As the Autumn season has arrived, dog owners will find that morning and evening walks are often done in the dark and, sometimes as the weather gets colder, walking your dog will not have the same appeal.
It’s important to keep up with exercise – not just physically but to stimulate your dog’s mind. Once the clocks go back, it’s lighter earlier so if possible get up an hour earlier and take the dog’s main walk before your day begins. If you’re around during the day, you could go for several shorter walks. Be careful letting your dog off the leash when dark – only do so if you have a great recall and are comfortable with your surroundings. If in doubt keep the dog on a lead.
Don’t forget, with the cold weather it’s important that you give your dog a chance to warm up their muscles as they can be damaged, so not letting them go straight into a sprint would help. If the weather does put you off of walking your dog there are plenty of stimulating mind games that can drain some energy. Also, feed your dog differently for one meal out of the day and use a toy that can be stuffed so as to accomodate the meal – this way the dog will have to work for it.
Playing retrieving games in the garden and games in the home such as hiding a favourite toy or a game of hide-and-seek are also good.
It’s ‘safety first’ when walking in the dark. Stick to well lit areas if there is no pavement and walk facing oncoming traffic. Take a torch with you, especially in rural areas, as it will not only help you see but will also be seen by other road users. Take a phone for emergencies, remembering not to talk on it or get distracted and refrain from wearing headphones.
There are lots of products to keep you both visible – high viz jackets, leads and collars which flash, making it easy to keep an eye on your dog. Wrap up as the weather gets cold – you and your dog – especially toy or thin coated dogs and always towel your pet dry after walking in wet weather – paying attention to the underbelly and armpits.