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Do Dogs Like to Sleep in the Dark? What to Know!

Chelsea Mortensen Profile Picture

By Chelsea Mortensen

brown chow chow dog sleeping on the floor

If you’re trying to get your dog on a good sleep schedule, you know the importance of a comfortable environment. But it isn’t always obvious what the best solutions are. When it comes to sleeping in the dark, though, the answer is clear. Yes, dogs like to sleep in the dark. Most mammals have circadian rhythms that help them know when to sleep, and darkness can help your dog sleep better and know it is bedtime.

You might notice that your dog naps throughout the day when it’s light outside. That’s totally normal. In fact, since dogs sleep more than humans, it’s almost inevitable that dogs will sleep in the day sometimes. But they still benefit from several hours of darkness at night to help them get their deepest sleep. Read on to learn more!

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But Wolves are Nocturnal!

Some owners think that because wolves hunt at night, dogs should be more active at night too. But this is one difference between dogs and wolves that is due to domestication. Dogs have lived with humans for tens of thousands of years, and during those years, they’ve adapted to our sleep schedule. This means that dogs will naturally sleep at night, although they might frustrate you by waking up with the sun.

grey wolf
Image Credit: keyouest, Pixabay

Creating a Comfortable Sleeping Space for Your Dog

Dogs should have a soft, comfortable bed in a safe place to sleep. Many dogs feel safest in a crate or small space that mimics a cozy den, especially if they are used to sleeping there. Dogs can also be happy sleeping in your bed, although there are some drawbacks to co-sleeping, too.

The area should be as dark as possible, especially if your dog struggles with sleeping. Cover or turn off lights on electronics and consider blackout curtains to limit light. Limit excess noise as well—if possible, put them in a part of the house where they’ll be quiet and undisturbed. If they hear people talking past bedtime, it might disrupt their sleep.

groenendael dog sleeping in vinyl bed
Image Credit: Pixabay

Addressing Anxiety Around the Dark

Sometimes, dogs show signs of being afraid of the dark—for example, whining or acting anxious when you turn the lights out. This fear of the dark probably isn’t what you think it is, though. Dogs have excellent night vision, so they aren’t usually afraid of the dark because they can’t see.

However, if your dog has separation anxiety and sleeps apart from you, lights out might be an anxiety trigger. That’s because your dog associates the dark with being alone. Working on your dog’s anxiety can help your dog feel more comfortable sleeping away from you—light or dark.

French Bulldog snuggling beside owner
Image Credit: Mylene2401, Pixabay

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Last Thoughts

Training a dog to sleep through the night can be tough, but it’s an important part of pet ownership. Creating a dark, safe environment will help your dog know when it’s time to settle down for the night and make it easier for you and your dog.


Featured Image Credit: Pim-upsorn Aunskul, Shutterstock

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