The 3-3-3 Rule for Bringing a New Pet Home

Tuki Talks

Hi everyone! Your friend Tuki here at the Potter League. Things are still pretty quiet here and some of that is because so many wonderful people have been helping out by fostering or adopting a dog – and the staff here really appreciates it! 

There are some things that people should know about adopting a rescue or shelter dog. Before you bring your dog home, you want to be prepared. If you are getting a puppy, you’ll need to ‘baby’ proof your house. Put away things that the puppy might chew (that you don’t want chewed!) and put gates up to close off areas where you don’t want the puppy to go. 

For any new dog, if you have a fenced yard, be sure the fence is secure, the latches on any gates are secure and there are no areas under the fence where your new dog can dig a bit and escape! Purchase or borrow a crate. A crate is a safe place for your dog to go when things get overwhelming. Get all the necessities like food and water bowls, food, and a leash and collar. And don’t forget about the toys and treats for your new friend!

Once you bring your new friend home, introduce him to the outside areas first so he can get used to the smells and sounds around his new home. If you have another dog, bring him outside to meet the new addition first, even if they’ve already met at the shelter or rescue. Take them for a walk or let them see and smell each other through a fence first. Once you bring the new dog into the house, restrict him to one or two areas of your home for a few days. He will be unsure of his new environment and restricting where he goes can help decrease his stress level. Introducing a new dog into your ‘pack,’ human and canine, takes time and patience.     

Limit the number of visitors for the first few days. Friends and family will want to come over and meet your new dog, but this may overwhelm him even more. Give him some time to adjust to his immediate family before meeting all the aunts, uncles and cousins!   

Try and establish a routine for your new dog as soon as you can. Scheduling feeding, walks and play time will help your new dog feel more comfortable and a feeding schedule is especially important if your dog is not potty trained.

If you have kids, don’t leave your new dog alone with the kids for the first few weeks. Your kids will adjust to the dog more quickly then he will adjust to them. Your dog may have the sweetest temperament, but when is a situation where he is scared or feels stressed like a child trying to pet or hug him, he may feel he has to protect himself and nip or bite.  

Here at the Potter League, I hear a lot of new dog owners ask how long it will take their new dog to adjust to his new home. The staff tell people that, while every dog has his own schedule, the 3-3-3 rule is a good general guideline. 

3 Days: In the first 3 days after your new dog comes home, he is likely to feel overwhelmed with all the changes and may be scared. He might not want to eat or drink and may just curl up in his crate or hide somewhere.   

3 Weeks: After about 3 weeks, your dog will start to settle into his new home. He will feel more comfortable and start to figure out his new environment. He will get into a routine (don’t forget, you need to help with that!), and start to show you his true personality. Of course, that can have drawbacks because if your dog has any behavioral issues this is when they will start to show up. You will need to let him know that you are the pack leader and teach him right from wrong. You may want to invest in some training classes at this point so any bad habits can be worked on and overcome. 

3 Months: After 3 months, your dog should be set in his routine and feel completely comfortable in his new home. He should be developing trust in you and gaining a sense of security with his new family.

I hope this helps in acclimating your new rescue dog to his ‘furever family!’

‘Till next time,

Your friend, 


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