Medically Reviewed

Night Light For Dogs: Good Or Bad Idea?

Written by: Milica Brzakovic
Margarita Boyd
Reviewed by: Dr. Margarita Boyd, BVSc MRCVS
Are lights a good idea when you want to soothe your dog during night time or when you're leaving your puppy home alone? Let's find out in this article!

Should you leave a light on for your dog? When you leave your dog alone at night does his behavior change? Is he scared, more vocal, or destructive?

Does Fido find light on to be soothing perhaps? If so, you might think about leaving the light on. Moreover, you might start thinking about using night lights for dogs.

Let’s learn what are the pros and cons of leaving the light on for your adult dog or your puppy at night, and how dogs act when they are afraid of the dark.

Should I Leave A Light On For My Dog?

So far, your puppy hasn’t been home alone. However, that day is coming and you want to be as prepared as you can be.

So, will your dog prefer to be left in the house with the lights on or off?

In general, you should leave a light on when you are outside.

Not only that it is safe from a perspective of a homeowner, but it may ease anxiety in your dog.

How effective is light on for dogs? Does it really make a difference? To understand this you should first understand how dogs see in the dark.

Can Dogs See In The Dark?

Yes, dogs can generally see when it’s dark.

Actually, they have even better night vision than people in low-light situations! This is thanks to a special structure called the tapetum.

It is a reflective lining that sits behind the retina in the back of their eyes.

The tapetum reflects light onto the retina and gives it a second chance to absorb light.

Does this mean that dogs are much better when it comes to distinguishing something in the dark? Yes, they are.

Their eyes use the small quantities of light available, like the streetlights or the moonlight, which makes them better at spotting something outside when looking out the windows, at least when compared to humans.

Good to know: When it is completely dark dogs can’t see anything. Just like us!

In a complete dark, dogs will be able to move around, thanks to their powerful smell. This way they will move around familiar places without stumbling on something.

All in all, if dogs know the room well, they will be able to move around it without a problem in the dark.

Do Dogs Need A Night Light?

Before you invest in the most expensive night lights for dogs, let’s learn first if dogs like the dark, and if they need a night light for dogs in the first place.

Answering these questions isn’t easy as dogs are individual beings and while some may prefer darker room tones, some find dark to be stressful and even scary.

As every dog is different we can’t give you a “yes” or “no” answer to this question.

A better question would maybe be: “Is your dog afraid of the dark?” To get the answer to this question you should know signs indicating fear of the dark in dogs. Check these signs below.

Signs Indicating Fear Of The Dark in Dogs

If you notice any of the following signs when your dog is in the dark, there’s a big chance that your dog is afraid of it.

  • Destructive behavior, such as trash being dug out, chewing on something, and tearing something up
  • Signs of being abnormally upset when alone in the dark e.g. whining, barking more
  • Dog hiding in an unusual place e.g. the bathroom
  • Hurt claws, as a result from digging or scratching at the door
  • More startled by outside noises during the night than during the day

If your dog was barking at night when you were gone it’s usually also an indicator that your dog isn’t that comfortable in the dark.

Of course, the barking can happen because your dog hates being alone or because he or she has separation anxiety.

This is rather easy to establish.

Leave the lights on the next time you’re leaving your dog home alone and ask a neighbor or someone in the neighborhood if your dog was barking or not while you were away.

If it didn’t bark, it’s most likely the dark that makes your pet uncomfortable.

We know that leaving your dog home alone for the first time isn’t easy.

However, after a couple of times, both you and your dog will have become more comfortable with this and you will know what works best for your dog!

SUMMARY: If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, try leaving the lights on while you’re away to make him feel safer.

Should I Leave A Light On For My Puppy At Night?

The other situation is whether you should leave the lights on or off for your puppy at night.

When your dog has trouble sleeping or he’s feeling somewhat uncomfortable at night, would it be better with the lights on?

Most people wonder if on their puppy’s first night the lights should be on or off.

To some dogs, light may be really comfortable. On the other hand, some dogs really do not care if there is a light on or not.

As for the puppies… It is no secret that puppies tend to suffer from separation anxiety when they are young.

Separating them from their litter can put a lot of stress on them, which is why many dog owners choose to use a dog night light to make the puppy as comfortable as possible.

Puppies will love new environments as they get to explore them, but they may find it stressful as well.

Often the first few days are the most difficult, but then your puppy will become more settled in its new home.

Will night dog light help in this sort of situation? You won’t know until you try.

Some puppies find the light comforting, while others don’t notice it at all and the separation anxiety doesn’t seem to go away even with lights on.

The best thing you can do here is to try both and see what works best for your dog.

Will The Dog Night Light Disrupt The Dog’s Sleeping Pattern?

Will your puppy be able to sleep even though lights are on or should puppies sleep in the dark?

Ideally, you want to teach your puppy that daytime is for playtime and night time is for sleeping.

A small light usually won’t disrupt your dog’s sleeping patterns, but lots of bright lights may make it difficult for your dog to sleep.

So, if you see that your dog goes into another, dark room to sleep, or burrows under his blankets, the light is probably annoying him or her.

If you notice that your puppy is acting more active and playful with the lights on at night time, he may be confused and think that it is daytime.

Have you heard about melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone that dogs and humans (nearly all mammals in fact) produce normally.

During periods of darkness, animals produce melatonin which changes throughout the year depending on different amounts of daylight.

In other words, melatonin is responsible for creating healthy sleeping patterns.

For example, when a human is exposed to heavy room light before bedtime it may suppress melatonin and lead to poor sleep quality.

When melatonin production is off balance, it may lead to certain side effects, such as:

  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Digestive issues
  • Increased heart rate

Is It Safe To Leave Lights On For Dogs?

Apart from being an issue of preference for both owner and dog, leaving lights on can be risky for a couple of reasons.

First of all, some dogs have a tendency to knock over lamps and therefore cause a fire risk.

It goes without saying that candles shouldn’t be left burning under no condition.

Secondly, keeping the lights on for longer periods of time is not only quite expensive but is also bad for the environment.

So, if your dog likes light, try Eco-friendly light bulbs which last much longer and are friendlier to our planet.

Finally, if you’re leaving the lights on when your dog is home alone, investing in a timer for your lights would also be a good idea.

That way, the light goes on when it becomes dark outside – they don’t have to be on the entire time you’re away.


Leaving the lights on during the night might even disrupt your pup’s sleep. Try turning on side lights and leaving other rooms in the dark so your dog can have a place to sleep with no distractions.

For more tips when leaving your dog alone, check out the video below.

Conclusion On Dog Night Light

Every dog is different – this can’t be repeated enough times! What works for one dog doesn’t necessarily have to work for another dog.

So, whether your dog is home alone or a bit scared during the night, leaving the lights on is an option.

For some dogs, it may be comfortable to spend time alone in the dark, but others hate it and can show signs of anxiety, so you will have to test and see for yourself. It may be best to try with or without lights for a few nights in a row.

For instance, turning the lights off and going out of the house for just a short period in order to see how your dog will react is a good idea.

That way, you will know what to do when you’re leaving your dog alone for long periods of time.

If you choose to leave the lights on, invest in a timer or use Eco-friendly light bulbs and do both your wallet and the planet a favor.

Start by turning only a small light on.

A lot of bright lights may make it difficult for your dog to sleep.

And if your dog prefers the dark – that’s great too – dogs see well in the dark and won’t have any problems!

Frequently Asked Questions On Night Light And Dogs

1. Do Dogs Prefer Light Or Dark When Sleeping?

It is much easier for your dog to sleep if it is dark or dim light.

Dogs, like other mammals, have circadian rhythms that are influenced by light, hence the connection with melatonin in the article above.

Know that dogs not only prefer a darker environment to get a good night’s sleep, but they also prefer noise-free surroundings to get a good night’s sleep.

All in all, it is much easier for them to sleep if they are not being interrupted by excessive noise.

2. Do Dogs Sleep All Night?

It is no secret that dogs sleep a lot throughout the day.

It is also not a secret that they wake up easily on the first sound, even the slightest sound can move them, especially during the night.

That being said, it is clear that dogs prefer sleeping at night, which is why their sleeping patterns eventually match their owners.

3. Do Dogs Know When Their Bedtime?

Dogs have a circadian rhythm, but do they know when they should go to sleep?

It is sure that dogs are sensitive to day and night and some periods of the day. They do know when it is time to go to bed and when it’s time to eat thanks to their daily routine.

For example, if you are feeding your dog after morning walks every day he will know that feeding time is always linked with food. They may find similar links with sleeping routines.