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You adopted a shelter pet into your home and we're sure you can't wait for all the joy you two will bring each other. As much as this moment is exciting, it can also prove to be not all what you expected it to be, especially in the beginning.

If you recently adopted a shelter pet or are preparing to bring one into your home, this can act as your guide in the following days, weeks, and months with your pet.   

The 3-3-3 Rule


3 Days

The first three days after you bring your new pet home is referred to as the adjustment period. It could take three days for your pet to warm up to you, or even longer in some circumstances. In these first three days, 

Your pet may:

  • Hide

  • Be timid and scared to be themselves

  • Not eat or drink much 

  • Be cautious about going outside

You should:

  • Be patient

  • Give them space to sniff and explore their new home

  • Stay calm 

  • Set boundaries gently

  • Keep their food and water bowls and litter box in the same place so they know where to go. 

  • Establish them with their new veterinarian


3 Weeks

After three weeks of being in your home, you will start to notice that your pet has become more comfortable and has let its guard down. In the weeks following adoption, 

Your pet might: 

  • Begin engaging in play

  • Be eager to learn and train

  • Start showing their personalities 

  • Test boundaries

You should:

  • Start teaching them basic commands

  • Praise every success

  • Give calm, clear direction

  • Implement a schedule

  • Give them plenty of toys and opportunities for enrichment


3 Months

Once your pet has been in your home three months, they will have adjusted to their new way of life and your schedule. By this time, your pet has started to accept that this is their forever home. In the months following adoption, 

Your pet will:

  • Have trust in you

  • Understands your routine

  • Build a bond with you and your family 

  • Has begun building habits

You should:

  • Continue training, keep their minds active!

  • Begin to trust your pet and the work you have put into this relationship

More Helpful Information 



Depending on what city you live in, you may need to have your pet licensed by law. To receive more information on pet licensing, you can contact your veterinarian. If you wish to license your pet in Van Buren County, click here 

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