Two Week Decompression Cheat Sheet

Basically, the two-week decompression is for the dog to learn about how to be a dog in a home, provide structure and rules, and give them the foundation to succeed in being a house dog.  Every dog is different, so this process may take weeks to months.

  1. Run that dog! Making sure they burn off extra energy is very important to help them relax.  Playing in the yard (on a long line if not fenced or on it if they are at risk for escape).  A tired dog means a less mischievous dog
  2. If you do take them for a walk, pre-think the route. Being out and about is very stimulating and can be overwhelming to a dog in a new place, with a new person.  Avoid as much stimulation as possible for the first 14 days.  Get to know the neighborhood’s quirks before you walk the dog, so you can plan the route accordingly.  Keep the walks short at first. 
  3. No socialization yet. No dog parks, pet stores, friend’s homes, etc. It’s too much stimulation and the dog needs to trust you wholly before you can both be comfortable in locations like these.  This also means no car rides unless it’s to a vet.  No meet and greets with potential adopters during the 2-week decompression!!
  4. Limit freedom.  Limit their freedom with a crate (I’d suggest a wire one for better visibility), or leashed to you umbilical-style. It helps them understand that you are the person to trust. You are the person who brings good things. It keeps them from having accidents, making mistakes, getting into trouble, as you can easily correct behavior if they are attached to you. Building that trust and setting boundaries all at the same time.
  5. Restrict access to resident animals. This doesn’t mean they won’t be allowed to play eventually. Or see each other.  Baby gates are great tools for this.  Move dogs in a rotation, where the new dog and the resident dog(s) take turns in crates/gated areas.  Slow intros with short bursts of playtime.
  6. No furniture privileges at first. This is about setting boundaries. It fully depends on the dog, and you, and what privileges you intend to allow. But furniture access should be by invitation only at the best of times. And never too soon.
  7. Do not give your new foster dog unstructured affection. Any and all affection from you must have a purpose. No kissy face or baby talk. I know it is hard, especially when they have likely never had love before but you will not be helping them or yourself if you do this
  8. Safety first! Do not put your face in a new dogs face.  That is just purely asking for a bite incident.  Don’t hug your new dog, hugs to dogs are a threatening gesture.
  9. Do not allow your new dog to “go ahead of you”. Establish this rule right away. You go out and in FIRST through the door. In fact, it is a good idea to have them sit before they can enter, before you leash up, etc.  This is very important for dominant and alpha dogs.