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How To Safely Walk Your Dog At Night

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By Hailey Hudson

It’s that time of year: The leaves are falling, pumpkin spice is everywhere and the days are getting shorter. As sunset gets earlier and earlier, you might find yourself walking your dog in the dark each evening. This presents several safety concerns including issues like visibility to cars, vulnerability to predators and navigating nocturnal wildlife. Here are a few proactive ways you and your dog can stay safe if you’re walking in the dark. 

Increase visibility

When it’s dark, cars, cyclists and joggers won’t be able to see you as well. This could result in a collision. It’s your job to make sure both you and your dog are as visible as possible. 

Don’t wear dark clothing — outfit yourself in as much reflective gear as possible (vest, wrist bands, etc). Your dog can wear a reflective vest or use a reflective collar and leash. Some dog owners purchase lights to attach to their dog’s collar. Glow sticks are also an option to go around your neck.

Purchase a headlamp to wear on your head and illuminate the path. This is a better option than a flashlight because it leaves your hands free to walk your dog. 

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Outfit yourself in as much reflective gear as possible. Your dog can wear a reflective vest or use a reflective collar and leash.

Stick to familiar routes

A dark, cold evening is not the time to experiment and walk on a path you’ve never walked before. Stay on familiar paths that you walk on a regular basis and you know what’s coming up ahead. Sidewalks or paths that are well-lit will also aid in nighttime safety.

If a friend, spouse or family member is available, invite him or her to walk with you and your dog. Remember, there’s safety in numbers. If no one is able to go with you, use your phone to share your location with a friend. Then check in with a quick text once you’re safely back at home.

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Stay alert

Common sense and a watchful eye will help you avoid potential dangers that might arise during nighttime walks. If there are sidewalks where you’re walking your dog, stay on the sidewalks. Otherwise, walk against oncoming traffic so you can see cars coming toward you. 

Always use crosswalks and don’t listen to music in earbuds while you’re walking — stay aware of your surroundings. You should also keep an eye on the path ahead so you can avoid potholes or rocks, as well as any suspicious people you see.

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Arm yourself appropriately with things like pepper spray, bear spray or a whistle depending on where you live.

Bring items to keep yourself safe

If you live in the city, you might be vulnerable to human predators who are looking for someone to rob. A more rural area may have dangers such as mountain lions, bears or wolves. Arm yourself appropriately with things like pepper spray, bear spray or a whistle depending on where you live.

Bring your phone in your pocket and have an emergency contact or first responder on speed dial. Make sure to have your photo ID on you, but leave credit cards and cash at home unless you will need them.

Use a short leash

Finally, make sure you are in control of your dog at all times. You may want to use a shorter leash than you would during the day so you can keep your dog close by your side. You don’t want him to run into traffic or dart after a nocturnal creature. Focus on business so you and your dog can get back into the warmth and safety of your home as quickly as possible.

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Hailey Hudson is a full-time freelance writer and content marketer based out of Atlanta, Georgia, where her beagle/Bassett mix Sophie acts as coworker. A lifelong dog owner, Hailey writes for clients like Chewy, Airvet, Pet Product News and pet insurance companies.

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