Walking in the dark
With the clocks changing we ae possibly faced with a new dog problem. Fear of the dark
There's 2 sides to walking in the dark. The dogs and the humans.
You might be one of those people that’s lucky and doesn’t mind the dark. Depending on your location a walk at night may mean you have the owls for company or you may have the luxury of street lights to guide you.
It can be very unnerving to help your dog get in their first or last walk of the day in the dark. We might be jumpy and try and get it done quick. This can rub off on your dog and make them scared too. It doesn’t make training any easier.
Dogs can see better than humans in the dark, they say we still have much to research when it comes to a dogs vision but what we do know is they don’t see in true colour like us.
They do have bigger pupils which help them see better in the dark but also have, tapetum lucidum is the reflective tissue beneath the retina. This is the thing that makes their eye reflect in the dark making them look like a devil dog. But it serves as a mirror that allows more light in to the eye.
As much as they may see better than us, I will never forget my poor little Moona as a puppy being terrified in the dark, I don’t think she had experienced it much before coming to us.
It changes prospective and if already nervous can really make some dogs even more anxious on walks.
Then add this time of year when you may have been caught out by a random firework noise and had a fright.
Using lights and head torches, dogs with coats and flashing collars can actually start another problem.
Side note - Shadow chasing – when your dog starts obsessively following reflections and light. If you have noticed your dog doing this I would cease walking in the dark if you can help it. As these behaviors are super hard to break.
So if you have become scared in the dark how can you help yourself and your dog:
Gear up – your self and your dog.
Head torch are great for hands free. Reflective wear always useful.
Wrap up it maybe colder than you think. 2 Pairs of trousers is always my tip.
Dogs – light up collars. Don’t put them on flash! That may well be very frustrating for them.
Reflective collars, coats and leads.
Know your route
Don’t go exploring in the dark. You might just get yourself lost. Use a routine your used too which will help keep you confident.
Tell someone where you plan on going and when you will be back. Hexham is reasonably safe but still no harm in it. Or have a tracker on your phone with someone else. Or have a tracker on the dog
Off lead – with caution
Especially if your dog is a bit spooky in the dark. Its just not worth letting them off if you are unsure. They could be away hunting before you know what’s going on, making for a scary night. Likewise dogs can be more reactive in the dark so best keep them safe by being attached.
Training and onlead play to help soften the mood and build engagement when out.
Dogs that ae already of a nervous disposition can find the dark extra hard. Shadows and shapes they don’t understand. Movement and reflective light making it all a bit harder than usual.
Reward high, stay in as much streetlight as possible and create a pattern of walking that makes a routine they can adjust too. Same routine can create safety for your pup.
If you like to listen to music or a podcast while walking it can help break the silence but I would encourage having at least on ear free to listen for potential dangers.
Some else out there that can come with you? Another dog walker, a friend that needs out, chat time? Drag a family member – they might even like it.
Or join one of our Dark walks in Hexham!
o These walks have been put together with all this in mind.
o Don’t be on your own, making a difficult task a little easier
o Learn how to manage your dog
o Advice on how to help your dog
o Hexham at night is quite pretty.
o Walking town when its quieter can help you and you dog acclimatize.