Safely Walking with your Dog at Night
Recently, new outlets reported that an Orlando woman credits her dog from saving her from a possible abduction. And, since, Iowian Molly Tibbetts abduction and murder, (although Molly was walking without a dog), we thought it was important to review a variety of precautions to ensure you and your dog will be safe while walking at night.
Walk with confidence.
Start out by walking with confidence.When walking at night, make sure you walk purposefully, especially if strangers are nearby.
Wear safety clothing
When walking at night, wear reflective clothing and comfortable footwear. Your walking clothes should have reflective strips on the front, on the back and on the sides. For ease, consider a vest. It is also important that your dog’s leash, collar or harness have reflective properties, too! Reflective clothing and accessories for you and your dog enable trucks, cars, bikers and others to see both of you as you walk at night. It is also necessary to also wear comfortable shoes, like sneakers. Sneakers will enable you to flee from a potential attacker quickly and with ease.
Light the way
Safety experts agree that great accessory to bring on the your evening dog walks is a flashlight. Even if you are walking in a well-lit area, you still may encounter dark areas. Therefore, flashlights will enable you to light up dark areas as you walk along the streets, paths or trails. Additionally, a flashlight will also allow you to signal for help.
When buying a flashlight, think small. You will want the flashlight to be small enough to carry in your pocket but also comfortable enough to fit hand. Your flashlight should be at least 120 lumens of light output to disorient attackers who come close to you and your pet.
Also, when buying the flashlight, ask the clerk for an LED flashlight because of their energy efficiency as well as the fact that LED bulbs can withstand a beatings without breaking. Lastly, your flashlight should be waterproof to tackle those rainy nights or other wet conditions.
It is also a good idea to carry a deterrent, especially, if you live and walk your dog on a dark street, near a desolate area or on the streets very late at night or very early in the morning. Carry non-violent deterrents, like a whistle and pepper spray. Once blown, a whistle can alert others with its loud noise of possible danger. Moreover, it could help deter potential attackers.
If used properly, pepper spray may be able to buy you enough time to evade a potential attacker. Before ordering or traveling with pepper spray or even mace, review laws in your state. Some states have regulations that forbid defense sprays, while some states allow the individuals cities to make their own laws concerning these products. When using pepper spray or mace, make sure the opening is facing away from you and your dog and towards your attacker.
Where to walk
After leaving the house, avoid dark and suspicious areas and the people who traffic them. While out and about with Fido, frequent busy and well-lit streets and paths to decrease your chance of trouble. Stay away from the parks, including the dog park where later night encounters can be unsafe. Also, pet owners need to be aware and avoid paths that have thick shrubbery, large over hanging trees, buildings, other structures, and/or piles that can conceal people. Don’t be tempted to take shortcuts through dark alleys or parking lots.
Lastly avoid suspicious people and people with ill-mannered dogs. Safety experts note that if you see something or someone suspicious in the direction you are heading, then change your route immediately. Cross the road to change your path or walk toward a busy area, intersection or convenience store and/or filling station. Do not return home for fear that your home address could be discovered.
Use safety apps
If you have to walk alone at night with Fido, technology can help. Download apps that track your location. Many of these apps like Companion allow your friends and/or family members to monitor you and your dog when you walk alone at night. The app shares your departure time, your route and your current location on the route, and will notify your friends once you have safely arrived. It will even let loved ones that you and Fido are nervous on your walk for any reason.
Lastly, trust your instincts and your dog. Make sure to be cognizant of your whereabouts. Remember that your dog’s body language and hearing can also alert you to trouble. If you are being followed, let person who seems to be on your tracks that you are aware of his presence and that he could be following you.
When walking at night, make sure you wear illuminated clothing or accessories when you walk confidently. Avoid being distracted by your calls on cellphone, and avoid dark alleyways and parking lots where people can easily hide. When walking at night, make sure someone like a doorman, roomate, family member is aware that you will taking your dog for a walk in case there is an emergency.