The 3-3-3 rule of adopting a dog that will help ease your mind

Adopting a dog from a shelter brings excitement, nervousness and stress all at the same time.

You may be wondering how long it will take them to settle into your new home or how you can help them during the transition period.

This is where the 3-3-3 rule comes in – it is a general guideline referring to a rescue dog’s adjustment period to a new home.

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A snapshot of a three-step chart went viral on Reddit this week, receiving over 22,200 votes and nearly 200 comments.

Lucy_Pugz shared the image on the r/coolguides subreddit forum and explained, “It doesn’t happen overnight. Each dog is unique and will adapt differently.

Many dog ​​owners supported the board, with one person commenting: ‘My wife and I started working with a local foster company (Peanut Mutter Rescue) and we followed this rule and it’s really amazing to see the pup slowly but surely coming out of their shell. I hope more people will see this and give their pup some patience while they adjust.



It doesn’t happen overnight

Although many owners noted that the dogs would change even more after three months.

One Reddit user said, “It doesn’t end in three months, they will continue to settle in and show new signs of confidence and growth for a long time.”

Another agreed: “It took almost a year for my rescue to feel comfortable being with us for long periods of time.”

What is the 3-3-3 rule?

It’s just a guide and it’s different for every dog, but the guide refers to the three general stages of a rescue dog’s adjustment period when they settle into a new home, taking them through from three days to three weeks to three months.



Lovely Olive is looking for a house today.  She is cared for by the Rainbow Rehoming Centre.  Email them at rainbowrehoming@gmail.com to find out how to apply for her.
Lovely Olive is looking for a house today. She is cared for by the Rainbow Rehoming Centre. Email them at [email protected] to find out how to apply for her.

3 days

During the first three days of your dog’s arrival, you may notice some of the following behaviors:

  • Feeling overwhelmed: A new environment can be frightening and overwhelming for your dog. They may not feel comfortable or act on their own.
  • Unable to eat or drink: Nerves can prevent your dog from eating or drinking and he may lose his appetite.
  • Hiding: You may notice your dog hiding under furniture and wanting to be alone. They can sleep a lot and avoid human contact.
  • Testing Boundaries: Your dog has new boundaries to test and he may want to explore his new surroundings. They may have accidents indoors and try to sit on furniture.

Three weeks

After three weeks, your dog begins to settle in and feel a little more comfortable.

  • They will get used to your usual routine and may understand when their next meal is or when to expect a walk.
  • Your dog may have started letting his guard down and showing you his true self.
  • It is also during this time that they may exhibit behavioral issues and will need training to understand what is right and wrong.


Big Manny is looking for a house today.  He is supported by the Rainbow Rehoming Center.  Email them at rainbowrehoming@gmail.com to find out how to apply for her.
Big Manny is looking for a house today. He is supported by the Rainbow Rehoming Center. Email them at [email protected] to find out how to apply for her.

3 months

When your rescue dog has been with you for three months, he usually feels at home and has a well-established routine.

  • You may have established a bond of trust with them, and they will feel a sense of security with your family.
  • It is important to note that the 3-3-3 rule is a general guideline and not all dogs will follow these steps – it may take a lot longer for them to feel at home.

How can I help my rescue dog settle into the house?

A Dogs Trust spokesperson said DogsLive “All dogs are individual and it’s important to let them settle in at their own pace.

“Before they arrive, set up a den in a quiet space, away from main, busy thoroughfares, where they can rest undisturbed.

“Allow them time alone and come to you when they are ready. Creating and sticking to a daily routine will help your dog know what to expect and when.



Honey Holly is looking for a house today.  She is cared for by the Rainbow Rehoming Centre.  Email them at rainbowrehoming@gmail.com to find out how to apply for her.
Honey Holly is looking for a house today. She is cared for by the Rainbow Rehoming Centre. Email them at [email protected] to find out how to apply for her.

“Taking walks that are short and in one place to begin with will give your dog time to familiarize himself with his new area and orient himself.

“Remember to keep an eye on your dog’s body language so you can react appropriately if he shows signs of fear or anxiety, such as licking his lips, yawning and having his tail between his paws. This will help them feel safe as they settle into their new home.

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