As it begins to get darker earlier and earlier, many of us dog owners have to slightly alter our schedules or behavior when it comes to dog walking. For instance, when it gets colder, our dogs might need to wear their jackets, or we might switch to a different, more well-lit walking route to avoid things like tripping on sidewalk cracks. Dog-walking safety tips when the seasons change are important to take note of, if only to ensure you and your pooch don’t encounter anything unexpected or dangerous.
Don’t Use Retractable Leashes
Retractable leashes are generally not the best leash option even when its not dark all the time, simply because they can easily get wrapped around your, your dog’s, or another person’s leg and cause injury. Additionally, they create tension between dog and owner, which can cause the dog to feel like they need to be more protective of the owner. Instead, use a nylon or leather leash, and once it starts getting dark, it can be beneficial to use one that is reflective to make yourself more visible to other walkers or vehicles.
Consider LEDs for Your Pooch
If you have a dog with a dark coat, people may see you but not your dog. Additionally, it can be helpful for your dog if you use an LED light, say, on their collar pointing in front of them so they can see better where they are walking. If you don’t want to go this route, it can be helpful to bring a small flashlight with you on walks, particularly when you have to pick up after your dog.
Watch Out for Nocturnal Animals
When you’re out walking your dog and it’s dark, it’s important to keep an eye out for animals that typically only roam when it’s nighttime—raccoons, possums and most importantly, skunks. You don’t want to get sprayed by a skunk, and you definitely don’t want your dog getting sprayed—the task of getting rid of the smell is arduous and inconvenient, to say the least. Past that, it’s important to make sure your dog doesn’t chase after small animals.
Change Your Route
If you’re used to long walks, but don’t feel safe or comfortable doing so anymore once it’s dark out by dinnertime, don’t fret. Instead of long walks around the neighborhood, you can bring your dog to a nearby dog park for exercise, or you can change your route to include brighter-lit streets. If you still feel uncomfortable, but have no other options, you should consider bringing pepper spray with you on your walks for your own protection.
Remember to stay alert when you’re walking your dog any time, but especially at nighttime. Pay attention to your surroundings and what’s going on around you, and your dog walks will go off without a hitch.