The 3x3x3 Rule!

The 3x3x3x rule is something we like to share with all of our adopters.

Having this rule in your mind helps to manage expectations, creates a deeper level of understanding and sets adopters up for success. In our experience, it’s proven to be accurate and a very informative and beneficial tool for adopters.

So, what is the 3x3x3 rule?

In simple terms, it says that it takes 3 days for your new dog to decompress from travel, 3 weeks for them to learn your routine, and 3 months for them to truly feel at home.

Before we go into it in more detail, we ought to stress that this is a guideline. Some dogs may need longer, and some dogs may adapt a lot quicker. There is no way to tell how long it will take your dog to settle, so we like to use the 3x3x3 as a guideline.

It takes on average 3 days for your new dog to decompress from travel.

In the vast majority of cases (unless you’re rehoming a UK dog from us), your dog will be travelling from the Algarve in Portugal. This journey is 48 hours long in total (although there are plenty of pit stops so that they can pee, poop, eat and play), and over 24 hours of these are spent on the road. It should not be underestimated how potentially stressful and unnerving this can be for a dog, let alone a puppy, which most of ours are. Our shelters do a brilliant job of preparing them for the journey, e.g. getting them used to the motion of travelling, and travelling in a crate. Sometimes the dogs will be given travel sickness medication to stop them from getting upset stomachs (some rescues choose to sedate their dogs, however this is something we are strongly against).

When they arrive, they are usually full of beans and are thrilled to be on solid ground! However some will be a little bit reserved and shy, and a bit out of sorts. This is totally normal and should be expected. They have been on an extremely long journey, are away from their usual surroundings and it’s at the point of arriving with us that they are usually separated from their litter mates and introduced to their forever family. So the first few days they will still be adjusting to being back on solid (and static) ground!

During these first 3 days you should keep an eye on their toileting. Are their poops soft, very runny or nice and firm? Are they going regularly enough? Are they interested in food and are they eating well? How is their sleeping pattern? Naturally, it would take any dog a period of time to adjust to their new surroundings. But after travelling for such a long period of time, we should expect them to take a few days to decompress, both physically and psychologically. When your dog arrives in the UK, they cannot leave their home address for 48 hours (in line with DEFRA regulations). This gives your dog two days to stay in your home (without exploring the wider world) so that they can rest and properly decompress.

It will take your dog approximately 3 weeks to get used to your routine.

Your dog will have spent the most recent period of its life in one of our fantastic shelters or foster homes. They will have felt very comfortable in their routine and they would’ve been around familiar faces, smells and sounds. We must stress that dogs are naturally very adaptable and resilient and for some dogs the transition of moving to a new environment and learning a new routine will not faze them in the slightest. But for most, it will take them a few weeks to get used to their new surroundings and this is absolutely, 100% normal.

For those first 3 weeks (or so), they will be getting used to their new human (and possibly furry) friends, the new sights and smells in the house and garden, the new walking route, their new bed, their new food, and so on. They will be learning your boundaries and what is and what isn’t acceptable. They will be learning what makes you happy and what’s going to get you to play ball with them, or what’s going to get you to give them a treat! During the first 3 weeks, your new dog will be soaking up every single bit of information about your routine and will be figuring out how to adapt to it.

During the first 3 weeks you should be reassuring, provide them with clear boundaries and clear instructions, and you should offer them safety, security and love. Don’t pick them up and make a fuss over them if they’re unsure about something. We want your dog to grow up to be confident and secure in themselves, so if they’re not sure about something, ignore the stimuli and their crying etc and give them lots of praise when they display the behaviours you’re seeking (e.g. ignoring the stimuli or approaching it inquisitively with a waggy tail!). Ensure that all members of the household have agreed what the boundaries are, and make sure you all enforce the rules. Make sure they know you are someone they can trust, so offer them lots of love and security. This is an unnerving time for them, so it’s your job to try and make them feel as settled as possible.

It’ll take your dog roughly 3 months to truly feel at home.

3 months after the adoption has taken place, your dog should begin to really feel happy and at home with you. They will have integrated into their new home and family and will see you as a part of their family. They will know what to expect on a daily basis, e.g. what time dinner is and when it’s time to go for walkies (don’t say it out loud!). You will have taught them that ‘wee wees’ take place outside only and they will know that sitting nicely will get them lots of praise and possibly some tasty treats! They will recognise the sound of you approaching the front door after doing a food shop and they will greet you with confidence, a big grin and a very bouncy strut!

After 3 months, your dog will feel that your home is now their home. This is their territory, this is where they are happiest and this is where they belong.

How did you get to this point? By doing the following:

  • By making sure the home is a safe space, where they are protected, loved and valued members of the family.
  • By ensuring boundaries were established before the dog actually arrived, so that all family members were on the same page and so that the dog knew right from the beginning what was acceptable and what wasn’t.
  • By starting the training pretty much straight away! By teaching them fun new tricks so that their brain stayed stimulated and they saw you as their teacher and leader.
  • By giving them space and reassurance when they needed it.
  • By enabling them to become independent, confident and secure dogs because you didn’t smother them when they showed signs of being fearful of something (e.g. traffic or the hoover).
  • By taking things SLOWLY. By not rushing things. By taking things at their pace. By ensuring that every experience was a positive one and by ensuring that they weren’t overwhelmed because you tried doing everything at once.

The whole purpose of the 3x3x3 rule is to help adopters manage their expectations and realise that dogs need time to adjust. Give them enough time, and your new dog will flourish in their new environment.


The very first step is to fill out an application form. If you meet our adoption criteria, you will then be contacted for a video interview and home check. Assuming this goes well, you will then become an ‘approved adopter’ and be automatically considered each time a new dog becomes available for rehoming. 

Please remember, you must fill out an application form. We will not consider comments or messages made on social media, or texts / emails, for offers of homes.

All money received by DogsnHomes goes towards the rescue and care of dogs in need. No salaries are taken by our team as the charity is staffed 100% by volunteers.

Your adoption fee allows us to ensure the very best care is afforded to the dogs we save, helping to cover their medical, domestic and transportation needs as they are prepared for and undertake their journey to the UK. Examples of what this money goes towards include:

  • Food and shelter in Portugal
  • Vet visits for: health checks, blood tests, vaccinations, and to ensure they are fit to travel
  • Any necessary medications
  • Flea, tick and worm treatments
  • Spaying / neutering if the dog is over one year old
  • Microchipping
  • Behavioural assessments
  • Transportation costs to the UK on the Happy Bus, including import duties and customs charges
  • A Passport
  • Socialising visits
  • Administrative fees

Additionally, for every dog we place for adoption, we make a further donation to our partners in Portugal which is used to spay / neuter other dogs to try and break the endless cycle of unwanted litters.

For some dogs, it will never be possible to leave Portugal and they will see out their days in the shelter system. Financial donations help these dogs to have their medical and domestic needs met to ensure they lead as comfortable and happy lives as possible.

Everyone who submits an application will receive an email from us confirming that we have received their application (we aim to confirm receipt of your application within 10 working days). Sometimes our emails end up in junk/spam mail, so please check there too. If we wish to take your application further, you will receive further correspondence from us via email to arrange a home check.

However, if you do not meet our adoption criteria, we will not be able to respond to your application to confirm this. We are sorry about this but DogsnHomes is run by a small team of volunteers and we must prioritise our resources.

We understand how frustrating it can be trying to adopt a dog and not hearing back soon. We are a small, volunteer-run charity and we have to split our time between multiple activities, so we thank you for your patience and understanding.

There are some common themes with applications that aren’t successful:

  • The dog you have applied for is extremely popular, like most of our dogs. We receive many applications for puppies and young dogs in particular, and it’s our job to pick the strongest application for each dog.
  • Your circumstances do not meet our dog’s requirements. This is not a reflection on your ability to care for a dog but it may mean that you are not a good match for the dog you applied for. This may be because they need a resident dog, a quieter household or environment, an experienced adopter, amongst other reasons. 
  • Your application form is not detailed enough. We receive hundreds of applications and have to make a judgement on which to take forward to the next stage based on your answers, so we recommend that you include as much detail as possible, much like a job application. Also if you have any physical or mental health issues that may help us decide on the most suitable dog, please include this in the application.

Please bear in mind that we receive between 150 – 300 applications a month and rehome between 10-15 dogs a month. With these numbers in mind, we hope you understand that it’s simply not possible to keep up with demand and some people will sadly be disappointed.

We prefer to adopt within a 60-minute drive of our base in Fleet, Hampshire so we can continue to offer support and guidance if required, after a dog has gone to his/her new home. 

Additionally, local adoptions mean adopters and their dogs have the opportunity to meet up and socialise, keep siblings in contact, attend DogsnHomes events and support local businesses, all of which contributes to a thriving and sustainable canine community near to DogsnHomes HQ.

Approximately 75% of the dogs available for adoption are puppies, but we do sometimes rehome older dogs too.

At present we do not have premises where you are able to visit the dogs as most go directly out to their adoptive homes on arrival from Portugal, straight off the Happy Bus! 

Sometimes, some will go to local foster homes, in which case there may be scope to meet them, should you be considered for adoption for the pup in question.

The majority of the dogs we rescue come from Portugal. 

We have formed close relationships with the fosterers and private rescue shelters there, who provide us with lots of information about the nature of the dogs they have rescued and how they are developing. They continually assess the dogs as they grow, and those that are most suitable will make the journey to the UK when they’re approximately 4 months old (or older if a dog is rescued at an older age). 

Whilst in Portugal, the dogs are introduced to lots of different people, other dogs, other animals (e.g. cats) and sometimes children. They’re also often taken to public spaces such as the beach, the local villages, and cafes too, which means they generally come to us as well rounded dogs with a high level of positive socialisation (although please be aware they are in a rural part of Portugal and the places they visit will not be as busy as they are in England).

No, we will keep your application in our files. This means we can contact you directly if we think we have found a dog that meets all of your requirements (and if you meet theirs too!). 

However, if anything changes on your application, including the type of dog you are looking for, please let us know and we will update your application. Alternatively, you can submit a further application.

Please be assured that, in line with GDPR, we will not share your information with any third party and we ask that you email us if you decide you don’t want further contact from us.

Most of our dogs are rescued from Portugal where they may have been handed in, found as strays, abandoned, or born in our private shelters. What we know of their backgrounds will vary, but every dog will be assessed so we can match them up with the best family for them, and ensure you are the best match for each other.

It depends entirely on the dog.

None of the dogs come to us directly from the public kennels. Most are in foster homes in Portugal or live in what we call ‘private shelters’, where people have numerous dogs at their homes. so there is no need for them to be in foster in the UK and they can go straight to their forever families. However, some are placed in foster local to DogsnHomes HQ, to be given additional time to decompress from travel.

We do not currently have premises or kennel facilities, so when the dogs arrive they are either placed into foster homes or go straight to their adopters. If a dog goes into foster, it may be possible to meet them prior to adoption. 

At DogsnHomes, priority is given to households where all members are over 10 years old, or where another dog(s) is already in residence if the children are under 10.

Children and dogs can often be a fantastic combination and our aim is always to try and match the right dog with the right home, ensuring both the children and dogs’ welfare is carefully considered. In our years of experience in dog rescue, we have found the most successful pairings are with households with slightly older children.

When you submit an application form to us, this is where you should provide details about the people in your household, including children, so we can take this all into account when making rehoming decisions.

Please note: unless you already have a dog in the home, we are not able to consider households with children under 10 years old

Absolutely. Another doggy buddy to play with and learn the ropes from can be a great thing. Before we place a dog with you, we would invite you and your existing dog(s) to meet your prospective new pup, where they could be introduced to see if they’d be happy to live together. We would also need to ensure your existing dog is fully vaccinated and neutered if of the opposite sex.

Many of our dogs are cat tested before they come to the UK. If they haven’t been cat tested or they’ve shown aggression during the cat test, we will not allow them to be rehomed with other cats or small animals. However, many of our dogs pass their cat test with flying colours so don’t be put off from applying if you have a feline friend!

Please bear in mind that, even if the dog has passed their cat test, there is no guarantee that your cat will like the dog and vice versa. They are animals and not all will get along, just like humans!

Should you be approved as an adopter and you have small furries in your house, we ask that you ensure introductions are done as soon as possible after adopting and that you use positive, reward based methods when managing the introductions.

Unfortunately, if you don’t have a garden then you are not eligible to rehome a dog from us. 

Prior to making the journey to the UK, our dogs have enjoyed lots of access to outdoor space and this is something we believe is important to their continued wellbeing.

Additionally, if adopting a puppy, we ask all adopters to take them outside every 30 minutes to ensure they are properly toilet trained.

If your motivation to adopt is based on a desire to improve a health condition, or you’re not sure about how having a dog would affect a particular condition, please do not submit until you have very carefully considered the impact of dog ownership.

Dogs are wonderful companions and family members but can also be hard work, especially during the early days as you get to know each other and adjust to your new lives together. Many compare the demands of having a new puppy with the demands of a newborn baby (think sleepless nights, constant vigilance and cleaning up!).

We ask that you only submit an adoption form if your desire to adopt is based on wanting to provide a first-class home for a dog, primarily for the benefit of that dog, for life.

We acknowledge there are many dogs abandoned and neglected in the UK. Fortunately, we live in a country that prides itself on being a nation of animal lovers and, as a result, there are a large number of dog rescue organisations that focus solely on rehoming dogs located in the UK. 

We have worked with the local dog warden and have dogs surrendered to us, but these dogs typically come with issues.

Whereas in Portugal, there are significantly fewer animal welfare rights and protection for dogs and they just aren’t treated with the same level of care. Every dog deserves a chance at living a happy and healthy life, regardless of its origin, and so it’s our passion to rescue these dogs and give them the opportunity to live a happy and fulfilling life.

Before we are allowed to export a dog from Portugal they have to pass a rigorous process, which includes

  • A minimum of two vet visits prior to arrival, the last within days of leaving checking they are fit to travel
  • Microchipping
  • A full course of vaccinations
  • Treatments for fleas, worms and ticks
  • Screening for infections with a blood test
  • Dogs over a year of age will also be spayed or neutered

Of course, you will need to register your dog with a local vet to ensure their vaccinations remain up to date and health needs are met (as with any dog).

Once you have adopted your new dog, you are their legal owner, trainer and carer, responsible for meeting their daily needs and addressing any issues as they arise, as you settle into your new life together.

We do however love it when our adopters stay in touch so we can see how you’re getting on, and we will always provide advice and guidance where needed.

We also have a private Facebook page where you can ‘meet’ other adopters, become a part of the DogsnHomes Rescue online community and discuss your pups!

As a condition of adopting, you are required to insure the dog and train them to be well behaved inside and outside of your home, seeking professional advice to help you do so if ever required.

Whilst we also rehome UK dogs too, in our experience the majority of UK dogs that we’re asked to rehome tend to have behavioural or health issues. For any UK dogs we do rehome, we carry out a full behavioural assessment, attain all medical records from the vet and request proof of ownership from the individual surrendering the dog.

Please be aware that the dog will need to remain in the owner’s care until we have found them a new home.

We are not able to rehome aggressive dogs.

As a non-profit organisation run wholly by volunteers we are always grateful for offers of support. You can help us in the following ways:

Donate money. You can find out how to donate by clicking here . We are grateful for every penny, but regular monthly donations are extra special as this provides greater financial security; if you sign-up to a monthly donation you will become a DogsnHomes Top Dog and will receive a certificate from us. Every penny donated goes to help the dogs and support our rescue operations.

Fundraise. It can be as simple, quick and easy as doing your online shopping via EasyFundraising or get creative and do a cake sale, sponsored silence, charity walk or run, or you could even jump out of a plane!

Donate old or unused doggy items (must be clean and in usable condition please). If you have spare dog toys, leads, harnesses, collars, bowls or food, please consider donating to us at one of our drop off points. Unfortunately, we cannot accept duvets, pillows or quilts.

Become a volunteer. If you have spare time and skills you think could assist us, get in touch! We are always on the lookout for people who can use WordPress and Photoshop. We sometimes have practical roles available for events such as Happy Bus arrivals (i.e. when the dogs arrive with us from Portugal), as well as at fundraising events, such as manning the DogsnHomes stall at community events. Please email to find out more and register as a volunteer. Regrettably, we are unable to accept volunteers under 18 years of age for insurance reasons.

Promote our social media pages. We are active on Facebook and Instagram, so please give us a follow and spread the word! The more you share, like and comment, the more engagement and support we receive.

Our adoption fee varies depending on the dog, further information is provided as applicants progress through the rehoming process.

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Our mission is simple, to rescue dogs from Portugal and the UK and find them their forever home

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