The 3-3-3 Rule of Adoption

The 3-3-3 Rule of Adoption

The excitement of welcoming a new member to the family often comes with the thrill of the unknown - how will they adjust? What will their quirks be? To make this transition smoother for both pet and owner, understanding the 3-3-3 rule of adoption can be invaluable.

What is 3-3-3 Rul

So, what exactly is this rule? The 3-3-3 rule demarcates three distinct phases of a pet's adjustment in its new home: the initial three days, the subsequent three weeks, and finally, the culminating three months. Each phase brings its own challenges and learning opportunities for the pet and the adopter.

The First 3 Days

The initial 72 hours can be overwhelming for your new companion. Transported from a shelter or previous home to an unfamiliar environment, pets often grapple with an onslaught of new sights, sounds, and scents. This sensory overload may lead to behaviors like hiding under furniture, avoiding food, or possibly even exhibiting unexpected bursts of energy by exploring and pushing boundaries.


During these initial days, your primary role as a pet parent is to exude patience and understanding. Some key pointers to consider are:


  • Space is Essential: Let them determine the pace. If they wish to hide, allow them their safety nook without pressuring them to come out.
  • Consistency: Establish routines right from the start, be it feeding times or bedtime.
  • Avoid Forcing Interaction: Whether it’s with other pets or humans, let them approach when they feel ready.
  • Safety First: Ensure your home is pet-proofed to prevent mishaps.

The Next 3 Weeks

The subsequent three weeks see the pet gradually stepping out of their initial cautionary shell. They begin to get a feel for the household's rhythm, slowly syncing their internal clocks to your daily routines. This newfound confidence can also result in your pet testing boundaries, much like a toddler might.


It’s during this phase that the pet's true personality, with all its quirks and endearing traits, starts to emerge. However, as with any relationship, there might be a few bumps along the way. This is when the importance of positive reinforcement shines the brightest. In this phase, you can introduce some light toys that will stay with them throughout. Such as chewers or a plush toy.




  • Be Consistent with Training: Basic commands are crucial. Set clear boundaries and reinforce them.
  • Celebrate Small Wins: Praise and treat your pet for the behaviors you want to encourage. This sets the stage for a strong foundation of mutual respect and love.

The First 3 Months

After three months in your care, the pet should genuinely feel 'at home'. This period is characterized by a deepened bond of trust and understanding. The pet becomes accustomed to daily life patterns, eagerly anticipating meal times or play sessions.


By this juncture, you've likely sailed through numerous experiences together, be they hilarious, heartwarming, or those little teaching moments.


Key things to keep in mind during this phase include:


  • Consistency Remains Crucial: Continue with the established training routines. Positive reinforcement is still your most potent tool.
  • Expand the Rewards Spectrum: While treats are always appreciated, you can now also leverage your built bond. A simple pat, a loving scratch, or cuddle can also serve as fantastic rewards.

Bottom Line

Adopting a pet isn't just about opening your home to a new companion; it's about opening your heart and understanding the journey they've undertaken. The 3-3-3 rule serves as a gentle reminder for adopters. It emphasizes that beneath that furry (or scaly or feathery) exterior lies a heart that has faced transitions and upheavals. With a dash of patience, a sprinkle of consistency, and heaps of love, you'll see your pet blossom and thrive in their new forever home.

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