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When A Pet Evolves

At the animal shelter, we discuss the 3-3-3 adjustment guideline for pets entering a new home. Simply, 3 days, 3 weeks, and 3 months are the milestones attained by the pet in most circumstances. Some pets might need some extra time to adjust, but the 3-3-3 assessment is usually pretty accurate.

For the first 3-days at home, the pet is still leery and unsure of its surroundings. They don’t know if they are staying for a day, a week, or forever. They will be cautious when exhibiting any behavior. They may have an accident in the home even though they are housebroken.

Let the pet have their space to explore. Don’t force the pet to cuddle if they are not interested in doing so. If the pet is a dog, take them out every hour to avoid accidents in the home. If the pet is a cat, ensure they know where the litter box is. Most importantly, allow the pet to acclimate to its new home.

Once the pet reaches the 3-week milestone, it should be getting used to the routine of the home. The pet will recognize when certain family members come and go. They will also identify when they will be fed. It is said that dogs and cats have no sense of time, but my three dogs know exactly when it is 5 p.m. and time to eat, so I’m not sure about that statement. At the 3-week mark, the pet will have identified which family member is the alpha animal. Pets tend to cling to one person more than others. This can be a problem if the pet becomes protective of its favorite. They may push away others, animals, and people, and even become aggressive. To fix this, the alpha must correct the pet, and the other family members must spend more special time with the pet when the alpha is absent.

At the 3-month point, the pet should feel completely at home and content. They should have developed a solid relationship with all family members, even if they still gravitate towards one individual. I know which of our three dogs is my dog and which dog is closer to my wife.

The time spent with the pet usually influences which human they choose as their master. My wife has spent far more time with Mini-Cooper, our youngest, than I have, and he listens to her much better than he listens to me.
On the other hand, I spend more time with our oldest Bentley, and he is definitely Daddy’s dog. It all depends on who they bond with more.

Regardless, right around the 3-month milestone, you should see a change in your pet’s behavior and demeanor. They should be more responsive and understand how to act in their new forever home.

Keep in mind that cats are much different than dogs when exhibiting changes in their behavior. A cat may act precisely the same on day 90 as it did on day one, but what can I say? Cats are like that.

If you have other pets, they will influence your new pets’ behavior. An older pet will show the younger pet the ropes, so to speak, once they accept the younger addition to the family. Most current pets in a home resent the addition of a new pet because they are no longer the center of attention. Dogs and cats can be very jealous, and until they realize that the new addition isn’t just a house guest and is staying long term, they can act out, but they usually get over it.

Remember, if you decide to add a new pet to your household, please adopt, don’t shop.

Barry KuKes is the Community Outreach Director for the Halifax Humane Society in Daytona Beach. He can be reached at 386. 274.4703, ext. 320, or at