Top tips for walking your dog in the dark

Top tips for walking your dog in the dark

The days are getting longer now but still most of us are walking our dogs in the dark… It might not be a problem if you are based in the city and have well lit roads all around you but out in the countryside winter walks aren’t as peachy as one might think.

I got caught out one morning when I decided to go for a quick walk at 6am in the pitch black… black morning, black dog… you can only imagine where I am going with this… I got scared… re-call didn’t work and Bunk was nowhere to be found… he did come back finally (after a few minutes which felt in that moment like a lifetime) but by this time the seed of fear was deeply implanted. It was time to re-think my walking in the dark routine.

So I sat down and I thought about how to improve our safety, so I read a lot, I did my research and I come across a few pointers I would like to share with you.

Walk route

Darkness is not the best time to go exploring. Pick a well known route which is familiar both for you and your dog. Walks along the side of the road are not ideal but if you don’t have any other options and this is the only walk route with lights along it – then pick it. Remember to walk against the flow of traffic and keep your dog on the side furthest from the road (i.e. your right hand side). Alternatively if you have a bit more time on your hands and have some well lit place which is away from home, then jump in the car and drive with your dog to that walking spot.

Walk routine

Keep control of your dog and do not let him/her off the lead unless you are in a well lit area. Your dog might be well trained but you never know what will happen and there is always a chance of something unpredictable happening so why be tempting fate? Unless your dog is extremely well trained avoid retractable leads. They are dangerous in daylight and can be deadly in the darkness (yes, I am not a huge fan of retractable leads and if you want to know why please read 10 Reasons Why Retractable Leashes Are Dangerous) Also if you are going to let your dog off the lead make sure you have your pockets well stocked with some yummy treats which will help you with that quick re-call if needed.

Human clothing

Walks in the dark are as much about your safety as your dog. If you are walking along the road make sure you wear something reflective. It might not be sexy but a high visibility vest is cheap and will make you stand out for all others road users. Yes, you can and should dress up your dog as well but if you are going to walk along the side of the road you are much bigger than your dog therefore much easier to see 🙂

Dog clothing + accessories

Nowadays there is a huge choice when it comes to reflective accessories for your dog. Pick something both you and your dogs are comfortable with. It might be a high visibility dog jacket or maybe just a reflective neck band; if clothing isn’t really your thing invest in a reflective collar, harness or a lead; if these choices aren’t “speaking” to you either at least get a safety light for your dog. A safety light is small and will clip onto any collar or harness. It will illuminate or flash depending on the program and it will help you easily locate your dog in the darkness.

Be cautious

Stay alert and wary of your surroundings. Listen to what is happening around you. You might follow all these tips and be ready for a walk in the darkness but you can also be sure that someone else might not be so well organized. Don’t be scared! If you are scared your dog will feel it and you really don’t want to be projecting fear into your companion.

Other Equipment

First of all take a torch with you. I use a small LED head torch. The batteries last what seems like forever, it gives a really great bright light and most importantly of all it still allows me to have both my hands free.
Secondly take a phone with you. I bet most of us don’t go far without the phone but walking in the darkness is for sure not the time to forget it. You never know how the walk will end and you might need it to call for assistance.
Third – don’t go wondering in the darkness without anyone knowing you went out. Again you might not think it’s that big a deal in the city but there are many dangerous and risks, just watch the news if you doubt me. If you are going out for a walk in the countryside make sure someone knows you went out in case you get lost or injured and it could be hours before someone finds you to help.

These are my tips.

If there is something you would add to the list please share it with me.

Safe walking!

A guide to safe driving with your cat or dog

A guide to safe driving with your cat or dog

By Lionel Thain

Even if you don’t make regular car journeys with your pet, you never know when you might need to transport them somewhere. Meanwhile, if you do drive with your pet in the back (or front!) seat regularly, it’s important to make sure you’re doing everything you can to make sure they’re as comfortable as possible. Follow these tips to keep your cat or dog happy on the road.

Make them comfortable

If you’re planning a long journey get them used to being in a car by taking them on shorter trips beforehand. Bring along their favourite toy or blanket to help them feel more at home in unusual surroundings.

Restrain your pet

In most cases it’s important to restrain your pet for the safety of everyone travelling in the car. Their movements can prove a distraction to the driver. Small dogs and cats should be in a suitable container, while larger dogs can wear specially designed dog seatbelts. While some owners will feel comfortable letting their dogs travel loosely in the car, it’s worth bearing in mind if you’re planning on travelling abroad that in some European countries this is actually illegal.

As with the previous tip, make sure they’re accustomed to their container or restraint before setting off for your journey.

Have your vet on speed dial

Add your vet’s phone number to your mobile in case you need to contact them in an emergency. If you’re travelling a long distance find out beforehand where the nearest vet will be.

Make sure your pet is healthy

To avoid causing undue distress, you shouldn’t travel with an ill or injured pet (unless the illness or injury is minor, or you are taking them to the vet for treatment). Heavily pregnant pets that are likely to give birth during the journey or those that have given birth in the past 48 should also be spared the demands of a car journey.

Feed and water them

Feed your pet a light meal a couple of hours before the journey – it won’t want to travel on a full, heavy stomach. You should ensure that your pet has continual access to water. Bring food or snacks with you if your journey is a long one – just remember to keep meals light.

Keep them cool

The vehicle, and any container your pet might be in, must be kept well ventilated to stop your pet from becoming overheated. Long haired dogs, those with breathing problem and snub-nosed dogs are all at higher risk of heatstroke.

If you suspect your dog is suffering from overheating – their panting will become heavier and faster, they will become visibly agitated, and they will produce more saliva than normal – you must act immediately to allow them to recover quickly. Take it to a shaded area, give it plenty of water to drink, and cool it by spraying it with cold water.

It’s never a good idea to leave your pets unattended in a car, but under no circumstances should you ever leave one in a car in high temperatures or direct sunlight. Even a few minutes in temperatures above 25C / 77F can present a health risk.

Traveling with pets

Take breaks

If at all possible you should take breaks. Dogs can be taken for short walks, while cats will enjoy the opportunity to move around the car freely even if they can’t be let out. Use this time to give your pet some much needed comfort and attention.

***

Written by Lionel Thain of online competition site MyOffers. Visit them at MyOffers.co.uk for a chance to win petrol, insurance and even cars.

*Post in collaboration with MyOffers.

The main reason why you can’t ride a dog

The dog is not a horse, nor is he a camel or a donkey!

The dog is not built to be ridden.

The dog is not built to carry weight.

The dogs’ spine and bones are not designed to be used as a mean of transport!

The dog is not a horse… did I mention that?

There, there you have it!

Gerroff No you can not ride a dog

Owning a large breed usually means a ton of questions, every day on every walk… Owning a Newfoundland will mean even more questions…

“No, he is not a black St. Bernard”

“No, he doesn’t eat kids, or cats or any other animals”

“No, he is not a bear”

and so on and so on… but the most common question by far is “Can you ride him?” At the beginning we were answering “Sure, but you need a special saddle”; it didn’t even cross my mind that someone might take it seriously until one day…

This one man wanted to know all about the special saddle, he thought it would be perfect for his fat and over grown Labrador. This was the moment when I realised that he is not joking and he really does want his 3 year old to be able to ride a dog! This started a whole new lecture as I wanted to make sure he understands that YOU CAN’T RIDE A DOG! NEVER, EVER!

It is very important to understand that dogs are not built in the same way as horses. Even giant breeds are NOT to be ridden. Their bones simply can’t take it.

It makes me cross when I see pictures of kids riding dogs floating on Facebook and most people thinks it is funny and cute. It really is not! Not only can your child can get hurt but most of all you can seriously hurt your dog – from broken spine, to joint and knee problems… dogs are not to be ridden!

* Big thank you to Jokers Masquerade for providing me with a Dog Rider costume.