At this time of year it can be difficult, for many of us, not to walk our dogs in the hours of darkness. This can make ‘walkies’ that are usually good fun seem a little secluded and lonely. Staying safe when out and about is a matter of being seen and keeping alert and, while your faithful friend might protect you if you were threatened, most soft, loveable pets are more likely to lick a perpetrator then growl at them, so here are some guidelines to help keep you safe until it’s a bit brighter:
• Tell somebody where you’re going: text or leave a note giving your route, the time you set off and when you expect to get home. If you can, stick to routes with good phone reception, just in case it’s needed.
• Walking can be relaxing, but keep your wits about you. Headphones can block the sound of oncoming traffic or an approach from behind and are easy to grab. Hoods restrict peripheral vision, so hats are better.
• Be safe, be seen. In poor light, fluorescent clothing/lighting, LED dog collars and fluorescent strips make it clear to drivers that you’re a dog walker.
• Most dog owners get to know other local dog owners and setting up a walking group can be both fun and useful, especially if you live alone or in a rural area, as routes can get very isolated in the colder months.
• Don’t assume a boisterous dog is safe off its lead. If your dog is unpredictable around other dogs, don’t assume that because it’s early you’re the only ones about. A classic long lead will give your dog some freedom and bring him in if any other dogs come in sight.
Sadly, there have been reports of ‘spiked’ food being left in popular dog walking spots. Although, luckily, there have been no reports in this area, if you spot anything suspicious, report it to the police and the RSPCA. If you can, try to alert other dog walkers too.
For more information about walking alone (or working alone if you’re a professional dog walker), see Suzy Lamplugh Trust – Personal Safety and for any advice on the health or behaviour of your pets, please give us a call on 01453 752555.