It’s officially autumn and the nights are already getting darker. The fear of our dogs overheating or burning their paws on hot tarmac is now behind us for another year, but that fear is replaced by another concern – the safety of you and your dog when walking at nighttime. 

Taking your dog out for some exercise when it’s dark means that both you and your dog are at a higher risk of accidental injury, loss, and encountering nocturnal wildlife. Not only are you both more likely to be of a lower visibility to passers by and vehicles, but the dangers in your surroundings will also be less noticeable. 

Please read our tips and advice below to help keep you safe as the nights draw in:

Increase Your Visibility – visibility is what decreases when nighttime creeps in, so it’s important to do everything that you can to reclaim it for you and your dog. Often the colder weather can make the evening walks seem like more of a chore, but don’t just throw on a jacket and rush out to “get it done”, think carefully about what you and your dog are wearing. 

We suggest investing in high-visibility clothing, or some reflective tape which can be attached to any clothing item or even your dog’s harness or lead. Additionally, you can purchase high visibility accessories such as reflective leads and harnesses, as well as light up collars and attachments. Using a standard torch or headlamp will also be beneficial if the route you have to walk is not well lit. 

Plan Your Route – a necessary adjustment you may have to make now that the seasons are changing, is adapting the route that you take when walking your dog. Choose a route that is well-lit by lamp posts, and that both you and your dog know well. If your dog is familiar with your surroundings and the route they will be in a safer position should you get separated. It is also important to avoid dark alleyways where there could be dangers, such as broken glass.

If you have to walk on roads, always walk against the traffic so that you can see what is coming – and vehicles can see you too. Take extra caution when crossing, always double checking for cyclists who may not be using the correct high visibility equipment. 

Buddy Up – it is always safest to travel in pairs, and no we don’t mean just you and your pet. If there’s nobody else in your household available to walk with you, invite a friend or neighbour. This could be a great opportunity for you and your dog to make a new friend. 

Always Use A Lead – even if you usually trust your dog to walk off-lead in the daylight hours, that doesn’t mean you should at night time. In the dark they are more likely to get spooked, run off, and are even at a higher risk of being stolen. 

Dress For The Weather – as the saying goes, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing”, the same applies when walking your dog. It’s important that you both stay visible and warm. For humans we suggest a lightweight, reflective vest that can be worn over the top of your warm winter coat. If your dog will succumb to wearing one, a waterproof coat can be highly effective at keeping them safe and warm. 

Stay Alert – you could do everything that we have suggested above, but if you do not stay alert to potential dangers you and your dog will still be at risk. Whether walking in the daytime or at night, ditching the headphones could be one of the best things that you do for your safety. Listening for potential risks is just as important as looking for them, and when your eyesight is obscured by the night it’s sensible to rely on your other senses to keep you safe. 

Evening walks can be nerve-wracking and even scary, but with the right precaution and safety equipment you and your dog will be owning the night.