Night Time Can be the Right Time to Walk Your Dog

Here in Nebraska, the days are gradually getting longer and that means more hours of daylight. For someone who loves warm weather, that’s a plus. But walking your dog in the heat of the day (especially in July or August) is not always enjoyable. I like to take my pets for a stroll in the dusk or even after dark.

For me, it’s an enjoyable time. The heat of the day has eased, there’s not as much traffic on the streets and most of the families in our neighborhood are quietly ensconced indoors, enjoying TV and air conditioning.  My “pup-arazzi pack” enjoys having the sidewalks mostly to themselves and it’s a good time for them to wind down (and get one last bathroom break before bedtime.)

But before you head outdoors, there are some safety tips to keep in mind.

Night time means visibility for you and your pooches is limited; likewise, you and your pet may be hard to see by other pedestrians or vehicles. Wear a light colored shirt or add reflective patches to your clothing. There are also reflective leashes and collars available for your dogs.

Consider carrying a flashlight or even a head-mounted light to increase your ability to see oncoming obstacles (broken sidewalk or debris) and your visibility to others.

While you may be a model citizen and have your dogs on a leash, sometimes, your neighbors aren’t as thoughtful. There have been times when I’ve been walking and neighbors are in their yard with their dog(s) unconfined. That can result in someone else’s pets rushing at your dogs. I keep a can of StopThat! spray to help fend off unwanted attention. The noise and the pheromones can help redirect a dog’s attention, allowing the owner time to grab their loose pet.

Walking at night also means my dogs get a last chance to urinate or defecate. Be a good neighbor and take along Sergeant’s GO! Bags to easily clean up your dog’s poop. (There’s nothing worse than walking on a sidewalk and stepping in dog poop, nor is it neighborly to let your dog defecate on someone else’s lawn.) Be a good neighbor and clean up after your dogs as you stroll!

While my neighborhood is safe, I’ve taken the precautionary step (pardon the pun) of scoping out my night time route during the day. If there are abandoned or unkempt homes, damaged sidewalks, areas with chained or loose dogs, or spots where trash is left out by the alley or street, I simply cross those off my potential route. Know your path ahead of time!

There is safety in numbers. If you have a neighbor or a family member who would enjoy walking with you, ask them to walk with you. If they own a dog, consider introducing your dog to theirs and with a little practice you all can become walking buddies.

Finally, emergencies can happen. Here in Nebraska, the weather can change drastically over the course of a half hour or 45 minute walk; there could be a medical emergency for you or your dog. Regardless of the time of day, carry a cell phone with you to call for help (or rescue!).

Are you a night walker? If so, what do you do to make your walk more safe or pleasant? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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