What is Decompression? How to Help Your Dog Unwind and Relax

What is Decompression? How to Help Your Dog Unwind and Relax

Doggy decompression usually involves the 3-3-3 rule - The First 3 Days, the First 3 Weeks, and the First 3 Months after adoption. 

But, it also means:

Decompression [ dee-kuhm-presh-uhn ] noun: 

“A state of relief from pressure; a return to normalcy after a stressful period or situation.”

Studies have suggested that things like walking your dog through the park or letting them act on innate behaviors like licking and sniffing can release serotonin in your dog’s brain.* That's the happy chemical!  

Wondering where to start? We’ve researched ways to help your dog unwind and relax. Keep reading to learn more!

Calming Down Your Dog 

Experts say that stress can overload your dog’s nervous system.* Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to decompression.

Experts also suggest that dogs need leadership paired with calm predictability.* A daily routine with things like hikes, walks, enrichment activities or other canine excursions is great for limiting unnecessary stress, and you get to be their guide!

Decompression activities allow your pooch to engage in natural behaviors such as sniffing, foraging, and exploring, which can leave your pet feeling more confident, happy, and relaxed.* 

So, when should you try decompression with your dog? Experts recommend giving it a go when you notice your dog is showing signs of stress.* 

Here are a few possible signs of canine stress:

  • Pacing
  • Shaking
  • Whining/Barking
  • Yawning, Drooling, or Licking
  • Panting
  • Changes in eyes and ears (i.e. "whale eye")
  • Changes in body posture (like tail tucking)

If you’d like to learn more about dog body language and what your dog might be trying to tell you, click here. We recommend always consulting with your vet first before trying anything new with your pooch.

What Kinds of Activities Can Decompress My Dog? 


Your dog is a natural outdoorsman. Let him get in touch with his wild side. 

If you live in an urban environment, hiking can remove your dog from everyday stressors and distractions.* Ever feel relaxed after a long hike? The same principle applies to your pup!

Walks that allow your dog the freedom to explore and sniff are great for doggy decompression. The space you choose for your dog should be safe and low-traffic, in a large area. Some people do these walks/hikes off-leash or with a long-lead harness so their pet(s) have the ability to do some doggy adventuring.* Keep in mind, most spaces need your dog to be on a lead. Make sure you check the park, field, or trail rules first before taking your dog anywhere. 

Before you adventure into the outdoors with your dog, it's best to make sure your pet is safe first. You can protect your furry friend on your decompression hikes and walks with our Flea and Tick Spray. This spray is crafted with an uplifting blend of Brazilian oils like lemongrass, sesame, castor, and cinnamon to not only leave your dog feeling safe from unwanted pests but smelling great, too!

If your dog needs a little extra help on walks, we recommend our Pupgrade Joint Support Chews, which are formulated for dogs with hip dysplasia, arthritis, and joint disease. This chew is recommended by vets to help senior dogs stay more active, and dogs of any age prone to hip dysplasia.

Mental Stimulation

It's time to switch on that doggy brainpower!

Encouraging your dog to express themselves - sniffing, rolling around, digging, licking, etc. - in a positive environment is great for doggy decompression. Mental stimulation isn't only helpful for calming your dog, it's good for preventing unwanted behaviors, too. 

For a stressed pup, mentally stimulating activities like scatter feeding and licking enrichment can help ease their anxiety.* 

Scatter feeding involves spreading your dog’s treats or meals around your home or yard. This will encourage your dog to forage for his or her food. 

Scatter feeding isn't the only method. Your dog’s foraging instincts can be kick-started with things like dog toy puzzles, sensory boxes, or lick mats. 

For example, licking enrichment involves patterned or textured mats that act as grazing mazes. You place a treat into the mat (some people even freeze them) and your dog does the rest! Lick mats encourage your dog to sniff, lick, and solve a puzzle. 


Taking care of your dog takes time and patience, but every dog parent knows the rewards that follow raising a healthy and happy pup. What are some activities that your dog loves?

We've gone ahead and enclosed a 10% OFF Coupon below for you to use in the store - remember, your puppy DESERVES to have the healthiest life! Click here to start shopping!


Herron, Meghan E., et al. “Effects of Environmental Enrichment on the Behavior of Shelter Dogs.” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, vol. 244, no. 6, 15 Mar. 2014, pp. 687–692, 10.2460/javma.244.6.687.

bindisbucketlist. “What Are ‘Decompression’ Activities for Dogs, and Why Are They Important?” Bindisbucketlist, 22 Sept. 2021, www.bindisbucketlist.com/post/what-are-decompression-activities-for-dogs-and-why-are-they-important. 

“Decompression (the 3-3-3 Rule).” CUDDLY Blog, 7 Apr. 2021, blog.cuddly.com/pet-health-wellness/decompression-the-3-3-3-rule/. 

Jan 20, Gemma Johnstone, et al. “The Importance of Decompression When Bringing Home a New Dog.” American Kennel Club, www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/the-importance-of-decompression-when-bringing-home-a-new-dog/#:~:text=Treat%2Ddispensing%20toys%20and%20nosework.