What is a puppy mill breeder dog?
Puppy mill breeder dogs are adult dogs that live their entire lives being repeatedly bred with offspring being sold in pet stores or via disreputable Internet sites.
Why is that a problem?
Typically, commercial breeding operations (aka puppy mills) treat dogs as crops with little concern for the dogs’ welfare and/or physical and emotional health of the dogs. There is often little regard for the genetic stability and soundness of the parent dogs, so unwelcome and unhealthy traits are passed along.
How do puppy mill breeder dogs differ from other dogs?
They have been kept in small cages, isolated from people or other animals, or housed with multiple dogs in cramped areas, forced to stand or lie in their own waste. They are usually poorly socialized, with little or no human contact and without exposure to everyday sights and sounds. Any human contact they’ve had is typically negative. Because of that, these dogs are distrustful of humans and do not know how to form healthy relationships with them. Some have been handled cruelly or have had other traumatic experiences.
How do puppy mill breeder dogs get to DVGRR?
Many breeders fear being reported (in cases of ordinance or dog law violations) or do not want to deal with prying questions. We accept their retired breeder dogs on a “no questions asked” basis. Sometimes these dogs are dropped off to us by intermediaries and/or the dog warden.
What condition are they in?
The common medical problems we see in puppy mill breeder dogs include broken teeth, skin and ear issues, matted fur, and splayed feet (caused by living in wire hutches). Mammary tumors are also very typical. When they arrive, they often pancake (lie flat on the ground), tremble, flinch and pace.
What happens when they arrive at Golden Gateway?
If there’s no negative reaction, we put a regular collar and leash on them. They often arrive with twine or chains as collars/leashes or none at all. Whenever possible, we bathe them and clean their ears. We let them de-stress and acclimate with warm blankets for 24 hours.
When do puppy mill breeder dogs begin in Project Home Life?
Every dog is different, but we try to start them in the program within 72 hours.
How long does it take for a puppy mill breeder dog to become “normal”?
In our experience, the time frame and progression of improvement varies greatly, depending on the dog’s background. Those that have been most severely neglected or have suffered traumatic experiences may take longer to rehabilitate. Nonetheless, ALL puppy mill dogs have the potential to lead well-lived lives, lives that are a far cry from the dogs’ original existence.
What are some of the typical challenges?
Most puppy mill dogs will exhibit some level of the following, at least in the beginning:
- Very timid around people — will not easily come close to people, may show discomfort with touching/petting, may “shut down” or hide when people approach.
- May spend much of their day in a “safe spot,” such as behind a piece of furniture or in a corner.
- Fear of sudden movements such as a person reaching out to them.
- Fear of going through doorways.
- Fear of new or unfamiliar objects in their environment.
- May only eat when no one is around.
- May not take treats from a hand.
- Easily startled or frightened by loud or unknown noises that people or other dogs take for granted.
- May be more afraid of men, especially those wearing hats.
What can I do to help?
First and foremost, only buy dogs from reputable breeders or adopt from a rescue or shelter. Encourage others to do the same.
You can help the puppy mill breeder dogs at Golden Gateway by sponsoring one of them or by fulfilling a need from our wish list.
Also, consider adopting one of these special dogs.
What traits in an adoptive home are best suited for a puppy mill breeder dog?
Here are some of the key factors an adoptive home should have in order to help a puppy mill dog succeed:
- Calm, quiet environment with minimal noise and commotion.
- Secure fenced yard with a physical (i.e., not electronic/underground) fence.
- At least one other dog in the home to serve as a “mentor” to the breeder dog. If your existing dog is confident, active, and affectionate with your family, it will help teach your puppy mill dog to act this way as well.
- Patience and understanding — not expecting more than the dog can handle or getting overly frustrated.
- An openness to set-backs and an ability to use creative techniques to move forward.
- A sense of humor also helps tremendously!
If you are considering adopting a puppy mill breeder dog, for more information please read: Can You Open Your Heart & Home to a Puppy Mill Survivor?