Hey Mighty Paw fam, Barbara here to share 10 tips with you to safely walk your dog at night!
As you probably know, we're big about dog walking here at Mighty Paw. We also care a lot about doing so safely - both in daylight and at night.
That's why we designed practical dog walking gear for both occasions!
In this post, I'll give you some pointers on how to best combine them along with other helpful ideas to keep you and your pooch safe at night!
10 Tips To Safely Walk Your Dog At Night
The biggest risk when you're walking your pup at night is getting run over by a car that didn't see you.
That's why you'll want to do your best to stay visible at all times.
But of course there's also the risk of getting surprised and even attacked by wildlife or loose dogs.
Besides that, you could also get jumped, robbed and violated.
That's why my introductory tip is to always have pepper spray on you when you're out walking your dog at night, especially if you're a woman walking a not-so-intimidating looking pup.
Back in my professional dog walking days, that's exactly what I did whenever I took care of client pups in the early morning or late evening hours.
Obviously you can use the pepper spray on robbers, but it can also come in handy to distract wildlife and loose dogs.
I suggest you either hold it in your hand when you're walking around in the dark, or you get a clip-on version that you can easily attach to your clothing, fanny pack or dog treat pouch.
One thing you shouldn't do is keep it at the bottom of your purse where it's tucked away. It should always be readily available when you need it!
That said, let's dive deeper into our safety tips!
1. Use LED Lights on Your Dog
The reason for using LED lights on your dog is pretty obvious - bright lights make it a lot easier to be seen in the dark or in bad weather conditions like rain and fog.
They'll also make it a lot easier to find your dog if he got lost in the dark for whatever reason.
Here at Mighty Paw, we have 3 different LED accessories for your pooch:
You can use the LED Safety Dog Collar as a regular collar to clip a leash to and walk your pup on.
The LED Safety Dog Necklace is an accessory that your pup wears around their neck in addition to their walking collar or harness. You can't clip a leash to this one.
The LED Safety Dog Clip-On attaches to your pup's collar or their harness, whichever you prefer.
All three LED options are available in bright orange and green.
The LED Collars & Necklaces are rechargeable and come with a complimentary mini-USB charging cable, and the LED Clip Ons are operated with a battery that's included with each purchase.
2. Walk Your Dog on Reflective Gear
The next best thing to keep your pup visible in low light is to walk them on reflective gear.
That way, whenever something bright shines onto it, the reflective parts pop right up and brings life to the gear.
3. Keep Your Dog On A (Short) Leash
Wouldn't you agree that it's so much safer to keep your dog on a leash in the dark as opposed to letting them roam around freely?
But besides leashing your pup at night, I also suggest to keep them on a short leash whenever you're walking near traffic.
Technically, you could keep your pup on a short leash tab at all times, but that wouldn't offer them any freedom at all.
So instead, my favorite types of leashes for nighttime walks are our dual handle (bungee) leashes.
They're between 4-6' long and have a built-in traffic handle that's right next to your dog's head.
That way you can easily keep your pup right next to you when you're getting ready to cross a busy street or walking right next to traffic.
They also feature reflective threading along the entire leash, so you're easily visible when light hits it!
4. Limit Distracting Behavior
It's obviously much harder to see in low and no light situations which is why it's important to rely on your ears and be aware of your surroundings at night.
So unless you're making an emergency phone call, try not to be on the phone when you're walking your dog at night.
The same concept to other electronic devices!
5. Don't Wear Dark Clothes
Dark colored clothing without reflective elements makes it super hard if not impossible to be seen at night.
That's why you should try to wear bright colored clothing, ideally with reflective elements.
If you're not a fan of bright colors, consider wearing a reflective safety vest or a reflective safety belt on top of your clothes.
6. Walk In Well-Lit Areas
Also, try to walk in well-lit areas and avoid dark streets as much as possible.
Obviously that's not always possible, so when there are no street lights or front yard lights, make sure to carry a flashlight and/or wear a head light.
7. Know Your Surroundings
Try to only walk in areas you're familiar with at night.
If you know that you're going to be walking your pup in a new place at night, try to check it out during daylight so that you know what to expect.
Look for the following:
- Are there streetlights?
- What about sidewalks?
- Are you in bear or coyote country?
- What about leash laws?
If you're going to be walking your dog in a rural area without leash laws, chances are pretty good that you'll run into loose dogs sooner or later.
I used to live in rural NC for many years, and unfortunately, most counties did not believe in leash laws.
Honestly, I can't even tell you how many times I ran into loose dogs when I was out walking both client pups and my own, during the day and at night.
Thankfully I was always able to distract them with a whistle that I carried on a lanyard around my neck. I can't recommend a loud whistle enough for those types of environments!
They'll also help you out if you run into a coyote - they're not a fan of loud noises.
You can also add some bells to your pup's collar or harness for some jingling sound while you're out walking.
They'll also help keep bears away!
8. Walk Against Oncoming Traffic
When there's no sidewalks for you and your pooch, walk against traffic, meaning facing it and not with your back to it.
Here in the States, that would be on the far left side :)
That way you're aware of oncoming traffic and can more or less easily take a few steps to the side.
You're also easier to see for traffic driving towards you.
9. Have Your Phone On You
While I did suggest not to be ON your phone when you're walking your pup at night, I highly recommend you have it ON YOU.
That way, you can make a call in case of an emergency or use its built-in flashlight as a flash light backup.
Tip: Make sure it's at least 50% charged before you leave your home!
10. Bring A Friend
If at all possible, try not to walk your dog alone at night, especially if you're a woman walking a smaller dog.
See if your spouse, a friend, a neighbor or your teenage kid can tag along to keep you company!
Please stay safe when you're walking your dog at night!
Barbara Rivers writes regularly for Mighty Paw. She is a blogger, raw feeder, former dog walker and maintains the blog K9s Over Coffee.
If you enjoyed this blog post, you may also like:
P.S. We'd love to invite you to our Facebook Furlings group! It's a closed group with exclusive benefits for members only:
- Access to pre-production products in return for honest feedback
- Opportunity to peek behind the scenes: Get to know Mighty Paw on a more personal level
- Be part of a community of like-minded dog lovers: Find dog training resources and get inspired and motivated by your fellow 2,500+ Furlings