Pomeranian walking at night

Walking Your Dog At Night -
The Ultimate Guide

Dear fellow night owls and extreme early birds. I completely feel your pain. You want to end your night or start your morning with a brisk walk with your dog but, let’s face it, walking your dog at night can be frightening.

Untold dangers lurk in the dark for both you and your pup. So how do you keep yourselves safe?

Here are our best tips for walking your dog at night (or very early morning).

dachshund going for a walk in red jacket at dusk

5 Tips To Walking Your Dog At Night

1. Plan Your Route

I am someone who likes to mix it up when walking my dog. Circling the same blocks with the same trees and the same sights and smells can get old. But nighttime is not the right opportunity to take that back alley you have always wondered about. 

“With lowered visibility and potentially hazardous walking conditions, taking unfamiliar routes could have dangerous consequences.”. - Beth Meadows,  Dog Time (1)

The tried-and-true path is the right one in this case! 

The second part of this is all to do with the necessities of lat night dog walking. You need a well-lit path if possible. You need a decent pavement with enough space for you and your dog to ideally not be traversing the road. Depending on what makes you feel most comfortable, you may prefer a road with little traffic or lots of traffic.

2. Early mornings and late evenings have different things to watch out for

I wake up at 4:30am every morning. (Did you shudder? I get that a lot.) Walking your dog in the twinkly hours of dawn differ a fair bit from the deepest hours of the midnight.

At night, you rely on streetlights much more, but they are likely to be more reliable.
In the early morning, there is a weird hour when there is a shred of daylight creeping in that is picked up by the streetlights so they switch off. But it is still very dark, and you are not illuminated at all.

Therefore bright coloured clothing, reflective vests and leashes are extremely important when walking at any time of night.

In the early morning, it may also be helpful to bring a torch for when the streetlights switch off.

Early mornings generally have more dog walkers out. That is something to consider if your dog is aggressive with other dogs.

3. Make yourself and your dog as visible as possible

There are many ways to make your dog extremely visible for late night walking.

The best is a high vis dog harness. Many regular dog harnesses will have reflective strips on them which do help to a degree, but full neon-coloured harnesses are best to invest in if you intend to walk your dog at night regularly.

Related: Best Dog Harness Australia.

There are LED dog collars and hi vis leashes that are suitable for night walking too.

For you, it’s worth getting a high vis vest too, a torch and perhaps a personal alarm to call for help if anything happens. (Think aeroplane emergency rules).

4. Be Streetsmart 

Remember the rules your primary school teacher taught you about road safety? It’s time to get back to basics. 

Walk this way

Always walk against traffic so that cars can see you head on and you are illuminated by their headlights.

Put the headphones down

I know I know. I am a headphones fiend as well. You will only catch me sans podcast or audiobook if I am driving. But walking at night requires your full attention. Even if you live in the safe and calm countryside, what if a wolf jumps out? Or an aggressive dog? Or, the worst, an aggressive cat?!! It’s best you have your wits about your when walking your dog at night so leave headphones at home.

Your mobile phone can work for you

Having a fully charged mobile phone when you go out goes without saying, but if you are concerned for your safety, there are apps you can use to share your location with loved ones. Kitestring is a simple yet effective one.

5. Bring the right leash

Our final tip is about walking your dog on the right leash. You must have your dog on a leash at all times to prevent any accidents or from them getting lost. While their eyesight is better than hours, it’s still limited in the dark.

Related: Best Dog Leashes Australia.

But beyond that, you need a regular length leash rather than a flexi-leash. Even if your dog is used to flexi-leashes in the daytime, it is a terrible idea at night.

Related: How To Train Your Dog To Loose Leash Walk.

Why? The flexible lengthening string becomes a bit of a hazard. They can snag on tree branches, street corners, traffic cones and all sorts, which is much harder to see and solve at night. 


Walking At Night Safely

If you follow the above tips, you are well on your way to walking at nighttime safely and with confidence. Night walking can be extremely peaceful and serene for both you and your pup if you take the proper precautions to keep yourselves safe.

Remember that your heightened awareness and nervousness will be picked up by your dog, so the more in control and relaxed you feel, while still being alert to danger, the better!

FAQ

When is the best time to walk your dog?

In theory, you can walk your dog at any time of day or night, but there are optimum times for you and your dog’s health. (2)

Your dog’s body clock follows natural circadian rhythms and therefore responds to the rising and setting of the sun. You’ll find that your dog is naturally tired after the sun goes down. My dogs are raring to go at sunrise and tucking themselves in at sunset.

But dogs are also very adaptable. If you work at night and sleep during the day, you may find it more convenient to walk your dog when you get home in the early morning or before you leave for work. If you create a routine that coincides with your dog’s feeding routine, your dog will adapt to having their daily walk at an unusual time.

The worst thing you can do is vary your dog’s walking schedule too much as it throws them off balance.

References
  1. Meadows, B. “Let’s Talk Safety Tips For Walking Your Dog At Night”. Dog Time Editorial. Retrieved April 27, 2021. https://dogtime.com/how-to/pet-safety/70743-safely-walking-dog-night
  2. Bender, A. January 2, 2020. “Dog Training and Routines”. The Spruce Pets. Retrieved April 27, 2021. https://www.thesprucepets.com/dog-training-and-routines-1118216
Olivia De Santos

Olivia is a professional writer and animal lover. She loves spending time with her Podengo and Flat Coated Retriever, and writing pieces to help people to be better dog owners

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