3 min read (Articles narrated by Mabel)
For many humans, it’s difficult to understand the severity of puppy mills without seeing it firsthand. While I’ve never seen a puppy mill in real life, I’ve seen dogs that were rescued from them. Molly has fostered several dogs that came from bad breeding situations, and they’ve all had quirks and fears that most of our other foster dogs didn’t have.
Many people assume that all puppy mill dogs act the same, but we’ve learned that’s not the case. Some are more traumatized than others, but some just react to their trauma differently. So, if you’ve considered adopting or fostering a dog that was rescued from a puppy mill, here are some ways they might act.
Terrified of Everything
Many puppy mill survivors are terrified of the world. They’ve spent their whole life in a tiny cage without proper care, so everything new is scary to them. One of our foster dogs (Tuck) was like this. He spent most of his time with us in his crate because he was nervous to interact with the outside world. He slowly became more curious the longer we had him, but he’ll likely have some fears his whole life.
Distrusting of Humans
Some puppy mill survivors are curious of other dogs and new places, but humans are the one thing they avoid. Molly’s first dog Zoe was like this. She didn’t mind going for walks or seeing new places, but people approaching her was scary. These dogs can be the hardest to find homes for because most humans want a dog they can cuddle and play with. Over time, these dogs can learn to trust familiar humans, but they may always be wary of strangers.
Most dogs from puppy mills are at least a little skittish. They may run away when they hear loud sounds, see sudden movements, or think they’re going to be hit. This is often a result of unfamiliar sounds and movements being associated with something scary. Sadly, many dogs in puppy mills are physically abused in addition to being severely neglected. So, they may seem okay around you but still freak out if you raise your arm too quickly.
Indifferent of Everything
Not all puppy mill dogs act traumatized. We had one puppy mill foster that was indifferent to everything. She didn’t care if she was touched and she didn’t react to anything Molly would say, whether it was good or bad. It seemed like she had been in the puppy mill so long that she was desensitized to everything. While dogs like that aren’t as obviously hurt, their behaviors are just as heartbreaking. It also seems to make training and bonding with them a little more difficult.
Unsure How to Be a Dog
Nearly every dog with a traumatic past just needs to learn how to be a dog. Puppy mill survivors usually don’t know what toys, treats, walks, or love are. Yet, those things come naturally to most other dogs. Some dogs have been kept in a cage so long that they didn’t even know how to walk when they were rescued. So, when puppy mill rescues get adopted, they get to learn about all the fun parts of life that they never got the chance to witness before.
No matter how a puppy mill dog acts, it’s heartbreaking. I know a lot of these behaviors sound difficult to deal with, but if given the chance, these dogs can become loyal companions. They just need a lot of extra love and patience. So, if you have room in your home and your heart, consider adopting or fostering a puppy mill dog. It will change both of your lives!
And remember – please never buy puppies from pet stores or online retailers because you could be supporting a puppy mill without realizing it.
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