The 3-3-3 Rule - SoCal Weimaraner Rescue

The 3-3-3 Rule

Before you adopt, foster or rescue a dog, it's important to understand you are taking a dog that has a potentially unknown and possibly traumatic background into your home which will be an entirely new environment for them. Even if the dog is being rehomed from a loving family, the transition to a new living environment can cause a great amount of stress.

Do not expect your new dog to immediately feel comfortable or act according to its "true" personality. It will take time for your dog to settle in and become the amazing dog they were meant to be! One popular theory that can help guide you through the process is the 3 3 3 rule. This rule provides a framework for understanding the adjustment period and expectations when bringing a new dog into your home.

What is the 3 3 3 rule?

The 3 3 3 rule suggests that it takes approximately 3 days, 3 weeks, and 3 months for a dog to acclimate to their new environment and show their true personality. This rule was popularized by the dog trainer and behaviorist, Dr. Karen Overall.

Why is the 3 3 3 rule important?

Understanding the 3 3 3 rule can help manage your expectations and provide a smoother transition for both you and your new furry friend. It acknowledges that dogs need time to adjust to their new surroundings, build trust, and feel comfortable in their new home.

What happens during each phase?

Phase 1: The Decompression Phase (3 days)

During the first 3 days, your new dog may feel overwhelmed and stressed. It's important to create a calm and quiet environment, allowing them to decompress. Keep interactions minimal and provide a safe space for them to retreat to when needed. 

Give your new pup time to learn the rules of the house with respect to potty breaks, sleeping arrangements, and separation from their new humans. Don't be surprised if your dog has an accident in the house if they don't know how to alert you or where to go and extend some grace while they adjust.

Before you immediately leave your new family member alone, give them some time to feel comfortable in their new home and get and understanding of their comfort in a crate. If necessary, spend some time slowly acclimating them to longer periods of separation before you leave them for an extended period.

Phase 2: The Adjustment Phase (3 weeks)

After the initial decompression phase, your dog will start to adjust to their new routine and surroundings. They may become more comfortable and show signs of their true personality. This is the time to gradually introduce them to new experiences, people, and other pets.

Phase 3: The Attachment Phase (3 months)

By the third month, your dog should have settled into their new home and formed a strong bond with you. They will feel more secure and confident in their environment. This is the time to continue building trust, providing consistent training, and strengthening your relationship.

3 3 3 Rule Infographic
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