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Decompression and Introduction Guidelines for Dogs

Decompression and Introduction guidelines for fosters from Vanessa Jiminez, Dog Trainer:

Before I start I do want to explain that possessiveness, resource guarding, etc. Is a very NATURAL canine behavior and we as humans must learn to understand that and learn how to first PREVENT the situation and secondly, learn what to do during a situation.

The first thing that the dog needs is time to decompress when he arrives at his new location. Decompression is a process where we allow the dog to acclimate to his new space and get comfortable. This process typically takes 3-5 days. During this time, the dog should be in a safe space (crate) and be given space to acclimate. We will provide food, water, potty breaks and 2 exercise breaks during the day, but the rest of the time the dog should crates in a safe space where children and other dogs are not bothering him. Dogs need time to get to know their new surroundings, smells, people, sounds, etc.

Day 1 & 2

  • Make dog wait to come out of crate, ask dog to come out and sit before putting leash on.

  • Walk dog on leash to go potty

  • Ask dog to sit before entering and exiting a door

  • 2xday give dog a play session with you (1 human at a time)

  • Do not introduce dog to your dogs

  • Limit interaction with children

  • Do not overwhelm dog. Keep walls and interactions short and calm.


Days 3-5

  • Same as above but now you can start introducing one dog at a time. The best way to introduce dogs is to walk them together. If you have a helper that’s best. Start walking dogs together and allow SHORT play sessions between them.

  • At this point I would use his food and hand feed him while practicing some of the basic commands (sit/down/place/come) use small hand fills of food to reward him for compliance and it should take about 3-5 minutes twice a day. This will allow you to establish leadership, focus, respect, engagement, bond with the dog and practice for the commands.

Days 6+

  • Feed in crate every meal EVERY TIME! This should be done for the entire time you are fostering the dog. It is a safety management procedure and it will prevent any issues.

  • Once or twice a week, use his food to practice the basic obedience commands. Remember we want the dog to continue practicing so we can increase his chances of a successful adoption.


Structure gives dogs security, stability and confidence. Without structure many behavioral issues can develop. Too much freedom too soon and flooding the dog with stimulation and affection many times cause dogs to misbehave. Here are ways we establish structure:


Dog should always have some crate time during the day even if you’re home. This allows dog to understand the cycle of calm on demand. Other times dog should be crated are:

  • When you’re not home

  • Bedtime

  • Whenever you can’t supervise the dog

Leash manners

Dog should not be allowed to pull on leash. Use a pop action to let dog know not to pull

Other ways to establish structure:

  • Sit before entering and exiting the door

  • Sit and wait for meals

  • Calm exit out of crate

  • Place command (1-5 minutes a day)

  • Impulse control (dog sits. Throw some food on ground and say leave it. Dog should be on leash) reward dog when he leaves it

  • Obedience practice

  • practice working for his food

  • Sit. Down. Place. Come. Heel

  • Leave it

  • Out (drop it)

Safety management

The tips below are just general safety rules to have specially when around dogs and children to prevent any issues. This is applicable to any dog!

Do not allow dogs to bother each other while they have a chew bone. Any chews or bones should be given separate and we should supervise dogs to make sure they’re not bothering each other

All interaction and play time should be supervised. Do not allow the foster to just hang out with your dog by themselves until they’ve had ample time to develop a nice relationship and you are 100% confident that they all like each other.

Playtime with children should be either having the child play fetch with the dog, or practicing obedience commands (sit down etc) with the dog. Children should NEVER be allowed to bother dog while they’re resting, eating, chewing etc. Children should also not be allowed to play with dog without a dog toy.

It is beneficial in the first few days to have a leash attached to the dog while it gets used to your home and the times in the home. A leash allows you to gain control of a dog quickly and without confrontation of reaching towards their neck (collar).


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