Safety always needs to be a priority when you are walking your dog, and never more so than when it is dark out. With daylight savings ending in late autumn, our evenings will be dark as early as four p.m. in some places. Dogs won’t care about visibility so much when nature calls, so if you have to take them out on leash, their and your security will be up to you. Here are some ideas to keep in mind to get you through the time of the early sunsets.
- Wear something reflective. This goes for both you and the dog. Without any reflection, drivers may not see you until you are very close, and then it might be too late. You seeing them won’t be enough. If a driver doesn’t spot you until the last second, he or she may swerve and lose control of their vehicle. Avoid the drama! You can get reflective leashes, collars, or harnesses for the dog, and something reflective on your feet or your coat. It ought to go without saying that wearing all black outside at night may win you a fashion award, but you’ll lose the common sense award.
- Use a shorter leash. You want to keep your dog closer to you when visibility is hampered. This may be tough for those of us who have serious pullers, but it can help when others may be walking in close proximity. Your dog may get nervous if she can’t clearly see people walking towards you; a shorter leash will keep her closer to you and help avoid possible aggression.
- Stay in well-lit paths. Obviously your options are limited to what your neighborhood offers. If a walking path among street lamps is available, stick to that area. If you do not have street lights in your neighborhood, consider getting a flashlight. This can be tricky to manage sometimes when you have to carry poop bags – sometimes fanny packs can help out in these times. (Again, we aren’t here to dispense fashion advice.) My mother often wore a headlamp when walking the family lab before a back fence was installed. Desperate times call for practical measures.
- Take your phone. Your cell phone can provide both a light for cars to see and a flashlight options. Don’t keep your eyes on the screen, however – that’s the challenge. Your phone can also come in handy when trying to find dog poop in the dark – don’t deny it, we’ve all been there!
- Know how your dog’s car-sense. Some dogs are instinctively wary of cars. They are big and noisy. Other dogs just think that cars are giant playmates headed their way and will run into traffic without thinking twice. This is vital information to know about your dog in any circumstance. However, if your dog likes to run ahead of you on walks, keep her on a leash at night, especially if you are walking around any traffic.
The colder seasons ought to be a time for snuggling up with your best friend, so it’s important to ensure that everyone stays safe!