Safely Walking Your Dog
Winter is here, with its cold, bleak days. As much as you might want to stay curled up indoors with a hot chocolate and Netflix, your pooch still needs to be taken for a walk. Let us show you how to take your dog safely for a walk, when it's dark and dreary outside.
Walking your dog in the dark can be fraught with challenges, most common among which is that other people, especially those driving cars or bicycling, can't see your dog or you. And if they can't see you, then both of you are at risk of being hit. Even being hit by a jogger can cause your pup some damage. As a responsible dog owner, you need to be aware of these dangers. So what are some options you have to make taking your dog for a walk as enjoyable as it is in spring and summer?
There are plenty of dog collars, harnesses and leashes on the market that have reflective strips. A reflective dog collar is easily available and is a good way to keep your dog visible and safe. A neon collar with a reflective strip could be a fun new accessory for fall and winter. Harnesses have reflective strips, and there are even reflective coats that you could put on your dog. A reflective coat will do double duty, keeping him warm as well as visible. With the whole host of reflective gear out there, your dog can be lit up like a Christmas tree while out walking. For that matter, there are reflective vests you can wear as well to be that little bit safer.
Thanks to ID tags, leashes and dog collars with LED light you can illuminate your dog .The LED light will ensure that your dog can be seen from a distance, even in complete darkness. Unlike reflective items, LEDs don't rely on external light sources. In rural areas, which have very little passing traffic and artificial lights around, LEDs may be the best solution for you.
If you don't want to take on extra expenses by buying reflective gear, you can make sure to be seen on walks the old fashioned way. Bring a flashlight. This would even be helpful for you to find your way around in the darkness. If you want your hands focused on your dog's leash, then a headlamp is the way to go.
Know Your Route
A key to staying safe in the dark is being very familiar with your surroundings. Carefully consider the path you take for night time walks and make sure you know where the unsafe areas are, such as blind corners or driveways. Don't take unfamiliar routes in the dark, you won't know what you're walking into. Some tips to always keep in mind:
- Walk against traffic so you can see what’s coming.
- Ditch the headphones when walking your dog at night. You need to be able to hear what’s going on around you.
- Stay on the sidewalk along well-lit roads, and avoid shortcuts through dark lots or alleyways.
Walking on familiar, main streets won’t only prevent you from getting lost in the dark. It will also help prevent run-ins with other creatures who may be prowling around at night. Opossums, skunks, and raccoons come out to play at night, and while they may be cute in pictures, they’re no fun to encounter with a spooked dog.
We're sure your dog knows some commands. If he doesn't, we highly recommend teaching him some basic safety commands. 'Wait' and 'Sit' are particularly important. If you can ask your dog to wait from behind, when in a busy area, or just if you're not sure of what's going on, he will obey and stop immediately. It goes without saying that you should always have an eye on your dog if he's in front of you.
Carry Your Phone
You're probably used to carrying your phone everywhere you go, so remember to take it with you on the walk. It may be a lifesaver in case of an emergency. Make sure it's charged before you head out, and have a few numbers on speed dial, like your local non-emergency number, a vet and Lyft, just in case it's required. Your smartphone will also have a flashlight if you need it, and GPS to prevent you getting lost.
Taking your pooch for winter walks doesn't have to be a chore. With familiar routes, the right accessories and a little bit of planning, you and your dog will soon look forward to your nightly excursions.