Walks in autumn and winter are beautiful and fun: wrapped up warm and cozy, the dog and owner can walk through the rustling, colorful leaves or trudge through deep snow. But with the poor light conditions in the dark season, the risk of accidents also increases. Especially in free-running areas where dogs do not have to be kept on a leash. Especially smaller dogs or dogs with dark fur can be quickly overlooked by drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. Cyclists often do not recognize the dog leash in the dark and can fall over it. Therefore, the motto applies to people and animals: see and be seen.
The right equipment for humans and dogs
Autumn and winter are dangerous times for dogs. It gets dark early, rain, fog, or slush make visibility difficult and drivers are often unfocused and distracted. Therefore, with the beginning of the dark season, traffic accidents involving dogs also increase.
Experts recommend wearing special harnesses and collars with reflectors to ensure that nothing happens to the dog even when visibility is poor. A reflector line can also be useful. However, the line can only be seen when light falls on it. So if a cyclist rides without lights, the leash is not visible. “It is best to always have a flashlight or a smartphone with you when you go for a walk so that you can illuminate your dog and make others notice it,” says Anton Fichtlmeier, dog expert and author of numerous guides.
It is also important that the dog owner is visible. “A high-visibility vest makes sense,” says the expert. Even better: “People and dogs should wear similar-colored equipment so that they can be recognized as belonging together.” There are various offers for this in specialist shops. Dog owners who do not have a reflective harness can use clickable reflectors or a luminous collar or ring
in addition to the conventional harness. These should be worn freely and visible. Reflective collars alone can easily be hidden by fur.
Collars with flashing reflectors can also be irritating for dogs – especially when meeting other dogs. Safety equipment should be removed when playing with other dogs, in fenced-in dog zones, or safe, open areas so that the animals can “communicate” freely and undisturbed with one another.
In specialist shops, you can get reflective harnesses, collars, leashes as well as flashing bands and light rings for little money. You can also use light strips that are intended for cyclists and joggers and are attached to Velcro. You can occasionally get them cheaper in the supermarket. Better models are also waterproof and continue to shine even in the pouring rain.
Luminous collars not only protect dogs in traffic in the dark, but they also have the advantage that dogs are recognized earlier by joggers or other walkers, for example, and there is no shock when a dark dog suddenly appears out of nowhere.
Safe – on a leash
In addition to the right outfit, it is also important that the dog listens to its master or mistress. “But not all dogs listen to the ‘stop’ command and then immediately stand still in their place,” says Fichtlmeier. “Therefore, it is advisable to keep the dog on a leash at his side, especially in the dark season.” If the human-dog team has prepared properly, a safe and beautiful walk in autumn and winter is no longer a problem away.