The Rule of 3 When Adopting a New Dog

Change is hard. Especially for us dogs. When my mom, Tonya, adopted me, we went through a tough transition period! I had all the feels! The feeling of being in an unfamiliar place, new surroundings, new people, and new rules. The first few days were spent trying to figure it all out. Being a scent hound, I got into lots of trouble stealing goodies on the kitchen counter, but my mom was very patient and taught me this was a “no-no.” Then, a few weeks later, I got more comfortable, made new friends, and learned the schedule and rules. After a few months, I got it all figured out and settled in! The common milestones pet parents and a new dog or puppy go through is called “The Rule of 3” or “The 3-3-3 Rule.”

What to Expect
New dog parents can expect that it will take their dog some time getting used to the new routines and adapt to his new environment. The “Rule of 3” helps humans understand the time it might take for their dog to fully acclimate to his home in threes: three days, three weeks, and three months.

Three Days
The first three days are the initial “detox period” as a dog transitions from the shelter to his human’s house. His new home is exciting and with more stimulating activity, space, and freedom than a shelter can ever provide. It can be overwhelming for many dogs, especially those who have been in the shelter for weeks or months.

The new dog will be overwhelmed with his new surroundings. He will not be comfortable enough to be his REAL self. Dog parents shouldn’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. He may shut down and want to curl up in his crate or under the table. He may be scared and unsure what is going on.

Or he may even be so amped up on excitement that he is easily aroused and difficult to settle down. He will want to check out all the new smells and investigate his new digs. He won’t know what his humans expect from him: where to go potty, whether he’s allowed on the furniture, that shoes are not actually chew toys or that the trash is not where he is supposed to find his food.

These first few days require an IMMENSE amount of patience on the parent’s part. The dog will settle into his new routine if given time and patience. It won’t happen overnight, and he will probably still need to attend obedience training classes to help him learn better manners, but take comfort in knowing that IT GETS BETTER!

Three Weeks
After three weeks, the dog is probably getting used to his parent’s comings and goings, learning the daily routine, and starting to figure out when the next meal is coming. He’ll learn that he gets a walk at the same time every morning and that he goes out for regular potty breaks. Parents will start to see more of his true personality and less of his initial response: fear, excitement, stress, or a combination of all three. Behavior issues may start showing, but this is the human’s time to be a strong pack leader and show him what is right and wrong. It won’t be completely smooth sailing, but the bumps in the road will be less frequent and less stressful.

Three Months
At three months, most dogs know they are “home.” The parent and dog have built trust and a true bond, giving each other a sense of security. It’s a process to get there, but with patience and a sense of humor, both human and dog can scale the mountain together and enjoy the journey toward a loving, life-long relationship. This is the dog’s FOREVER HOME now!

Forever Yours
Once you hit the three month landmark, CONGRATULATIONS! The Hipster Hound is so proud of all our dog parents who choose to adopt a new dog. And they are with you every step of the way - food, supplies, toys, training, and doggy daycare. They say it takes a village to raise a child, well it can also take a village to raise a dog! You are not in this alone because with The Hipster Hound on your team, both human AND dog will be living their best lives TOGETHER! And I really know what I’m barking about because I helped my mom and family adjust to SIX rescued siblings at my house!


Rex, The Original Hipster Hound

Leave a comment