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Congratulations on adopting a new family member! This is an exciting time, and it's important to keep in mind that adopting and bringing a new dog into your home can be frightening and stressful for them.

Dogs thrive on consistency and your new dog has experienced many changes. Adopting a shelter dog is like peeling an onion; you learn a bit more about your new dog's personality as they relax and settle into their new home. Consistency, predictability, and tranquility are some of the best gifts you can provide during the first few weeks. 

The 3-3-3 Rule is a general guideline when adopting a rescue dog. Every dog is unique and will adjust differently. Give the dog space and allow them to go at their own pace.



Be patient!

  • Feeling overwhelmed

  • May be scared and unsure of what’s going on

  • Not comfortable enough to be "themselves"

  • May not want to eat or drink

  • May be very nervous and hide

  • Testing the boundaries

In the first 3 days, your dog will be overwhelmed with their new surroundings. They may not be comfortable enough to be themselves. Don't be alarmed if they don't want to eat for the first couple of days, as many dogs don't eat when they are stressed. They may shut down and want to curl up in their crate or under the table. They may be scared and unsure of what is going on. Or they may be the opposite and test their boundaries.


Expanding horizons

  • Starting to settle in

  • Feeling more comfortable

  • Figured out the environment

  • Getting into a routine

  • Lets their guard down and may start showing their true personality

  • Behavior issues may start showing up

After 3 weeks, your dog is starting to settle in, feeling more comfortable, and realizing this really may be their permanent home. They have figured out their environment and are getting into the routine you have set. They may let their guard down and start showing their true personality. Behavior issues could start showing, so this is the time to be a strong pack leader and show them what is right and wrong. 


Likely settled in

  • Finally completely comfortable in the new home

  • Building trust and a true bond

  • Gained a complete sense of security with their new family

  • Set in a routine

At 3 months, your dog is completely comfortable in their new home. Trust has been established, which provides a sense of security. They are comfortable with their routine and continue to settle into their routine. 

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Count on some accidents in the beginning

  • Dogs get nervous in the transition and may have accidents, even if your dog was previously house-trained

  • Start a refresher course in house-training

Take time to teach your new dog the rules of the house

  • Start as soon as you get home

  • Show them where the food and water bowls are located

  • Show them what door to use for bathroom breaks

Try not to overwhelm your new dog with too much activity during the initial adjustment period

  • Limit outings and visitors until they are settled into your routine

Keep your new pet either supervised at all times or confined to a safe space

  • To help with any inappropriate chewing or other undesirable behaviors

When you make your vet appointment, remember to take along the information about your new pet's vaccination history. Also, consider contacting a professional dog trainer if you have questions or need some guidance!

At the Dubuque Regional Humane Society (DRHS), we are proud to be part of the Hill's Food, Shelter, Love® program. This program provides food for the more than 3,000 animals we care for each year. 

We suggest that you continue feeding your new pet Hill's Science Diet because you will be offering your pet:

  • Vets' #1 choice to feed their own pets;

  • Clinically proven benefits;

  • Superior nutrition with visible results;

  • Precisely balanced nutrition for every lifestage and special need; and

  • Natural ingredients and no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

We have provided you with a transition bag for your pet. For more information about Hill's Science Diet, to find your Best Friend Guide, identify the best product for your pet, or find additional coupons worth over $20, please visit their website at  When you choose Hill's Science Diet, you help the DRHS and Hill's Food, Shelter, Love® program continue to care for the lost and abandoned animals in the tri-state area. 

The DRHS would like to thank Hill's Science Diet and Theisen's Home-Farm-Auto for giving us the opportunity to help connect you and your new pet and begin a new life together. If you have any questions, please contact the DRHS at 563-582-6766 or

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