Dogs in the dark

Dogs in the dark

Before discovering 4lite’s smart lighting, Beth Robinson and partner Aiden Jordan would leave their lights on all day whenever they had to leave their dog home alone.

The pair became dog owners during the pandemic, adopting seven-year-old Arlo on Boxing Day 2020 from a charity sanctuary. Arlo, a Labrador-hound cross, was rescued from Spain where he had living in a shelter for over a year. While his past is unknown, he bears scars to his face and a slit in his ear, suggesting he could have been used for hunting.

Beth, 27, of Cambridgeshire, said: “I’ve always had dogs growing up and we talked about adopting to give a dog a better life than they’d otherwise have. As soon as we saw Arlo, we just loved him. The silver lining of the pandemic was that we worked from home and didn’t have to go into the office as much. He did settle in well but, as he has no back story, we’re unsure what he’s been exposed to and were nervous about having to leave him when I went back to work in London which is quite a long commute.

“The first time we left Arlo, my parents went over to walk him at lunchtime and he rushed over to them and was very excitable so we think he might have been unsettled throughout the day. I’d heard that leaving the light on may make dogs feel more comfortable so we thought we’d give that a try and got a camera so we could check in on him. We also closed the living room curtains so he didn’t get distracted by people walking by and he has free reign of the house. It definitely made a difference and now he’s in the routine, he relaxes a lot more.

“Of course, leaving three lights on all day does lead to higher energy bills so I was interested in smart lighting. Now we can turn the lights on and off when we need to such as when it starts to get dark and can dim the lights which makes it a lot more cosy for him. It’s really good for us and Arlo seems to like it too, he’s always in the living room sleeping on the sofa next to the lamp! It’s great to be able to create a surrounding that’s more comfortable for Arlo using lighting. The smart bulbs from 4lite were really simple; I was actually shocked at how straight forward they were to set up and use. It was funny watching Arlo when we were setting them up; you could tell he noticed how the lights were dimming and getting brighter so it will be really interesting to explore this a bit more and to see if playing with the colours will make a difference too.”

Top Tips to Help Pets Stay Happy at Home

4lite has conducted new research about how pets cope when they’re home alone.

The research found three quarters of owners say their dog exhibits negative behaviours when they are left home alone such as whining, barking, pacing, and appearing sad, with more extreme instances of dogs destroying items in the home, urinating, soiling, vomiting and even self-mutilating. As a result, 82% of first-time dog owners say they are worried about leaving their pet home alone. Leaving on the lights, TV and radio are the most common techniques used by owners to comfort their dogs when they go out.

However, leaving the light on all day can be a drain on energy bills and without careful planning, the using the wrong lighting can cause issues of its own.

4lite’s solution is its range of smart lighting which can be set to switch on at specific times, e.g. when the sun sets, or via motion so you’re only lighting your home when you need it. If you’re out longer than expected, you can even turn your lights on remotely from your smartphone. With millions of colours and thousands of hues, you can also adjust the brightness and colour of your lights to reach your perfect settings.

4lite smart bulbs use WiZ technology and can be controlled by smart phone or voice control devices such as Google, Alexa, Siri, Samsung Smart Things without the need for a home hub. Simply use in place of a regular bulb and pair the device with your phone.

4lite’s tips on smart lighting for pets, prepared in partnership with clinical animal behaviourist and trainer Hanne Grice, founder of Hanne Grice Pet Training & Behaviour

  • Set schedules: Leaving a light on is one of the most common techniques dog owners employ when going out. However, if you leave it on all day so your dog isn’t left in darkness by the time you get home, you’re likely to be using more energy than you need. Instead, set your smart lighting to switch on at the time it starts to get dark. You can programme the lights to turn on automatically at sunset so you don’t have to change your settings as the days get longer.

  • Light up slowly: Lights spontaneously turning on brightly could trigger a startle response so consider a lighting schedule that mimics your dog’s circadian rhythm and brightens slowly. Keep it natural with soft daylight hues by day, transitioning to warmer hues in the evening.

  • Stay dim: Dogs can see better in low-light levels than humans. Therefore, they won’t necessarily benefit from the brightest light settings. Dim lighting is best and also helps promotes relaxation for your dog.

  • Be mindful: Some lights have a high-frequency or intensity flicker which can have a detrimental effect, distressing pets. Avoid this by choosing high quality LED lights. If you can notice a flicker, it will be much more noticeable to your pet. In addition, be mindful not to cast shadows or reflections on surfaces which could elicit unwanted behaviours such as fear or shadow chasing.

  • Experiment with colour: Dogs can’t see colour in quite the same way we can as humans, however, they can detect blues and yellows. Therefore, if you want to set colour scenes at home, experiment if brighter yellows and whites are more stimulating compared with more relaxing lighter shades of blue or soft warm yellows. While the lighting levels are more important than colour, setting the colour and pairing this with calming music, food enrichment toys that promote licking and chewing when the owner is home and when snoozing can all help create associations that promote calmness and can then be used when preparing to leave your pet home alone.