As of November 1, the sun will rise at 6:36 am and set at 4:56 pm where I reside in Eastern Iowa. This gives us just 10 hours and 20 minutes of sunlight to work with each day. The disappearing sunlight presents some challenges when thinking about how to best care for our canine companions.
As a dog trainer, I can certainly get creative with enrichment activities in the winter for my dogs. I feed my dogs solely out of food puzzle toys or in training sessions. I spend more time playing indoor find-it games and training new behaviors to work their brain. I’m even fortunate enough to have a DogPacer, a canine-specific treadmill, for those incredibly nasty winter days.
Not everyone has the time or resources to fully enrich and exercise their dogs indoors though. This means that despite it being dark, Fido needs a walk. The dilemma then becomes how to remain safe while walking in the dark?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, every 88 minutes a pedestrian is hit by a car and killed. Every four minutes a pedestrian is hit by a car, and with distracted driving on the rise, it is even more critical for pedestrians and their dogs to be seen.
“Add in texting, talking, answering emails, Facebook, etc. and the statistics for distracted driving accidents become astounding,” noted Steve Triedman, owner of Corky’s Reflective Wear. “More and more people and animals are being injured and killed by distracted drivers.”
These statistics are alarming, and that is why Triedman invented the Overcollar. Corky’s Reflective gear uses 3M Scotchlite visibility tape that can be seen up to 1000 feet away. When you are looking for a simple slip-on solution, the Overcollar fits the need. This collar simply slides over your dog’s head and has a pass-through loop for you to attach your leash to your dog’s regular or training collar. This collar offers 360-degree reflective material that is wide enough to prevent it from becoming lost under a dog’s fur. Corky’s also offers jackets for both humans and canines to keep them safe and warm.
Marilyn Pianelli, founder of Headlight Harness shares, an all too familiar story.
“While out walking my dogs late one night in the summer of 2014, a black cat happened to cross our path,” she recalled. “One of my dogs, a black Terrier named Mo, managed to wiggle free from his harness and decided to give chase. We live in a dark, suburban neighborhood with poorly lit streets. Mo charged across the street and nearly was struck by an oncoming car that never saw him. Thankfully, Mo wasn’t hit by that car, but many dogs and their owners aren’t that lucky.”
That experience prompted her to create the Headlight Harness, a harness with a unique design featuring an 80 Lumen LED light as well as reflective straps. Not only does the LED light help light your path as you and your pet walk, it also helps you remain visible to automobiles passing by. The Headlight Harness is a great alternative to bulky winter jackets for those living in warm climates.
Humans need reflective gear too! Bolli.Dog has created a lightweight jacket designed specifically for active dog owners. This coat includes reflective accents and a wide variety of pockets and features designed to hold dog treats and toys. Similarly, Paikka Pet offers matching Visibility Raincoats for both humans and canines made from a material that is reflective all over when bright light hits it. In normal daylight, the coats appear black, making this a functional and stylish accessory.
With safety issues covered, there leaves room to discuss other winter specific dog products that make life just a bit easier. When snow and salt covered trails are a daily occurrence, caring for our dogs paws is important. Mushers Secret, originally developed for sled dogs, creates a breathable barrier between your dog’s paws and the surface they are walking on. This can help prevent snowballs forming between their feet, and salt from drying them out.
Whether you live in a big city or rural area, being visible while exercising your pet is important. Retailers should consider offer a wide variety of reflective gear for both humans and their canines, especially during the dark winter months.