Home > Animal Rescue, Maggie, Pet Adoption, Pine River puppy mill, puppy mill dogs, Puppy Mills > Puppy mill dogs – Building a community is important

Puppy mill dogs – Building a community is important

September 25, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments


Puppy mill dogs do better in a home with another stable or “normal” dog and adopters benefit too!

Over the past week, I have inadvertently ended up in discussions with two different co-workers about puppy mill dogs. Each shared their experiences with adopting a puppy mill dog themselves. They shared what they had done/not done to work with their dogs and how the dog was doing now. The outcomes were very different and I suspect that this was directly related to their experiece with dogs and with the support structure they had around them.

One co-worker was an experienced dog owner who had trained dogs previously and had a lot of dog training knowledge, and access to a lot of other experienced dog people. The other did not seem to have a lot of experience or an extensive support network and struggled with helping her puppy mill dog along, eventually euthanizing him because of his biting behavior.

Both examples were great reminders to me about how important it is that those of us who have experience  share our stories with others. Not only share our stories, but also work to build a community where puppy mill owners can share their struggles and victories, and learn how to manage their dogs in day-to-day life. From personal experience, I can tell you that a support network can really help when working with a puppy mill dog. It also makes the process a little less overwhelming.

Dr Frank McMillan of Best Friends Animal Society recently collected data from the foster parents and owners of puppy mill dogs to better understand what works or doesn’t work (Understanding and Caring for Rescued Puppy Mill Dogs).

One of his findings was how much owners can be impacted in the process. Being the owner of a puppy mill dog, when there are no other  dogs in the home, can be frustrating, discouraging, and even disappointing.

In many cases, there is no connection between you and the dog (this is especially true in the early days). The normal behaviors and interactions one expects when getting a dog is not there. There is no wagging tail or happy face or cuddling on the couch. It takes time to build a relationship with a puppy mill dog, and it is even harder when they don’t have another dog to look to for guidance on how to “be” a dog. I can personally attest to this. When I lost my dog, Aspen, I felt very much alone, even though Daisy was there with me.

Maggie searches for treats and finds them! #picstitch #puppymilldog

Maggie is making progress with nose work games.

Even the most wonderful adoptive dog parent will get down and depressed under such circumstances. Having a community to go to during those tough times is necessary. Building a community of people who can support and encourage one another and offer ideas about what worked or didn’t work is so vital. One community worth checking out is the Fearful Dogs group on Facebook. It is a great resource for dog owners with fearful dogs. There is guidance on how to desensitize and counter condition your fearful dog, progress updates on dogs who have struggled, encouragement and advice. It is a support structure that I am sure many a puppy mill dog owner has taken advantage of, but if you have not, please do so. You will find it very valuable.

Even as we work to build that community, we know now (based on Dr. McMillan’s study) that puppy mill dogs are nor are they viewed as a burden by those who adopt them.

When asked if they would adopt another puppy mill dog (after their experience with their current puppy mill dog), adopters overwhelmingly responded Yes (95%!).

When it came to recommending the adoption of a puppy mill dog to others, 53% said Yes, 45% said Maybe and less than 5% said No. (I think this makes sense. Not everyone is suited for a puppy mill dog. Maybe they do not have the experience, time or energy to work with one or they just aren’t looking for a challenging dog.)

Even more encouraging however is how puppy mill dog adopters responded to the question around satisfaction levels. When asked their level of satisfaction for having adopted a puppy mill dog, respondents overwhelmingly said they were extremely satisfied. In fact, 91% said so (7% answered moderately satisfied, 1% slightly satisfied and 1%not satisfied). This is wonderful news. It means that even without a suypport network, puppy mill dogs and their owners are managing to have a connection that is valuable and satisfying.

I wonder how much more this would be the case if they had a support network?

Something to think about for the future. 🙂

  1. Sheila Anderson
    September 25, 2014 at 7:57 AM

    I acquired a seven year old female puppy mill Toy Poodle three years ago, with little dog experience and only a vague understanding of puppy mills. Boy, that seems like a lifetime ago! Now I advocate at every opportunity and have an anti-puppy mill bumper sticker on my car. You need endless patience but the pay back is enormous. I adore my little dog and she has made tremendous progress. Support for puppy mill dog owners is an invaluable resource. Thank you for publishing this.

  2. September 25, 2014 at 9:49 AM

    I think it’s great for people to have a support system to turn to when adopting a puppy mill dog. Both my sisters have mill dogs, they are not the breeding dogs, but the breeding dog’s puppies and both of these dogs have issues. While they did bond with their humans (they got them at young ages) the dogs do have issues with crates, and health issues as well.

    It can be frustrating for a new owner to deal with and you are right, having others explain what did and did not work can be highly beneficial.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  3. Victoria Carter
    September 25, 2014 at 10:00 AM

    While I’ve never had a puppy mill dog (that I know of, perhaps growing up but not as an adult), I can say I do have some experience with rescue dogs, that were traumatized early by abusive owners (Willow) or neglect (Hank).

    • Victoria Carter
      September 25, 2014 at 10:01 AM

      They aren’t easy, but worth it, so I can only imagine what rehabbing a puppy mill dog would be like, and am glad that there are so many people out there doing just that.

  4. September 25, 2014 at 4:45 PM

    I think you should make a zillion copies of this post and hand it out to orgs that do puppy mill rescue to pass on to their adopters. Seriously. So, so important.

  5. September 26, 2014 at 3:21 AM

    Great article, something to think about. It would be beneficial for everyone who have a puppy mill dog as I believe it can be quite difficult when it comes to their progress.

  6. October 3, 2014 at 8:30 PM

    These poor creatures deserves the love and care they need. Thanks for sharing!

    • Mel
      October 5, 2014 at 10:11 PM

      Agree! Thank you!

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