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Have you heard of the 3-3-3 rule when it comes to adopting a new pet?

The amount of time each individual pet needs to adjust to their new homes will vary, but the 3-3-3 rule helps give an approximation of what new pet owners can expect.

The 3-3-3 rule refers to the first 3 days, the first 3 weeks, and the first 3 months after bringing a shelter animal home.

In the first 3 days:

Your new pet will often be overwhelmed with their new surroundings. This may manifest as a lack of appetite, which is common when pet’s are stressed. Your new pet may also hide under furniture or in a crate, likely somewhere that makes them feel safe. Some pets may do the opposite and will test boundaries in their new environment to see what they can get away with – this is why it’s good to pet- proof your home first.

Tips to remember during this period: Give them space, stay calm and give clear directions, start routines right away, do not force interaction, be patient and stay positive.

After 3 weeks:

Your new pet is starting to settle in and is getting used to your routine. This helps them to feel more comfortable with their environment. This is when your new pet’s personality will start to show. Behaviour issues may become apparent, so setting expectations and boundaries through positive reinforcement training is especially critical during this time.

Tips to remember during this period: they feel more settled and will start to test boundaries, consistently work on basic commands, continue to give clear directions, praise and reward the behaviours you want to reinforce.

After 3 months:

Your pet should be completely acclimated to and comfortable in your home. You have built trust and a bond with your pet, which gives them confidence and a sense of security with you. They know their routine and may expect meals and enrichment at specific times.

Tips to remember during this period: they have established trust with you and know their routine, continue with consistent and clear positive-reinforcement training, once bonded you can also use affection as a reward, but treats (in moderation) are still a great form of enrichment.


Ultimately, adopting a new pet takes patience, consistency, and time – the 3-3-3 rule helps remind new pet owners that their recently adopted friend has been through a lot of change in a short period of time and some furry friends may need extra patience and time to adjust.