Tips for Staying Safe Walking your Dog at Night

As I write this post, there is another fall storm blowing up here in Northwest Washington. The wind is projected to gust over 60 miles per hour and the rain will come in buckets.

I’m out in this storm, and as I drive along city streets– an activity I’m no longer accustomed to, having recently moved from a rural region with just three stoplights in the whole county– I found it nearly impossible to see pedestrians walking across roads on this blustery night.

We're nearly invisible

Without reflective clothing or at least bright clothes, Wil and I present a “Where’s Waldo” challenge for drivers. (Can YOU see us?)

Can you find us in the photo above?

Can you find us in the photo above?

 

There is not much time to walk your dog during daylight hours this time of year.  It’s pitch dark by 5 p.m.. Many mornings of late have been foggy and icy.

There was a study done recently that found that bicyclists believe they are more visible than drivers find them to be. I suppose it’s the “I know where I am” concept that makes us feel that “if I know where I am, then so does everyone else.” Like bicyclists, you and your dog are not as visible as you probably think you are. When walking your dog at night, light yourselves up! You stand a much better chance of being seen.

Here are some ways you can make those walks in the dark a lot safer for you, your dog, and the road warriors around you:

When I walk my dogs at night, I always walk so that I face traffic and have both dogs at heel on my left side. That way I can see a car coming and if need be, lead them onto someone’s lawn or into the bushes.

We're still a little too darkly clad. Lighter colors make for safer nighttime walks

This is not the best coat for the dark, still red with a few reflective designs beats a black fuzzy dog

Because my dogs are black and fuzzy, they do not show up in the dark. This is great when they’re spying on coyotes, but it is a liability for us when they’re in “civilization”. Because I know they are virtually invisible, I have them on a leash at all times when it’s dark and we’re anywhere near a road. A short walking leash is ideal for such outings.

I shared this vest in the post entitled, Soggy Doggie Solution: Raincoats for Dogs for use in the rain. Alice’s light green would be a better choice for nighttime walks, but even Wil’s shows up better than he does alone.

  You might consider also wearing a reflective vest. If not a vest, then be sure to wear light colors that will present your visage to drivers. These “matching vests” are pretty cool. They’d work better on short haired dogs though. With a coat like a Bouvier’s they’d be lost in fur. They come in different sizes and can be set to different colors. Check them out!

I have taken to putting blinking lights on Alice even when she’s in the back yard because she is now both deaf and mostly blind. This way I can spot her easily. This little light would be terrific for showing on-coming traffic that there is a dog on the sidewalk or on the edge of the road.

   

An alternative to the light is an LED collar and/ or leash:

Years ago when I used to pack my horses in the high country, I always packed a headlamp. This was a hands-free light that allowed me to take care of my horses and do other tasks after the sun had set. Headlamps lighter and less bulky today than they were in those days. Technology has also improved upon the luminosity of the bulbs.

Here are some of my top picks. These headlamps are listed from least to most expensive:

      • White LED with 105-lumen light output
      • 90-meter beam length
      • 187 hours burn time in economy mode and 95 hours in brightest mode
      • 3 white-light modes: economic, high-brightness, strobe
      • 4 settings: High beam, low beam, red beam & red flashing.
      • Uses 3 AAA batteries (included)
      • Bulb lasts up to 100000 hours
      • Water and shock resistant (rated IPX5)
    •  100 lumens
    • Uses just one AA battery
    • Red light for reading
    • Waterproof is a IPx6 rating level
    • 2.5 ounces
  • 4 dimmer settings: High (168 lumens), Medium (75 lumens), Low (10 lumens), Strobe SOS in morse code.
  • White led and red led are controlled by separate push buttons
  • Uses 3 AAA batteries (included)
  • Waterproof for up to 30 minutes at a depth of 36in.

For tools that require batteries, I’ve found it very helpful to have a ready-to-go set on hand. This charger comes with AA and AAA batteries:

Specifications:
Input: AC 100V~240V 50HZ/60HZ
Output: 12V DC 2A
Rated Charging Current (Normal Charging): AA: 500mA; AAA: 250mA.
discharging current: 200~300mA
Applicable battery type: AA/AAA NiMH/NiCd rechargeable batteries
Product Weight: 14.5oz (charger only)
Product Size: 12 x 4.1 x 1.2 in

Remember to be careful out there and never assume the dude behind the wheel sees you!

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