|2 years ago Spencer began a
partnership to rescue puppy mill
survivors. Our goal is to place these
animals in the loving homes that they
deserve, but these dogs are not for
every household. They need training
and an abundance of love.
|As society grows more conscious of animal abuse and neglect,
we read nearly every day about a puppymill being closed down
and the animals confiscated. Many times these animals are in
deplorable physical condition: parasite-ridden, underweight, bred
nearly to death. Most have rarely been out of their small, cramped
cages. They may have eye infections, missing orbs or vision
impairment caused by ammonia from urine-soaked quarters.
Some have torn, deformed ears and missing limbs from cage
aggression. Females may have hernias from painful, extended
labor. Their toes may be splayed from walking on wire floors.
Many have tattooed ears. Some have numbers hung around their
necks on chains that have grown into their flesh. Their dental
state is invariably horrible; most will have painful, infected teeth
and gums, some resulting in systemic infections.
These are animals who've endured years of torture to make
money for uncaring humans.
When a reputable rescuer gets her hands on a puppymill
survivor, providing medical attention is just the beginning. The
physical damage can be staggering. The psychological damage
is much worse.
It takes a very special adopter to accept and love a
puppymill survivor. Rehabilitation of the puppymill
survivor begins with rescue, but can only be
completed by a committed, loving family. The
purpose of this article is to help demystify some of
the acquired behaviors of the puppymill dog, and to
let the adopter know what to expect. Keep in mind
not all survivors are to this extreme. Some are
younger and have not been subjected to the years of
Common Puppymill Survivor Behaviors
Terror of humans hands: The only time most mill dogs are
removed from their cages, it's a painful experience. The dog may
be grabbed by the first reachable part of it's body: tail, leg, scruff,
ears. This takes lots of patience and non-threatening touches to
You may have to lie on the floor face down with your eyes averted
to get the dog to approach you at all. Let him come near you and
sniff. It may take an hour, or days for this to happen. You can
sometimes begin by holding the dog, petting him gently for a few
seconds, speaking softly, then place him carefully down. Let him
know you do not wish to restrain him. Lengthen the time for this
ritual each day. Never raise your voice, clap your hands, or allow
loud noises in the home during this adjustment period. You must
strive to create a totally non-threatening environment. Behave as
submissively as possible. Build trust slowly.
The "I'm Afraid Of My Food" Routine: Anytime the cage door is
opened on a mill dog, fear is the response, because an evil
human is behind it. Of course, the cage door must be opened to
insert a bowl of food, which may also be used to entice the dog
within reach. It's not unusual to see your puppymill survivor run in
the opposite direction when you sit dinner on the floor. Turn your
back and walk away until the dog feels "safe" enough to eat. Let
him eat undisturbed.
Marking/Housetraining: No puppymill survivor comes
housetrained. Some never grasp the finer points. Most males will
mark, and many females, too. Crates are useful in housetraining.
Belly bands (a cloth band which wraps around male dogs
covering the ureter) will help prevent marking. Nicely fitted doggie
diapers are available from Foster and Smith. Human diapers can
also be used - just cut a hole for the tail. Put your dog on a
schedule. Take him outside first thing in the morning, at
lunchtime whenever possible, after dinner, before bedtime. If you
see him lift his leg in the house, a shaker can (jar filled with
small pebbles) or clicker can distract him long enough for you to
get him outside. Never raise your voice. Never hit a dog. Take him
outside and reinforce by saying, "Potty outside", or something
similar. Use positive reinforcement when the dog does his
business outside..."Good boy! Potty outside! Good, good boy!"
Lots of petting must follow. : )
Flight Risk: All puppymill survivors are high flight risks. Never take
your dog outside a securely fenced yard until you are thoroughly
bonded. Then if you take your dog outside the fence,
double-check to be sure harness is secure enough. I sometimes
use a collar and harness, then run the lead from the collar
through the harness for extra safety. If a mill dog gets loose
outside a secured area, he will likely run until he drops; catching
him will be quite a feat. Prevention is by far the best policy.
|Future pet shop puppies