Out After Dark – Winter Walkie
I love walking my own hairy hound on a cold winter’s day, wrapped up warm, wellies and woolly hat. What I don’t like is the shorter days, especially here in the north of Scotland where it is often still dark at 9am and pitch black by 5pm.
It does make getting out and about with your dog a bit more difficult. However, the dog doesn’t care about us. They have no intention of missing out on a walk and are not interested in our excuses. Skipping walks can lead to boredom, pent up energy and mischief. Getting out rain or shine, day or night will make everyone, hound or human feel happier, healthier.
Here are a few tips to help you through the dark winter walks.
Stay Safe Alone – If you live in a town or city try and stick to well-lit populated areas and don’t follow the same route every night. Map your routes so you don’t come across unfamiliar paths and tell someone else in the household which route you are taking before leaving the house. If like me, you listen to podcasts or music on your walk keep the volume down low so you have a greater awareness of your surroundings day and night.
Walk Together – Safety in number, make your walks a social thing. Family, friends, neighbours other dog walkers you’ve met in the passing. I bet if you asked other dog owners you know they would be grateful of the company on a dark night…it also forces you out on a cold, wet night when you would rather put your feet up. Also a great way to make new friends and to socialise your dog.
A few more helpful tips
Listen To Your Dog – Your dog has spider senses so if your dog seems anxious on a walk in the dark be aware of their behaviour and adapt your walk to their needs. There is so much going on in the evening, badgers, foxes, cats prowling the streets and all other wonderful wildlife. If your dog seems worried keep them close and on a short lead and reassure them as you walk.
Trail By Torch Light – I live in the country, so a head torch is an invaluable necessity. I was so excited to receive a new head torch in my Christmas stocking last year, it’s so bright. A torch can revolutionise night walking in the country, town or city giving you an extra strip of light for visibility and increased awareness of your surroundings. It’s also super handy for trying to locate and pick up a poo in the dark, especially in a pile of autumn leaves.
Brighten up your dog – Attach a flashing light or beacon to your dog’s collar, these can be easily clipped on and off your dog’s collar for day or night walking. Alternatives are flashing collars or harnesses. For walking in towns and cities reflective dog coats, vests or bandanas are a great choice for increased visibility.
Use A Lead – or at least keep one handy for quick control. Know your dog and use a lead if you are not confident walking in the dark with them. They will enjoy the walk regardless. Train your dog to walk to heal and make sure your dog listens to you and has good recall. There are lots of interesting sounds and smells at night to entice your pooch and the last thing you want to do is loose your dog in the dark.
Join A Class – Look for dog classes in your local area that you can do throughout the winter months. Agility, obedience training, even dog parties, a fun and very sociable thing for both hound and his human.