In winter, dog owners are often out and about with their dogs before dawn and until after dark. To ensure that the walk remains safe even in the dark, a few precautionary measures are recommended.
The good news is that dogs can easily find their way around in low light. As is well known, they orientate themselves very strongly via their sense of hearing and smell and are therefore less dependent on their sense of sight. In addition, their eyes are better adapted to low light conditions, as their wild ancestors hunted at dusk. The bad news: humans don’t see well in the dark. Dog owners quickly lose sight of their darling, car drivers overlook the dog and the leash becomes a tripping hazard for cyclists. Wherever there is traffic, the following applies: make it visible!
There is no shortage of commercially available accessories for this purpose. There are basically two different types: Reflectors only reflect the existing light and are therefore useful where there are light sources such as street lamps and car headlights. The offer ranges from collars and harnesses to leashes and fluorescent vests. A trip to the sports shop can also be worthwhile, as some of the reflective tapes designed for joggers and cyclists are just as suitable for dogs. In contrast to reflectors, battery-powered accessories shine anytime, anywhere – as long as the batteries don’t run out. The right lighting not only prevents accidents, but also avoids moments of shock for joggers and cyclists, as they can see the dog and, if possible, the leash from afar. In addition, the owner can also monitor his four-legged friend when he is running free.
Special care should be taken around public holidays as fireworks can cause panic
Little research has been done on whether flashing lights irritate dogs. Owners report good experiences, but one or the other will feel disturbed by the nervous blinking. Which brings us to humans. Its visibility is just as important as that of the dog. In addition to fluorescent vests and reflective bands, headlamps are particularly practical because your hands remain free.
Whether the dog is allowed to run free in the dark depends on the environment the character (especially the hunting instinct) and the upbringing of the animal. Flexible lines are not advisable as they are practically invisible and thus become dangerous obstacles. On roads, the dog should walk on the side away from traffic. And when you’re running free around New Year’s Eve or on August 1st, you have to be particularly careful: firecrackers can trigger panic behavior. Dogs are not naturally afraid of the dark itself. But your owners might. This is precisely why it is advisable to walk puppies out at night so that they can get used to any insecurities that people may have.
What to consider
There is a wide range of lighting products, with flashing pendants and collars being particularly popular. Before you buy, there are a few things to check:
- Disposable batteries or rechargeable batteries?
- How long do the batteries or rechargeable batteries last?
- How easy are the batteries to change?
- How is the lighting attached to the dog?
- Does it hold up well and can it be removed quickly?
- Is the lighting rain and snowproof?
- Does the lighting remain visible even in the coat of a long-haired dog?
- Flashing light or permanent light or switchable?