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  • Writer's pictureKara Dyko

The 3-3-3 Rule When Adopting A Boxer

Updated: Dec 5, 2023

The 3-3-3 rule when adopting a dog is a really useful application to understand the three stages of a dog or puppy’s adjustment period when adapting to a new living situation.

The amount of time each individual dog needs will vary but applying the 3-3-3 rule when adopting a dog gives you a great approximation of what to expect. Remember, issues like trauma and anxiety will definitely extend these periods and may require additional time and a proactive approach.

What is the 3-3-3 Rule When Adopting a Dog?

The 3-3-3 rule represents the phases of a rescue dog or common milestones your new dog or puppy will go through. It's the first 3 days, 3 weeks, and 3 months after bringing your dog home.

So, think about it, if you’ve ever started a new job or moved to a new school, you know the feeling; that sense of being in an unfamiliar place, new surroundings, new people, new rules.

And before we delve even deeper into the 3-3-3 rule, a quick tip of the hat to our MLBR fosters, as fosters, you often won’t often have the chance to have a dog as long as 3 months but understanding the 3-3-3 rule for adopters can be really helpful.

Some Things to Remember with the 3-3-3 Rule

Even when dogs come to us from happy homes, they are going through a BIG and potentially difficult change. It’s not unusual to see all sorts of strange behavior, or lack of behavior. Don’t worry, there are a lot of things you can do to help dogs adjust though:

  • Go on daily walks together.

  • Trick training is a wonderful way of building confidence as well as a bond- for everyone involved.

  • Talk to the dog. Dogs *can* learn basic words and phrases and knowing which weird human ritual is about to happen can help them feel safer.

  • Use a happy voice when communicating with your pup.

  • Give your dog lots and lots of rest and quiet. Also give them time to take in their new surroundings.

  • Have a safe cozy bed where they can see what’s going on but will give them a space to decompress.

  • Give your new pup a routine.

In the First 3 Days

Your new dog will probably be unsure or perhaps overwhelmed with the hand-off from the foster to you. Don’t be alarmed if he doesn’t want to eat for the first couple of days, many dogs don’t eat when they are stressed. Your pup may shut down and want to curl up in the crate. A pup that's more confident may jump on your sofa or bed, to test your boundaries. This is all very normal.

After 3 Weeks

Your dog is starting to settle in and feeling a bit more comfortable. Your new fur baby may actually be realizing this may be his forever home. Now, your dog has probably figured out his environment and is getting into a routine. You may even see some real personality! Behavior issues may start showing up, so be consistent with them on what's right and wrong.

After 3 Months

Your dog is now completely comfortable in your home. You've built trust and a true bond with your dog, which gives him a complete sense of security with you. He's set in his routine and will come to expect his dinner and walks at his usual time.

Enjoy Your New Rescue Dog!

Just remember to take it slow and be consistent. Keep in mind how your dog is feeling. Change is stressful, so make sure to give your puppy time and space and lots of love.

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