It’s pretty damn awesome of you to look to the shelter to rescue a dog when searching for that new furry family member.
I mean that.
Our nation’s shelter’s, pounds, and humane societies are overflowing with perfectly healthy and awesome dogs who desperately need good homes where they can live out their lives. The fact that you have decided to go there first is great.
But all that greatness will be meaningless if you do not do your homework first, and even more importantly, introduce them to their new home properly. We want it to truly be their fur-ever home right?
I’m not even talking about having the Barkbox subscription underway or spending 200$ on chew toys. There is something even more important that you must be aware of, be cognizant of, and be prepared to implement the moment you take that dog from the shelter.
SHELTERS ARE NOT FUN PLACES
If you have ever walked through the kennels of an animal shelter you surly can attest to the stress of the experience. Perhaps you can remember the first time you entered one. It might have been a memorable experience!
They are very very loud.
It is non stop barking, howling, whining, and yelping. The sound can be deafening at times and if you are not used to it or it is your first time, it can cause a heavy dose of anxiety to rise up your bones and make you want to turn around and walk out.
Now realize that you CAN turn around and walk out. Those dogs can’t. They are there all day, all night, all week, all month. It shouldn’t take too much contemplation to realize this isn’t the ideal setting for any dog. Some dogs can be there for months on end if it is a no-kill shelter.
The longer they are in there the worse the mental trauma can be.
While some dogs will completely shut down others seem to amp up developing numerous anxiety based behaviors that border on neurotic. While the observable behaviors might be different, the source is the same, stress from being in there.
Recognizing that this type of experience can have an impact on a dog’s state of mind, it baffles me how people think that simply putting a leash on the dog and taking it home means everything is suddenly going to be O.K. As if anything is that simple!
So many of these dogs end up back at shelters for a wide variety of reasons, including aggression, because their well intentioned new family did not take the time to research the proper way to bring a dog from this type of environment home. When the dog starts acting in inappropriate ways or even worse, becomes aggressive, everybody is quick to blame the dog’s “troubled past”.
It’s not the dog’s past, it is the dog’s present.
The first day in a new home is not the day to meet other family members, loud and energetic toddlers, other dogs, the cats, the super nosy neighbor who wants to give your new dog hugs and kisses….
NO……NOT AT ALL……
The name is indicative of the what it means in terms of what the dog has been through and what the dog needs. All the stress from the living conditions the dog is coming from needs to be addressed. The dog has been under a lot of stress and pressure.
The dog needs to “decompress” and take some time getting back to a balanced state of mind. This will not be achieved with going from one crazy high activity place to another. The dog should not be introduced to the couch for endless hours of belly rubs on day one because you feel bad the dog had a rough past.
That makes YOU feel good.
This isn’t about you and what you like, this is about what is best for the dog. Remember?
For at LEAST 2-3 WEEKS, your new dog’s life should be incredibly simple and boring. Keep the affection to a bare minimum, keep talking and training to non- existent levels.
You want as much silence as possible.
Have a daily routine or schedule 100% planned out prior to the dog coming home. This should be the dog’s day mapped out. From bathroom breaks, to crate time, to short walks in quiet boring places, the entire day should be on a schedule.
Dogs find exponentially more comfort in routine than they do belly rubs and cuddles. For that reason, keep the affection to a bare minimum. This is not the time to shower the dog with affection as all that will do is reinforce an unbalanced state of mind and confuse the dog as to YOUR role in their lives.
The premise behind decompression is allowing the dog to get back to a neutral and relaxed state of mind, opposite of what it just came from.
Your dog needs leadership and calm predictability.
These two things are crucial to the dog becoming appropriately integrated into your home. Allowing the dog time to decompress without having to deal with a whole new set of intense stimuli will set you all up for a successful future.
WANT TO LEARN MORE?
My free E-Book is the instruction book that should have came with your dog. It’s short and sweet and easy to get through. Learn the very basics of owning a dog FIRST before worrying about the other stuff. What color you paint your walls doesn’t matter if the foundation is wrong. My intention was to sell it, then I realized it’s too important to allow even a penny to come between this book and somebody who needs it. Click below and download your copy!
Simply send me a message via my contact page for more information and we can get you and your home ready! Even if you have already brought them home, we can make sure they are getting everything they need in a way that will help them be completely fulfilled and balanced.
Do You Work For Or With A Shelter or Rescue?
I am actively seeking out organizations to partner with to help dogs by educating potential adopters. In the works are both free pamplets and publications that can be handed out as educational material as well as a comprehensive online course specifically for homes about to adopt or rescue a dog. The more education and guidance available to people, the greater the chances of success for these amazing dogs will be. If you want to learn more about how to help these dogs via my educational outreach email me at kd@socraticcanine.
Common sense we need to be reminded
Thank you very much! I am glad you found it useful.
Thank you amazing common sense which is normally overlooked by the joy and excitement of having perhaps your first dog this basic information should be handed out when people adopt, it would sure help xx
I agree, even a simple tri-fold pamphlet would help!
Thank you so much for sending this. I just adopted a dog who is so very scared of Everything! I’m hoping with some patience we can help him.
This information should be required and stressed at all adoptions
I couldn’t agree more!!
i failed, what now?
its NEVER too late to start over!
true–I got a dog from a shelter and my home is pretty chaotic with kids and a wacky schedule. No one gave me advice about this and within 3 weeks, she was aggressive and wild. I had to give her back. If anyone had taken the time to go over some of this it would have been very helpful. I have only had pups from friends and not shelters and never had the issues, so was not prepared with what I should do with her. I miss her,and am afraid to try again.
Try a dog from a rescue group that has been fostered in a home. The foster can help you transition your pet. They will also match you with a dog most suitable to your situation.
Exactly, I wasn’t given any information when I said I would foster a dog in an emergency situation. They even took 3 weeks to give me the paper to sign.
Such a great article.
This needs to be given to all adopters, dog, cat, etc.
Thank you. Great information. Sounds like common sense.
You’re welcome! The more people helped the more happy dogs out there!
Yes, this printed out and available readily at all shelters, great and helpful support for the doggies ????
That would be a great idea!
Great advice- thank you!
you’re very welcome! Let’s share and spread the word and help those rescues!!
Good sound advice. Thank you
Good idea for the rescue dogs
It’s interesting how people reacted to my doing a routine like this one with my newly adopted dog, 10 weeks ago. Even a neighbor who volunteers in a shelter was pushy about wanting to bring his dogs over to introduce them. Yikes.
People sometimes think pets are toys, not sentient beings.
Ironic how the most pushy, are often the most uninformed! I use the toy analogy ALL the time…it really is a shame, however, my hope is that articles like this can find their way in front of those who need to read it. Be sure to share and thanks for stopping by!
Great article! As a shelter volunteer, I have seen far too many dog returns. But I have also seen dogs with marginal behavior at the shelter find their forever homes, yeah! My current foster is a great example, on day one required carrying into the house and she went right to her bed. Now on day seven she is everywhere in the house. I try to put myself in their paws (shoes), I am nervous in new situations and with new people. Speaking of shoes, I need to go rescue one. Looking forward to reading more articles.
Thank you! You are right there seeing it all unfold with the time you spend in the shelter. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!
You made some decent points there. I looked on the internet for the topic and found most guys will agree with your blog.
What a nice thing. I am bringing home a rescue today and am very grateful for any advice.
Congratulations!! I’m so glad you found this article as the information is key to starting your new rescue off on the right paw! Be sure to check out the other free articles on the site and get a free copy of the E-Book too!
Thanks for some great information. Wish I’d seen BEFORE i adopted my dog, who is and forever will be part of my *pack.* However,i didn’t see it in time, and made a few gaffes – not too many. But she and our cats have neve managed to co-exist well, never mind bond.
If you have any advice for me, I’d gratefully accept it. Our household is already pretty quiet and calm. No kids, no visitors, but five cats, including one the dog DID adopt from the outside feral population. They get along great. Not so much the others. And Sherlock barks at the slightest noise, too. We’ve had her already about 18 months. We deal with whatever she does, and we do have her in classes, but I’d love to improve her behavior even more.
Definitely sign up for a free copy of the E-book as it will help you get a solid foundation to move forward from. Exercise and more exercise will also help reduce some of her barking. I have some videos as well coming up very soon that should provide some guidance as well.
Thanks so much. Will do just that. Immediately.
Thank you – this is one of the most helpful articles I’ve ever seen on adoption. I agree that this should be required and stressed at all shelters and rescues. It breaks my heart when dogs get returned or re-homed because someone doesn’t understand they need lots of patience with a new pet.
Thanks for the article. We just brought home a rescue two days ago. Everything you said in your article has helped so much. Slow and steady.
Great advice! Somehow I did this automatically when we got our dog a few years ago. We have a VERY quiet home, and he was the only dog at the time. We pretty much left him alone for a couple of weeks until he stopped pacing and crying, trying to get back to his rescue people. Once we noticed he started staying in the same room we were in, we knew he was settling in, and started interacting with him more. It took a good two months before he started looking “in” the house, instead of always looking out. Even after all these years, he still makes daily improvements.
People have to realize that this is not a new car to be shown off to everyone – this is a traumatized animal that has no idea what’s happening to him, or what’s going to happen to him in the next minute. They have to put themselves in the animal’s situation and try and understand what they’re going through. A little patience is not too much to give.
The new car analogy is great! So true!
Great advice KD.I do energetic healing for people and animals,clearing physical and emotional,imbalances.The healing sessions help to clear at cellular level,to balance your pet’s emotions,eliminate your pet’s negative thought patterns so that health can be restored.
Awesome article with great points most people would not have thought of!! The power of knowledge! Now I hope everyone gets out and rescues a beautiful pet!!! Thank you!!
I am glad you enjoyed it! We can only hope it helps a dog somewhere adjust to their new home.
Excellent article! I got involved in dog rescue about 7 months ago and I had never heard about this. We have fostered 3 pit bulls and foster-failed on the third 🙂 I wish I would have known about this sooner. BUT now that I do, I will be suggesting to the rescue I work with that this is given to all new fosters and adopters. Thank you and I look forward to learning more from you!
I am glad the information has made it into your hands!
KD Mathews….never heard of you until now — YOU are a GENUIS!!! I am co-founder of rescue and one of the MOST DIFFICULT instruction is for the new owner. And, the ability of these dogs to OVERCOME god-knows-what to transform into loving, loyal companions is unbelievable — BUT THEY HAVE TO BE GIVEN AN OPPORTUNITY TO DO SO! Dogs rarely disappoint; people….well…..
THANK YOU FOR A BRILLIANT ARTICLE!!!
Thank YOU for stopping by and commenting and hopefully sharing the article so more folks get can on track. These dogs will absolutely move past their backgrounds the moment the humans do what needs to be done, which most of the time is to simply back off a bit, and let nature take its course…You are so right, its not the dog who disappoint us! 😉
I think not only is this helpful with shelter dogs but adopting a new dog/puppy in general, even when adopting from a friend.
I agree 100%….this is actually the exact same routine I do for ANY dog coming into my home for any period of time or training…you are absolutely correct
Hello, how can I help with the decompressing time when I have another dog who loves to play? I worry one’s energy will be too much for the new addition to handle. What advice can anyone give me about this?
The energy WILL be too much to handle at first, which is why you must utilize decompression first, to help the new dog acclimate. They should not be interacting at all for some time.
I m not sure I understand how I can separate them without making them both anxious. One goes in the kennel while one goes outside? One is outside when one is inside? How do we all sleep? Our dog sleeps in a dog bed in our bedroom-does that mean the new dog will have to sleep downstairs? Are these questions I can find answers to in your eBook?
I must say, I’m a bit confused on what you don’t understand. You keep the dogs 100% separate during decompression as that is the point of the process to allow the new dog to acclimate in a simple structured environment until they bond with you. Then GRADUALLY you introduce more stimulation into the new dog’s world. I strongly suggest you read all the links again that I included in the article as they explain the process very completely. You did read them all….right?
Wished I would have seen this 3 rescue dogs ago. All have been wonderful, wish I could have more. Hoping to see something on separation anxiety. Our last rescue has this, we crate her while we are gone, but if we go outside and dont take her, she chews everything. She loves her kong, but I’m at a loss
Actually working on one now! Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss it
Excellent article. Thank you.
I will add one more bit from my family’s on experience. Listen to your new family member with your heart. He/She will tell you when they are confident and comfortable enough to know that this home is forever, and when the next step can be taken.
My son adopted a beautiful, sweet, young dog that needed a lot of extra love. He stuck by their heels, buried his head in their laps, and to this day will not let go of them. The shelter was very traumatic to him, and intensified by the fact that no one picked up on the clues that he was deaf. Listen with your heart.
Great advice. Never hurts to be reminded to use empathy and common sense. Just brought a new soul into our home 2 weeks ago from the local humane society. We naturally have a quiet, “boring” environment all ready for her to relax and find her place in our pack. thank you for sharing with all of us.
Does this go for dogs that have been fostered? I’m adopting a dog who is currently being fostered and there are a few other dogs in the house. I have no animals and it’s very quiet. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
In all honesty, this process actually applies to ANY newly acquired dog. While the “decomp” time might not be as long, all dogs need time to adjust to new environments and it takes time to build a proper bond of leadership and trust, NOT one based on affection.