July is Pet Safety Month. As someone who has been in and out of the veterinary emergency rooms on many occasions, it’s an important one in the DOGthusiast household! When you are getting fit, or staying fit, you’re often out walking your dog or jogging with your dog. Being safe while doing so is incredibly important, because getting out and doing things often involves a bit more risk than sitting at home on the couch. You’re around cars, strangers, or out in nature – all of this cam potentially increase the odds of something happening.
So it’s always important to do what we can to remain safe while still enjoying life and staying in shape. Have an active dog who likes to dash around at high rates of speed? Keeping them safe might be a bit more of a challenge!
Walking dogs at night. Not always a walk in the park!
One of the things I noticed when living in San Francisco was how dangerous it could be while taking my dogs out at night. We lived out on the avenues where there were many road crossings on hills, and ones where cars loved to drive right up onto sidewalks without looking for pedestrians. I discovered the importance and usefulness of reflective and lighted dog products, and managed to at least increase our safety a bit (I never stopped being hyper vigilant though!)
Tips for keeping safe, particularly at night
We’ll get into some of the reflective and lit options in the next section, but first a few safety tips for when you hit the road after dark.
- Learn your route. Make sure you’re aware of particularly unsafe corners or areas, such as a driveway for a complex that often has drivers crossing the sidewalk. Blind corners, or crosswalks that drivers don’t yield to are other spots to be cognizant of. If you are well aware of particularly dangerous spots on a regular route, and can be extra careful around them, you are much safer overall.
- Teach your dog some basic safety cues. “Wait” is a great one, especially if you can ask your dog to wait from behind, in a busy area, or while moving and he or she will stop immediately. This is excellent for when your dog is out in front of you, you see a car approaching, and you need your dog to stop right away. Other cues would include a sit, such as before you cross a street, or teaching your dog to stay by your side while jogging. Personally I do not mind having my dog out in front, as it allows me to keep an eye on him at all times and I can give cues on what to do as appropriate (move left, move right, wait, don’t eat that random food lying on the street, and so on).
- Use your ears. You don’t want to take the MP3 player along for the jog if you’re heading out at night. Your ears are your best ally for hearing approaching cars, people in the vicinity, or even the jangling of a set of dog tags that don’t belong to your own dog. You also reduce the chance of being distracted by a great song. Your senses and lack of distraction are your best friend when walking your dog at any hour.
I now live in a neighborhood with much less traffic, but I still get out the reflective gear at night, and follow the tips above. I wrote about some of the things I use in this post on DOGthusiast, and will highlight a couple new things that I happen to make myself below (as part of Stylish Canine) and a few other things I’ve noticed that look great too.
Reflective dog safety vests
One of the most important items for walking a dog at night while keeping yourself safe is to dress in bright clothing with reflective elements. This goes for both the human and the dog. So a reflective vest is a great way to increase your dog’s visibility at night, and even during the day if you choose a bright color.
Recently Freddie’s human from the Walking With Freddie blog was looking for a vest that could help Freddie’s visibility while they went for hikes in the woods. So Freddie got a bright orange vest that has reflective material with their blog URL featured on the side of the vest. Look how dashing (and bright!) he looks in it!
You can learn more and see some more photos at the Walking With Freddie blog post about their first venture out in the vest. And make sure to follow Freddie and Heather’s adventures by subscribing to their blog. It’s one of my favorites with wonderful photos and observations about life and health (and dogs, of course).
Click here to view the reflective dog safety vest product listing at Stylish Canine and see some additional photos! These vests can be customized with text of your choosing, such as your dog’s name or a fun phrase, something practical like “Therapy Dog” or “Working dog”, or you can opt for something else like a giant star or thunderbolt on the side in reflective material. Don’t see what you want? Need a different, custom size? Simply message me and we can customize the vest further. I have many other colors and fabrics on hand in various materials, sizes, styles and quantities, and make the graphics myself.
Extra wide reflective collars
I came across some extra wide reflective material, and was so happy to learn that it is extremely bright when light hits it at night. So I made it into an extra-wide dog collar. This collar is so bright you can see it from a pretty significant distance. Coupled with a dark night and even a dark dog, a car will be alerted of your presence from quite a ways away.
The collars are 1.5 inches wide, and come in a variety of sizes. Click here for the product listing, which contains more photos too.
What about dog harnesses?
Dog harnesses are a fantastic way to keep your dog safe, as they are difficult to pop out of (assuming it’s sized correctly, and a style that works well with your dog’s physique). You might couple them with a lighted or reflective product, or there are ones that can also make your dog visible all on their own. A few options we’ve seen or heard about are:
- The Ruffwear Web Master Harness. This harness offers some reflective elements sewn in, and is a highly regarded harness in terms of quality.
- The Orvis Reflective Harness: Love the amount of reflective material used on this harness. Coupled with the extra-wide dog collar above, your dog will greatly increase his visibility at night.
- EzyDog Convert harness: Offers a reflective strip across the front, along with many other features such as a handle. A great option if you want a lot of control over your dog.
Be stylish and safe at the same time
It’s not hard to improve your safety while exercising with your dog after dark. Simply take some steps to be alert and smart when on the street, and make sure that you and your dog are highly visible to cars on the road.