The nights are drawing in! Isn’t it funny (and annoying) how you find yourself repeating those clichés your grandmother and your mum used to say… you know, right about the time you think “I’m starting to sound like my mother!”.
But it’s true, whether we like to admit it or not, the nights are getting darker! 7pm it was dark last night! It feels like only a few weeks ago that I was teaching an agility class in the sunshine until 8pm.
It’s dark when my morning alarm goes off and I know some of you are already walking your dogs before the sun has risen. Then you get home from work and it’s dark before you take the dog out for their evening stroll.
It’s really important to stay safe with our dogs in the dark and make sure we can be seen! The longer I’ve been driving the more I’ve come to realise how important it is to be able to see a dog, not just the person, walking along the pavement.
Here are my favourite items for walking my dog in the gloom and doom!
I think I got this one from Pets at Home but they are available online and in most good pet shops, plus are relatively inexpensive. I didn’t pay more than £20 and they’re cheaper the smaller the dog you have. I think it makes Guinness look like a search and rescue dog when he wears it, which is pretty cool! I can fit his harness over the top and it gives him a bit of protection from the rain too.
If you don’t fancy a hi-vis jacket then simply choosing a harness or a collar with reflective strips on will help others to see you. However this all depends on how much fur your dog has.
Should you walk your dog off lead in the dark?
Is it safe to give your dog a run around off lead in the park at night? Debatable. My biggest concern is what if your dog has a poo?!
If you’re going to let your dog off lead in the dark these are some must have items:
Your dog can see fine but this is for you to see where you’re going and keep track of your dog. Then you should be able to see when they squat for a dump. I love my wind up torch as it saves money (and the planet) plus makes a loud noise while winding which can be quite comforting when you’re walking in the dark alone.
Top Tip: If your dog is wearing their hi-vis coat while off lead you’ll be able to find them even easier with your torch!
Light up collars
I’ve had very poor experiences with light up collars so far. The first one I got was a solid strip of light that went around about 2/3 of the collar, however this tended to slip round when Guinness was running and he’d somehow manage to have the side that wasn’t lit up facing towards me. The good thing though was that it was powerful enough to be seen through his thick mane.
The next collar I got was a flashing one with a reflective strip and then regular red lights dotted around it. You can just about see the dots through his fur but not very well, but it would be adequate for a short-haired dog.
I’ve heard some people use arm bands that are designed for runners/cyclists so I’m going to have a look at those next!
Light up balls (no that’s not an innuendo)
There’s something a little freaky about watching a glowing yellow sphere floating through thin air in the dark. Some would say it’s even freakier when you find out it’s a great big black German Shepherd carrying it in the darkness!
I don’t think light up toys should ever be a solution for walking your dog in the dark as you still can’t see what the dog is doing and other people can’t see what it is either. Dogs can see in the dark, plus have a wicked sense of smell, so put the lights on the dog not the toy.
Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry!