There’s a school of thought around adopting a rescue dog and bringing it into your home called the 3-3-3 rule. This is a general guideline of how your new dog will feel and be acting after three days, three weeks, and three months. It’s good to know what you can expect before adopting a puppy or rescue dog.

The 3-3-3 Rule When Adopting a Rescue Dog

The 3-3-3 rule is a tried-and-tested yardstick for measuring how your dog might be feeling in a new home. Three days in it’s all new, exciting, overwhelming, and uncertain. After three weeks they begin to show you more of themselves and trust you. After three months the boundaries should be set, the routines established, and you should be the best of pals.

As with people, not every dog is the same. This is a general idea of what to expect.

The First Three Days

Little adopted rescue dog looking uncertain three days in its new home

Your dog will likely be feeling overwhelmed in their new surroundings. Adopting a rescue dog means that they might not necessarily have a clean slate. They could have experienced some trauma in the past, so forging trust and feeling secure can take them some time. That said, even a puppy fresh from its litter would take a while to feel comfortable in a new home.

Your dog might be scared and seem unsure of what’s happening, so they may not be able to relax. This could result in them ignoring their food and water, which is a normal response from a stressed-out dog. It shouldn’t last for too long.

Your dog might retreat to a place of safety, curling up in their crate or somewhere out of the way. It’s best to balance spending time with them and building your initial bond with giving them a little space to come to you. It takes time to forge a real relationship, even with pets.

They will also be testing boundaries with you and the home to see what they can get away with. Now is the time to establish the rules of the house.

The First Three Weeks

A beagle looking emotionless in a field

Your dog should be starting to settle in to their new life after three weeks. They will be coming to terms with the fact that this new home isn’t going to disappear and the training you put in with them will build trust.

The adopted dog will now have a sense of their new environment, understanding some boundaries and building a routine.

The pup will start letting their guard down and showing you their true personality. That said, this is also the time when negative behavioural patterns will start to rear their head. This bad behaviour is no longer just testing boundaries and will need to be addressed with specific training if it persists.

The First Three Months

A happy dog three months after being adopted from a rescue centre

Three months after adopting your rescue dog, they should be comfortable living in your home and consider it theirs.

They will have begun to trust you and formed a bond, understanding that you’re their human now.

Their set routine and boundaries will give them a sense of security within the home. If any of their early acting out continues, it’s likely not part of settling in and needs to be trained out of them. Now you guys are partners in crime or a completed family unit. Show your dog love and they’ll return it tenfold.

Doggo Image Credits

Featured images by Nathalie SPEHNER on Unsplash

Photo by Michelle Tresemer on Unsplash

Photo by Troy Bridges on Unsplash