The 3, 3, 3 Rule

a family adopting a dog from the shelter

Understanding the ‘3, 3, 3’ Rule

Adopting or fostering a dog is an enriching journey filled with excitement, new beginnings, and love… but it isn’t always a “walk in the park”. Put yourself in your new furry friend’s paws for a moment: they’ve likely just left a scary shelter or a temporary foster home, only to face yet another transition to your house. These frequent changes can be quite unnerving for our adorable little four-legged friends! Consequently, it’s going to take some time for them to gradually acclimate to their new surroundings and truly begin to feel at home. 

This is why the ‘3, 3, 3’ rule comes in handy. It’s intended to help guide new pet parents through the transitory stages of adoption/fostering so they know what to expect and can be better equipped to help their dog during these critical adjustment stages. Now, you’re probably wondering; what exactly is the ‘3, 3, 3’ rule? Let’s break it down! 

The First 3 Days: The Decompression Phase

dog hiding under the sofa

The first 3 days after you’ve brought your dog to its new home are typically filled with a mix of curiosity, excitement, and more often than not, anxiety. Imagine being in an entirely foreign environment, filled with new smells, sights, and people. Overwhelming, right? 

Your newly adopted dog might behave unexpectedly or even uncharacteristically during this period. They might be unusually quiet, hide often, or not eat much. Don’t worry – they are simply adjusting and testing their boundaries in their new home. Patience, love, and understanding are key during these first few days. Establish a comfortable space for them, stick to a routine for feeding and walks, and allow them to explore their new surroundings at their own pace.

The First 3 Weeks: Learning Your Routine

dog chewing on pillow stuffing

The next milestone is the 3-week mark. By this time, your dog has started to settle in and probably feels a lot more comfortable. However, as they become more confident and secure in their environment, they might experience a few behavioral changes, such as chewing on your furniture or barking more than usual. This is when you can establish some rules and begin gentle training using positive reinforcement.

Remember, consistency and patience are crucial! It’s a learning process for both of you, and it takes time to understand each other.

The First 3 Months: Starting to Feel Like Home

dog laying on bed

Reaching the 3-month milestone often signifies that your dog has fully settled into their new home. They’ve become accustomed to your routines, your family, and their new surroundings. This is when you’ll likely see their true personality shine!

You will also start to experience the joys of adopting or fostering a dog. You’ve developed a deep bond with your furry friend, and you now get to enjoy their unique quirks, their silliness, and their unwavering love. 

“The 3 month mark was when Molly finally got excited to see me when I came home after work!” said Jami, who adopted a 13 year old dog named Molly. “Before that, she was pretty indifferent towards me. But now we’re inseparable”

This is Just a Guideline

Understanding the ‘3, 3, 3’ rule can provide a lot of clarity on what to expect when you welcome a new dog into your home, but despite its potential to be extremely helpful, you must remember that it is not a hard and fast rule. Each dog is unique, and their adjustment periods can vary after all! If you want to read about how you can encourage your rescue dog to warm up to you, check out this article by The Dodo: How to Help Your Scared Rescue Dog Warm Up. 

Adopting a dog is not just about bringing a pet home, it’s about welcoming a new family member. And as with any family member, it takes time, effort, and love to understand them and build a lasting relationship. So, remember the ‘3, 3, 3’ rule, take a deep breath, and have fun as you em”bark” on this beautiful journey of companionship and unconditional love!

If you are interested in bringing a new dog into your home, check out our article on why you should consider fostering a dog!


333 Rule

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