Bringing your new rescue dog home for the first night is exciting and heartwarming, but where should she sleep? You want your new family member to feel welcome and safe, so sleeping arrangements can be an important part of helping your new dog with this big transition to her new home.
Dogs who have lived in a shelter setting may have abandonment and anxiety issues. Dogs are pack animals and very social. So, even if you plan for your dog to eventually sleep in a separate room or place, allow her to sleep close to your bed for the first night if possible. Make sure she has a comfy bed with sufficient cushion and blankets especially if it is chilly. If your new dog is a puppy or if you are unsure about how housebroken your adult dog is, you may want to put newspaper down around her bed. You might also consider a crate until you have a better sense of your new dog’s behavior.
There are several steps to follow to help ensure a happy night for your new furry friend. The most important one is to make sure she feels secure and close to you. After all, you are her whole new world, and she is dependent upon you for just about everything now.
A Full Tummy and A Late Night Potty Break
No one likes to go to bed hungry! So, make sure your dog has had a good meal. This is a good point to establish a feeding schedule that will be consistent from day to day. This will help reduce any food anxiety that your dog may have. Like people, dogs respond well to a routine.
Make sure your new dog has a chance to go outside and relieve herself before bed. Give her ample time outside to find her spot and take care of business. As much as possible, try to establish a potty break routine at least 3-4 times a day so your new dog will get into the habit of those specific times. With a puppy, potty breaks will be more frequent and a puppy may need to go out 6 or more times a day.
As a safety precaution, you may want to place papers around your new dog’s sleeping area, especially if she is a puppy. And, try not to linger too long in the morning. As soon as you both wake up, take her out for her morning bathroom break or you may wake up to a nasty surprise! Sleep lightly since she may wake up in the middle of the night and need to pee.
Another option is to attach a short leash to your dog’s collar and anchor it by her bed. Dogs will usually not soil their beds, so this will keep them from wandering off and peeing on your bedroom or hallway carpet! But it will be best if you can get up if she stirs and take her outside to pee.
The first night will be the most unsettling for both of you, and neither of you may sleep well. But this will pass!
Crates Can be Helpful on Your Rescue Dog’s First Night
I am not a not a big crate fan for long-term use, although there are exceptions. Some dogs really like their crates, especially smaller breeds as it feels like a secure den.
But even if you do not plan to use the crate on a long-term or regular basis, it is smart to have your dog sleep in a crate for the first night. Make sure the crate is big enough so your dog can stand up and turn around. Put a comfy pad in the crate with lots of fluffy blankets.
If you have a puppy or a really frightened dog, you can also place a soft teddy bear and a hot water bottle wrapped in a blanket in the crate. This will comfort your pooch and remind her of being close to her mother and siblings. It should also help her settle down more quickly and sleep through the night. I would also close the door to the crate for the first night, so she doesn’t wander off and pee in the house. If you hear her moving around a lot or whimpering, then you should probably take her out for a potty break.
Where to Place Your Dog’s Bed on the First Night?
Whether you place your dog in a crate or a dog bed, keep her close to you on the first night and probably for the next few nights. She will feel more secure if you are close by. Dogs are pack animals and do not like to be alone. Sleeping in a strange place all by herself could feel very frightening. See my post How to Comfort and Heal a Rescue Dog for more information about your newly adopted dog’s first day.
If you don’t want your dog to sleep in your bedroom, you can eventually move her farther away from you. But I would make this transition slowly until she feels more secure.
When I adopted a Golden Retriever puppy many years ago, my partner and I made the mistake of placing his bed in a playpen in a different bedroom. The poor pup whined all night long. After a couple of nights of this, we decided to place him in our bedroom. He was much happier and started to sleep through the night. Eventually, he ended up sleeping in our bed. Aside from my legs getting a little squished sometimes, it was actually quite sweet, and he was a much happier dog!
Beds and Bedding Material
I think bolster beds are the best in terms of providing security and comfort. Although, some really large dogs may do better on a large rectangular bed so they can stretch out. But even a large dog usually likes to curl up and snuggle. So, if you do have a large flatbed for your dog, provide some blankets that he can wrap himself up in and make his own little nest. See my page on recommended products for more about beds.
Best Friends by Sheri (Chewy affiliate link) has a great bed for new rescues. It has a cover with imitation fur that mimics a mother’s coat. These beds are really plush, comfy, and oval and allow our dog to burrow in and feel safe. Be.Chew.com also has some great suggestions for Getting Your Puppy Through His First Night.
Additional Comforts For Your Dog’s First Night
Additional comforts for your new pooch may include a small pillow, calming music, a clock that ticks, or perhaps a favorite toy he had at the shelter. Anything that seems familiar or reminds him of being with his mother or pack, will be soothing. Ask the shelter staff to give you any favorite toys, blankets, or pillows he might have had while at the shelter.
Your first night with your new rescue pup will probably be challenging for both of you. But just try to remember how frightening this might be for your new pooch to come home to a new strange place, especially if she has had a rough past. Be sure to also see my post, Everything You Need to Know about Adopting a Rescue Dog for more information.
Eventually, she will settle in, probably within 3-4 days, and begin to feel at home. Keep her close and give her lots of warm, comfy blankets. Just remember that this initial transition is important regarding how your dog accepts her new home as well as you and your family. Provider her with a calm, quiet, and secure space to sleep and hang out, and this will go a long way in reassuring her. She will soon understand that your home is her home as well as a loving, safe haven.