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Have you heard of the 3-3-3 rule?


The 3-3-3 rule when adopting a dog is a really useful application to understand the 3 stages of a dog or puppy’s adjustment period when adapting to a new living situation.

What is the 3-3-3 rule when adopting a dog?


The 3-3-3 rule represents the phases of a rescue dog or common milestones your new dog or puppy will go through.

The 3-3-3 rule is the first 3 days, 3 weeks, and 3 months after bringing your dog home from the shelter.

So think about it, if you’ve ever started a new job or moved to a new school, you know the feeling; that sense of being in an unfamiliar place, new surroundings, new people, new rules.

And before we delve even deeper into the 3-3-3 rule, I highly recommend always having a pain/fear free trainer on hand and know who your veterinarian will be too. This will ensure you’re starting your doggy off on the right paw – both physically and mentally! And a quick tip of the hat to fosters as well! As fosters, you often won’t often have the chance to have a dog as long as 3 months, but understanding the 3-3-3 rule for adopters can be really helpful.


Some things to remember with the 3-3-3 rule


Even when dogs come to us from happy homes, they are going through a big and potentially difficult change. It’s not unusual to see all sorts of strange behaviour, or lack of behaviour. Don’t worry, there are a lot of things you can do to help dogs adjust though:

  • Trick training is a wonderful way of building confidence as well as a bond- for everyone involved.
  • Talk to the dog. Dogs *can* learn basic words and phrases and knowing which weird human ritual is about to happen can help them feel safer.
  • Use a happy voice when communicating with your pup
  • Give your dog lots and lots of rest and quiet. Also give them time to take in their new surroundings
  • Have a safe cozy bed where they can see what’s going on but know no one will bother them there
  • Give your new pup a routine



So to recap:



In the first 3 days


Your new dog will probably be overwhelmed with the new surroundings. Don’t be alarmed if he doesn’t want to eat for the first couple of days, many dogs don’t eat when they are stressed. Your pup may shut down and want to curl up in tje crate or under the table and will likely be scared and unsure of what is going on. Or he may be the opposite and test you to see what he can get away with.


Your dog is starting to settle in and feeling a bit more comfortable. The puppy may actually be realizing this may be his forever home. Now, your dog has probably figured out his environment and getting into a routine. You may even see some real personality! Behaviour issues may start showing, so show your puppy what’s right and wrong.


Your dog is now completely comfortable in your home. You have built trust and a true bond with your dog, which gives him a complete sense of security with you. He is set in his routine and will come to expect his dinner at his usual time.

Enjoy your new rescue dog!


Just remember to take it slow, Keep in mind how your dog is feeling. It’s all very stressful for the pup so make sure to give your puppy time and space and lots of love.