Decompression - A Necessary Step for You and Your Dog

What is decompression?

It is what it sounds like...a phase!

When adopting or fostering a dog, the dog may have originally been a stray -- fending for itself for a long time -- or from an abusive or neglectful situation..or just dumped by its human in a loud scary shelter.

You have saved them from a scary place where he or she dealt with loud noises, new neighbors every day, and a concrete floor...yuck! You feel like this new situation is exciting for everyone involved with the new interactions and fun adventures to come. It is a happy time for you and it is also a relief to the dog.


Sweet Snoop enjoying outside time
Sweet Snoop enjoying outside time

Give the furbaby a chance to relax for awhile - no forced doggy dates or traveling. The last thing you want to do at this pivotal point is rush them into a whole new sensational situation. The dog is most likely NOT ready for it and we should be fair to them!

Dogs worry and stress A LOT when they are stuck in a kennel day in and day out, not sure when food is coming next, and are dealing with an over sensation of noises and smells.

Dogs need something called “decompression” to get themselves into a more stable and confident state of mind. They are recovering from something very traumatic and you would not want to push a human to recover the next day from something like that.. Well, neither will the dog!

Begin decompression AS SOON AS you bring the dog home. Decompress for at least 3-5 days.

3 days ….3 weeks …. 3 months The 3 threes … 3 days to relieve tension, 3 weeks to gain trust, 3 months to feel at home

Here are some steps to do when you get a dog from a scary environment:


CREATE A ROUTINE & STICK WITH IT Potty time, feeding in the crate, crate training (build confidence)

BE PATIENT Every dog is an individual and will take his or her own time in allowing you to gain their trust

Introduce Basic Positive Training

  • Crate training

  • Sit

SLOW INTROS to the other dogs or animals Neutral controlled quiet areas such as on a walk outside in the backyard is way better than full frontal in the home!

  • ONLY IF they get along SOCIALIZE outside the house for playtime

It is important for the new dog to build confidence and trust with the other dogs in your home

If you are hesitant with any of these steps … START OVER..

Dogs will sense when you are uncomfortable so do not set them up for failure!

!NEVER allow dogs alone with each other !

Each dog is an individual… so decompression time will vary from dog to dog. Some need only a few days while others may need months. Dogs need a routine that includes exercise, mental stimulation, and play!

If after the decompression phase, the dog starts to show behavioral problems, start to address it with POSITIVE training to get him/her to listen to you and gain that respect.

Contact the rescue for advice or recommendations for a trainer. We love Kayla Delp at K&C Canine Life Skills, LLC.

-->The main reasons that dogs end up at the kill shelters is due to their owners NOT TRAINING them, or rarely interacting with them. Dogs are SOCIAL animals and require more than just water and food.

NUMBER ONE RULE: Keep your new dog/foster in a crate during decompression time when you are not working with them, and ALWAYS when you are not home.

After decompression, and everyone’s acquainted and comfortable, it’s up to you, as the owner/foster, to take responsibility to determine if your pet can stay free in the home, or if they should be crated.

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