The 3 Day, 3 Week, 3 Month Rule of Adopting a Dog

The 3-3-3 Rule is a general guideline to follow when adopting a rescue or shelter dog. Every dog is unique and will adjust differently. Your dog has had to adjust to many different environments recently, so it is important to give the dog space and allow the dog to go at his own pace. Generally speaking, it takes time for the dog to acclimate to you, your ways, your household and possibly other pets that already live with you. The number one thing to keep in mind is that it may take your newly adopted dog more or less time than what is described here, but if you show love and kindness to your dog, you'll make their adaptation easier.

This is a reproduction of a document from Rescue Dogs 101 and Saving Grace NC. Credit for the content goes to them.
Click here for a PDF version of the 3-day, 3-week, 3-month dog adoption guide.

Here's what you can expect within the first 3 days of adopting your dog.

  •  May be scared and unsure of what is going on
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Not comfortable enough to be "himself"
  • May not want to eat or drink
  • Shut down and want to curl up in his crate or under a table
  • Testing the boundaries
  • May have conflict with other animals in your house

Here's what you can expect within the first 3 weeks of adopting your dog.

  • Starting to settle in
  • Feeling more comfortable
  • Realizing this could be his/her forever home
  • Figured out his/her environment
  • Getting into a routine
  • Lets his/her guard down and may start showing true personality
  • Behavior issues might start showing up - best to quickly address with proper training 

Here's what you can expect within the first 3 months of adopting your dog.

  • Finally completely comfortable in his/her new home
  • Building trust and a true bond
  • Gained complete sense of security with his/her new family
  • Set in a routine
  • Accepting of other animals in the house
Be patient. The dog is trying hard to get comfortable with you and their new home. It's all new to them. Don't give up and don't abuse or neglect them.