March 9, 2010
Caring for a Former Puppy Mill Dog
How to make him feel at home
Give him space
Many puppy mill dogs will be unaccustomed to being handled, and human contact may be frightening to them at first.
Set up a private area for a new arrival where he can access his food, water and bedding in one area without having to interact with anyone until he is ready. Puppy mill dogs are accustomed to living in a tiny space, so he may not understand the concept of going into another room to seek out water. Puppy mill dogs may also be terrified of open spaces.
Step it up
After spending most, if not all, of their lives confined in small cages, puppy mill dogs have never seen stairs, and many have never even walked on solid ground. In many cases they will need to be carried up stairs, over thresholds and up hills for some time. Be patient and encouraging with your dog, although you should be prepared to carry him if he's having trouble getting around his new home.
The vacuum cleaner can be a new and terrifying "monster" to your new dog. Puppies and puppy mill dogs have likely never seen vacuum cleaners and other household appliances that can be loud and scary. Your dog will need a time to adjust to the noises and sights of an indoor home environment and may be fearful of many of these unfamiliar things.
To make this time less stressful, provide a quiet environment. Create a safe place for your dog to go when he's scared. Children should be taught to leave the dog alone until he is completely comfortable, which may take many days or even weeks.
Puppy mill dogs often do best in a home with other well-acclimated dogs who are already living there who can "show them the ropes."
Meet your new 'sibling'
Puppy mill dogs often do best in a home with other well-acclimated dogs who are already living there who can "show them the ropes." Learn more about introducing your other pets to your new dog to ensure a happy household.
Puppy mill dogs will not be housebroken, but can be trained with time and patience. Be vigilant, consistent and patient and read more on how to successfully housetrain your new puppy or adult dog. Submissive or excitement urination can also be remedied, and crate training can be a carpet-saver.
Everyone needs a little time alone now and then—unless of course you are a dog who suffers from separation anxiety. Dogs with separation anxiety exhibit behavior problems when they're left alone, but there are ways you can make your dog comfortable and rid his anxiety when you're not there.
The tooth about your dog's health
Puppy mill dogs who have spent their lives in outdoor hutches have a high risk of heartworm disease and should be tested for it immediately. Many will have severe periodontal disease and will need dental work. Make an appointment with your veterinarian to ensure that your pup is healthy and don't be afraid to ask questions.
Pups will be pups
By following the proper dog care advice and patiently working with your new family member, your new dog will undoubtedly be off to a great start on his new, happy life.