Since daylight savings came to an end and the days are getting darker earlier, being prepared for nighttime walks is essential. Whether you are taking your pooch on a stroll or your trusted dog walker is, it’s important to make sure your pet is safe every step of the way. The good thing is, it’s easy to be prepared if you know what you need while walking a dog on a leash at night. Just follow these dog safety tips, and you’ll be ready to head out the door no matter what time of day!
Get the Right Gear for Walking a Dog at Night
Being visible to cars and other pedestrians is essential when it comes to walking a dog on a leash at night. If you and your pet go unnoticed, the damage can be disastrous. “If you are wearing dark clothes and have nothing reflective or bright on you, it’s easy for a driver to miss you, even if you are right in his headlights… the same applies to our dogs,” says Irith Bloom, certified professional trainer and director of training at TheSophisticatedDog.com. So, making sure you both are all geared up is important.
Light-Up Leashes, Pet Collars and Harnesses
Thanks to modern technology, there are now dog supplies that light up, which makes you and your pet more visible at night. You can get illuminated leashes, pet collars and dog harnesses, which will help “your dog stand out from the darkness, even when there is no other light source shining on him,” says Bloom. If you already have a harness or collar that you love to walk with, you can just add the Nite Ize NiteHowl Safety Necklace LED Dog Collar to your collection and watch your pup glow. This LED dog collar can go right over your pup’s existing collar or harness.
There are also harnesses that light up, like the Noxgear LightHound LED Illuminated & Reflective Dog Harness, which offers 360 degrees of protection for your pup! This harness keeps you in control while also keeping your pup visible to people and cars headed your way.
Dress in Bright Colors
So, your dog may be all lit up for a nighttime adventure—but what about you? Easy! When you’re about to clip your dog on a leash, you can use a light-up leash to help bring attention to yourself.
LED dog leashes aren’t the only thing you can do to make yourself more visible; your outfit can also make a huge impact. Bloom explains that “reflective and light-colored clothing can help a person stand out from the background darkness when walking a dog.” Bloom recommends wearing white since it’s a highly visible color at night, yellow clothing, a reflective vest or clothing that has a reflective strip on it.
Watch Out for Wildlife
When walking a dog on a leash at night, be sure to know which wildlife to watch out for in your area. “The animals that dogs are likely to be interested in, and which can be of the most concern at night in most parts of the country, are raccoons and coyotes,” says Bloom. Other wildlife to be cautious of include opossums, wild cats and toads!
It’s important to research which ones you may see where you live and to have a plan in case you cross paths with them. These animals can fight with you or your pooch, and some may carry diseases. The best thing to do is to prepare yourself for what you should do in a situation where you are face-to-face with wildlife with these dog safety tips.
Change Your Path
“If you see any wildlife, change your path to give the animal a wide berth, rather than walking right by it,” Bloom says. What this does is “decrease the odds that the animal will feel threatened by you, and also reduces the chance that your dog will overreact to the animal and create a tense situation that could result in a dangerous fight.”
Leash Smaller Pets
Prey birds could view smaller dogs as prey and can “swoop down to try to grab the dog,” says Bloom. This can happen no matter the time of day. Bloom recommends to always have your dog on a leash just in case.
Reflective Dog Safety Collar
A reflective LED dog collar can scare off wild animals during your nightly stroll. This collar can also make your pup visible at night.
Know Your Way Around the Block
You should be familiar with the roads you walk on with your pup at night to prevent running into something unexpected or getting lost during your walk. A few places Bloom recommends staying away from while walking a dog on a leash at night are trails, neighborhoods with higher crime rates and areas where you could trip over things. Bloom also suggests walking in areas that are well-lit with cars coming at least every few minutes.
Turn Off Any Distractions
Another way you can prevent anything from happening at night is by giving your pup your undivided attention. “It can be hard to be aware of hazards such as cars and wildlife at night… all of this gets even harder if we split our focus by using a cell phone or listening to music while walking the dog,” explains Bloom.
In order to take action in a situation, it’s best to be prepared and to see things heading your way earlier. If you’re staring at your phone, chances are you’re going to miss what’s going on around you. That means missing the coyote heading towards you or the rock that you’re about to trip over. “Even if you are just listening to music, that covers up sounds that can alert you that a wild animal is sneaking up on you,” says Bloom.
On top of all the safety reasons that go into keeping distractions to a minimum, a positive is that you can also take this time to spend quality time with your pooch. After all, these walks probably mean more than you know to your four-legged friend.
So, now that you know some dog safety tips for walking a dog on a leash at night and have all the steps to prepare, your walks can be safe and fun fur-ever!
Lindsay Schencker, Pet Central Editorial Assistant
The moment Lindsay started her career here at Chewy, she hit the ground running in customer service; she knew that this is the company she wanted to grow with from then on. When Lindsay isn’t spending her time writing for Pet Central, she’s most likely binge-watching a Netflix series and cuddling up with her 80-pound fur baby, Dexter.