We recommend you quarantine your adult dog from your personal pets for several days to watch for any signs of sickness. 

One of the most important parts of your job as a new owner is to convince your pet(s) that humans are kind and loving. Some pets will adjust quickly to you and their new environment, while others may take much longer. Be patient and allow your dog time to acclimate to new surroundings. Patience is the biggest kindness you can show your pet as they adapt to home life. They don’t understand who you are or what’s happening and will need time to settle in. We see many failed adoptions for the simple fact that an animal wasn’t given proper time and space to adapt before being introduced to new animals, people, environments and noises.

We call the settling in period the “decompression phase” and it often takes about two weeks before a shelter dog feels confident and comfortable in the home. Every dog IS an individual and will move at their own speed. Be calm. Talk quietly. Move slowly. Sit low. The more approachable you are, the more likely an animal is to come out of their social shell.


When adopting from the shelter, it’s a happy time for you and a relief to the dog. 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.


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

Dogs that have been at the shelter for an especially long period of time need to decompress and get themselves back into a calm state of mind.

Decompression time varies with each and every dog. Some need more time than others, but it’s safe to recommend at least one week to start.

Give every foster structure, exercise (dog walks, playing), and love and you will see them begin to blossom. If after the decompression phase, the dog starts to show behavioral problems that you feel ill-equipped to handle, please contact Bark House/Foster staff immediately.


If a dog suffers from kennel stress, it can take from several minutes to 48 hours or more for that pet’s anxiety to return to near normal levels. In some cases, the buildup of shelter stress can make a dog difficult to tire out. This will improve with time, but there are several things you should do to make this process go smoothly.

Suggestions for Decompression

  • Prepare needed supplies in order to engage your foster dog mentally. You may want to use food-filled frozen Kongs, puzzle toys, etc.
  • Continue walking around your yard and home, a park or in your neighborhood until your foster dog appears to relax.
  • Consider only using essential (safety-related) commands during the first 24-48 hours. Don’t want the dog to jump onto your couch while jumping around the house? Think about saving that lesson for another day when they are more calm and available for learning, and engage your foster in another task that’s incompatible with jumping on the couch, like a puzzle toy.
  • Make sure your activities don’t overstimulate the dog.
  • 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 dog separated from your own dogs until he/she is visibly relaxed.
  • If your dog 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. Try to stick it out for the first 24 hours. It will get better, we promise!