THE ‘WHY’ BEHIND DECOMPRESSION
After any traumatic experience or routine change is a period called Decompression. This is the time during which the body’s functions return to baseline and the neurotransmitters that facilitate fight or flight responses no longer circulate in the blood stream. For that period of time, the duration of which is greatly impacted by the intensity of trauma, the body is primed for future defensive action.
Without the opportunity to decompress, multiple stressors can accumulate through a process called Stress Stacking. Stressors that may seem trivial on other days can become the ‘straw that breaks the camel’s back’ which may eventually result in violent outbursts from your dog. That means that after you bring a new dog home, after an altercation, or any other stressor it important to give your dog some time to recoup.
ANTICIPATE YOUR NEW DOGS NEED FOR DECOMPRESSION
When your puppy is uprooted and sent home with you they are losing the connections with others they trust. It takes time to build trust with new people. ‘Dog-Proofing’ your home prior to your new pet’s arrival will ensure a peaceful, frustration-free integration without opportunity for your dog to learn inappropriate behavior. Have a family meeting prior to brining home your dog to ensure that everyone understands their role in this process.
Provide for your dog a cozy confined space with easy to clean flooring out of the main traffic of the home. Give your dog a place where he can have uninterrupted rest. Teach children to respect your dog’s time to sleep and and eat without being bothered. Time away from social pressure is a must as big transitions such as rehoming are inherently stressful for your dog.
The first 2-3 weeks is what is commonly termed the ‘Honey Moon” period. Minor behavior problems may be excused due to the novelty of the relationship or may not appear until your pet begins to feel comfortable in their space. Many dogs lose their homes shortly after this phase simply because of poor management strategies induced unnecessary stress and allowed bad habits to develop.
DECOMPRESSION AFTER AN ALTERCATION
The time after an altercation is crucial. Dogs are more prone to additional altercations in the days following the initial fight. Full decompression could take weeks so it is vital to avoid exposing your dog to further stress triggers. Some dogs develop PTSD after a fight, as may their owners, particularly if there has been a fight that led to severe injury or death of another pet. It’s best to keep all your pets physically separated for a minimum of 48 hours and often longer in order to avoid more harm or trauma to any member or guest of the household.
Many households manage dog and human aggressive pets safely throughout the lifetime of the animal. Management in multi-dog households is frequently termed ‘Crate and Rotate.’ In such a system, each animal is provided safe and consistent access to their basic necessities without overlapping in the same space. Self closing gates, fence gates with locks, and ‘airlocks’ between dogs and other inhabitants make this system livable and as low stress as possible.
How and when will you allow your puppy or dog to decompress after or between stressful events?
If you have any questions about your puppy or training program please call or text us at 913.712.8742. Join us remotely for our Weekly Q&A and Nail Trim sessions hosted on Zoom and streamed live through Facebook. On a tight budget? Check out our FREE courses available online.