Settling A Rescue Dog At Night – First Night Fears

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Settling A Rescue Dog At Night – First Night Fears

There is nothing more exciting than welcoming a new rescued pup into your family.

Though this is a beautiful time that should always be celebrated, it will take some adjusting for everyone involved.

The first night in a new home can be extremely overwhelming for any dog, but especially a rescued one.

Settling a rescue dog at night, especially the first night is often the most challenging, so it’s important to be prepared on how to offer them comfort in their new surroundings.

Let’s get into the most effective ways to settle your rescue dog during your first night together. 

Settling A Rescue Dog At Night

Understanding Your Rescue Dog’s Perspective

Your first night together can be stressful for both you and your new dog, so it’s important to understand your rescue dog’s perspective the moment you adopt them.

Seeing the world from their eyes will not only help you prepare for the first night, but it will also help you bond with your rescue dog going forward. 

Many rescued dogs have an unstable past that makes it challenging for them to find comfort in new settings.

Many are used to an ever changing environment and people coming and going from their lives, which can cause them to be uncomfortable in their own skin.

Due to this, your pup may be on guard for the first few days in your home.

You may even think your rescue dog is scared of everything, but in fact they are just trying to get settled in.

Experts state that it typically takes 3 days for a dog to stop being afraid of their new home, 3 weeks to let their guard down and finally feel comfortable, and up to 3 months for their true personality to shine through.

The 3-3-3 Rule

Learn more about what the 3-3-3 rule for rescue dogs is and how it can help you understand and help your new dog get settled into their new home.

3-3-3 Rule For Rescue Dogs

As long as you are aware of and supportive of this timeline, you can offer your rescue pup the support they need moving forward. 

My Rescue Dog Will Not Calm Down The First Night

It is completely normal for a rescue dog to have a hard time settling down their first night in a new home.

Due to the factors we mentioned above, this experience can be anxiety inducing in many ways.

Your new pup may be in overdrive mode for these reasons, making it really difficult for them to calm down and get some rest.

Taking in so many new sights and smells can be overstimulating, and this will make it tough for some pups to settle. 

Though it is to be expected, there are a list of ways to help your canine friend calm down.

Most of these strategies are aimed at offering your anxious rescue dog comfort, but we will explain each option in detail below.

Why Is My Rescue Dog Crying The First Night?

Not only will many rescue dogs have a hard time calming down the first night in your home, but many will cry and whine throughout the night as well.

Whining and excessive barking is a common sign of anxiety in dogs, so this is to be expected when a dog is put into a new environment.

It will take time for your rescue dog to adjust, so until then, you can expect some whining and possibly some sleepless nights.

Many dogs will whine in their new home during the nighttime hours as a result of having fewer distractions around them.

They may feel uneasy and unsure of their new family, so the nighttime silence can cause some additional anxiety.

Some dogs may also be coming down from an anxious day at this point, causing them to experience some night time stress until they finally fall asleep. 

How To Settle A Rescue Dog At Night

How To Get Your Rescue Dog To Settle At Night

If you have an anxious rescue dog that will not calm down at night, there are a list of ways that you can attempt to comfort them.

Ranging from creating a safe sleeping space to avoiding frustration, let’s discuss some of our favorite tips below.

Be Prepared For A Stressful First Night

One of the most important things to realize is that no matter how wonderful your new rescue dog is, your first night together will likely be a bit stressful.

Whether they are refusing to settle down or you are simply worried about their comfort, you should always expect to get minimal sleep on that first night.

As long as you go into this with that in mind, you will already be ahead of the game.

Try Not To Get Frustrated

Just as important it is to be prepared for a stressful first night, you should also try your best to avoid getting frustrated.

Many rescue dogs will cry or bark occasionally throughout their first night in your home, and it is essential to refrain from yelling back at them.

Your rescue pup may just assume you are engaging with them, which will only make the vocalizations worse.

You also want to offer your new pup as much comfort as possible, and raising your voice the first night will make this impossible.

While it is never helpful to shout at a dog for barking, it is especially unhelpful when they are first getting used to their home.

Offer Them A Cozy Sleeping Space

Giving your dog a cozy sleeping space will help them let their guard down and settle into their cozy bed.

This can be a crate with bedding, a dog bed on the floor of your room, or even your bed if you are okay with this.

The more cozy and safe your pup feels during their first night, the more likely they are to calm down and get some rest.

Reward Them In Their Sleeping Space

Not only can it be difficult for a dog to get comfortable in their new home, but adjusting to their new sleeping space can take time as well.

They were likely used to sleeping in a different setting before getting adopted, so they may have their guard up when approaching their new sleeping area.

Because of this, you will want to make it as positive of an experience as possible.

This means offering them treats each time they crawl into their sleeping space, giving them plenty of praise when they settle down, and making sure the area is quiet and stress free.

The safer they feel in their sleeping zone, the more likely they are to calm down each night.

Remain Close By At First

While every rescue dog is different, most will find comfort in knowing that their newly adopted family is close by as they fall asleep.

They have not yet learned that their new home is free of any danger, so it can be comforting to know that you are watching their back.

If possible, we suggest setting up a sleeping space for them in your room.

This way you can not only comfort them if they need it, but this will kickstart your bonding process.

Make Sure Their Needs Are Met Before Bed

We don’t always know what schedule our rescue dogs were on before you adopted them, so it’s important to make sure their needs are met before you head to bed.

This means taking them outside to go potty, making sure they had a filling dinner, and giving them access to water if they get thirsty overnight.

By making sure their needs are met, you can hopefully promote restful sleep in your anxious pup.

Keep Them Away From Any Other Pets

If possible, we suggest keeping any other pets away from your new rescue dog on their first few nights at home.

Falling asleep can be hard enough for a nervous canine friend, but it can be even more stressful if the presence of other animals is on their mind.

Even if your other pets are harmless, your rescued dog does not know this yet.

Being around unfamiliar dogs can make it challenging for a rescue dog to let their guard down and fall asleep.

Eliminate As Many Distractions As Possible

Being in a new home is overwhelming enough, so you don’t need any distractions keeping your new rescue dog up at night.

Many of these rescues will already be on high alert due to their change in environment, so stimulation from other distractions can keep them up all night.

Any potential distractions could include:

  • Loud voices
  • Other pets
  • Music
  • Light
  • Any other disturbances that could prevent restful sleep

Avoid Caving In Immediately With Crying

This part of the conversation is tough, as there is a fine line between comforting your new dog and enabling bad behavior in the future.

However, most experts will suggest steering away from immediately offering a crying dog attention, as this immediate response can cause a dog to cry for attention in the future.

This gets a bit tricky when discussing the first few nights of having your rescue dog, as they will typically need reassurance throughout the night.

To be safe, we suggest speaking to your rescue dog in a soothing voice if they begin to cry, rather than immediately walking up to them to offer them comfort.

Your voice can at least let them know that you are still there, and hopefully ease any nerves that they may have.

This method offers your rescue dog the comfort they need, while hopefully preventing any attention seeking behavior in the future.

We know this part is tough, and every furry friend will vary on the type of comfort they require.

If it seems like your rescue dog is struggling with some serious anxiety or fear during their first few nights at home, we completely understand giving in and coming to their aid.

Final Thoughts On Settling A Rescue Dog At Night

The first night with your newly adopted dog may be stressful, but your patience and understanding will be rewarded with love down the line.

Just hang in there for this transition period, and you will soon begin to bond with your rescued canine friend.

Peter Schoeman profile

Peter Schoeman

Peter was the creator of the The Dog Adventure. CharityPaws acquired The Dog Adventure in early 2022 in an effort to share our mission of rescuing animals to more readers. He writes about all topics related to dog training, nutrition and the best dog equipment. He resides with his wife, 2 kids and one very cute labradoodle.

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