serious injury to a runner or cyclists if they happen to go between you both.
No matter how friendly your pooch maybe they may have the tendency to become defensive when feeling anxious. Dogs often feel anxious when seeing movement in the dark and if they are unable to identify what it is, they can react differently to what you are used to.
Sticking to routes you know
Darkness tends to make it difficult to navigate or identify objects. When walking your dog at night it is best to stick to routes that you are used to walking. Dogs tend to love routine and so your dog will usually know what route they want to take. Taking routes that you know ensures you don’t come across any blockages, holes to fall down or even private land you shouldn’t be on.
Sticking to pavements and well-lit areas can be a great way to enjoy a walk trouble free, if you are walking on the road remember to listen for cars. Headphones can be a great way to listen to some favourite music, however they can cause you not to hear vehicles. If you want some more advice on how to be safe whilst walking at night check out this post on nighttime safety.
Look after yourself when walking at night
One thing that people can sometimes forget is the fact that you need to look after your own safety first and foremost. By making yourself safe and comfortable you will then have the ability to look after your dog whilst walking them in dark conditions. Walking on the road can be un-avoidable at times so its important to understand what rules are commonly followed when walking your dog. Its a general rule that you should walk into the traffic, this is mainly so you are able to see what is ahead of you. However, i find that walking on smaller roads around bends tends to be a bit dangerous. Its fair to say that drivers are often expecting someone to be walking in the road let alone in the dark. Providing you are fully visible i think common sense should be prevail and just being more aware of what is behind you can allow you to walk wherever you feel you have a better view of any traffic.
Another tip would be to keep your dog away from the middle of the road and have them close by. Your pooch will probably want to sniff the hedges anyway but keeping them away from potential traffic is always going to make the experience a safer one.
Keeping your dog comfortable on night walks
As you can imagine the night time is often cold and if the seasons are getting towards winter it could be a good idea to start thinking about your dogs comfort. They may have a nice thick coat to protect them from extreme weather but dogs still feel the cold and to fully enjoy night time walking they may want a doggy coat to keep them warm. To see what you can do to help your pooch during the wintertime and for tips on winter walkies then check out our post on walking your dog in the winter.
Its not just keeping warm that can make a dog feel comfortable on night time walks but also the ability to see clearly. When deciding to walk a dog at night it is advisable to check whether their sight is up for it, ask your vet for an assessment on your dog’s vision, especially if they are older.
Dogs don’t have terrible vision in the dark in fact their ayes can adjust to low light levels making it easier to see in the dark. Its thought that cats have better vision in the dark but dogs are not too far of seeing as well as them, they are certainly much better than our own eyes. Dogs have a structure in the back of the eye which allows extra light to be caught which improves their vision. If your dog gets startled during a walk its probably just because they cant see as well as in the daytime making it harder to identify objects.
Dog gear for walking your dog at night
To help you on your night time walks, here are some items to make life a lot easier.
- Reflective collars – most collars come with a reflective strip which are great for cars to identify your dog.
- Light up collars – these days you can get collars with all sorts of lights on them and tags with in built torches. This is certainly a great way to keep your dog visible, although expect to be the centre of attention to passers-by.
- Reflective leash – These can be helpful to on coming cars, it helps them see not only your dog but you also.
- Dog walking light – A torch of some kind is so important when night time walking, head torches are the best as they give you the ability to use your hands.
- Mobile phone – As there are not many people around during the night it can be a good idea to have a mobile phone on you just in case of an emergency.
- Reflective jacket – its not just your dog that needs to be visible. Why not treat yourself to a great winter jacket with reflective capability, this will ensure your safety on night walks.
So, there you have it a guide full of great tips to hopefully make your night time dog walks not only safe but fun too. Remember to check out our website for more great articles all about dog walking.