It Takes Time – The Rule of 3-3-3

Congratulations! You have finally found the puppy or dog you want to foster and/or adopt.  Bringing home a new dog is exciting, joyful, and many times, overwhelming.  Owners worry about choosing the right food, potty training, and whether they will fit in with the family’s lifestyle. It will take time for the dog to get used to new routines and adapt to his new environment.

How long does it take a rescue dog to adjust? Every dog is different. Some make themselves at home within days, while others need weeks or months to fully decompress.  The situation is stressful for rescue dogs because they do not understand what is happening.  They go from a loud, frightening shelter to an unfamiliar home. The feeling of being in an unfamiliar place with new surroundings, new people, and new rules can be overwhelming.

Some follow the 3-3-3 rule when adopting a dog. The 3-3-3 rule means that you can gauge the time it might take for the dog to fully acclimate to his new home in threes:  first 3 days, 3 weeks, and 3 months.

• In the first three days: overwhelmed, scared, or not comfortable, and might refuse to eat or drink.

• 3 weeks: settling in, feeling more comfortable, getting into the routine, and possible behaviour issues may emerge.

• 3 months: finally comfortable in his home, building trust, developing a set routine, and feeling secure with his new family.

The 3-3-3 rule is tried and tested by pet rescuers and dog behaviour specialists. It is an excellent way to know what to expect and set up your new shelter dog for success.


Learn More:

The 3-3-3 Rule and Bringing Home a Rescue Dog. Available from:

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