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How to Have Safe Outdoor Fun With Your Dog at Night: 10 Vet-Approved Tips

Written by: Chris Dinesen Rogers

Last Updated on April 17, 2024 by Dogster Team

Woman go out with her dog in city at night

How to Have Safe Outdoor Fun With Your Dog at Night: 10 Vet-Approved Tips


Dr. Chyrle Bonk Photo


Dr. Chyrle Bonk

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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You don’t have to limit having fun with your dog to daylight hours; you can have just as enjoyable a time at night. Of course, there’s some additional safety factors you’ll want to consider that makes planning your outing essential. That means a bit more prep, but it’s nothing to keep you and your pet from going outside at night.

Below, you’ll find plenty of safety tips and enrichment options for taking your dog out at night, whether it’s because your dog does better when fewer dogs are out or if that’s the only time you’re able to get them out for some fresh air.

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Before You Begin

Traffic and wildlife are the main risks of being outdoors at night. That makes teaching your pup a recall command imperative. Your dog will likely spot things they don’t encounter during the day, and a pooch with a strong prey drive may likely pursue animals they may see on your outings. Therefore, they must have the recall command down pat 100% of the time, all while putting other safety measures into place. Check them out below.

The 10 Tips to Have Safe Outdoor Fun With Your Dog at Night

1. Ensure Your Dog Is Up to Date on Vaccines and Is Microchipped

Since you and your dog may be more likely to encounter wildlife at night, it’s crucial to ensure your dog is up to date on all their vaccines. On top of that, if your dog doesn’t have a microchip, ensure they get one in case they get spooked and run off or decide to chase after a raccoon. If they already have one, make sure that your contact information is up to date.

vet microchipping a beagle dog
Image Credit: LightField Studios, Shutterstock

2. Make Sure You’re Visible, Too!

Visibility doesn’t stop with your dog. You must also make yourself discernible at night. A coat and hat with reflective material can ensure you’re seen. We prefer garments with reflective tape on the front and back to cover all your bases. Opt for light-colored gear over dark-colors. We recommend having a flashlight with you as well.

3. Outfit Your Pup With Reflective Gear

Get your dog some reflective gear before going out at night. Swap out their regular collar and leash for ones that make your pet clearly visible to those who may be driving at night. The wider the reflective tape, the better. It can get pretty dark when it’s cloudy on a moonless night, so we suggest testing its visibility before taking your dog outdoors to ensure it does a good job.

Silhouette of dog on leash wearing LED-light collar against beautiful sunset sky
Image Credit: alexei_tm, Shutterstock

4. Know the Leash Rules if You’re Visiting a Park or Pet-Friendly Area

Many parks and other pet-friendly areas require you to have a leash with you, and many also discourage the use of retractable leashes. Be sure that you know if your dog needs to remain leashed or not and if they have any leashes that they don’t allow, such as retractable leashes (they don’t offer as much control).

5. Get a Walking Buddy

Safety exists in numbers. Therefore, we suggest finding a walking buddy to accompany you and your pet at night. It’s two more sets of eyes for people and wildlife on the trail. Remember that dogs can read our emotions better than you may realize. If you’re feeling uneasy, your pup will know it. You may find having someone else with you quells any fears you have while outdoors in the dark. Better yet, a walking buddy can motivate you to keep up with your exercise routine to help you and your dog stay in shape!

Silhouetted View of People Walking a Dog on a Hill against a Sky at Sunset
Image Credit: 1000 Words, Shutterstock

6. Keep Your Smartphone With You

We strongly urge you to take your smartphone with you on your nighttime adventures with your pet. It can be helpful in many ways, even if it’s just to take pictures of anything cool you see. It can double as a flashlight, or if the weather takes a sudden turn, you can always call home for a ride.

7. Visit the Dog Park

A safe way to add after-hours activities to your pet’s lifestyle is to go to a dog park at night. Many facilities have lighted paths to make it easier to navigate after dusk, but we suggest checking the hours of any nearby parks to ensure that you’re actually allowed to go to them. Some areas have specific places for small and large breeds, but they may also have other rules or charge a fee for this service. This is especially ideal for dogs that love the dog park but do better when it isn’t packed with so many canine friends.

We recommend touring any doggie park you want to visit during the day before your first nighttime excursion. Learn where the entrances and trailheads are located. Some parks provide water or waste bags, so check out where those are as well. It’s also a good time to connect with other pet owners using the facility about its safety and other helpful things to know upfront.

Young girl is walking with her dog on a retractable leash on asphalt sidewalk
Image Credit: Yolya Ilyasova, Shutterstock

8. Go on a Night Hike

Night hikes are a fun way to enjoy the dark with the whole family. We suggest finding a paved or limestone path for your adventure. Remember that wildlife is also active at this time. Therefore, you should make your presence known to scavenging critters by making noise while walking. It’ll scare away opossums and raccoons that would rather avoid contact with people. We recommend bringing pepper spray with you if there are more dangerous animals where you live, such as coyotes or bears.

9. Find Pet-Friendly Campgrounds

Camping is one of the most enjoyable ways to have safe outdoor fun with your dog. It’s an excellent time to bond with your pet, and being in nature can reduce work stress and make you feel more relaxed. Again, your pup will notice the change in your mood so that you both can bask in some welcome peace and calm away from city life.

woman in the mountains observing beautiful starry night sitting with her dog next to tent at campsite
Image Credit: anatoliy_gleb, Shutterstock

10. Stop at a Dog-Friendly Restaurant for a Snack

Stopping at a dog-friendly restaurant for a snack can make your outing more fun. It’s also an excellent way to meet new friends. However, always call ahead to ensure that they are really pet-friendly and if they have any hour restrictions for this in place.

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Final Thoughts

The fun doesn’t have to stop just because the sun goes down. Nighttime activities like walking, hiking, and camping can still be great ways to spend time with your dog. It takes some extra planning, but it’s well worth the time and effort to bond with your pet through new experiences. It can provide valuable enrichment and mental stimulation to improve your pooch’s quality of life.

Featured Image Credit: leungchopan, Shutterstock

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