5 min read

Here's Why You Need To Let Your New Dog Decompress

She'll be a different dog in 2 weeks 💖

If you’ve just adopted a dog from a rescue or shelter, you’re about to go on the best journey ever!

Now that you’re finally bringing home your newest — and cutest — family member, you might be wondering if there’s an adjustment period for your pup to come out of her shell.
Turns out, there totally is.

Give your rescue dog time to decompress

“I believe it is important to let a rescue dog decompress after bringing them home,” Shelby Semel, head trainer at Animal Haven rescue in New York City, told The Dodo.

Think about it. Your pup probably went through a lot in her life.

Whether she was a shelter dog her entire life, or she was surrendered to a shelter by her original family, or she was found out on the street — your dog is definitely going through it emotionally.

Your home is a whole new world — and family — for her, so she needs some time to adjust. Giving her this time to decompress when she gets home will let her settle in and feel comfortable — so she can finally let her true personality shine through.

“On average I would say [to let your dog decompress for] at least two weeks,” Semel suggested.

How to let your dog decompress

“Space is the most important thing to help your new dog adjust,” Semel said.

For the first few days to weeks, Semel recommends being mostly hands-off when it comes to your pup — which means minimizing petting, picking up, etc. — so that your dog can build trust and confidence in her new home.

“Allowing your rescue to instigate petting is ideal so you are not imposing yourself on the dog,” Semel said. “Even then, keep it to three seconds long and then stop. See if they walk away or ask for more. If they nudge for more, three more seconds. Repeat.”

Doing this will let your dog build trust in you in her own time, letting her take those initial steps to build a bond.

“I also suggest not bothering your dog while they have food or a toy and not taking anything away,” Semel said.

According to Semel, it’s totally normal for new dogs to exhibit resource guarding, have separation issues, have accidents, or be very timid.

“Many of these dogs will not present these issues ever again after the decompression period,” Semel said.

“This is why I tell people to be patient and commit to getting past the initial phase,” Semel said. “When you return a dog within the first week, you never really got to know him!”

Of course, if any of these behaviors are continuing past the first few weeks, it’s best to contact your vet or a dog trainer to help you figure out what’s going on.

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