Especially during the winter, when days are short, you may have no choice but to walk your dog at night. Yet there are dangers associated with walking at night: cars and cyclists, losing your dog in the dark, or encountering raccoons or other wild animals. You can take these steps to make your evening walk as safe as possible.
1. Bring the Right Items
Like most safety precautions, a safe nighttime walk is all about preparation. Based on where you live and where you'll be walking, think about what you might need to take with you.
- Cell phone: In case you need to call someone for help.
- Flashlight: Can be helpful in unexpected dark areas, to keep track of your dog, and to clean up after them.
- Safety Whistle or Air Horn: If you might be at risk from wild animals or other attackers, consider bringing a safety whistle to scare animals or people away. Pepper spray isn't always a good idea, because it can backfire, injuring you and your dog.
2. Dress Appropriately
Dress to ensure that you and your dog are seen by drivers, and warmly enough for the weather.
- Reflective Leash or Vest: Outfit your dog with a couple reflective pieces, on the leash, collar, or harness, to make sure they are visible. While you're at it, find a reflective vest for yourself to ensure your own safety. Bicycle shops stock lots of reflective gear.
- Flashing Lights: On top of the reflective items, it's helpful to have something flashing, even a small LED object on the dog's collar to help you find them in the dark, and make them more visible to bikers and joggers, who won't be using headlights.
- ID Tags: Always make sure your dog is wearing ID tags when you go on a walk, in case they run off.
- Doggie Sweater: Even with their fur coat, dogs sometimes need sweaters when it's cold and dark out there, especially smaller dogs. Make sure your dog will be warm enough by testing the temperature before you go out: would you be cold without a jacket? If you need a jacket, your Chihuahua might, too.
3. Plan Your Walk
You can also ensure safety by planning your walk and using a well-known route. Tell someone where you're going and when to expect you and your pooch back home. Even if you know the route well, keep your dog on a leash, because if they are spooked by something, they may run off.
As much as possible, choose a well-lit path and avoid walking on the road. If you must walk on the road, consider extra reflective and flashing options to make sure you are seen long before a car would reach you. Even if you're not walking on the road, remember that cyclists or joggers need to be able to see you and your dog.
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