Before you head out the door to take your dog for a walk, read what you should be doing to stay safe when walking in the dark.

Staying safe while walking our dogs is a top priority for me, especially on the nighttime walks. I walk our dogs every evening after dinner. The summertime is wonderful; it’s warm, bright and sunny until almost 9pm. But starting October, it gets dark so early; we bundle up and walk under the light of the street lights and moonlight!

We live in a small suburban town with almost no violent crimes, but I still take every precaution I can to stay alert and safe when walking our dogs at night.

LED Dog Leash Walk

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Best products for walking your dog at night

There are many options when it comes to visibility and safety products for night time dog walking. I’ve picked out the best ones based on what I use for our dogs and what others have reviewed as being the best of the best.

1. LED Collar and Leash

I bought our LED leashes a few years ago and LOVE them! I also love our leather leashes. BUT when it comes to night time walks, I 100% recommend these LED leashes.

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I purchased ours on Amazon, sold by Illumiseen. It is rechargeable via USB connection so no worries about battery replacement. Simply charge it for one hour to enjoy at least 5 hours of illumination. It’s been almost 2 weeks since I last charged our leashes, and we walk every night for about 45 minutes.

Illumiseen also sells LED Collars and LED Necklaces which look really cool. I just haven’t seen a need for our use, as I never have our dogs off leash outside at night. But I can see this being useful for dog owners that take their dog to dog parks at dusk. Or maybe if you have a large yard or farm that you want to be able to keep track of your dog running around.

2. Dog walking safety reflective gear for you and your dog

Illumissen has recently added a LED safety vest to their store. Compared to reflective vests that only work because of car lights that shine on a reflective strip, this dog vest has LEDs that work ALL THE TIME, regardless of an external light source.

For you, check out this Illuminated, Reflective Vest. It’s marketed for runners, but would be a great tool for walking your dog in the dark.

3. Flashlight

Having a flashlight with you can help you see other dogs and people around you. And of course don’t forget the basic need to pick up your dogs poop, which can be hard to see in the dark! Did you know they make special flashlights just for walking at night? Not that you need anything other than a standard flashlight, but these options can make it a little easier to shuffle a flashlight and your dog.

Read the 5 Rules of Walking your Dog Etiquette

4. Phone

This may be obvious and I think most of us carry our phones everywhere with us anyway. But simply having your phone can be a lifesaver. And did you know that most phones have an emergency speed dial option?

5. Pepper spray or safety whistle

Honestly, I haven’t owned pepper spray since I was in college! I’ve lived in small suburban areas since, so never felt the need to carry it. But if you live in a large city, high-crime area, or it simply makes you feel safer, then please carry a small pepper spray product.

The Mace Brand makes them stylish and easy to carry. If at all possible, be careful not to spray this near your dogs face. I know in an emergency this may be the last thing you are worried about, but something to think about.

You can find all my recommended products listed in my Tools for Walking at Night with Your Dog Amazon Idea List

More Tips for Walking Your Dog at Night

So now you have all of the tools to keep you safe while walking your dog at night. Here are some extra tips to follow:

1. Take familiar route, preferably one that is lighted

Opt for a route you have taken in the daylight many times before, somewhere you easily know your way around. Walking alone in an area you don’t know can get confusing very quickly at night. The last thing you want to do is get lost at night walking your dog.

2. Be aware of your surroundings

As stated above, knowing where you are is helpful, but also be aware of other people and dogs around you. Keep your eyes wide open, always scanning your pathway. Keep a confident posture… criminals are always looking for the easy target.

3. Do NOT wear headphones

This goes with being aware of your surroundings when walking your dog at night. If you are wearing headphones, you won’t hear someone walking up behind you, or a car that may be out of control. Just enjoy the peacefulness of the night air.

4. Do NOT use a retractable leash

Okay, so I strongly advise against using retractable leashes at any time of day because they are dangerous. But they are even more so when walking your dog at night. The long black thin line is impossible to see at night, which can cause tripping, your dog getting wrapped around a post, and in general you not being able to see your dog at a distance in the dark!

5. Walk with a friend

I don’t know about you, but I was always taught “safety in numbers”. So walk with a friend, neighbor, or your spouse.

In conclusion: Your dog and safety are number one priority

Just be safe while walking your dog at night. I use the LED leashes, bring my phone, walk in the areas around my neighborhood and am always super aware of my surroundings. I use my phone as a flashlight instead of carrying a separate flashlight, so I can see when I have to pick up the dog poop.

If you live in an area that it just isn’t safe to walk at night, then it’s best to arrange your schedule so you can walk during daylight hours… even if you have to wake up earlier in the morning.

P.S. I would love to hear how you stay safe when walking your dog at night. Let me, and the Rescue Dogs 101 Community, know in the comments below.

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About the Author

Debi McKee is a mom of three kids, three dogs and the creator of Rescue Dogs 101... where she guides you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog every step of the way. She also volunteers for a local dog rescue and Humane Society.

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  1. I always bring a flashlight to pick up my dog’s poop at night. Plus I bring my cell phone. I used to walk very long distances (3 miles) with my dog at night and no one ever bothered me even though my neighborhood is not the safest. I’ve noticed that people stay away when you have a dog. When camping, I like to use an led collar so I can see where my dog is at all times.

  2. Perfect timing! My daughter and her wife just adopted their first dog. I was just trying to figure out what type of light to buy them for walking at night.

  3. I was just talking to my parents about them walking their dog at night since they’ve put a small trailer on my sister’s large farm. She was talking about how dark it was when the sun went down and that she had difficulty seeing. I’ll share these ideas with her.

  4. I like walking at night because it’s typically quieter than during the day and there are usually fewer cars and need to follow a few more of your tips. I have seen the light up collars before but the leash is definitely more appealing that way people can see that there is both me and my dog not just her.

  5. Thanks for these great tips. We just moved to the country and will DEFINITELY need a flashlight , reflective vests and maybe some pepper spray for the bears!

  6. You covered all the best safety precautions when walking your dog at night! I kept thinking of these things then POOF you had it on the list! You even had a couple I didn’t think of! Thank you – we have to be sure that we and our pets are safe!

  7. I walk Layla at about 10 everynight but we stick to main roads so am not that concerned. She wears an LED collar, I wear an armband with a flashlight on so people can see me, I carry a whistle on my key ring for emergencies. I will not take my phone with me as there has been too many people mugged for phones by just having them in their hands. When I take Layla out I live in a busy area with restaurants etc so there are always people on the sidewalk. One thing I will not do is walk down dark alleys or side streets.

  8. This is so appropriate because I have the Illumiseen leash and still I’m kind of afraid to walk my dogs at night because there’s not much of a sidewalk in our neighborhood (and coyotes). I was thinking last night as I pulled into the driveway at dusk that I should get a vest for myself to go with the leash. Nice re-cap!

  9. Some great advice. I have trouble finding reflective leashes etc that aren’t too heavy for the 3.5 pounder! Or a light that isn’t too heavy. We stick to daytime if possible and well light spaces and I wear the reflective gear. One thing though … as an emergency expert… changing your route often is actually recommended to avoid being predictable and ambushed. Don’t be a mark….

  10. I see so many people with headphones on when walking their dog and it amazes me! This is one of those times when I get to really interact with my dog. I talk to him while we’re walking. I point out things he might be interested in seeing/doing, etc. We do like to vary our walking path for more interest, but only do this during the day and only in areas we know well. One other tip if someone is walking their dog alone at night is to be sure someone knows where you’ll be walking and when you’ll be back.

  11. Good tips! Must admit, we very rarely walk at night. Our neighborhood is not well lit, and in many spots we don’t even have sidewalks, and the streets are narrow and winding, so I just don’t feel very safe from the crazy drivers around here. But since I work from home and make my own schedule, we can always manage to get out on our walks during the day.

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