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Dog Time: Be safe on night walks

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Night walk dangers ranging from impaired drivers to stray animals put you and your dog at risk. Protect you and your pooch by being visible, using familiar paths, and staying alert.

Visibility – You and your dog are invisible at night. Stand out by wearing light-color clothing or safety gear. You and your dog benefit from reflective vests, light-emitting accessories, and identity tags with emergency phone numbers. Carry a flashlight and look for LED lights designed to clip on dog harnesses or collars. These dog flashlights not only make your dog more visible, they help your dog see better in dark places. Older dogs are vulnerable to night vision problems.

Paths – Walk on well-lighted neighborhood sidewalks when possible. Always stay in familiar territory so that you can reach a safe zone in case of accident or assault. Keep your dog on leash and a tight grip on the leash. If your unleashed dog is spooked by sudden noise or movement, he can bolt away and be lost in seconds.

Alert – Watch for erratic drivers and bicyclists. If you cross the street, wait until all traffic is clear. Even if you have the right of way, night drivers may focus on another object and not see you and your dog. Avoid shadows that conceal people or animals waiting in ambush.

Tips – Use your flashlight when picking up dog poop. Vipers such as rattlesnakes and cottonmouths are nocturnal hunters and may strike at your hand in the dark. And leave your headphones at home. You need your ears and eyes for night walking. The best walk keeps you and your dog in good spirits with a happy home ending.

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