Autumn and winter in the UK see the temperatures drop and the days get shorter, meaning your daily dog walks are more likely to take place in the dark and in the rain. Take a look at our top tips below for keeping you and your dog safe and warm during the autumn and winter months.
1. Be visible on walkies
Make sure both you and your pooch are visible to other walkers and cars, as well as each other. A reflective collar, lead or coat will make sure your dog is warm and easily seen, while wearing bright and reflective clothing yourself will ensure you can both be spotted.
Shine even brighter with LED collars and leads which will make you and your pet impossible to miss! They’re especially useful in wide open spaces that aren’t typically lit, though we’d recommend avoiding these areas if dark or walking alone for both you and your pooch’s safety.
Keeping your dog on a shorter lead will keep them in sight and safe from any dangers that you might not be able to see.
2. Take a torch
Carrying a small torch in your pocket or using your phone’s torch app means you’re always prepared for navigating uneven surfaces or potential hazards - as well as making it easy to spot where they’ve gone to the toilet! Be sure to check the batteries work before you set off - or that your phone is well charged - before heading out.
3. Know your route
Plan your dog-walking route before you go, sticking to roads that are well lit by street lights that are used by other people, rather than dark, bumpy, isolated pathways. Not only is it easier to see for both you and your dog, but it means should you need any help or feel unsafe at any point, there are people nearby to turn to.
Only take your dog on walks you are familiar with and save exploring new routes for the daylight so you can see where you’re going, who is around you and any tripping hazards to avoid!
If your route takes you onto any country roads, always walk towards oncoming traffic. This means you will be able to see any oncoming cars and they can see you, giving plenty of time to move or stop and wait until they’ve passed should you need to.
You should always be aware of what’s going on around you when out and about, but it can be more difficult to do so in the darkness of the early morning or evening.
If you’ve got your headphones, whether you’re bopping to your favourite playlist or catching up on the latest podcast, make sure the volume isn’t too loud - just so you can listen out for oncoming traffic and people close by.
Be aware of who is around you and use your common sense to walk around places you feel safe. Dog walks are a great time to catch up with friends or family whilst getting some steps in, so why not try meeting up and keeping each other company?
5. Avoid frozen lakes and rivers
The blankets of frost that coat the UK during our colder months can be so enchanting, with many tempted to wander out onto the glistening layer of ice that forms over lakes and rivers. As picture-perfect as they seem, they are deceptively dangerous for everyone involved - you and your four-legged friends!
Without knowing the thickness and stability of the ice, cold water shock, drowning and hypothermia are all risks involved with stepping out onto frozen bodies of water. Keep your dog on a short lead if you think they may be tempted to explore the ice.
Make sure you’re both wrapped up nice and warm when facing colder conditions, especially if your canine companion is short haired.
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