The 3-3-3 Rule of Adopting a Rescue Dog


Adopting a rescue dog can be a rewarding experience, but it also requires patience, understanding, and preparation. One guideline to help in this process is the 3-3-3 rule, which provides a structure for adjusting to life with a new furry friend.

Understanding the 3-3-3 Rule for Adopting a Rescue Dog

The 3-3-3 rule is a guideline for transitioning a rescue dog into its new home and helping it to settle in. It suggests that the first three days should be used for adjusting to its new surroundings, the next three weeks for training and bonding, and the first three months for continued socialization and training.

What is the 3-3-3 Rule and Why is it Important?

The 3-3-3 rule provides a roadmap for the adoption process and helps ensure a smooth transition for both the dog and the owner. It also helps set realistic expectations and prevents common mistakes such as overloading the dog with too much too soon. By following the 3-3-3 rule, owners can give their rescue dog the time and support it needs to adjust and become a well-behaved member of the household.

How to Apply the 3-3-3 Rule in Your Rescue Dog Adoption Journey

Here is a practical guide for applying the 3-3-3 rule in your rescue dog adoption journey:

First Three Days:

Give your rescue dog time to adjust to its new surroundings and get used to you. Limit exposure to new sights, sounds, and experiences, and provide a quiet and safe space for the dog to rest and recover.

Next Three Weeks:

Focus on training and bonding with your rescue dog. Start with basic obedience commands, such as sit, stay, and come, and gradually increase the difficulty of the exercises. Take your dog on daily walks and spend time playing and challenging your new pup. At this point they may be testing the boundaries so don’t get discouraged.

First Three Months:

Continue socializing and training your rescue dog, and expose it to a variety of experiences and environments. Take it to the park, go on car rides, and let it interact with other dogs and people. This will help build confidence and strengthen your bond with your rescue dog.


adopt a rescue dog with the 3-3-3 rule
Download this PDF guide as a reminder of common milestones your rescue dog will likely go through during first 3 days after bringing them home, then 3 weeks and 3 months. Please feel free to print and share this guide with others who may need help as they go through their journey with their new rescue dog.  

Common Challenges and Solutions in Adopting a Rescue Dog

Adopting a rescue dog can come with challenges, but with patience and understanding, they can be overcome. Common challenges include behavioral issues, such as barking, chewing, and digging, and health problems, such as anxiety and fear. To overcome these challenges, it is important to seek help from a professional trainer or behaviorist, provide plenty of positive reinforcement and exercise, and be patient and consistent in your approach.


The 3-3-3 rule provides a helpful framework for adopting a rescue dog and ensuring a smooth transition for both the dog and the owner. By following this guideline, owners can give their rescue dog the time and support it needs to adjust, bond, and become a well-behaved member of the household.