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How to Keep Your Dog Safe on Nighttime Walks (8 Tips)

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I have two Golden Retrievers and love taking them on walks all hours of the day.

8 Tips for Keeping Your Dog (And You) Safe on Night Walks

Sometimes life gets in the way, and you don't have the chance to walk your dog during daylight hours, but don't worry! It is totally both possible and safe to walk your pup once the sun goes down.

Chances are, your dog doesn't even know what time it is and will be excited to get outside and spend some time with you.

However, there are some things you should keep in mind if you're thinking of walking at night. The main priority is ensuring that cars can see you, so you don't get into an accident. This is easily achieved with reflective gear you can buy for yourself and your pup online or at a pet store.

Besides investing in some reflective gear, you should consider a few other things when embarking on night walks.

Keep reading to learn the tips and tricks I've learned over the years from walking my dogs after sunset.

How to Walk a Dog at Night

  1. Use Reflective or Light-Up Gear
  2. Keep Your Dog on a Leash
  3. Plan Your Route Ahead of Time
  4. Bring a Flashlight or Headlamp
  5. Make Sure Your Phone Is Fully Charged
  6. Avoid Distractions
  7. Watch Out for Wildlife
  8. Bring a Friend!
Neon jackets will show traffic and other people where your dog is at all times!

Neon jackets will show traffic and other people where your dog is at all times!

1. Use Reflective or Light-Up Gear

One of the best things you can do for yourself and your dog during night walks is to invest in some reflective/light-up gear. Many companies make vests, collars, and even leashes that "glow" when light is shined upon them.

Even if you are walking in an area with street lights, you should still use reflectors for both yourself and your dog.

Why Your Dog Needs Hi-Vis Gear

  • Cars: When using reflective gear, a driver will have 10 seconds to react instead of only two seconds, according to Trygg Trafikk. This can mean the difference between life and death!
  • Wildlife encounters: After the sun goes down, the wildlife comes out. This is especially true if you live in or around a forest filled with deer. In my experience, dogs love to chase deer and
  • Fog: Dog visibility products will make it easier to spot your dog under dark or foggy conditions.
  • Other dogs: You might encounter other dogs on your evening walk, and who knows if they're friendly or not? It's always smart to have your dog on a leash when interacting with other pups in case there is any aggression.

Reflective Dog Vest

Having a vest ensures that your dog is visible from its ears to its tail. Having a full body jacket will help cars see your dog and keep them safe.

Reflective Dog Harness

If your dog isn't happy wearing a full vest, a reflective harness is the next best thing. Make sure to get a harness that isn't too tight but isn't loose enough to where they can wiggle out of it.

LED Dog Collar and Leash

If your dog doesn't wear a harness, try a LED collar and leash. You can even get a reflective/LED leash with a harness as well.

Don’t Forget Your Own Reflective Gear!

Not only is your pup's safety a priority, but so is yours! Don't forget to pick up a reflective vest for yourself; bonus points if it matches your pup's!

While your dog might want to run free, using a leash is the safest option.

While your dog might want to run free, using a leash is the safest option.

2. Keep Your Dog on a Leash

Fenced backyards and leash-free dog parks allow dogs to run wild and let out their inner racehorses. However, on the street and other public places, keeping them on a leash is safer, especially when you're going on an evening walk.

Plus, keeping your pup on a leash ensures they won't get lost or chase after something. Looking for your lost dog once the sun has gone down is a challenge you don't want to face willingly.

When in doubt, map it out!

When in doubt, map it out!

3. Plan Your Route Ahead of Time

As a safety precaution, it's always a good idea to map out your walking route before leaving the house. This way, you won't get lost in the darkness and will always know where you are.

Also not to mention, if you know your route ahead of time and tell a friend, if anything were to happen, someone would know where you last were.

They might not be pretty, but you'll be happy to have your headlamp when it is dark.

They might not be pretty, but you'll be happy to have your headlamp when it is dark.

4. Bring a Flashlight or Headlamp

While they may not be entirely fashion-friendly, headlamps are one of my most valuable devices in the dark, especially when you need to be hands-free to hold the leash. You can find relatively inexpensive headlamps on Amazon or REI, but they are 100% worth the money.

Always make sure to charge your phone before leaving the house!

Always make sure to charge your phone before leaving the house!

5. Make Sure Your Phone Is Fully Charged

You will definitely want your phone to have the maximum battery percentage in case of an emergency. Make sure to fully charge your phone before leaving the house, and always have it in close reach during your walk.

Not to mention, you can always use the flashlight on your phone if you forget your headlamp!

Leave the headphones at home for this walk.

Leave the headphones at home for this walk.

6. Avoid Distractions

Going along with bringing your phone, try to avoid texting, social media, or phone calls during your walk. Accidents can happen while you aren't paying close attention to yourself and your pup.

Similarly, leave the Airpods or headphones at home and enjoy the sounds of nature on your walk.

Deer love to roam the woods at night, make sure you are aware of your surroundings!

Deer love to roam the woods at night, make sure you are aware of your surroundings!

7. Watch Out for Wildlife

As I mentioned earlier, wildlife comes out to play in the evening. You'll want to make sure that your paying close attention to your surroundings and be on the lookout for any animals.

Another great tip is to educate yourself about the wildlife in your area and learn ways to either avoid them entirely or how to remove yourself and your dog from an encounter safely.

However, it's important to note that not all wildlife encounters are dangerous, most of the time, they're more scared of your than you are of them, but it's always better to be safe than sorry.

Everything is better with friends.

Everything is better with friends.

8. Bring a Friend!

As the saying goes, there is safety in numbers. Walks are more fun with friends anyways!

Bonus points if they also have their own dog to bring along on the walk. Both you and your dog get some social interaction; it's a win-win!

Dog Walking FAQ

Still have some questions after those eight tips? Here are some frequently asked questions about dog walking.

Can I Walk My Dog After 8/9 pm?

If you follow the tips in this article, then yes! As long as your pup is up for it, they would be happy going for a pre-bedtime walk.

What Time Should You Not Walk Your Dog?

For safety reasons, you shouldn't be outside on a walk alone between 10pm–6 am. Chances are that your dog will be fast asleep as well. A walk can wait til the morning!

How Far Does Your Dog Need to Walk?

Every dog is different, and each breed has its own exercise requirements. Generally speaking, 20–30 minutes is ideal for most breeds. However, if you have a larger active dog, like a husky, the walks will need to be longer and more frequent than they would be for a dachshund. When in doubt, ask your vet!

How Can I See My Dog in the Dark?

High-visibility/reflective gear! Like I said in tip #1, buying your dog some reflective gear is the best way to keep you and your dog safe.

Have fun on your night walk and be safe!

Have fun on your night walk and be safe!