Settling a rescue dog at night is one of the trickiest things that those who’ve adopted a dog have to contend with. There’s a good chance that your new pooch may not be used to sleeping inside, and may be used to having to stay awake and be constantly on their guard. It can take them a long time to get used to the idea that their safety isn’t under threat and learn to trust their surroundings.
It may sound selfish, but there are other considerations to bear in mind too. You don’t want them to be too restless to the extent that they keep you awake – or bark loudly and subsequently affect your relationship with your neighbors. With this in mind, here are some tips to follow to ensure that settling a rescue dog at night doesn’t prove to be too problematic…
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1. Make sure their bed is ready
Ahead of picking them up, make sure their dog bed (or crate) is set up and ready. It might even be an idea to hide some of the best dog treats in it to entice them there. Start by placing the treats close to their sleeping area and then slowly pop them by the entrance and finally, all the way in.
It's important not to try and force your dog into their bed or crate, be patient and give them time to get comfortable with their new sleeping space. Alongside treats, a few of the best dog chew toys can also help to soothe any stress or anxiety they may be feeling about being in a new environment.
2. Keep their bed close to you
Being in close proximity to you may help your dog to sleep better, so with this in mind, you may like to move their bed or crate into your room - that way, you'll be close to them if there is any discomfort. If you would rather not sleep in the same room as your dog then you can move the bed gradually further away from you over time once they’re more settled.
3. Keep them separate from your other pets (at least initially)
The last thing you want to do is overwhelm your dog. If you have other pets, then wait for a while until introducing them and make sure that they sleep in separate rooms to begin with.
4. Make sure they’re settled
Ensure they’ve been fed and been to the toilet before putting them to bed to avoid them waking up during the night. If it’s a young dog, quickly learning how to potty train a puppy can help make those bedtime hours easier, and playing with them for 30 minutes before bed also works wonders in tiring them out so they'll settle.
5. Be weary of crying
As hard as it may be, don’t immediately go to them if they howl or whine. Immediately responding to them will reinforce their behavior, and encourage them to do this even more.
It may be an idea to inform neighbors that you're getting a rescue dog and let them know that there might be some noise.
Settling a rescue dog at night: in summary
Settling a rescue dog at night involves a number of things: sticking to a routine, keeping your dog feeling safe and secure, and ensuring they have everything that they need. It won’t always be easy, and there will undoubtedly be difficulties along the way, but ultimately it’s all worth it. Adopting a rescue dog will be one of the most rewarding things you ever do, and it’s worth sticking with. If you've decided to go for it, check out our handy guide on how to adopt a dog and our dog adoption tips, with vet-certified advice to help make the process smooth sailing.
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Steve writes and proofreads buying guides, news stories and advice for Pets Radar, drawing on his lifelong experience as a pet owner. Currently sharing his house with two cats and a dog, he draws on the many highs and occasional lows of pet ownership he has borne witness to in his writing. He has worked in publishing for 15 years as an editor, sub editor and writer on a range of titles, such as SciFiNow, How It Works, All About History, Real Crime and Horrorville. You can follow him on Twitter @stevewright22