As discussed in last week’s blog, rescued puppy mill breeding dogs come with a whole lot of emotional baggage. Fear is the number one issue- fear of people, other animals, and new sights and sounds. Should you decide to foster or adopt a rescued puppy mill breeding dog, how can you help her adjust to her new life? Here are some pointers for creating an emotional environment to help your new dog feel safer.
-Enter the process with realistic expectations. Understand that your rescued dog may not ever be a “normal” pet in terms of her trainability and responses to new people, other animals, places, and things.
-Patience is a virtue as progress may feel exceedingly slow at times. Do your best to avoid pushing your new dog past her comfort level.
-It can help to have another, well-adjusted dog in the household to role model healthy emotional responses.
-Be sensitive to your dog’s reactions. It’s not a given that your puppy mill rescue will react positively to being held or cuddled. Some dogs prefer more physical distance.
-In order to acclimate your dog to strangers, recruit your dog loving friends and relatives to come over, one at a time. They should enter your home in a quiet and gentle fashion, allowing your dog to approach them on her own terms.
-Find a reputable trainer who enjoys working with fearful dogs. Such an individual will be an invaluable coach for both you and your dog.
-There have been plenty of books written about working with fearful dogs. Ask your trainer for his or her recommendations.
Rescued puppy mill breeding dogs are certainly not for everyone. Boy, oh boy, caring for them properly is a lot of work and requires so much patience. The reward for all that hard work and patience is the opportunity to observe a battered little soul slowly emerge from its shell and experience what life can be for a dog who is loved.
Have you ever fostered or adopted a puppy mill breeding dog? Any words of advice?
Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
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Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.