4 Things You Should Know Before Adopting a Rescue Dog

Adopting a rescue dog

Are you considering expanding your family by getting a furry companion? Adopting a dog from a rescue can provide a fulfilling experience for you as well as your new pet.

Not only does adopting an animal offer them a second shot at having a loving home, but it also presents an opportunity for you to gain a faithful friend.

Before you bring your new dog home, it’s important to be prepared and informed.

This article will cover 4 things you should consider before adopting a rescue, including the 3-3-3 rule, how to deal with a dog’s traumatic past, the importance of socialization, and how to prepare for your new dog.

We’ll also answer some frequently asked questions about adopting a rescue dog to help you make the best decision for you and your entire family.

So, let’s dive in and learn how to give your new dog a loving and happy home.

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

Adopting a rescue dog

If you’re considering adopting a rescue, there’s one rule you should definitely keep in mind: the 3-3-3 rule.

The 3-3-3 rule for rescue dogs refers to the general timeframe it takes for a dog to adjust to a new family and environment.

The basic idea is that your dog may feel overwhelmed for the first 3 days, start to settle in during the first 3 weeks, and finally build trust and bond with you during the first 3 months.

The First 3 Days – Overwhelmed and Nervous

The first “3” in the 3-3-3 rule refers to the first three days.

As your dog settles into their new home, it’s important to keep in mind that the transition can be overwhelming for them.

During the initial days, your pup may be hesitant to fully come out of their shell and timid dogs may take even longer to adjust.

They will be using their sense of smell to familiarize themselves with their new surroundings and establish a sense of security. Many dogs will begin to explore and determine where they’ll sleep.

It’s important to note that during this adjustment period, your new dog may not be as interested in eating or may express discomfort through whining or barking.

They may also seek out a quiet and covered area to feel safe. Providing them with a cozy spot, such as a crate or dog bed, can help ease their anxiety.

Be patient with them, as they may have accidents in the house as they get used to their new environment. Regularly taking them outside for bathroom breaks can also aid in their potty training.

Your dog may also experience sleepiness and separation anxiety as they adjust to their new environment. This could result in accidents or even sickness.

However, with time and patience, your pup will become more comfortable and start to show their true personality. Click here to learn about best dog separation anxiety toys to calm your pet.

Consistently using their new name, if you have renamed them, can also help in the transition process.

The First 3 Weeks – Settling In

Adopting a rescue dog

The second “3” refers to the first three weeks.

As your new shelter dog starts settling in, you’ll likely notice a shift in their behavior.

After the first few weeks, they should be mostly potty trained and going to the bathroom outside, whether during walks or in a fenced-in yard.

This is sign they understand that this is likely their forever home. They may even start to play more and show their true personality.

Additionally, they should be on a consistent feeding schedule and drinking regularly.

It’s important to keep in mind that during this time period, behavioral issues may arise, and it’s crucial to set boundaries and discipline them in the proper way.

To aid in your dog’s transition, establish a daily routine for them to understand what life will be like with you. Consistency in training and setting clear directions will help them learn their limits and what’s expected of them.

Spend time playing with your dog but make sure they also have time for rest. Once you’ve established a routine, you can begin to work on basic commands such as sit and stay.

Reward them with dog treats and praise when they follow commands.

The First 3 Months – Bonding

Adopting a rescue dog

The final “3” refers to the first three months.

By the three-month mark, your dog should have a strong sense of belonging in their new home and a deep trust in you as their owner.

They will likely be settled into a routine and enjoying their new life with you and your family.

Your dog may also have formed close bonds with other members of your household and any other dogs in the home.

It’s important to continue training your dog during this time period, as it’s a crucial stage for establishing good behaviors. Consider enrolling in private training classes if that suits your lifestyle better.

Keep in mind that your dog is still eager to learn and please you. This is a great time to work on more advanced tricks and commands.

Invest in a good dog leash and train your dog to behave well in public. Introducing new experiences such as visiting the dog park or playing with a friend’s dog can also help to strengthen your bond.

At this point, your dog will likely be showing you all the love and affection they can. Remember to continue to show them love and patience as they continue to adjust to their new home.

Overall, by following the 3-3-3 rule, you’ll be giving your new rescue dog the best chance to adjust to their new home and become a happy, well-adjusted member of your family.

2) How to Deal With a Dogs Traumatic Past

Adopting a rescue dog

Rescue dogs are some of the most resilient animals out there.

Sadly, many of these dogs have been physically abused, neglected, abandoned, and used for breeding in puppy mills. They’ve been through so much, yet they still have the capacity to love and trust again.

It’s important to understand the trauma these animals have been through and how we can help them heal.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is one form of trauma that rescue dogs can experience.

This can include being hit, kicked, or beaten, and may result in physical injuries such as broken bones, cuts, and bruises.

These physical injuries can result in potential long-term health issues and emotional scars.

Lack of Care

Another form of trauma is neglect when it comes to proper care.

This can include not being provided with enough food, water, and medical attention, which can lead to malnourishment, disease or other health issues.

Neglect can also include being kept in unsanitary or overcrowded conditions.

Puppy Mills

Additionally, some rescue dogs may have been used for breeding and kept in puppy mills.

These dogs may have been kept in small cages, with little to no socialization and little to no human interaction.


Adopting a rescue dog

Abandonment is another form of trauma that rescue dogs can experienced.

Some may have been abandoned by their previous owners, or taken away from their families, which can be a traumatic experience for them.

This can lead to trust issues, fear and anxiety.

6 Tips to Help a Dog Overcome a Traumatic Past

1. Give them time and space

Allow your dog to adjust to their new surroundings at their own pace. Avoid overwhelming them with too much attention or too many changes. Make sure to give them space and let them come to you when they’re ready.

2. Provide a Safe and Secure Environment

Make sure they have a quiet, comfortable place to rest and feel safe. This can be a crate or a specific room in the house.

3. Establish a Consistent Routine

Having a consistent routine can help your new dog feel more secure and comfortable. This includes regular feeding times, walk times, and play times.

4. Use Positive Reinforcement

Use positive reinforcement techniques such as treats, praise, and play to reward good behavior. Avoid using physical punishment or negative reinforcement.

5. Find Professional Help

Seek the help of a professional dog trainer or a veterinary behaviorist to help with specific behavior issues. They can provide guidance and help you create a behavior modification plan.

Remember that it’s completely normal to get help and you shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to a professional.

6. Be Patient

Understand that it may take a long time for a dog to fully recover from trauma and neglect. Be patient and understanding as they learn to trust and bond with you.

3) The Importance of Socialization

Adopting a rescue dog

One of the best ways to socialize a rescue dog is through consistent and positive interactions with people.

This can include taking them for walks, visiting parks, and other public spaces, and inviting friends and family over to meet them.

The more positive experiences a rescue dog has with people, the more they will learn to trust and enjoy their company.

Another important aspect of socializing rescue dogs is exposing them to other animals.

This can include other dogs, cats, and even small animals such as birds or rabbits. It’s essential to start slowly and make sure your rescue dog is comfortable before introducing them to other animals or taking them to a dog park.

Positive reinforcement such as treats and praise can help to make these interactions more pleasant for your new dog.

Socializing also includes exposing them to different environments. This can mean taking them on car rides, visiting different neighborhoods, and even going on vacation. The more your rescue dog is exposed to different environments, the more comfortable they will become in new situations.

4) How to Prepare

To ensure a smooth transition for both you and your new pet, here are some tips on how to prepare for adopting a rescue dog.

First, be aware that rescue dogs may have unique challenges, such as fear, anxiety, or aggression. To address these issues, work with a professional trainer or behaviorist to help your dog adjust to their new home.

Next, make sure your home is a safe and secure environment for an animal. This includes puppy-proofing your home by removing any potential hazards, such as toxic plants or cleaning supplies.

It’s also good to have a designated area for your new dog, such as a crate or a specific room, where they can feel at ease.

Additionally, gather all the necessary supplies for your new companion. This includes items such as a leash, collar, food and water bowls, and toys. A comfortable bed for your dog to sleep on is also a good idea. Click here for a list of our favorite dog beds.

In terms of finances, consider the ongoing expenses associated with adopting a rescue dog, such as food, veterinary care, and training. Be sure you’re able to provide for your new pet’s needs before bringing them home.

Lastly, establish a support system for yourself and your new companion. Reach out to friends, family, or professionals for help during the transition and for ongoing support and advice.

Frequently Asked Questions About Rescue Dogs

How Long Does it Take a Rescue Dog to Adjust?

It typically takes a rescue dog anywhere from a few days to a few months to fully adjust to a new home.

It really depends on the individual dog and their past experiences. Some shelter dogs may take longer to adjust if they have had a traumatic past or if they are older.

It’s important to be patient and give them time to adjust. Providing a consistent routine and lots of love and positive reinforcement can also help them feel more comfortable in their new home.

What is the Best Age to Adopt a Rescue Dog?

There is no one “best” age to adopt a new dog as each dog is unique and has different needs. However, adopting a new pup (under 12 months) can be a good option if you want a companion that can grow and bond with you and your family.

Puppies are more adaptable and are more likely to learn and adapt to your household rules and habits.

Adopting an adult dog may be a good option if you’re looking for a more trained companion that already has an established personality.

Senior dogs (7+ years old) can also be a great option as they are often already trained, calmer, and may have lower exercise needs. Ultimately, the best age to adopt a rescue dog is the one that best fits your lifestyle and family.

What are Some Tips for Adopting a Rescue Dog?

  • Research different breeds and their characteristics to find one that fits your lifestyle and living situation.
  • Visit the animal shelter or rescue organization in person to meet the dog you’re interested in and get a sense of their personality and behavior.
  • Ask questions about the dog’s background and history to get a better understanding of their past experiences and any potential behavior issues.
  • Consider the dog’s energy level and exercise needs to make sure you’re able to provide them with the appropriate amount of physical and mental stimulation.
  • Prepare your home for the dog’s arrival by making sure it’s safe and secure, and have all necessary supplies such as food, water, bedding, and toys ready.
  • Be patient and understanding during the adjustment period. Rescue dogs may take some time to feel comfortable and trust you.
  • Provide positive reinforcement, consistency and patience while training your new dog.
  • Seek professional help if you have any concerns or questions about your new dog’s behavior.


By being prepared for the responsibilities that come with owning a dog, and understanding the unique needs of rescue dogs, you can ensure a successful and happy addition to your family.

Remember to research the breed, be patient with their adjustment period, budget for unexpected expenses, and be prepared to provide them with love and patience.

With the right mindset and preparation, adopting a rescue dog can bring joy and companionship to your life for many years to come.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *