The 3-3-3 Rule
Recently my parents adopted a two-year-old lab, from our local shelter.
Ralph scored high points with my mom because he was housebroken, knew his name, and came when called. Later, we discovered he didn’t know how to walk on a leash or to respond to a reprimand when helping himself to food on the kitchen counter or coffee table.
My mom was confident that she could teach Ralph the skills he lacked with consistent training, practice, and praise. Some days Ralph responds well to her training and seems to be catching on. On other days he ignores her instructions and walks off.
My mom is starting to think that Ralph has a learning disability and is untrainable. Do you think she is pushing him too hard and understands what is required to train an adult shelter dog who has a lot on his mind?
It appears your mom is more focused on the training than Ralph is as a learner. Doesn’t she realize the poor guy was recently abandoned by his family, dumped in a shelter, lived in a crate alongside traumatized dogs like himself, who were missing their families and terrified about their future?
Fortunately, Ralph was adopted. But adjusting to a new family and environment is no walk in the park, even if he could walk on a leash. Ralph needs time to decompress, get his bearings, and feel safe. Only then will he be able to attend to learning new skills.
Recently I read about the 3-3-3 Rule for bringing home a rescue dog. The rule provides a guideline for the three phases a dog goes through after being adopted: Three days to transition from the shelter, three weeks to get to know the family and their routines, and three months to bond and trust they are part of the family.
Leave this column in a place where your mom will see it, in hopes that she will read it and see the errors of her ways.
© 2022 Geneva Woodruff
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