3-3-3 Rule: The Complete Guide for Dog Rescue

Bringing home a rescue dog is a great thing. It makes you feel good, but it’s also a wonderful thing to do for the dog. The experience stirs lots of emotions, but there are real issues to be considered when rescuing a dog. The questions you have may seem endless, but with a bit of research and preparation, your experience can be a good one. 

There is something called the 3-3-3 Rule for when you adopt a dog. It’s a general guideline of what to expect and when. 

Related:  How To Choose The Best Dog Leash For Your Dog 

Understanding The 3-3-3 Rule for Your Rescue Dog

small dog with its new owner

The 3-3-3 Rule is the phases or milestones you can expect from your rescue dog or new pup. The Rule represents the first 3 days, 3 weeks, and 3 months after bringing a new dog home. The phases aren’t written in stone; your dog is an individual and prone to do things their own way. But the Rule is a rough guide, making those early times of adjustment a little easier by giving you a framework of what to expect. But give your dog time and space to adapt to life with you.  

3 Days

In the first three days, you’ll both feel a little overwhelmed. In fact, your new dog may feel so stressed that they don’t eat for a while. At first, they may feel so afraid that they just find a quiet place to curl up and hide. Or they may become overly active with lots of nervous energy. Try not to be too worried about that. You aren’t really seeing your dog’s true personality yet. Their fear, confusion, or over-excitement are only for the moment. 

3 Weeks

After three weeks together, you’re both feeling more comfortable and more settled. Your dog is getting used to your schedule, their routine, and your home with all its unique smells and feels. You’re enjoying having a dog, but you’re also feeling the weight of the responsibility. Their true personality starts to show through, and behavioral issues may arise. This is when you’ll need to be up on good training practices.  

3 Months

You’ve had a dog for three months now, and it feels good. You’re comfortable together, and you understand so many of each other’s little quirks. At this point, your bond is strong, and you couldn’t imagine not having this little guy in your life. Your dog feels secure with you and comfortable enough to be fully themselves. They know when to expect their meals, walks, etc. 

Related: How to Show Your Dog You Love Them 

First Things First

Happy woman lying on sofa with cute purebred dog

When you bring your dog home, and before you take them inside, introduce them to the outside of your home. Let them see where they’ll be going potty and give them a chance to run off any excess energy. 

After they’re well acquainted with the outside, take them inside. Restrict them to one area for a time to not stress them too much. Keep them on a leash for the first few days. You don’t have to hold the leash or secure them to anything. The leash is so you have quick access to hold them if needed.

Tips to Prepare Your Home for a Rescue Dog

Before you bring home your rescue dog, here are a few things you should do to prepare the environment:

  1. You’re bringing your dog home, and you want to ensure they’re safe as well as comfortable. Go through the house and puppy-proof it. Look for anything your new dog will find enticing but could spell disaster. For instance, dangling cords make an attractive toy, but they could pull something heavy onto themselves if they pull on them. So, think like a curious pooch and look at things from their point of view. You may also fence off a part of the house, just for your dog to be.  
  2. Buy an appropriately sized dog crate and put it somewhere quiet. The crate will make your new dog feel safe and protected until they know you and your family and their new surroundings. With everyone being excited to have a new dog in the house, your dog will need a place to escape it all and decompress. 
  3. Remember to take your puppy-proofing powers to your backyard as well. Walk around outside of your home and check for anything that could harm your new dog. Ensure they can’t squeeze (or dig) under the fence or other structures. Make sure the gates can be closed and latched securely and that there are no small bits that a little dog could choke on.  
  4. Buy all the necessities you’ll need for your dog. When your dog comes home, you want to already have a good supply of food, bowls, leash, collar, toys, and ID tag. 

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Tips to Prepare Your Dog for a New Dog

But what if you aren’t a dog newbie? What if you already have a dog? Here are some tips for preparing your current dog for your new dog.

  1. Introduce the dogs outside before you bring the new one inside. 
  2. Take them for a walk together and let them smell each other.
  3. Be very mindful never to allow the new dog to invade your current dog’s territory. 
  4. For a time, keep the dogs in separate areas of the house. 
  5. Wait a couple of days before the new dog is fully integrated into the family. 

Related: How To Keep Your Dog Entertained At Home 


happy woman cuddling dog

Getting a dog from a rescue organization is a wonderful thing to do for the dog and yourself. You will, of course, want to show your new dog off, but resist the urge. Keep things quiet at home for a while to give your dog some time to decompress and relax. Be sensitive to your new dog’s stress and anxiety. Be understanding, show them lots of love, and give them time to adjust to life with you. 

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