Walking Your Dog in the Dark: Tips to Stay Safe

Now that we have had the autumnal equinox this morning, the days will be getting even shorter.  And with Daylight Saving ending on November 4, there will be even more darkness for you to walk your pet in.  Sunday morning the sunrise in Atlanta is at 7:45am, so you are likely walking your dog in the dark in the morning.   Here are a few reminders for things to be aware of when walking your dog in the dark.Image

   Wear reflective or light colored clothes.  You want to make sure others, especially drivers see you.  A reflective vest may be a good investment.  If most of your jackets are darker, slipping that vest over it is easier than buying a new, light colored coat. There are reflective jackets for pets too.  Plus there are a lot Imageof lighted leashes and collars.  These all work, but You’ll have to decide if your dog will wear the vest.

   I’m not a big fan of the retractable leashes at any time, but especially at night.  A car may see you, Imagebut if the dog is at the end of the leash, they may not see the dog.  A sitter in Phoenix was walking a dog at night in one of those situations.  The driver was looking out for the person and didn’t see the dog and hit it.  If you do use one of those leashes, you may want to use a collar that has reflective material on it.

Even if the area you walk your dog in is well-lit, you should carry a flashlight.  It’s easy to find a small, light flashlight that has a cord on it for you to loop around your wrist.  Not only will it help you see where you are going, you can make sure your dog is not doing something he shouldn’t.  Also, if a car approaches you, you can shine the light on the dog, to help the driver to see it.

Take your cellphone with you in case something happens, but don’t use it unless necessary.  It can be tempting to get on and check all the overnight emails and news, but you need to keep your focus on your dog when it’s dark.  There is a flashlight app for smart phones, but they tax the battery and a hand will have to be tied up holding the phone and your other phone will have the leash.  With the loop on the flashlight you won’t drop it if you need both of your hands for some reason.

Don’t wear headphones, for the same reasons as above.  Plus, you need to be listening for things because you may not be able to see them.  You may not see another dog out being walked and you may get to close to each other before you realize what has happened if you are distracted by headphones.

As I mentioned in my dog walking kit blog entry, it’s a good idea to carry a boat horn with you to scare off dogs that approach you and your dog.  Depending on the make up of your neighborhood, you may run into wild animals like a coyote.  A good  blast of the horn should send the animal on a quick retreat.

Fetch! Pet Care of NW Atlanta provides pet sitting, dog walking and cat care services for Roswell, East Cobb, Woodstock and Kennesaw, GA.  You can follow us on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/fetchnwatlanta/.


Fall Festivals and Fun For All, Even the Dog

Football and cooler weather aren’t the only great things about autumn.  Many communities hold festivals to provide family fun, build spirit, raise money and promote local businesses.

Many of these festivals invite pets and the Taste of Acworth on October 13 even has a pet show as part of the fun.  These events may seem a great opportunity to include the dog in the outing, but unless the dog is advanced socially, the fun can be spoiled.

In order to make sure the day is fun for all involved, here are some things to remember even if you’ve taken your dog to many of these things before.    You want to make sure your dog has been fed before you leave.  You will want to take your own water supply and travel bowl.  Some of the pet oriented vendors will likely have bowls at their booth for this purpose, but you will want to make sure the dog stays hydrated.  If you are going to take it to many of these things, you may want to buy a backpack for it.  That’s a great place to put water bottles, the bowl and some food or treats.  It may also serve to make him feel more secure with the pack around him.

Take care not to spend too much time on the asphalt.  Remember that even if the air temperature might not be as hot as a month ago, the asphalt will heat up much faster and cause them discomfort.  Give them a break off the asphalt in the grass or if there is no grass, spend some time in the shade.  If there are other dogs at a group water bowl, you may want to wait until those dogs finish before you let your dog drink.  Strange dogs can get territorial and react if they feel threatened.

If you are taking a dog that’s not used to being in a social situation be sure and watch it carefully.  While most of the people are having fun, the activity, the heat and the noise can create stress in your pet.  Signs of anxiety include pacing, drooling, slumped body posture and its tail is down.  Acclimate it to the situation by hanging around the edges of the crowd instead of going straight in.  Also if your dog seems a little nervous, you may want to keep others away from it, especially children.  When a dog is anxious it is more likely to become agitated and could bite if it feels threatened.  You may not want to plan on a long stay for your first few times taking a dog to one of these festivals.  If it seems fine, great enjoy the day. 

If it doesn’t seem fine, you may have to cut your day short and take it home.

This weekend there’s a big event in Cobb County, with the East Cobber Parade and Festival.  I’ll be there at the East Cobb Business Association booth and I’ll be stopping by the booth of my friends at Dog School 101.  If you’re looking for some other pet-friendly events around Roswell and Cobb County, I have a list on the Fetch! Pet Care of NW Atlanta Facebook page.  I’ll be at most of these events.  Stop by and say hey and I may have something special for your dog and for you!

Fetch! Pet Care of NW Atlanta provides pet sitting, dog walking and cat care services for Roswell, East Cobb, Woodstock and Kennesaw, GA.  You can follow us on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/fetchnwatlanta/. I’ll have pictures from Saturday posted on Pinterest and Facebook by Saturday afternoon.