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Humane Tales

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Rule of 3’s

3 days, 3 Weeks, and 3 Months

Bringing home a furry new family member can be one of the best days ever!  But transitioning to a new home is often one of the most stressful times in an animal’s life.

To help make this transition as smooth as possible, it can help to break it down to 3 days, 3 weeks, and 3 months.

First 3 Days

The first 3 days should be set aside for your dog or cat to decompress. It’s exciting to bring home a new family member and it can be easy to accidentally overwhelm them! Prepare a quiet place ahead of time where the dog or cat can relax and find their bearings. This space should be a safe place for them to rest and a place where they will not get into trouble when unsupervised. This might mean setting up a small room or bathroom for your cat as they can panic when given too much space too soon.  You might use a baby gate or exercise pen to create a safety zone for your new dog set up with food, water, and a soft place to rest. This can help cut down on accidents or chewed on household items while your new dog is adjusting to a new routine.

cat at the feet of a person


Follow your new pet’s lead and keep your interactions short at first. Give them plenty of chances to rest and decompress. You should avoid any unnecessary interactions that they may not be prepared to handle. A trip to the dog park or the pet store may cause a meltdown! Family members may want to visit right away, but this can be overwhelming. Save these visits for a few weeks down the road when you have had a chance to grow your relationship with your new pet.

First 3 Weeks

Over the next few weeks, you will start to see your new pet’s personality begin to emerge. Creating a consistent schedule with plenty of opportunities for you to reward your pet will help grow this new bond. This is a good time to start to establish a routine with meal times, regular potty breaks, exercise, and enrichment. This is also the time you will want to slowly integrate your new pet with other animals and children in the home. Any introductions should be done using short sessions and an adult should actively supervise all interactions.

Start to engage them with new toys and different activities to see what keeps them engaged and can burn their extra energy. This is also a great time to begin teaching some foundational skills using reward-based training. Cats love reinforcement too! So figure out what toys or treats they like. Use them to reward them for behaviors you want to see. 

Three Months

The next few months will be a chance to identify what routines work for you and your new pet. You should start to notice how much exercise they need and which activities they enjoy. Once they seem relaxed and comfortable with your routine at home, this is a great time to slowly start to integrate new activities like a trip to the park or introductions to family and friends.

Dog kissing a lady

This might also be the time that you start to notice some less desirable behaviors. Most of the time, you can work this through together with support from a behavior expert or veterinarian.

Remember that your new pet is doing their best, but they may not understand what you’re expecting of them. Keep in mind that their behavior may be species-appropriate or age-appropriate even if it’s not ideal for us. We can suggest more desirable outlets for those behaviors. Our behavior staff is happy to assess the situation and send you resources to help you and your pet. You can contact our behavior department for support.

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