Why doesn't my dog like walking at night?
(Q) Since Bonfire Night, my Jack Russell will not walk at night. It’s not the dark he’s afraid of, as we set off for our morning walk at 6am and he is fine, but at night he is petrified. He just pulls to come home; if I try to coax him he just backs away. I’ve tried treats, taking his favourite toys, and driving to somewhere new for a walk, all to no avail. I’m at a loss as to what to try next.
(A) Behaviourist Claire Arrowsmith says: Many sound-sensitive dogs become worried when it gets dark in the evening. They quickly associate this time of day and the darkness with the occurrence of fireworks and so their anxiety starts as the light fades. Many of these dogs refuse to go outside at all after dusk.
Dogs are very sensitive and so your Jack Russell Terrier will know the difference between night time and early morning when everything is much quieter, the scents are fresher, and the sun is rising. While he is this sensitive please do not force him to go out — act jolly and take him into the garden. Use torches to light it up as much as possible and then allow him to return. Walking him in the dark when he is fearful will only increase the chance of further fear developing.
It would be sensible to seek some advice to deal with his sensitivity to noises, as this is a clear indicator that he is struggling to cope. Your vet will be able to direct you to a qualified behaviourist and your pet insurance may cover the cost.