Running with your dog is a great way to bond and work on your fitness together. Daylight runs are optimal for many reasons, but if you’re like me, you struggle to find enough hours in the day (especially in the winter).

But before you go out on your first nighttime jog with Fido, there are some things you need to know about running with a dog at night.

Pros to Running with a Dog at Night

  • With late work schedules and other activities, it can be hard to fit a run into your day. For those of us who occasionally indulge in a post-sunset run, dogs (especially big, powerful breeds) can offer much-needed protection. It’s true that having dogs isn’t a safety guarantee, but it will certainly deter people from bothering you.
  • If you live in a hot climate, running at night can also be helpful for you and your dog. You’ll enjoy cooler running temperatures, less sweating (you) and less panting (Fido).

Cons to Running with Pooch in the Dark

  • It’s night. It’s dark. And this can cause a few problems. First, it’s difficult to see other people and dogs that may be walking towards you. If you have a reactive dog, this could get you into trouble. It is also hard for vehicles to see you and your dogs, so you’ll have to take extra precautions to be seen – or risk getting hit.
  • You’ll also have to balance keeping your eyes on the dog while also looking out for your own safety – cars, bumps or cracks in the sidewalk and overgrown tree roots are all harder to see at night. Believe me, I once was watching my dogs on a dusk run and ended up spraining an ankle because I did not anticipate a large pebble on the sidewalk.

Tips for Running with Dogs at Night

Although there are a few inherent risks to running with your dog at night, there are also ways you can avoid disaster.

  • Buy a light source for both you and your dog. For humans, I suggest a bright headlamp made for runners and hikers – this not only alerts cars and other pedestrians that you are coming, it also helps you see the road ahead. There is a variety of dog running gear made for nighttime use – light clips that you attach to his collar, leashes and collars with lighting components and lighted/reflective vests.
  • Keep an eye on your dog and surroundings, but also keep an eye on the ground. You’ll want to constantly scan the ground for cracks and bumps, but you’ll also want to make sure there are no approaching people, animals or cars. It’s helpful to run a route that you know well – your feet have muscle memory and you’re less likely to trip or fall on your home turf.
  • Stay in well-lit areas if possible.
  • Stay away from traffic, if possible.
  • Be mindful of your dog’s age and physical fitness level and do not push them to do anything they do not want. Not all dogs are fit to run long distances, for instance. Find the pooch that fits your lifestyle.

Also check out 3 Things My Dogs Taught Me About Running. Happy running!