Getting a new puppy is so exciting, isn’t it? But it can also be a time fraught with nerves and worries. Am I feeding my puppy the right food? How do I toilet train him? Etcetera! Another common question faced by new puppy owners is whether to leave a night light on for your young canine. Well, here is the recommended approach to take.
So, should I leave a light on for my puppy at night? Leaving a light on for your puppy is a personal decision. However, it is important to only use a dim light as a bright one can disturb your puppy’s natural sleep pattern. They don’t particularly need light, but in some cases, it can help with anxiety.
If you do decide to opt for a night light, make sure it is secured safely, and the wires are hidden away.
You don’t want any injuries from trips or burns!
But chances are, you are still not sure what to do here, right?
Well, keep reading, and you’ll be in a much better position to decide. Besides, we will be looking at the pros and cons, along with other tips to help your puppy sleep through the night.
So it will be worth your while!
Do Puppies Need A Light At Night?
Puppies don’t strictly need a light on at night. In fact, a light that is too bright can prevent your puppy from sleeping! Saying that there are certain benefits to using a dim night light. Especially if you have just added a new puppy to your home.
Remember that every puppy or dog is an individual with its own personality and quirks!
So, it’s always best to do a bit of trial and error to find out what works best for you and your canine companion.
Here are a few pros and cons to think about when considering a night light for your puppy:
Pros Of A Nightlight For Your Puppy
It Can Help With Separation Anxiety
For the first few weeks of life, puppies are constantly surrounded by their mother and siblings.
When they are adopted, they suddenly find themselves alone for the very first time.
This is why it is critical to offer your puppy constant reassurance until he feels settled.
Particularly nervous puppies can benefit from a night light to help them gain more confidence in an unfamiliar environment.
But bear in mind that habits are hard to break, so set up a routine from the beginning and stick to it!
To Help With Navigation
Just like us, puppies cannot see well in complete darkness.
However, as long as your puppy has had time to adjust, he will be able to assess his surroundings through his keen sense of smell.
Humans, on the other hand, can be rather clumsy in the dark!
So, you may want to install a light in your puppy’s room so you can check on him without tripping over a random toy!
Cons Of A Nightlight For Your Puppy
It Can Disrupt Your Puppy’s Internal Clock
Being exposed to light during the night can block the production of melatonin.
This is the hormone responsible for the sleep-wake cycle in animals.
A lack of melatonin is likely to result in a very cranky, tired pup in the morning!
Sleep is essential for young puppies because it aids in brain development.
Without it, puppies can become destructive and stressed.
It Can Cause Overstimulation
Darkness can induce feelings of relaxation and calm, which can be very beneficial for puppies.
It generally allows for a longer, deeper sleep.
Too much light can keep your puppy’s brain activated, making him want to keep playing rather than sleep!
It Can Be Dangerous
Some lights give off heat when they are left on.
So, you must think carefully about where you place it to avoid any nasty burns when your puppy decides to investigate.
There is also a danger of electrical or fire hazards if a light is left on for an extended period.
Ensure all electric cables are stored safely away to prevent your curious puppy from chewing on them!
The choice to use or not use a night light is purely down to personal preference. If you do choose to go with a night light, make sure it is not too bright.
Alternatively, you can try leaving a hallway light on so only a tiny amount of light enters the room.
Are Puppies Scared Of The Dark?
Puppies can be scared of the dark, especially if they are young or have recently moved to a new and unfamiliar environment. Or, fear can be established through things that happen during the dark. That being said, in time, most puppies will learn to feel safe in the dark.
The answer to ‘are puppies scared of the dark?’ is a little complicated.
Due to a reflective lining at the back of the retina called the tapetum, puppies can see up to 5x better than humans in low lighting.
This ability is thought to have come from their wolf ancestors, who hunted at night rather than during the day.
However, in pitch-black surroundings, puppies cannot see much better than us! As a result, it is possible for your puppy to be anxious in the dark, especially if he or she is in an unfamiliar environment.
Anxiety can also arise if your puppy has had previous negative experiences.
For example, your puppy may have become upset on hearing fireworks when left in a dark room.
Signs Your Puppy Is Scared Of The Dark
This fear can generalize to become a fear of the dark. Signs that your puppy is afraid or nervous include:
- Pacing up and down
- Reluctance to go into his room
- Destructive behavior
- Injured paws as a result of scratching at the door constantly
It is important to remember that there are other potential reasons for these behaviors, alongside a potential fear of the dark.
It is just as likely (if not more likely) that your puppy is whimpering because he is lonely and looking for reassurance.
Dogs are pack animals, so they tend to feel safer in groups.
To test out this theory, simply alternate, leaving the light on and off. If his reactions are the same, it is likely that your dog has some sort of separation anxiety.
It is also worth bearing in mind that young puppies do not naturally sleep through the night.
Studies have shown that puppies sleep for around 18-20 hours a day, but this is often broken up into naps.
They also tend to sleep less at night than adult dogs.
So, if you have just adopted a young puppy, you should expect a certain degree of restlessness during the night.
It’s important to be patient at this stage and set up a rigid routine, so your puppy knows what is expected of him!
Do Puppies Need Darkness To Sleep?
Puppies don’t necessarily need darkness to sleep, but it certainly does help!
You have probably seen your puppy passed out on the sofa without a care in the world during the day on multiple occasions!
However, while puppies do have a reputation for sleeping pretty much anywhere, they still rely heavily on their natural internal body clocks, also known as circadian rhythms.
This basically tells them when they should be most active and when they should sleep.
Have you ever found your puppy waiting for you at the door when you get home from work?
He hasn’t been sitting there all day!
Instead, dogs use certain activities, routines, and natural light variations to determine what time you get home.
Humans have something called episodic memory, which means our brains use a collection of events, places, and timing to form memories.
Dogs, on the other hand, have an associative memory which means they form links between seemingly unrelated items.
For example, dogs can learn to perform tricks and commands by associating the action with a tasty treat.
Similarly, your dog can learn that it’s time to go for a walk when you’ve finished eating dinner or that it’s time to go to bed when the light dims outside.
Of course, this is all dependent on the type of routine you maintain in your home, but it does demonstrate the significance of a bedtime routine.
Now, I’m not saying read him a story or anything like that!
But performing certain tasks every day and trying to stick to a natural light-dark cycle as much as possible (12 hours light; 12 hours dark) will let your little one know when it is time to go to bed!
As mentioned above, a dim nightlight is acceptable if you are concerned about your dog’s anxiety, but anything brighter than that should be avoided.
How To Ensure Your Puppy Can Sleep Through The Night
The best ways to ensure your puppy sleeps through the night is by establishing and sticking to a strict routine, making the sleeping environment comfortable, and optimizing feeding times.
To ensure your puppy sleeps through the night, you need to establish a strict routine.
Dogs are pretty good at learning to sync their behavior patterns with humans.
So, while it may take some time, rest assured that your puppy will get there in the end!
Comfortable Resting Place
The next step is to make sure your puppy’s bedroom is cozy and inviting.
Many people find that using a crate for a puppy at night works well because the small space provides security.
Make sure you lay out a comfy bed with plenty of soft blankets.
You should also consider adding your puppy’s favorite plush toy and an old t-shirt that smells of you.
Place the crate in a quiet, draft-free area of your home.
During the day, leave the crate door open so your puppy can investigate it in his own time.
It is especially important in the first few weeks of owning your puppy that you focus on making the crate a positive place.
So, take your time and offer plenty of reassurance throughout the process.
Tire Them Out
If you have a particularly stubborn puppy that simply refuses to calm down.
Give him his dinner right before he goes to bed, or take him for a short walk.
Puppies have short bursts of energy, so either of these two activities will likely tire your puppy out enough to go to sleep!
Ensure They’ve Been To The Toilet
Don’t forget to take him for a toilet break too!
As a general guide, puppies can hold their bladders for around one hour for every month of their age.
For example, if your puppy is three months old, he can hold his bladder for about three hours.
So, you will still need to get him up in the middle of the night to relieve himself.
When you do this, do not offer any fuss or treats, as this is likely to excite him and make it more difficult to put him back to bed!
Instead, walk him out quietly, let him do his business, then simply put him back in the cage and leave. He will soon get the message!
When it comes to installing a night light, the choice is completely up to you.
However, what is most important is that you come to a decision and an arrangement that works best for you and your pup.
Enjoy this? Then my other puppy articles may be of interest!
- Should Puppies Sleep In The Dark?
- Should I Leave Water Out For My Puppy At Night?
- Can Puppies Sleep Outside?
- Why Does My Puppy Have Loose Stools At Night?
- Why Is My Puppy Sleeping So Much?
- Why Does My Puppy Breathe So Fast While Sleeping?
- Why Does My Puppy Pee In Her Sleep?
- Why Does My Puppy Cry When I Leave The Room?
- Can You Leave A Puppy Alone Overnight?
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.