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Home > Dogs > What Is the 3 Day 3 Week 3 Month Rule for an Adopted Dog? Phases Explained

What Is the 3 Day 3 Week 3 Month Rule for an Adopted Dog? Phases Explained

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When you adopt a new dog, there are phases that they will go through as they adjust to their new home and environment. Things like getting used to new people, another pet, different noises, and more, can take time. It can be tough to have patience and focus when you bring home a new pup, but experienced pet owners and animal enthusiasts have tips and tricks to help you and your pet adjust.


What Is the 3-3-3 Rule?

The 3-3-3 rule stands for different phases in a newly adopted dog’s life that relates to their adjustment period and when they are likely to hit different milestones in their life. The 3’s stand for “3 days, 3 weeks, and 3 months” as markers in time after you bring an adopted dog home. It’s a great way to track your dog’s progress and understand where your new dog should naturally be in terms of behavior in their new home.

The First 3 Days

Adorable blue French bulldog puppy
Image Credit: Jantanee Boonkhaw, Shutterstock

The first 3 days are crucial for a newly adopted dog and this period takes patience and understanding. Your dog may be acting nervous and scared of their new surroundings. Sounds and spaces are unfamiliar which can be frightening. You might notice their personality is quite sheltered or subdued, they are probably going to hide and be in fear. Don’t be too alarmed if they don’t eat regularly in the first 3 days as this will change over time.

Practice patience with them, keep treats handy, and do as much research as you can. You can talk to a veterinarian also if you’re looking for tips on how to make your new dog feel comfortable.

The First 3 Weeks

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Image Credit: studio-Family, Shutterstock

Within the first 3 weeks of bringing your adopted dog home, you will notice they start to open up a bit more. They will have been eating more regularly, making more contact with you and family members, and showing off more of their personality. These are the moments when you begin to see your dog getting more comfortable with their new home and start building a routine around yours.

However, this could also be the time that your dog starts testing you and its environment. This can be a civil experience, but it could also be when you have to start guiding them to preferred behaviors. They don’t know your rules so calmly let them know what they can and can’t do, while also rewarding good behavior.

The First 3 Months

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Image Credit: NotarYES, Shutterstock

3 months should be about the time that you notice your dog has transitioned almost completely into your home. They recognize that this is their new forever home and forever family. This gives them a sense of comfort and security with you as their new owners. At this point, your adopted dog is settled and adapted to their new routine. They will understand when it’s time for a meal and things like what grabbing their leash by the front door means.

By this time, your adopted dog has reached the tail-end of the 3-3-3 period and should be comfortable and feel secure. If they haven’t transitioned by this point, or if you notice any lingering negative behaviors, you may need to seek some outside training.

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Final Thoughts

It’s always helpful to know the general timeline of an adopted dog transitioning into their new home. It brings a sense of calm to a pet owner knowing that if their dog seems scared they aren’t necessarily doing anything wrong. It reinforces a positive feeling in a new pet owner that they shouldn’t give up just yet!

However, understanding that 3 months is the average transition period can help in less positive situations. For example, if your dog is lashing out or still behaving poorly, check with a veterinarian for some help, they may recommend a qualified behaviorist and alternative ways to help.


Featured Image Credit: Rita_Kochmarjova, Shutterstock

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