Recently in the news, Lady Gaga’s dog walker was attacked and shot while walking her two French bulldogs in Hollywood resulting in both dogs being stolen. However, the dogs have since been returned, and the dog walker is recovering from his injuries. This story really scared me and my friends at doggy daycare. What if someone tried to attack my mom, Tonya, and me, THE Original Hipster Hound, Rex, as we were out for a walk!? It got all of us thinking, so we wanted to share some safety tips with humans to make sure that they can keep their dogs and themselves safe while out walking!
Train Your Dog How to Walk
First things first: you should never take your dog for a walk if you have not trained him how to properly walk on leash. Practicing proper walking safety can not only reduce the risks associated with walking your dog, but it will also help both human and dog feel more confident about going on walks. Training will create safer situations. A dog that is pulling, not listening, or yapping can distract you from potential dangers. However, a dog that walks well on a leash, listens to commands, and follows your lead will allow you to concentrate on your surroundings to better survey any potential threats.
Increase Your Visibility
You always want you and your pooch to be visible to drivers and cyclists in the day and especially at night. Stick to well-lit sidewalks and pathways when possible. If not, some people carry a flashlight with them at night when walking their dogs, but to free up your hand, you could even wear a headlamp. Both your vision and leash grip will be improved with a headlamp.
In terms of your clothing, avoid wearing anything too dark, and consider adding things to your outfit or to your dog to help you stick out:
- Reflective gear: reflective vests, reflective wrist and leg bands, reflective collar (like Lupine High Lights Reflective from The Hipster Hound) and leash, reflective dog tags
- Light-up leash and collar The Hipster Hound sells LED, rechargeable light up collars!
- Light-up shoes
- Wearable lights that attach to your dog's collar/harness
- Bracelets and necklaces made out of neon lights
Observe Traffic Conditions
Even with plenty of light and reflective clothing, you need to exercise extreme caution when it comes to traffic. Keep an eye on approaching cars and be ready to move out of the way because you have to assume that drivers aren't paying attention to you and your pup. Never walk in the street, and while walking on the sidewalk next to a street, be sure to walk against oncoming traffic instead of moving with it, so you can see cars coming toward you down the road.
Beware of Encountering Predators
One of the scariest things about walking alone or at night is the potential of running into a predator. Depending on where you live or are travelling to, potential dangers might include coyotes, wolves, mountain lions, or even bears.
But then, there is also a risk of running into people who are up to no good. If possible, use the buddy system and bring a friend or family member along on your walk. If your dog is large enough to be intimidating, you might feel that he's enough to fend off any potential attackers, but keep in mind that, as his human and protector, it's actually your job to protect him. Consider any potential predators you might run into and how to best defend yourself and your dog from an attack. Arm yourself accordingly, such as carrying a can of pepper spray, for example.
Furthermore, if you find yourself needing to defend yourself against an attacker, running away may no longer be an option. Make as much noise as possible to draw as much attention to the situation, and hopefully other walkers will come to assist, if the attacker hasn't already fled. As taught in many self-defense classes, go for the weak spots on your attacker: throat, eyes, genitals, and knees.
The Hipster Hound recommends that anyone who is worried about their safety against predators should take a professional self-defense class to learn some effective ways to defend yourself. This formal instruction will give you confidence to walk safely, yet educated with your furry best friend!
Rex, The Original Hipster Hound