I Just Adopted a Rescue Dog, What Do I Do?

A brief overview of the two week shutdown
The most important period for you and your newly adopted shelter dog is the decompression phase also known as the two week shutdown. The decompression period can last a couple of weeks or several months in extreme cases. This idea is counterintuitive to human nature. We all want to show off the new addition to our family, however this can be damaging to your new relationship with your new dog.

What Is a two week shut down?
Your dog needs a time to adjust to its new home and family. There are many scenarios we put our dogs into that can encourage negative behaviors to surface and we need to give them time to adjust and feel secure in their new home. Dogs maybe resilient animals but they need to know we control situations and we will be there to protect them and give them a clear routine to follow. Two weeks is only a suggestion and this period can be longer or shorter.

What does the two week shut down mean for me?
We ALL want to show off our new friend because we are excited. However, did you know taking a new dog to pet stores, dog parks, pet events or other busy pet social situations actually can encourage negative behavior and cause dogs to act out?

Think of this period like a first date. You chose to go out with this person because you liked them and trusted them at first. However, what if the person you were on your first date with took you to meet their entire family and everyone kept hugging you, kissing, or invading your personal space. Then your date took you to meet their friends and they did the same thing. Would you consider this date sane? Can you trust this person? Sure they seemed nice at first but what now? Would you want to go on a second date? This is no different than how we treat new pets that enter the home. They need to first get to know YOU and trust you! TRUST is everything in building a healthy relationship with your new dog.

How do I start?
Even if you have had your dog for a few days, and they are starting to show signs of anxiety it is not to late, you can still implement this decompression period.

• While exercise is key to a happy dog, DO NOT take them on long walks. Instead play with them on a long leash in your yard. They need to feel secure in the their own environment before being exposed to more external stimuli outside.
• Do NOT take them to dog parks, pet stores, or other peoples homes. These situations provide an overabundance of stimulation.
• Keep them on a leash at all times unless they are in the crate. This includes in the house as well and even if you have a fence yard. Why? It builds the idea that YOU are the bringer of everything in life. This practice also helps keep them out of trouble. When they are attached to you they cannot leave your line of sight and have an “accident”.
• Do not allow your new dog and current canine residents unsupervised time at first. Remember your new dog is seen as an intruder at this point. Setting up a routine for your new dog without the distraction of other household pets will make your life much easier in integrating them into your pack.
• Do not allow your new dog on the furniture. They have not earned the privilege yet.
• Do not give your new dog unconstructed affection. Any and all affection must have a purpose and encourage positive reinforcement. This is tough because we love our dogs, but they need this structure.
• DO NOT PUT YOUR FACE IN YOUR DOGS FACE. While you are trying to be affectionate they can feel intimidated and this can results in a bite out of fear.
• Do not allow your new dog to go ahead of you. You go first.

Adopting a new shelter dog can be a wonderful experience, but we need to give them an adjustment period to make them feel secure. Who knows what their life was life before finding you. They need time to adjust, learn to trust you, and feel safe. Once they feel safe we can then start to introduce our new canine companion to our friends and family. This two week period is only a suggestion, this time period may take more time or less, it is all dependent on your dog. For more information feel free to talk to one our doctors.

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