Being visible in the dark is a good thing

Nov 7, 2021


Actually, dogs can see better in the dark than humans. Dogs have better vision in very low light because they have more rods - the photoreceptors in mammalian eyes that determine low light (or scotopic) vision. Cats, well known for the acuity of their night vision, have even more rods than our canine best friends.

Dogs, cats, and many other mammals also have a mirror-like tissue behind their retina called the tapetum lucidum, or “shining layer.” Responsible for that ghostly glow you sometimes see in your dog’s eyes at night, the tapetum lucidum reflects incoming light back across photoreceptor cells a second time. Humans and many other primates don’t have this layer that improves night vision.

You can be sure that if you'd play with your dog at the back yard or in the dog park after sunset, your dog will always find his toy. Of course, his nose can help him to find the smell, but dogs look for the toy with their eyes first. Try it ;)

All dog owners know well they have to watch their dogs closer in tick season, when the dog is afraid of thunderstorms or when he has a certain allergies. The visibility in the dark is often a forgotten risk. Keep it on top of your mind, read the following tips and outfit your dog for better visibility - and you’ll both go through it with no issues.


1. Visibility is the key
When you're going on the walk late at night, think about how the others can see you before you get out of the door. Make sure you're both highly visible for cars, bikers and other people as well. Dogs with dark fur are much harder to see at night than lighter dogs and so does your clothing, so change the black Parka for some lighter colored jacket or add on some reflective gear.

For your dog, pick a reflective collar or light-up collar at least. You can also add a reflective coat and a blinking light to your leash. You may look like walking Christmas decorations, but we believe it's better to look like that than risk to get in any accident.

2. Stay away from busy roads
For most trainers walking the dog to your left is the safest thing you can do when you need to keep your dog away from something dangerous, when you're passing by a dog he doesn't like or if you just need to avoid not wanted distraction. This practice is very helpful in the night too!

If you're walking your dog near well lit street it's great that you're visible for the cars, but keep an eye on your dog if he's not too close to the curb where he can dart into traffic. You can practice the "left side rule" - the dog should heel to your left knee, and in most situations the two of you should walk against the flow of traffic. When you observe this important safety protocol, your dog is in the safest spot, away from the curb and the cars. 

3. Leash is a good idea
Even if your dog is trained and got all aces at the recall command, it's wise to walk him on the leash at night. You can't be sure enough it will be the same in the night when he may get spooked by an unexpected noise, see something he can’t resist chasing, or suddenly forget his lessons and race away.

If he accidently does run off, with a reflective collar or an LED light collar on you can see him even from a big distance and it greatly increases the chance of finding him. To complete this trifecta, make sure your dog has any kind of identification, such as an engraved name tag or a microchip ID so people can quickly contact you when they find him.

4. Keep yourself on well known routes
This one is especially for us, humans. If you like to explore unfamiliar parts of your city, sure, do it, it's great for both of you, but do it in the daylight hours. You don't want to find yourself lost in the middle of unknown area or walking past the property of a particularly unfriendly dog.

Stay on the well known streets and take a friend with you sometimes, it's fun and more safe than walk alone. If you live in the neighborhood where there are fewer street lights and you're not a fan of night walks, the back yard is a great option for evening exercise and bathroom breaks too.

Stay safe and enjoy your walks!

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