7 Tips for Keeping Your Dog Safe on Winter Walks in the Dark

A white man in his thirties is squatting next to a labrador retriever. He is wearing a green winter coat, gloves, jeans, and brown shoes. There is snow on the ground, it is nighttime.

The short days may make your dog's nighttime stroll difficult no matter where you live. There are a variety of difficulties that might occur throughout the winter, from gloomy neighborhoods to slippery roadways. Your dog cannot stay indoors once the sun sets, no matter how handy it may be. On those dark winter evenings, you both need to keep safe and warm while your dog performs its business.

To help you survive the season, here are seven tips for walking your dog in the winter. 

Go Reflective

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Reflective clothing is essential for keeping you and your dog visible at night. Swap out your old leash for a reflective one, and search for outerwear that will make your dog more apparent to incoming traffic in the dark, not less. For increased visibility, consider wearing a luminous jacket or vest over your winter coat.

You may also acquire an LED collar for your dog to help it be more visible when out walking. Most include rechargeable batteries that last 5-8 hours on average, and many are waterproof for wet evenings. Look for ones that have brilliant LED lights that will glow brightly in the dark.

Stay on Leash

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Off-leash walking is enjoyable, but dark evenings are not the time to put your dog's recall to the test. Before leaving the house, ensure sure your dog's leash and harness are securely fastened, and maintain strong control throughout your walk. The last thing you want is for your dog to bolt into the darkness.

Stick to What You Know

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When walking at night, make sure you and your dog are both comfortable with the route. This reduces the chances of your dog becoming disoriented or reacting poorly to strange stimuli.

When possible, stay on the sidewalk and in well-lit areas. This is especially critical for older dogs with cataracts or any dog with vision problems, since their ability to see in low light reduces and they may miss tiny impediments such as steps or a boulder in their path. Keep the leash short in these situations so you can assist your dog in avoiding obstructions, and stick to pathways that are as clear and well-lit as possible.

Wear the Right Gear

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On a frigid winter night, a dog's fur coat isn't always enough to keep him warm. If your dog is shivering and/or has a short coat, invest in a well-fitting jacket or sweater for your furry friend. While not all dogs require boots, keep an eye out for cracks or bleeding on their paws to determine whether they might benefit from wearing them. Dogs in city surroundings where chemical salt remains on the roadway are especially vulnerable, and their paws should be cleaned clean after every walk.

Team Up 

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Walking with a companion is an excellent method to make your last walk of the day much safer. Invite your neighbor and their dog, or invite a member of your family along for a fun evening activity.

Keep Yourself Safe

On dark walks, your dog isn't the only one who has to be extra cautious. At night, make sure you're wearing reflective materials and wearing weather-appropriate shoes with good grip. When possible, stay in well-lit locations and remember to bring a flashlight when it isn't. Consider carrying a light with you wherever you go for simple hands-free visibility, and don't forget to pack your phone in case of an emergency.

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