Beat the Heat with Night Walks… Safely

As the weather gets warmer, you may find that your dog can’t exercise enough during the day to keep him or her calm without becoming overheated. The cooler nights and evenings are a better time for exercise, but most public parks and dog parks close at sunset. Then there’s safety: Not all neighborhoods are suitable places for walking a dog alone at night! Even if crime isn’t an issue, cars might not see you if you wear dark clothing and are with a black or dark-colored dog.  With some precautions, however, nighttime walks and other nocturnal exercise can be the summer solution to your dog’s exercise needs.

Night Time Activities with Your Dog

While a walk around the neighborhood (see safety precautions below) is always the easiest way to fit in some exercise for you and your dog on cool summer nights, there are other options for more rigorous exercise after the sun has gone down. Call local dog daycare centers and see if they offer evening playgroups for compatible dogs during the summer. Consider arranging a play date with someone who has a dog compatible with yours and a large yard. Or, exhaust your dog mentally and physically with an obedience session in your own back yard, practicing long-distance stays, recalls, and retrieves.

If you and your dog prefer more organized exercise, there may be an obedience school nearby offering night classes. Agility facilities often allow experienced handlers with well-trained dogs to pay to use agility equipment during the evening a few nights each week. If your dog doesn’t yet know any agility skills, you’ll need to take a beginning class before attending open sessions in the evening. The other dog and handler teams will not appreciate it if you first introduce your dog to the agility equipment while you’re supposed to be taking your turn to use it during an open practice session!

Night Safety

If you’ll be walking your dog outdoors at night near roadways, invest in a few basic safety items. A collar with a bright light is probably the most important for your dog, while the best choice for yourself is a reflective vest. It might look silly, but it’s also likely to save your life if a distracted driver comes barreling around a corner while you’re walking your dog on the side of the road. In addition, a reflective mesh jacket for your dog can help to keep him or her safe, and a headlamp for you will help you see where you’re going.

Before going out alone with your dog at night, inform someone close to you of where you’re going and when you’ll get back. Carry a cell phone and make sure you’ve got an emergency contact number programmed in. Consider taking a self-defense class and attending any workshops on crime prevention offered by your local police department.

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