Soothe a new puppy or rescue dog to sleep with this trainer's helpful advice - it's great for building trust

Dog sleeping on a bed
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It’s no secret that many of our dogs love to sleep. Often, they seem to enjoy snoozing just as much as they do playing and going for walks. 

But when a dog has a new home, whether they’re a rescue dog or they’re a puppy away from their mother and littermates for the first time, they might not find sleeping too easy. For whatever reason, they may be a bit anxious or unsure about going to sleep. 

So, what can you do to help them? Dog trainer and behaviorist Louise Glazebrook has offered a few simple steps on Instagram designed to help your new pup go to sleep calmly and happily – and you won’t even need the best dog treats to hand. 

First, Glazebrook explains in her post, it’s best to ensure that your new dog is somewhere comfortable, like a bed or sofa, at a time when you know they’re tired, but they’re too unsure or anxious to go to sleep.

“Place your hand on their chest so they see it, smell it, and know where it is,” says Glazebrook in the post. “If they are okay with that and don’t try to get away from it, then do the next steps.”

Gently move your hand in downward, circular motions, but don’t ruffle your dog’s fur or press too hard. And as they begin to drift off to sleep, keep your hand there – but you can stop moving it. Once your pup is asleep, it’s fine to gently remove your hand, but don’t go.

When settling a rescue dog at night, “You must stay seated and close by,” explains Glazebrook. “So, if your dog opens their eyes, they can see you are still there. Do not try to do it and run off. That defeats the whole purpose of helping an uncertain dog feel secure”. 

It’s important to remember that, while this might seem like a lot of work, it’s not something you’ll be doing forever. As Glazebrook says, “When we are trying to settle, reassure, and provide safety, contact is key”. 

What if you have a new puppy and they’re fine getting to sleep, but don’t stay asleep all night? Here’s how to get a puppy to sleep through the night. Meanwhile, if you have a rescue dog who’s finding things a little tricky, you might find this pet parent’s experience useful: I tried everything to help my nervous rescue dog settle in — here’s what actually worked.

Whether you have a puppy or an older rescue dog, however, remember that it’s likely to take a little bit of time until they’re totally comfortable and at ease. After all, moving to a new home is a big change for them. But, with your support and patience, they’ll have a much better chance of adjusting sooner rather than later. 

Adam England
Freelance Writer

Adam is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle, health, culture, and pets, and he has five years' experience in journalism. He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' Golden Retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.