Should You Leave A Light On For Puppies?

Your new puppy is home, and you’ve noticed certain behavior at night. He cries, barks, or gets destructive when you leave him alone to sleep. You may be asking yourself why he is doing this and should you leave a light on for puppies. 

Leaving a light on for your puppy can be helpful if he has separation anxiety, fear of the dark, or checking on him during the night. However, it can also disrupt his internal clock, overstimulate him, or put him in danger. 

In today’s guide, I’ll take a look at whether or not you should leave a light on for your puppy. I discuss the pros and cons of doing this and help you decide if it suits your pup. 

Why Do Puppies Cry At Night? 

Puppy lays on the tile floor while taking a nap

Some owners leave the lights on for their puppies because they believe that it will help them adjust to sleeping in a new environment. Others might try it because their pet is afraid of the dark and cries at night. 

Before deciding to use a light for your puppy, it is important to understand what he is trying to tell you. 

Fear of Darkness

Like kids and some adults, puppies might develop a fear of darkness. If your puppy is afraid of the dark, he will cry, bark, or scratch the door every night. So, leaving him in a dark room will only make things worse. That’s the reason many owners decide to leave a light on for their dogs during the night. 

Here are some of the things your puppy might do if he is scared of the dark: 

  • Drooling
  • Restless pacing
  • Whimpering
  • Barking
  • Potty accidents

During the night, your puppy might get into some sort of high alert mentality, and that can trigger his anxiety and fear of the dark. 

It is essential to understand that dogs have better night vision than humans. Therefore, fear of darkness is not that common. If your dog does show some of these behaviors when in his crate, it is better to discard other possibilities first. 

In my experience, it is rare for puppies to have a genuine fear of the dark. Dogs can see better in the dark than we can. If your puppy is crying at night he may be anxious, attention-seeking, or just needs to go outside.  It is important to address these issues before assuming he is scared of the dark. 

Dr. Megan Teiber DVM

Separation Anxiety

Another possibility why your puppy might be crying, barking, or scratching the doors at night is separation anxiety. In other words, your young puppy is not scared of the dark, he is afraid of being left alone.

It is common for puppies to suffer from fear of abandonment, especially when adapting to new environments and people. 

Here’s what your pet might do if he has separation anxiety: 

  • Destructive behavior 
  • Whimpering or crying 
  • Barking
  • Potty accidents
  • Howling
  • Compulsive behavior

If your dog’s anxiety comes out in destructive behavior, you may also need to invest in a chew proof dog bed

When To Leave a Light On For Your Puppy? 

If you leave your puppy to sleep alone for the first time, you should try first with the lights off. If that doesn’t work, you can try using a light on. Ensure that your anxious dog is afraid of the dark and not just afraid of being alone. 

  • You can leave the light or the TV on when you go out. 
  • You can leave the light on during the night if he is scared of the dark. 
  • You can leave the light on if you notice he is feeling anxious. 

When leaving a light on, ensure the light is not too strong, or that can make it difficult for your dog to sleep. If you do leave a light on for your puppy, consider using eco-friendly light bulbs and a timer. That way, you can save some energy while keeping your puppy safe and comfortable. 

Pros Of Leaving A Light On For Your Puppy 

Puppy lays on the carpet with a fleece blanket draped over him

You might be looking forward to getting your puppy a night light so that he can sleep better. But you should first understand what the drawbacks of using nighttime lights are. 

Here are the advantages of leaving a dark on for your puppy:

It Helps With Fear Of Darkness

You now know that your puppy or adult dog is afraid of the dark. So, leaving him in a dark room alone is not an option. If that’s the case, then using a nightlight or leaving a light on when alone can help reduce his fear. However, it is not a long-term solution, and you should work with him to adjust to dark places. 

Tip: If your puppy is afraid of the dark, you should slowly introduce him to dark environments. 

Here’s what you could do:

  1. The first step is keeping your puppy in the dark but with you in the same room. This will help him understand that nothing bad will happen because you are there. 
  2. The next step is leaving him alone with the light on. If you can regulate the amount of light, you can reduce it slowly. Leave him in the dark a couple of minutes at a time in the beginning. 
  3. For the next step, you should reduce the light intensity in the house but don’t make it fully dark yet. 
  4. Finally, once your dog is calm when there’s almost no light, you can make it fully dark. 
  5. Let your puppy do it at his own pace. If you rush it, there’s the risk that it won’t work. 

It will take some time, and you will need a lot of patience, but your dog will eventually learn that there’s nothing to be afraid of in the dark. 

It Can Help Reduce Anxiety

Another benefit of leaving a light on for your furry friend when he’s just arrived home is that it can help with his anxiety. Most puppies and dogs will suffer one form of stress when moving from one environment to another, especially if new people are involved. 

Leaving a light on can help you with this, but it is not the only thing you can do. For instance, it is strongly recommended to train your puppy to stop being anxious when you are gone. If not, you will suffer the consequences when you return home, and everything is destroyed, and there is pee everywhere. Crate training your doggo can also prevent this behavior but does not address the root cause of your dog’s anxiety.

The following video discusses more methods to reduce separation anxiety.

It Helps You When Checking On The Puppy At Night

Checking on a puppy at night is something a dog owner will do during the first weeks. But, be careful you don’t step on him because of the darkness. That’s when a nightlight or leaving a light on comes in handy. 

Tip: Puppies pee everywhere during the house training period, so leaving a light on can help you avoid stepping in any pee puddles. 

Cons Of Leaving A Light On For Your Puppy 

Here are the disadvantages of leaving a light on for your puppy: 

The Internal Clock

Dogs are pretty much like humans when it comes to sleeping. They need it to restore their brains and bodies. Like humans, all dogs have an internal clock that tells them when it is time to rest and when it’s time to play. 

If you leave the light on, your dog might think it is time to play and be around you. That will make for a restless night for you and him. 

Overstimulation

Leaving a light on all night can overstimulate your puppy. An overstimulated puppy will jump up, chew, and run around the house non-stop until he gets tired. If your puppy is stimulated every night, you may find that he gets cranky in the mornings and will not stop playing or barking. 

It Can Be Dangerous

Avoid using small nightlights designed for kids unless you can place them as far away from your puppy as possible. Puppies get destructive at night, especially if they have anxiety or fear of darkness. They could chew on the electric cord, and that could put their lives at risk.  

I don’t normally recommend leaving a full light on for puppies, as it may be over-stimulating and prevent them from calming down. I would use a small night light so that you can see if you need to help your puppy in the middle of the night.

Dr. Megan Teiber DVM

How To Help Your Puppy Sleep Without A Light On? 

The best thing you can do is make your puppy feel comfortable and safe. Dogs are creatures of instinct, and when they don’t feel safe, they will react to it. Some dogs might get hyper, while others might just stay there without moving at all. 

Here’s what you can do to keep your puppy comfortable at nights: 

  • Make the room puppy-proof, meaning you should take away anything dangerous he could chew on or break off. 
  • If your puppy is a destructive chewer, get him a couple of durable chew toys and put them next to him at night. 
  • Train him to understand that you will be back for him every morning even if you leave him alone at night. 
  • Leave a shirt or other items that have your smell. The fact that he can smell you will make things a lot easier for him. 
  • Don’t let him get too cold or too hot during the nights. If you live in a hot place, keep him cool by letting him sleep on the tiles. On the other hand, if it is cold, keep him warm by giving him a comfy bed or blanket. 

If your puppy is crying for attention at night, provide plenty of exercise before bed. Try not to reward him by giving him too much attention each time he cries. Gradually increase the time he spends alone to help him adapt smoothly to his new environment.

Dr. Megan Teiber DVM

Conclusion

Leaving a light on for your puppy will depend on him. If you believe that it is going to help, then, by all means, do it. On the other hand, if you think it won’t help, try different methods to help him adjust to the new home. 

Overall, leaving the light on for your puppy should only be a short-term solution. The best thing you can do for him and you is to train him not to be scared of the dark. 

All content has been reviewed for accuracy by Dr. Megan Teiber, DVM.


Kate Beveridge

Kate is an Australian writer and dog enthusiast. She can be found patting street dogs and caring for her mischievous Golden Retriever called Nala.



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