How and When Puppies Should Sleep in the Dark

Should puppies sleep in the dark?

Puppies should be trained to sleep at night (when it is dark) and be awake during the day, as their humans generally do.

However, if your puppy is afraid of the dark, a night light can be helpful on a temporary basis. It can also help a puppy navigate a new environment without injuries.

There is a lot that is worth knowing about puppies and dogs and how well they are able to sleep depending on how much light is around them.


Puppies May Need Some Light to Sleep

Whether or not a puppy should be sleeping in the dark really depends on that specific puppy. There are a few factors that might determine whether or not you should leave a light on in the house.

Some puppies, just like some adult dogs, could be afraid of the dark. This could be particularly pronounced if they are in a new home with new people, which puppies often are.

The system of a puppy works in a similar manner to that of a human. Melatonin controls sleeping and waking times. Melatonin is a hormone that plays a role in sleep regulation. When it is dark in the surroundings, the level of melatonin will increase in the body.

This means that if you turn off the lights, it can help regulate your puppy’s system and make it so that they get used to sleeping at night.

However, this is not necessarily going to work if your puppy is actually afraid of the dark. In this case, it might be a good idea to use a night light in the room where they sleep, or near their crate if you have them sleeping in a crate.

You might want to get a night light with a sensor, so that it is only on when your puppy is around. You also want to make sure that it is not in a location where your puppy will be able to reach it and potentially chew it up, as this could be dangerous to the puppy and cause unnecessary destruction.

Night lights that can be propped flat against the wall will be safer for your puppy. If you use a night light, you will be able to calm your puppy down, so that both of you can sleep better at night.


Dogs Do Not Need Darkness to Sleep

You might be wondering whether dogs actually need darkness to be able to fall asleep. However, if you have observed your puppy or dog, you have likely seen them sleeping during the daytime, when it is light out. Dogs can sleep during different times of the day, whether it is dark or not.

You should also remember that dogs generally sleep a lot more than humans do. Human beings sleep about six to nine hours every day, while dogs often sleep 16 or more hours every day.

Because they sleep so much, it is almost inevitable that they will be sleeping during the daytime at least sometimes.

However, it is believed that dogs actually do sleep better when it is dark. This might seem a little bit counterintuitive, because dogs are descended from wolves. Wolves are nocturnal animals, meaning that they are typically awake at night and sleep during the day.

It is important to remember, though, that dogs are not wolves. They have moved far away from their wolf lineage and have been cohabiting with humans for millennia.

Since dogs and humans started living together, dogs have been following the schedule of humans, meaning that they are generally awake during the day and sleep at night. There are a few facts that suggest that dogs sleep better when it is dark outside, and they are as follows:

  • At night, there are fewer stimuli, such as noise. Because of this, dogs’ brains have the opportunity to relax. Typically, their sleep is going to be longer and deeper, just as it is for humans at night. Generally, darkness produces a response that is relaxing and signals to the brain that it is now time to rest.
  • Even if dogs sleep for many hours during the day, they usually sleep even more at night. They spent quite a bit of time being active and using up energy during the day, meaning it is easier for them to sleep at night, when it is dark and quiet.
  • Usually, dogs follow the schedule of their humans, meaning that if you go to sleep when it’s dark, your dog usually will as well.

Since dogs seem to sleep better when it is dark, there is evidence that suggests that puppies would as well. Of course, every dog and every puppy is going to be different, so it would be a good idea to observe the one you have in your house and make sure that they are seeming to thrive with the sleep schedule that you are putting them on.

It would be good to observe your puppy when you are leaving the house or are going to bed. You should watch their behavior and note if they are behaving in an anxious or relaxed manner.

Body language is very important when you are observing a dog, since the dog cannot speak to you the way another human can.

If you see that your puppy is responding negatively to darkness, it might be good to leave the night light on. If you do this, make sure to put safety first and ensure that the night light is not going to be a fire hazard. Also, make sure never to leave a light or lamp anywhere where your dog will be able to reach it.


Leaving a Puppy in the Dark Can Be Dangerous

Dogs actually can see at least a little bit in the dark. They have better night vision than humans do. They can see better than humans can whether the lighting is bright or dim.

Dogs and puppies cannot see quite as well as cats can, but they do have larger pupils and more light-sensitive rods in their retinas than humans do.

Additionally, they have the tapetum, which behaves as a light reflector within their eyes. It helps them see well when the lighting is low. Dogs ‘eyes can use the small amounts of light available better than the eyes of humans.

However, even though a dog or puppy can see when it is relatively dark, they will not be able to see when there is no light at all.

If a dog is in an environment that is familiar in complete darkness, they will be able to find their way around just because they know the home and have memorized the layout.

If a dog is in a new place, they might stumble and bump into things in complete darkness because they cannot see and are just not familiar with where everything is.

This might apply to a puppy that you have just brought into your home, as the puppy is still learning the layout of your home and does not necessarily know where to go when they get hungry or thirsty.

Generally, it is not a good idea to leave a dog or puppy in complete darkness for long periods of time. However, if you are just leaving the house for a little while in the evening, it is usually okay to leave your dog without lights until you get home. Usually, there are some sources of light that will make it so that your dog can at least see where they are going in your home.

Another option is to leave a light on for your dog at night, so that there is at least a little bit of light for your dog or puppy to be able to navigate around the house.

You can try a night light, for example. Light bulbs with timers or light sensors might also be a good idea.


Signs That a Puppy or Dog Is Afraid of the Dark

Generally, if your puppy or dog is afraid of the dark, they will show it in some way. There are few common signs that indicate that one of our canine friends is afraid of the dark. Some of these signs are as follows:


Destructive behavior    

If you see that your dog has been chewing on things in the house or digging up the trash, and this happens only when the lights are out, it could be an indication that your dog is afraid of the dark.


Being very upset in the dark      

If your dog is abnormally upset when they are alone in the dark and display behaviors such as barking and whining that they don’t at other times, this could be another sign. Your dog might also be more startled by outside noises when it is dark than when it is light.



If your dog hides in unusual places when it is dark, this might mean a fear of the dark.


Injuries to the claws

These can be a result of digging or scratching at doors in the house, which is a common behavior when a dog is anxious.

In some cases, if you leave your dog at home alone and they bark a lot during this time, this could be an indicator that the dog is not very comfortable in the dark.

However, this is not necessarily the case, as the dog could simply be barking due to separation anxiety.

In order to tell which one is the case, what you can do is leave the lights on the next time you go out and leave your dog at home by themselves. Then, you can ask someone who lives in the area if your dog was barking or not while you were gone. If the dog did not bark, this likely means that it is the dark that makes your dog uncomfortable.


There Are Ways to Help Your Puppy Sleep

Whether you have your puppy in light or darkness at night, there are other things that can help your puppy fall asleep if they are having trouble sleeping at night.


Have your puppy sleep in a crate.

You might want to have your puppy sleep in the bed with you eventually, but at first, it is best if the puppy is sleeping in a crate.

You can let them sleep in other places once they have grown accustomed to sleeping at night, or are completely potty-trained. At this point, they are more likely to be happily acclimated to the crate and understand that it is their safe and happy place.


Make your dog’s crate comfortable.

Dogs are often very resilient when it comes to finding a sleeping spot. However, they will often sleep better if they are comfortable as well. This is why it is a good idea to line your puppy’s crate with blankets or towels, although you might not want to do this if you know your puppy is going to chew or eat them. A comfortable dog bed might also be a good idea.


Give your puppy plenty of exercise.

It would be a good idea to make sure that your puppy has a lot of exercise before bedtime and throughout the evening if possible.

If they are sitting around at night, they are more likely to sleep earlier in the day, so they are going to be wide awake when you are trying to sleep. If you spend 20 to 30 minutes playing with your puppy during the evening, this can tire them out, not to mention the fact that physical exercise is good for their health overall.

It can also help get everything moving inside of them, so they will be able to do their business and be less likely to do it in the house that night. Mental exercise can also be good for your puppy, engaging their brain and putting them in a frame of mind where they are more likely to be sleepy.


Give them late night snacks and potty breaks.

You don’t want to feed your puppy right before they go to sleep, but a small meal a couple of hours before bedtime might be a good idea, to prevent them from waking up hungry in the middle of the night.

You also want to take them for one last potty break before bedtime, so that your puppy will not need to go in the middle of the night. Puppies cannot hold their bladders for very long, so they may not be able to sleep very well if they still need to go to the bathroom at bedtime.

When they reach about 16 to 18 weeks of age, they will be better able to hold it throughout the night.


Establish a routine.

Just as most human beings have a nighttime routine, the same might help for your puppy.

They should not be expected to know that it is time for bed just because it hits a certain time. Instead, what you should do is start establishing a routine, such as some playtime, a final potty break, or a snack.

They will begin to associate this with bedtime.


Don’t Leave Your Puppy Completely in the Dark…

As you can see, there are many recommendations out there that it is good to leave a night light on for your puppy when you first bring them home.

Of course, it depends quite a bit on your specific puppy. You should remember that just like humans, all dogs and puppies have their own personalities and preferences. While some puppies might be completely fine with sleeping in the dark, others might have a fear of the dark.

It is a good idea to observe your puppy when it is dark in your house. If they show any signs of anxiety that seem to be a result of the darkness, it might be a good idea to get a night light or have some other light source in the home.

This might just be a temporary solution, until your puppy is used to the new household and used to the darkness.

Once your puppy is used to the darkness, it is possible that they will be able to sleep throughout the night with no night light and no problem.

There is no one right answer to whether or not puppies should be sleeping in the dark.

Just like many other cases when you have a new puppy, you simply need to observe them and make sure they are in the best situation possible. Making sure that your puppy is relaxed and comfortable in their new home is the best way to ensure a good start to your life together.


Writer: Nilani Thiyagarajah

About me