Rescue Dog Series – The First 24 Hours

Welcome to the second article in our rescue series! I’m Valerie from SSH Canine Academy, and I’ve been working with dogs since 2015. Over the years, I’ve helped countless rescue dogs and their owners adjust to their new life together. In this series, we aim to provide guidance to those who are about to introduce a new rescue dog into their home. We’ll cover everything from the preparation stage to common behavior problems and how to address them. In this article, we will focus on the first 24 hours with your rescue and what to expect.


It’s important to understand that every dog is unique, and their adjustment period may vary. If your rescue dog appears a bit anxious, keep in mind that they are still acclimating to their new surroundings. They’ve recently transitioned from their foster family or a shelter to your home, which can be overwhelming at first. During the decompression stage, which typically lasts around 3 days, it’s perfectly normal for them to exhibit behaviors like reduced appetite, minimal water intake, and a tendency to hide.


For Dogs

· DO meet on neutral territory.

· DO go for a pack walk before re-entering the home.

· DO make the experience pleasant for the dogs.

· DO separate dogs if the situation becomes overwhelming.

· DON’T have high-value treats or toys available for the dogs.

· DON’T force interactions between dogs.

For People

· DO wait for the dog to approach you. Allowing the dog to control these interactions builds confidence in new situations.

· DO introduce people one by one, gradually incorporating more people to prevent overwhelming your dog.

· DON’T force interactions with your new dog.

· DON’T introduce your entire family all at once; depending on the dog, this might be overwhelming.

· DON’T pet the dog over the top of their head, as this can be frightening for some dogs, especially when meeting new people.

Potty Breaks

Regardless of your dog’s age or training, it’s common for them to experience some regression in potty training when introduced to a new environment, especially if they are feeling nervous or anxious. Ensure they have ample opportunities to relieve themselves and take them out for a potty break before bedtime to set them up for success. If you encounter challenges in the beginning, consider revisiting the

basics: schedule potty breaks every 2 hours, after naps, following play sessions, and 15 minutes after eating or drinking.

The First Night

It’s crucial to prioritize your new dog’s comfort during their initial night in your home. It’s entirely normal for them to cry or whimper during their first night in an unfamiliar place. If they become restless, you can offer them some gentle pets. However, if they don’t settle down after a short while, it’s important to allow them the opportunity to self-soothe and relax. If they continue to show signs of distress after 5 minutes, take them for a straightforward potty break and then return them indoors. Repeat this process as needed. This will help your new dog understand that crying is a way to communicate their need to go outside for a bathroom break.


Remember, every dog is unique, and these are general guidelines designed to assist adopted dogs who may be a bit skittish or unsure about new surroundings and people. If you’re adopting a dog that is well-adjusted, you may be able to skip some of these steps. It’s essential to consider the individual needs and comfort levels of the dog you are adopting. Thank you for providing a loving home to your furry friend, and stay tuned for our next article, which will cover the “Rule of 3.”

Article by Valerie, Founder and Owner of SSH Canine Academy

Helping Pet Parents understand their dogs building better bonds and communication.

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