Have you ever tried leaving your dog alone at night? Whether you’re going outside the house or just sleeping in another room, we worry that dogs might be afraid of the dark.
Yes, you should leave a light on for your dog.
Learn why dogs can become afraid of the dark and whether a night light will affect your dog’s sleeping habits.
Find out when it is okay to leave a light on for your dog, and how to choose the right night light. You can also check out some tips to help your dog sleep better at night, especially if they have anxiety.
Should I Leave a Light on for My Dog?
Yes. You should leave a light on for your dog so they can navigate in the dark.
Even though they can see better in low-light situations than us, they won’t be able to see anything in total darkness.
You are probably asking this question because you usually leave home at night, and you’re worried about them being scared during the night.
The light that your dog needs does not have to be too bright or big. They can see well with a small bulb or night light because they have numerous rods in their eyes.
Our furry friends have adapted to enhance their visual performance in dark situations while still seeing well in daylight.
Aside from their rods, they also have the reflective tapetum lucidum that enhances their vision in dim light. This part of the eye reflects light that has passed through the retina twice.
So, if there is a light outside your house that enters the room, then it’s usually enough for your pup to see where they are going.
Your dog’s limited ability with perceiving color will not get in the way of their vision in the dark.
Leaving your Dog at Home in the Dark
You might work a night shift or you just like going out at night. So, should you leave a light on for your dog?
Yes, you should. Many dog owners leave a light on for their dogs simply because they think it’s the right thing to do.
Leaving a light on for your dog can help to keep them comfortable while they are home alone.
Even if they can see well in low-light environments, it’s not a good idea to leave them alone without being able to see clearly.
This can increase the risk of a separation anxiety attack.
You don’t need to light up the whole house. A small night light that they won’t trip over is enough. A dim environment is sufficient to keep them comfortable while home alone.
Can I Leave the Lights on While My Dog is Home Alone?
Yes, you can. But try not to leave them for too long.
The main reason you should not leave your dog alone for too long with the lights on is the possibility of accidents or injuries.
They might trip over a standing lamp, jump over it, or pull the wire. More importantly, you do not want to leave a lit candle at home with your dog.
You also don’t want to leave the television or lights on for too long because it’s an additional cost to your electric bills.
This is why we recommend a smaller night light. Adding a timer switch is also a good idea.
Lastly, don’t leave your dog at home alone for too long because it’s unfair to them. This may cause separation anxiety and destructive behavior.
Remember that not all dog breeds can be left alone for eight hours.
Why Dogs Become Afraid of the Dark
Dogs are rarely afraid of the dark because their night vision is sharp enough to detect threats.
And when dogs to become afraid of the dark, it’s not because they are afraid of the unknown. They aren’t afraid of the dark simply because it’s dark or because they have “nyctophobia”.
They may be frightened because of separation anxiety or previous experiences that made them associate the dark with negative feelings, like being attacked in the dark.
It can also be because they have become overly dependent on you. In the wild, our dogs’ ancestors were vulnerable to predators and hunters.
As they have become bred to work and live with us, dogs have learned to be at ease when we’re around. So, when they can’t see us in the dark, they might easily get panicky.
Some signs that your dog is afraid of the dark include:
- destructive behavior
- trying to go to a brighter room
- trying to stay near you
There is also no reason for them to be afraid of the dark because they have a powerful sense of smell and hearing that allows them to detect threats in the dark.
Even if they can’t see in complete darkness, they will know something’s wrong when they smell or hear it.
But if your dog seems to have an unjustified fear of the dark, they might have vision problems or other behavioral issues. Make sure to consult your vet for diagnosis.
Will a Night Light Affect Your Dog’s Sleeping Pattern?
Before talking about how a night light affects your dog’s pattern, it’s essential to understand that your dog does not need total darkness to feel comfortable in the dark.
While some dog owners worry about their four-legged friend’s fear of the dark, others think it will ruin the quality of their sleep.
As mentioned, dogs aren’t afraid of the dark simply because it’s dark. And a night light won’t disrupt their sleep.
A study published in Animals shows that dogs sleep more during the day than at night.
This means they don’t really care if it’s too bright or too dark, as long as they get the sleep they want.
But you still want to train your dog to see that daytime is for eating, playing, and exercising, while nighttime is for sleeping.
For the light to not disrupt their sleeping habit, you want to pick one that is not too bright.
If you notice that your dog dislikes the light by trying to move to a darker spot or staying awake the whole night, get a much dimmer one.
Will a Night Light Help with a Dog’s Vision Problems?
A night light is ideal if your dog has vision problems. Even if they can naturally see better in the dark than us, medical conditions can hinder this ability.
Some signs that your dog is having vision problems include:
- bumping into walls and furniture
- cloudy eye appearance
- eye irritation or pawing at the face
- anxiety in new places or dark environments
- red, puffy, or swollen eyes
- doesn’t want to go upstairs or jump on the couch
- easily dazed or startled.
Meanwhile, the most common vision impairments in dogs include:
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
- Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome (SARDS).
These impairments are usually a result of aging, disease, genetic conditions, or injury. Some dogs even go blind because of aging.
This blindness can be minor or complete. And it’s often a sign of other diseases, like heart, kidney, or liver disorders.
When your dog goes blind, you might think that it’s the end of the world for them. But it’s not.
A dog’s sight is not their main sense. They are not like us who depend mostly on our eyes to navigate our environment.
As mentioned, dogs have a powerful sense of smell and great hearing. Their olfactory ability is so strong that it’s beyond human comprehension.
A night light is not the main solution to your dog’s visual problem. Consult your vet so they may give your dog proper examination and treatment.
How to Choose a Night Light for Dogs
You need a night light if you’re leaving your dog home alone at night. You might also need one if they can’t sleep well in total darkness even if you’re around.
Here are two basic factors to consider when choosing a night light for your dog.
Safety must be of utmost priority when you are choosing a night light for your dog. We mentioned that dogs might trip over or accidentally destroy some lights.
Some can also increase the risk of fire when left on 24/7.
Choose a night light that does not overheat and will not overstimulate your dog’s eyes. Photophobia occurs in dogs, too.
It’s a condition that can damage their eyes and cause toxicity, an abscess, or distemper.
A gentle night light guarantees that it is safe for your dog without too much glare.
You also want to choose a night light that you can easily place in an area of your house that is out of the way of your dog.
Timer and Motion Sensor
Instead of traditional lights, you can use smart night lights for better performance. Night lights with smart features also provide more comfort, efficiency, and convenience.
Most of these night lights have auto-on and off functions. What makes them better than traditional lights is their motion sensors, colors, energy efficiency, and lifespan.
Best Night Lights for Dogs
Here are some of the best night lights for your dog.
Mr. Beams Sleep-Friendly Night Light
If you’re planning to use a night light in your bedroom, bathroom, or hallways, Mr. Beams Sleep-Friendly Night Light is one of the best.
It will guide your dog as they walk through the house at night. At 20 lumens of soft light, the night light has a no-glare effect, so it won’t damage your furry friend’s eyes.
The motion sensor turns the light on, and it automatically turns off after 30 seconds of no movement. No need for a power socket or wiring as it runs on AA batteries.
GE Color-Changing LED Night Light
If you want a color-changing night light for your dog, check out GE’s LED Night Light.
Dogs only see blue and yellow vibrantly, so make sure you set the color to one of these. This light has 8 colors and three modes.
This one plugs into power and will stay on all night. To save on power it uses energy-efficient LED bulbs, and it automatically turns on at dusk and off at dawn.
Blazin Safety LED Dog Collar
For a personal night light for your dog, you could try the Blazin Safety LED Dog Collar. This collar is just the right amount of brightness to provide visibility to your dog in the dark.
This will allow them to navigate through the dark, even outside when you’re walking at night or when you’re on an outdoor camping adventure.
This collar has four sizes to suit all dog breeds. It has a battery that runs for over seven hours and can be recharged by USB.
Cooper Life Night Light
For something decorative, you can also try Cooper Life’s LED Night Light. This night light is designed in a dog shape to help keep your pup company during bedtime.
It’s a small light for small rooms so your dog can see during the night.
Cooper Life has sensitive touch control and a timer. The options for the timer are 30 minutes and 60 minutes.
It is USB rechargeable, and you can adjust the brightness and the light mode to suit your preference.
How to Help Your Dog Sleep Better in the Dark
As well as using a night light, there are a few things you can do to help your dog get through the night and sleep better.
Use a Dog Crate
Crate-training your dog at a young age will help both of you if there are nights when your dog doesn’t feel comfortable sleeping in the dark.
It is safe and comfortable to confine them at night and helps to avoid accidents if they have vision problems.
They don’t need access to the entire house after all. Just add a mattress inside their crate for extra softness and support.
Available in three sizes, this foam features gel memory foam for all furry friends, especially those with hip dysplasia, joint pain, and sickness.
The comfort and warmth will improve their quality of sleep and help them relax.
Give Your Dog a Sleeping Routine
A scheduled bedtime is essential for your four-legged friend so they can stay asleep throughout the night.
Dogs love routines. Make sure they have an idea of when they need to go to their bed or crate.
Right before bedtime take them out to pee so they won’t bother you during the night. This will also help prevent doggie accidents while you are asleep.
Exercise and Mental Stimulation
Dogs who have plenty of physical and mental stimulation during the day will sleep well.
You can do this with daily walks, regular training sessions, and fun interactive toys.
How to Help an Anxious Dog at Night
If your dog is showing signs of anxiety at night, here are some ways to calm them down.
Increase Your Dog’s Exercise
One effective way to get rid of your dog’s nervousness is to exercise them more often. This will expel any excess energy and they may be calmer during the night.
An exhausted dog tends to fall asleep faster, and sleep more deeply and for longer. It also helps them release serotonin or the so-called happy hormones.
Wrap Your Dog
Wrapping your dog for anxiety is a surefire way to alleviate whatever they are feeling at night.
Simply embrace their torso with an anxiety wrap, applying more pressure to their chest and sides.
This simple method keeps them comfortable and safe as if someone is petting them.
Try the Company of Animals Anxiety Wrap. It’s suitable for all dog breeds with a variety of sizes to choose from.
This therapeutic wrap is breathable and non-restrictive to calm your dog in anxiety-inducing situations. It’s also perfect for hyperactivity, aggression, and barking.
Massage Your Dog
A massage will relax your dog and give them a good night’s sleep. When they are anxious, their muscles tense, and a massage will help to relieve them.
When massaging your dog, start at the neck downward with long strokes.
Once you get used to massaging them, you’ll know which part of their body tenses so you can work on that spot.
FAQ Dog Fears and Behavior
How Do I Help a Dog Who’s Afraid of the Dark?
Dogs rarely are afraid of the dark, but when they are, it’s usually because of an underlying behavioral or medical condition.
For instance, if your dog is suddenly scared of the dark because their vision is deteriorating, seek the help of a vet for the right treatment.
If they are afraid of the dark because of separation anxiety or past traumatic experiences, desensitization training can be helpful.
Help your dog overcome their fear of the dark with assistance lighting, playtime before bed, or treating underlying health conditions.
Why is My Dog Laying on My Feet?
Dogs usually lay on your feet simply because they feel warm, or they love being around you.
But it’s also possible for them to lay on your feet because they are afraid and want your protection. They feel safer and more relaxed when they are close to you.
You’ll find them doing this when they are hearing loud sounds, feeling scared of strangers, afraid of the dark, or when they are in a new place.
This behavior is normal. However, it can be a nuisance if they have been rewarded for doing this in the past.
Teach your dog to stop laying on your feet to avoid inconveniences.
Which Dog Breeds Can Be Left Alone Without Being Afraid?
If you work a night shift or you like to head out at night, you might want to get a dog that is independent and brave enough to be alone.
Breed is usually just one of the many factors to consider here. Training is also a must for them to learn how to properly behave while they are home alone.
Also, dogs shouldn’t be left alone for long periods because they will get bored, anxious, and might display destructive behavior.
The Basset Hound and Chow Chow are just a couple of dog breeds that can be left alone without being afraid.
Check out the other dog breeds that can be left alone for 8 hours.
Leave a Light on for Your Dog
A night light is beneficial for dogs who have vision problems and those who are afraid of the dark. It’s also unlikely to disrupt your dog’s sleeping pattern.
When choosing one, make sure it is energy-efficient and safe to leave one with your dog around.
A pet-friendly night light does not overheat, causes accidents, and will not affect your dog’s eyes.
However, they say some dogs would rather sleep with the lights on. Is this true?
Find out if your dog would rather sleep in the dark so you can adjust your environment to their liking.