Night Light For Puppies: Good Or Bad Idea?Medically Reviewed
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!
Are you preparing to leave your dog home alone for the first time and you don’t know if you should leave the lights on?
Or is your dog having trouble sleeping alone and you’re thinking some lights will make the situation better?
Either way, we’ll explore whether lights are good or not for your puppy!
You and your puppy are still getting to know each other – the way it should be in the beginning. Leaving your puppy alone will never come easy for him, especially when very young. The separation might cause anxiety in a dog and can even result in your dog creating mess or damage in your home. Naturally, you’ll want to provide the best possible conditions for your dog and avoid finding chaos in your apartment when you come back.
The first question that pops into a lot of people’s minds when they are looking for a way to make their pup feel less abandoned, is whether or not to leave the lights on. Is there such a thing as a night light for dogs?
In order to help you, we’re going to take a look at these two situations, when your puppy is home alone and when he can’t sleep, and clarify the whole “lights-on-or-off” situation.
Night Light For Dogs – What to do?
Situation 1: Should I Leave Lights On When My Dog Is Home Alone?
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?
First of all, let’s answer the following question:
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.
This means that dogs are better than people at distinguishing something in the dark, for example when looking out the window. This is because their eyes use the small quantities of light available, like the streetlights or the moonlight, better than we do in these situation.
However, when it’s completely dark dogs can’t see anything. Just like us! Even though in the dark they can move around familiar places without stumbling on something, it’s most probably from memorizing it and using their sense of smell. So most dogs will be able to move around without a problem in the dark, in a room they know well.
Do Dogs Like The Dark? Do They Need A Night Light?
Now that you know that it’s generally safe for dogs to be in the dark you’re probably wondering if they like the darkness?! This is a difficult question with no exact answer, the best thing to do, would be to do a test and see what works for your dog.
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?”
Signs Indicating Fear Of The Dark
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 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!
If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, try leaving the lights on while you’re away in order to make him feel safer.
For more tips when leaving your dog alone, check out the video below.
Situation 2: 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.
Will Lights Make Your Dog Feel Comfortable?
It’s not uncommon for puppies to suffer from separation anxiety when they are small. This is completely normal as this is a big change for them.
Even though this is something normal, it’s still not easy to watch your dog be uncomfortable. The good news is that it usually goes away with time, as your puppy grows older and becomes comfortable with its new environment. Often the first few days are the most difficult, then your puppy will become more settled in its new home.
Unfortunately, there’s not a universal answer to this. 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 Lights Disrupt The Dog’s Sleeping Pattern?
If your dog is one of those who enjoy light and find it comforting, you’re probably asking yourself if this will disrupt your 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 wont 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.
Is It Safe To Leave Lights On?
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 during longer periods of time is not only quite expensive but are 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.
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 of time 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 longer 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!
This article has been medically reviewed by Dr Margarita Boyd, BVSc MRCVS.
Margarita graduated from the University of Liverpool, earning a Bachelor in Veterinary Science with distinction. She worked in small animal and equine practice for a few years, before choosing to focus solely on companion animals. She has developed a special interest in internal medicine and ophthalmology.