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How The 3-3-3 Rule That Comes With Adopting A New Pet Can Help Their Owners Understand Them Better

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Adopting a pet can bring about many emotions for new owners, including excitement, anticipation, joy and even worry. 

While all of these emotions are completely normal, it's also important to recognize that your new pet will likely be feeling all of those emotions, but much more intensified. They are adjusting to a completely new environment surrounded by all new people. 

If you are bringing a pet home from a shelter, not only should you provide them with all of their basic needs — food, water, toys and beds — you should also familiarize yourself with the behavior patterns they may display when they first arrive at your home. 

The 3-3-3 rule suggests that your new pet will need 3 days to adjust, 3 weeks to settle into their new routine, and 3 months for their new home to feel like a permanent one. 

The 3-3-3 rule is something that all new pet adoptees should keep in mind to make the transition for their pets as smooth as possible. 

Animals are intelligent creatures with a wide range of emotions. Although they can't verbalize it, it doesn't mean that they aren’t feeling just as overwhelmed as you are when you introduce them to their new home and family for the first time. 



Even though you are adopting an animal with pure intentions, they do not know that. Some of them originated from abusive and neglectful households before they were surrendered to shelters and later adopted. It is going to take them some time to warm up to and trust their new families. 

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For the first three days upon welcoming a new pet home, they are in a decompression stage as they adjust to their new environment. They often feel distressed and may refrain from eating, drinking or interacting with their new family members just yet. Their personality is all there, they likely just don't feel comfortable enough to show it quite yet. 

Some families also opt to give their new pets different names than the ones they were given at the shelter or rescue center, and it may take them a bit to respond to their new names. 

It's also a good idea to have all of their supplies set up for them before they even enter the home. That way, there won’t be too much change and moving around for them all at once. 

"To help your new animal feel at home, set up their bed and food bowls ahead of time to give them a place to rest and get comfortable," Kelly DiCicco, the manager for adoption promotions at ASPCA Adoption Center, told Insider.

How The 3-3-3 Rule That Comes With Adopting A New Pet Can Help Their Owners Understand Them BetterPhoto: Olena Rudo / Shutterstock.com

As much as you want to cuddle with your new furry friend, it is crucial that you allow them their first three days home to adjust and wait until the overstimulation subsides. Give them space, peace and quiet. 

"When it comes to cats, some kitties are more sensitive than others and may prefer to initially be confined to one room, gradually being given more space to explore over time," DiCicco added. "This helps them adjust to their environment without feeling too overwhelmed." 



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It will take your new pet about three weeks to familiarize themselves with your daily routine, including when they eat, go for walks, play with you, and go to bed. Allow your new pet this time to get used to their entirely new routine, and give them grace if they make mistakes, including having accidents in the house and sleeping on your side of the bed

During this time, they may start to display more of their personality and initiate affection toward you, as they are warming up to you more with each passing day. Animals are wiser than we give them credit for, and they will quickly pick up on daily routines. 

It will take your new pet approximately three months to know that you are their forever family. 

Eventually, they will be completely comfortable and adjusted to what was once a strange environment for them. This is the time that you and your pet will form an unbreakable bond. At this point, you have entirely gained their trust and loyalty. 

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Unfortunately, not all new pet owners are aware of the 3-3-3 rule and do not give their pets the chance to flourish and become secure members of their families. 

Some families end up returning their new pets to the shelter within days since their personality hasn't shone through yet. Give them time, and we promise, it eventually will. 



According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, about 6.3 million animals in the U.S. are placed in shelters each year. But 920,000 of these animals never find their forever homes and are euthanized. 

Instead of purchasing a pet from a store or a breeder, consider adoption from a rescue or shelter to spare these animals from a life of cruelty and pain. Even though it takes them time to warm up to their new environments, it's definitely worth it and, in the end, you will both have a new best friend for life. 

They have more love to give than we may ever realize, even if they do not show it at first. 

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Megan Quinn is a writer at YourTango who covers entertainment and news, self, love, and relationships.