On October 31st, daylight savings comes to an end, which means your dog’s evening walk will be in the dark. Walking in the dark can sometimes be nerve-wracking for a dog, as there can be lots of new unknown sights and smells. Young dogs may have never walked in the dark so might need some time to get used to it.
Never force your dog to go out, as this will make their anxiety worse. If you have a garden, playing with them in the evening might help ease them in to being outside in the dark, but associating it with enjoyment rather than fear.
Take them out in the dark on their lead and let them go at their own pace. Even if it means standing still outside your house and reassuring them it’s ok. Just like you did with traffic and noises when they first started going for walks.
Below are some tips that can help keep you and your dog safe and happy:
1. Make yourselves visible
Both of you should wear bright and reflective clothing to make yourselves visible to traffic and other pedestrians. Remember, if you’re walking along a road, always walk AGAINST the flow of traffic and keep your dog on the furthest side from the traffic. A reflective collar, lead and coat for your pup are good ideas too. Plus in the winter months, the reflective coat will also double up for keeping your dog warm. Carrying a torch or wearing a head torch is also helpful. Here are some useful links:
2. Be aware of your surroundings
If you’re walking in a new area, make sure your phone is fully charged before leaving so you can use it for maps if necessary. Your phone could also be used as a torch too! In order to be alert of what’s going on, avoid walking wearing headphones or going on your phone while walking, so you can hear for traffic or other potential dangers. Downloading ‘what3words’ app could also be useful in case you get lost or need help.
3. Stick to familiar routes
Walking the same routes means you and your dog will expect any upcoming hazards that you can prepare for. This will help your dogs confidence if they are unsure walking in the dark.
Choosing routes with well-lit pavements and paths will help you and your dog feel safer and more comfortable while walking. If any friends or neighbours have dogs, walking with someone else is always an option, plus it’s great for socialisation for your dogs.
4. Shorter walks
If your dog does struggle with walking in the dark, they may prefer to go on a longer walk at lunchtime, so that the evening walk only has to be fairly short. Plus you can always make up for it at the weekend with long walks with your pup.
5. Always use a lead
Definitely stick to walking your dog on a standard (not extender) lead at night too. If they run off they’ll be hard to find, and they run the risk of going onto a road. Like humans, anything suddenly emerging from the dark will startle your dog.