There are many reasons why dogs are afraid of the dark.
Dogs are known for being very loyal animals, but did you know that dogs can be afraid of the dark. They love their owners unconditionally and will follow them anywhere. But did you know that dogs also fear the dark?
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, dogs are afraid of the dark due to a lack of light receptors in their eyes. When exposed to darkness, dogs may become anxious and confused.
Do you ever notice how your dog behaves when the lights are turned off?
- Do they seem anxious, restless, or afraid?
- Do they whine or curl up in a corner?
There may be times when you wonder if your dog is afraid of the dark. You are not alone. Thousands of people across the country are wondering the same thing.
According to most veterinarians, dogs can see significantly better than human beings. Their eyes contain more light-sensitive cells (or rods) that enable them to see well.
The simple answer ‘Can dogs be afraid of the dark?’ is “yes”.
For a deeper understanding of this, we will examine the circumstances that may lead to this behavior.
Basic Reasons Behind a Dogs Fear of the Dark
1. Lack of Light Receptors
Light receptors in the eye allow humans to see objects clearly. Dogs have similar receptors, but they aren’t sensitive to all wavelengths of light.
2. Fearful Behavior
Many breeds of dogs exhibit fearful behavior when left alone during the night. For instance, German Shepherds tend to bark loudly when left alone at night.
Some dogs suffer from anxiety disorders. These conditions cause excessive stress and nervousness when they’re left alone.
In addition to feeling stressed out, dogs that are left alone at night may feel disoriented and confused.
5. Sleep Disorders
Dogs that are left alone at nighttime may sleep too much or too little. Overly tired dogs may fall asleep during daytime hours, causing owners to worry about their safety.
6. Nighttime Predators
Nighttime predators like raccoons and owls prey on sleeping dogs.
Dogs are afraid of the dark. They’re also afraid of thunderstorms, fireworks, and scary movies. But are dogs really afraid of the dark?
The fear of the dark is more likely to occur if your dog suffers from a medical condition. There are no documented studies showing that dogs suffering from specific health issues are afraid of the dark.
It should be noted, however, that dogs are susceptible too many health issues that leave them feeling uneasy or queasy all the time. The light being turned off only adds to this feeling of uneasiness.
Previous trauma or bad experience
This type of behavior is most likely to be found in dogs that have been rescued. Dogs who have been rescued may have been traumatized in the past.
They may have experienced this at night when they were less alert. Darkness will be associated with trauma in their minds. Once the lights are switched off, they will become anxious and uneasy.
Some dogs may have lived alone in dark sheds for a long period. In their minds, the darkness is associated with bad stuff, so they can’t wait for the daybreak when they can have some fun. They’re likely to whine in low tones when the light switches are turned off. As soon as the sun rises, they’re ready for their daily activities.
If you know your dog’s medical history, you might be able to figure out what his/her trauma was.
If they were separated from their families when young, they might feel lonely.
They just want to get closer to people or other members in their own species.
If you want to keep your new puppy, you might consider getting another one for companionship or allowing it to stay in the house near humans.
Old age affects their vision
As they grow older, dogs may develop eye diseases that could cause vision loss.
Once they realize that they cannot see in the dark as well as they used to, they may begin feeling uneasy every time you switch off the lights.
If an older dog develops cataract, his vision may become impaired. They are not able to see well in the dark. It could cause them to move slower than normal, which might lead to them falling or crashing into objects.
If this is the situation, the first thing to consider is consulting your vet. If they’ve already had experience treating your dog for similar issues, they might be able to help you figure out what’s causing your dog’s loss of sight. You should also try to keep your dog in a place where the light stays on throughout the night.
You should also use rewards to make the puppy feel comfortable in this new environment even if there is no light in the other areas.
Make sure that there aren’t any items near where your dog rests that he might accidentally knock down and hurt himself.
Stress or separation anxiety
Like humans, dogs also experience stress and separation anxieties. Dogs are social creatures that need constant attention from their owners.
Some dogs need more affection than others. For instance, a poodle has a higher chance of suffering from separation anxiety compared with a German Shepherd.
A Poodle is a friendly dog who is meant to be a companion for people. The GSD is a guardian dog who has protective instinct.
If a pet is suffering from separation anxiety, they may be destructive by biting things and being clumsy. If you notice any of these signs, then it might mean that your pet has separation anxiety.
When there is less activity at night, they may be more anxious and this could cause them to feel fearful.
You need to establish command and find some time daily to engage them or take them out for a walk. This might help in alleviating the anxiety they may be feeling when darkness creeps in.
Ways to help if your dog is afraid of the dark
You do not want to have a stressed-out dog in your household. You never know how they will react to different situations. If you can, find some ways to alleviate this anxiety.
Here are some ways you can help your dog overcome their fear of darkness.
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Leave a light on for them
Leave one light on at bedtime. They will feel safer if they can see what’s going on around them.
Keep the pup close
Some dogs are extremely sensitive, especially when they’re young. The best way to help them feel better would be to keep them near you.
You could probably keep a dog bed in your bedroom. They will be less likely to worry if they know that you’re nearby.
Try calming products
You can buy various products to help your pet relax and stay calm before bedtime. Before doing anything new for your pet, you should definitely talk to your vet first.
There are sprays and shampoos for dogs to help them relax.
Your vet will recommend the right products for your dog.
Give them attention before bedtime
Perhaps all they really need is some loving and affection before they can go to sleep.
Schedule some play time before bed every night.
It will help the dog get some rest by using its energy to stay awake during the night instead of wasting energy worrying about shadows.
Consult an animal behaviorist
If you don’t know what’s wrong with your pet, seek professional advice.
A behavioral specialist can determine why your pet is scared of the dark and come up with a plan that will benefit both you and your pet.
Most fears and anxieties that dogs experience can be addressed by proper training, attention, or medications.
Positive reinforcement can help dogs overcome their fear of the darkness. If all other treatments for your pet’s condition have failed, then only consider using medications.
You may also try leaving the dog in complete darkness for short periods. If the dog survives this test uneventfully, give them a treat.
Extend the duration gradually and you may find them surviving the night without an issue.
Answers to Popular Questions
Can Dogs See Better Than Humans During Darkness
It may seem like humans are the only creatures that fear the dark, but dogs actually possess superior vision during darkness. Their eyes contain rods instead of cones, so they can see much better in low light conditions.
Dogs Have Superior Hearing Compared With Humans
Dogs’ hearing is far superior to ours. They can hear sounds we cannot, including high-pitched noises and ultrasonic frequencies.
Dogs Fear Thunderstorms
Thunderstorms produce strong winds and heavy rain that can cause damage to homes and property. Many dogs become anxious when storms approach.
Dogs Are Scared By Fireworks
Fireworks consist of small pieces of colored paper that burst into flames when lit. These sparks travel upward until they reach the sky, creating beautiful displays of color. However, some dogs find these explosions frightening.
Dogs Are Terrified Of Movies Featuring Ghosts And Monsters
Many dogs are scared of horror films featuring ghosts and monsters. They bark loudly and run away from the screen whenever they hear the sound of footsteps or rustling leaves.
Dogs Are Afraid Of Spiders
Spiders are creepy crawlers that can make pets nervous. They spin webs and jump out of hiding places to catch insects.
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