With the chilly temperatures and shorter days, your dog’s evening and early morning walks may become less and less appealing. How to stay safe in the dark can be a very real concern for pet parents. These tips are designed to get you and Duchess out the door and back again, safely and quickly.

Build a Utility Belt Batman would be nothing without his clever gadets at his side. You’re a super pet parent, so why shouldn’t you have your own superhero utility belt? Keep a belt or sash near your home entryway that has the following clipped on at all times:

• Flashlight
• Safety Reflector
• Cleanup Bag Holder Clip
• Safety Whistle
• Pepper Spray

When you’re getting ready to head out, don the belt and be on your merry way. Don’t have belt loops? Use one of the clips to keep everything secure. This ensures that nothing gets forgotten or left in the pockets of the wrong jacket.

Pooch Safety
In the evening, predawn and nighttime hours, it may be difficult for others to see your dog. If your leash were to break or slip out of your hands, that could mean disaster. Always do a quick visual inspection of your pet’s collar and leash before setting out and keep a firm grip on the leash handle throughout the walk.

When crossing the street or using sidewalks, you want drivers, joggers and bicyclists to clearly see your pooch. You can trim his leash and collar with reflective tape, add a blinking safety light to his collar or dress him in a reflective dog jacket. If you’d like to put a jacket or sweater on your dog, choose a lightly colored one.

Steer your dog clear of dark spots or shrubs that block your view of what’s going on around you. Finally, your pets love of sniffing lightposts comes in handy!

Follow the Standard Safety Tips
The most important thing you can do is travel in the safest manner possible. This means employing some common safety tips, like traveling in familiar, well-lit areas and looking both ways before crossing the street.

A mistake I see a lot of pet walkers make is listening to their mp3 player or talking on the phone. By drowning out the noise of the world around you, you’re putting yourself at risk. Consider using one earbud at low volume if you absolutely need music. Being distraction-free will allow you to be more aware of your surroundings and potential hazards.

Finally, if you feel uneasy walking your dog in the dark, consider hiring a dog walker for the winter. A professional will handle the details.

The Right Length, The Right Time
Take a minute to evaluate the length of your walks in the dark. If your dog will do her business without a long trek, consider keeping your time outside short and sweet. By minimizing your time spent outside in the darkness, you’re reducing some of the risk. If your pet typically walks a while before “going”, try pacing around inside for a few minutes before ever leaving the house.

If your pet will tolerate a little tweak to his schedule, consider going out when other people will be walking or during daylight hours. If you have a neighbor with a pet, suggest being dog walking buddies for the season. Keep a schedule of meeting at the same time to walk together.

Following a few common sense safety tips and staying prepared will ensure that you and your dog will be walking safely all winter.

Happy wagging!

Posted on 2013-11-19 by Amanda Harper