Should I Leave the Light on For My Dog?

By John Martin - March 9, 2022

Dog on sofa next to lamp

If you are leaving your dog home alone overnight or it gets dark in the evening before you reach home, you might be wondering if you should leave the light on for your dog.

Well, like most care-related questions about dogs, the answer depends on your dog and the particular circumstances. Let’s go into detail about whether leaving the light on for your dog is a good idea.

Leaving the Light On for Your Dog

There are several other things we need to consider before reaching a decision, but in general, it is a good idea to leave the light on for your dog. It helps them find their way around the house in the dark.

Dogs are sometimes afraid of the dark. Having a light on can also mess up their sleep schedule, so you need to make arrangements so that the lights are not on 24×7 in the house.

If you are going to be gone for the entire night or you work night shifts and are always away at night, you should consider leaving a light on for your dog.

Very bright light can prevent them from falling asleep. Look for night lights or dim lights that aren’t a distraction if they are trying to sleep.

Never leave a standing lamp or a lit candle at home for your dog as it is a huge safety hazard. Your dog might trip over a wire or knock something over and get hurt.

Having a timer switch also helps. You can set the light to turn on and off when it stops being dark outside.

It also makes sense because it will help save you money on your electricity bills.

Choosing the right kind of light is important, but dogs will need some kind of light just to be able to navigate the house in the dark. This brings us to a question most people ask:

Also Read: Should I Leave the TV on for My Dog?

Can Dogs See In the Dark?

It is not a yes or no question like most people expect. Dogs have better night vision than humans and cats have better night vision than dogs.

While dogs can see in the dark to some extent, it doesn’t mean that they don’t need light at all.

Human eyes have cones and rods that allow us to see color and see in the dark to some extent. Dogs’ eyes have fewer cones which means that they don’t see as many colors as we do, but they have more rods so they see better in the dark than us.

If you have ever taken a picture of a dog, you might have seen their eyes light up or turn green in the picture. This is because of a part of their eye called tapetum lucidum.

The tapetum is a tissue that reflects light, much like a mirror, onto the surface of the retina. This is what allows dogs to see better in the dark. They also have a wider field of vision.

Are Dogs Afraid of the Dark?

Dogs aren’t usually afraid of the dark. They can see in the dark to an extent and most breeds have worked in the dark, so they don’t mind it.

Dogs either have separation anxiety and they might have had bitter experiences in the dark which has made them apprehensive of the dark.

Your dog is also a lot more at ease and comfortable when you are in the house. You might have even noticed that they have no problem with the dark when you are home.

So it is not really the dark they are afraid of, it is either separation anxiety or their dependence on you that makes them react badly to the dark after you leave.

Dogs also have a keen sense of smell and very strong hearing, so they can always make out if something is wrong in the dark.

If your dog seems to be afraid of the dark, they either have a deteriorating vision or other issues like separation anxiety. You need to consult your veterinarian to figure out what the exact problem is.

Do Lights Affect Your Dog’s Sleep Schedule?

It actually doesn’t matter too much to dogs whether it is light or dark, they can sleep at any time. In fact, a lot of dogs sleep during the day and stay active at night.

However, as dogs live with us, they start adapting to our schedule. Well-trained dogs will follow the same schedule as their owner and sleep at night.

This is good because you want your dog to be active during the day when you can take care of him and asleep at night when you are sleeping or not around.

Choosing the right kind of light will ensure that lights don’t interrupt their sleep schedule.

Also Read: Why Does My Dog Scratch the Bed Sheets?

Picking a Light for Your Dog

There are 2 main considerations while choosing a light for your dog:

Safe and Dog Friendly

Safety is the most important thing with any device you leave on for your pet in the home. It shouldn’t be a fire hazard and should be in a place where your dog can’t trip over it or knock it over.

Ensure that the light doesn’t overheat and isn’t overly bright. Lights that are too strong can damage your dog’s eyes.


Smart night lights are great because you can control when they turn on and off. They are also energy efficient and will save you money on your electricity bill.

Lights that can change colors and be dimmed if needed also come in handy. Night lights with timers and advanced features are a lot more comfortable for both you and your furry friend.

Also Read: Why Do Dogs Lick Blankets?

Wrapping Up

Leaving a light on for your dog has several advantages. It can help them feel calm and relaxed when you are not home and it helps them navigate the house in the dark.

However, it is a matter of preference. If your dog is okay without a night light, you don’t need to leave a light on for them. If you do choose to get one, make sure it is pet-friendly and suitable for your dog.