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​When adopting or fostering a rescued dog from the shelter, it’s a happy time for you and a relief to the dog. For one, you’ve taken them away from that loud, scary place. As the new owners or foster of the dog, you’re also excited because you’re bringing in a new member of the family into your home. This new situation is exciting for everyone with new interactions and adventures to come.

BUT WAIT! Before you go showing off your new pet to your family, friends, and resident pets, please give the new dog time to relax for a while. The last thing you should do at this point is rush them into a whole new dramatic situation and making them interact that could get them into trouble if they’re not ready for it.

Think of it like this way as humans; you’ve been looking desperately for a job to support your family; you’ve been looking for over three months, your savings is dwindling fast, and you’re worried; VERY worried. You’re getting up every day looking at the paper/internet, going to interviews, and finally you get a job.

First day on the job, you’re excited but nervous, and just want to feel your way around. Then, some co- worker’s trying to make you look bad; trying to push your buttons. You want to do the right thing but if no one gives you time to know your job and no one’s controlling the guy harassing you, things could happen and (you’re back at the shelter) you’re fired; or, worse, in jail, depending on the reaction. This is just my interpretation as we don’t know the feeling of being in doggie jail just because we’re a dog, but I bet I’m close. When volunteering at a shelter you see this stress all the time.

Decompressing Rescue Dog

April 6, 2014



There may be a number of situations in which you would introduce your dog to another dog. Examples are walks in the neighborhood, hiking in a park, dog sitting for a friend, fostering a dog from the shelter, etc. For whatever the reason we need to understand that not all dogs will be best friends and some dogs just aren’t very social at all. Safety should always be your primary concern (for you and your dog/s), though accidents will happen and we can not always prevent them. Always work within your comfort zone. If you are uncomfortable about any given situation, stay away from it, if at all possible and seek the help of someone with more experience to help you through the situation.

Every situation may be different, so always be aware and pay attention to what your dog is doing. It may not be your dog in the wrong, but you don’t want them to have a bad experience.

Some of the biggest errors in the handling of dogs is having a tense leash. If your dog cannot approach another dog calmly to greet them, then you will need to work on that separately from the walk.

Two dogs


Prepare needed supplies in order to engage your foster dog mentally. You may want to use food-filled frozen Kongs, puzzle toys, etc.

If this is your first time outside of the shelter with your foster dog, take a walk around the shelter grounds for 10-15 minutes before leaving to get comfortable with the dog

Continue walking, either at the shelter, a park or in your neighborhood until your foster dog appears to relax.

When you arrive home, ensure that any family members who are meeting the dog for the first time are seated.


They should let the dog come to them for attention, as opposed to soliciting attention from the dog.

Keep your foster dog separated from your own dogs until your foster is visibly relaxed.

If your foster is unable to settle down (panting, whining, constantly in motion, etc.) channel their energy into a task such as fetch, puzzle toys or any game that engages their brain until they are able to relax.

Do only essential meet-and-greets for the first 48 hours to week, depending on the dog’s comfort level.

Consider playing soft music. Classical, reggae and ambient electronic work well for helping pets decompress.

Sleeping Dogs
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