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Rescue Report: What is Animal Decompression?

When it comes to adopting a shelter animal, decompression plays a huge role. Decompression periods vary depending on the animal and their length of stay at the shelter. Every animal may be different. So, why is decompression so important? Well, here is why. 

Most animal welfare  organizations will talk to potential adopters about the importance of decompression along with very slow, well-managed introductions to any new animals once in the home. We do this so we can easily set people up for a more successful outcome with their newly beloved pets. Most shelters and rescues will talk about the 3x3x3 rule – three days, three weeks, three months. This refers to adjustment periods. To measure your adopted pet’s progress in adjusting to their new environment, evaluate them at three days compared to three weeks, compared to three months. Newly adopted animals could take more months to finally start feeling at home.

After an animal is adopted from our facility, our Assistant Client Services Manager will conduct an adoption follow-up. She will reach out to ask how the animal is progressing, if there are any issues or concerns, and of course, to gather cute photos and stories from the animal’s new life. These updates are important because they allow us to provide counseling if there are issues and to maintain communication with adopters. We can provide the new adopters with behavioral assistance, answer questions they may have forgotten to ask, or offer any other needed support. We want to ensure the adopter and their new pet are happily bonding and that the adoption will be successful, meaning the animal will stay in the home. We know that people are looking for companionship, so we want to make sure everyone involved has the absolute best outcome! Sometimes that means continuing to work with adopters to find their best match – their perfect soul animal. And that is more than okay! 

There is some general advice that we give to all new adopters when they take an animal home. For dogs, we typically advise to keep a drag leash on the dog, even if they are the only animal. New dogs could be fearful or try to run away. For cats, we normally tell adopters to, at first, keep them in one room along with their own litterbox, toys, food, etc. until they feel safe enough to start to explore. Once all animals feel safe and comfortable in the home, it is time for well-managed introductions. We advise adopters to slowly introduce animals and be mindful of their comfort levels. If one animal is stressed, slow down the introduction. If it’s going well and the animals are happy, keep it going. 

Crating is also important with new dogs. Whether the dog is eight weeks, eight months, or eight years old, crating can be very beneficial. Dogs are den animals, and a den is their safe and happy place, their own personal space. That is what the crate mimics. Crate training is important to help a dog establish their safe place. It’s also a good idea to feed your dog in their crate as this establishes a positive association with the crate, establishing it as their place. Also, this will avoid any misunderstanding when it comes to food. A non-crated dog can easily become destructive due to stress, and crating will help with housebreaking as well.

These simple tactics will help a new dog tremendously when it comes to decompression in a new home. Our Customer Service Representatives are also excellent resources to rely on when adopting. They help all adopters through counseling. We are here not only to help find companionship, but also to help pets and their new parents understand one another as best as possible.