The two week shutdown rule

Welp, it’s kitten season, and to prove it, I have 5 kittens and a mom cat in our guest bathroom. It’s been a while since I fostered kittens and I’ve missed having them in our home. It’s only day one but they’re doing well so far!

As you know, I’ve been volunteering a lot more at Chicago Animal Care & Control lately. Since becoming an official volunteer, I’ve been helping potential adopters find their perfect match. I get to introduce them to dogs, talk to them about our adoption process, and hopefully send them on their way with their new dog! To date, I’ve completed four adoptions.

While volunteering at CACC, I’ve learned so much. Mostly, I’ve learned there is one golden rule to adopting a new animal… the Two-Week Shutdown.

Miles available for adoption through Chi Town Pitties

The Two-Week Shutdown is just how it sounds. Giving the animal two weeks to totally decompress. I tell people to make it the most boring two weeks of the dog’s life. See, it maybe be a boring time for us is actually a heck of a time for them.

If you’ve ever been to a shelter (if not, let me take you!) you understand that it’s loud. Dogs are barking, whining, and amping each other up. I come home from the shelter and I decompress from all the stimulation. I need a good 45 minutes to unwind from all the sensory overload.

Now imagine being at that shelter for weeks or months. Dogs must be given time to decompress. The Two-Week Shutdown rule is one of the most important things we stress to adopters. And now, I’m stressing it to you. When you bring an animal into your home, understand it has been through a lot. There are so many transitions that it will take them time to feel safe and comfortable. Once they do, you’ll see a totally different dog. One that loves and trusts you and it’s absolutely worth the two weeks of “boredom.”

Everything is new to them, all the smells, sights, and sounds of your home. It’s a lot for an animal to take in, so all of it needs to happen slowly. Let them figure out things on their time and don’t rush them into anything. We want to set these animals up for success. We can do just that by creating a calm environment.

What to avoid the first 2 weeks

-New dog intros

-Dog parks/beaches

-Patios/breweries/dog-friendly places you want to take your dog

-Family parties

-Block parties

-Any kind of party

-New people

-Pet stores/outings of any kind

Things to do instead:

-Movie marathons

-Quick walks or walks in yard

-Create a safe space for dog – small room/crate/etc.

-Avoid other animals (cross the street while on walks)

-Let the dog come to you

-Praise good behaviors with treats

-Have a daily routine and stick to that schedule

The Two-Week Shutdown is essential to setting the animal for success. When people don’t follow this golden rule, we find the animals get returned for no fault of their own. So, follow the golden rule and share it with others. It will ensure animals have the best shot once they find their forever.


Special thank you to Chi-Town Pitties – more on them to come!

Cashmere – As soft and sweet as she sounds, this baby girl has been looking for her forever home for awhile now. She had puppies who all found homes so now she’s patiently waiting for hers. She’s great with kids and loves every human she’s ever met. She can be dog selective (can’t we all be!?) so come see if she’s the right fit for you!

Miles – Oh Miles. If I had to draw up my perfect dog, this would be him. He’s a little chubby (winter weight people!), low to the ground, and bridle. Triple threat if you ask me. He takes a little bit to warm up, but give him some hot dogs and he’s your best friend. He’ll need to be the only dog in the home but he’ll keep you more than happy.


Another pair of pants from my European travels. Shop similar styles below!

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All photos: Mandy Dempsey

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