333 Rule of Adopting A Dog
Do you know how the 333 Rule of Adopting a Dog works? It can be so helpful for getting off to the best possible start with your newly adopted pup! In this blog, we explain all all about the 3-3-3 Rule and we'd love it if you'd share your own experience. Perhaps we'll feature you and your dog in a future blog!
Choosing to rescue a dog, be it from a shelter or a foster based rescue can be a very rewarding experience. You are giving a dog a second (or maybe a 3rd or 4th!) chance at living in a loving home. Adopting an adult or young dog with a history previous to living in your home is not the same as bringing home a puppy. A puppy is a blank slate, whereas an young adult or adult dog has a huge number of experiences prior to moving into your home. Keep in mind the 'Rule of Three' when rescuing a dog.
Expect it will take time for your newly adopted dog to get used to the new routines and adapt to their new home. The ‘Rule of Three’ means that you can gauge the time it might take for your dog to fully acclimate to his home in threes: three days, three weeks, and three months.
The First 3 Days
Think of your new dog’s first 3 days as their time to decompress as they transition from a shelter or foster home into your home. This period can be overwhelming for many dogs, especially those that were not previously in a home environment. Make sure to start with a long walk in your neighborhood on that very first day. A long walk establishes the boundaries of your relationship and how to walk well with you and listen. This also helps your rescue dog adjust to their new environment, including all the sights, smells, and sounds of their new neighborhood. Once your walk ends, it is time to bring them into the house, but don’t take off the leash just yet. Your new dog should be following your directions and not wandering. Slowly bring them from room to room. Spend a few minutes in each room and once the inside tour is finished, do the same with each exterior space. During the tours, petting, eye contact and talking are not recommended since your new dog will already be overstimulated by the new environment and new people. The less stimulation you can create the better their transition will be. Think of your home like it is the first time at Disneyland for your dog. This extreme level of excitement requires calm energy from you. As exciting as a new member of your household can be, it’s important to establish your relationship, starting off on the right foot. You can have moments of excitement, but in general your calm energy should be given to your dog at all times in the first 3 days especially, but the same goes for the first 3 months.
Once the tour is complete, it is now time to establish some basic boundaries for your rescue dog! Continue to lead them on leash to their feeding area, with some water and a little food. This establishes an area that your dog is familiar with. After the feeding area is introduced, take your dog to its bedroom. If it is a crate, let your dog investigate that space by smelling, walking around, or just being curious. Open the crate and throw some treats in the back. It is possible your new dog may just walk right in after them! If he settles into the crate, feel free to remove the leash and shut the door. This will give him some time to decompress. If he seems anxious, you can always leave the door open and allow him in and out access. If, however, you choose not to crate your dog, let him off the leash and let him investigate the area. If he immediately lies down on his new bed and ignores the family, do not worry! This means you completed the process correctly and he is already comfortable in the pack!
Remember your new dog won’t know what you expect from them, where to go potty, or whether they’re allowed on the furniture. They might not know that your shoe is not a chew toy, or that the kitchen trash is not where your dog is supposed to find their dinner. Your dog will settle into your routine with time and patience. The first 3 days are important to given them space to explore, rest and establish boundaries! It is normal for your dog to sleep a lot in the first few days, not want to eat, and not crave interaction from their new family as they adjust. Take comfort in knowing that it gets better as the weeks go on.
After 3 Weeks
After 3 weeks, your dog is starting to get used to your comings and goings from the home, learning the daily routine, and starting to figure out the timing for their next meal. Your dog will learn that you walk with them at the same time every morning, and that they go out for regular potty breaks. You’ll start to see more of your dog’s true personality and less of their first response – whether that was fear, excitement, stress or some combination when you first brought them home. They will begin to feel settled in their new home. When they start to feel more comfortable, they will start to test the boundaries you’ve established. Remember to give calm feedback when they misbehave and be sure to praise each success. This is the time when you can start to work on basic commands, and you might have begun to narrow down your dog’s behavior problems (if any). If you have uncovered some, then this is the time to consider training classes or seek help from a professional dog trainer. Keep in mind that your really can't expect your dog to be absolutely perfect right from the beginning, but any issues will become less frequent and less stressful with the help of a professional.
After 3 Months
When you get to 3 months with your rescue dog, most dogs know they are “home.” It may seem like a long process to get there, but with patience they will learn to trust you, understand their routine and build a bond. You can use affection as a resource for good behavior. It is very important not to ease up on training sessions, the more the better, and if any issues arise, it's best to seek out help sooner rather than later.
Must Haves for the New Kid on the Block!
Having encountered many amazing rescue dogs ourselves, we recommend West Paw's Qwizl. This "indestructible" dog toy, used in conjunction with a Bully Stick, is, in our experience, the best choice when it comes to steering a dog away from your favorite shoes, coffee table legs, etc.