Can You Open Your Heart And Home To A Puppy Mill Survivor?

What is a puppy mill?

A puppy mill is a large-scale commercial dog breeding facility where profits have higher value than the well-being of their dogs. The health of the dog is often overlooked in order to maintain a low overhead cost and gain maximum profits, and there is no regard to responsible breeding practices. Puppy mill dogs are often severely neglected and have a multitude of health and socialization challenges due to the conditions that they live in and lack of training they receive.


Why are they bad?

Despite the obvious social issues that stem from a life in a puppy mill, breeding practices at a puppy mill are done without consideration of genetic quality and traits. This irresponsible breeding results in future generations of dogs with hereditary defects. Female dogs at puppy mills are bred at every opportunity, with little recovery time between their litters. Because of the lack of veterinary care at irresponsible puppy mills, the puppies are often born sick, and they are at risk for a number of different deadly diseases. Puppy mills provide dogs to pet stores, where their background info is often falsified. People think they are buying a healthy purebred puppy, when in reality they are often buying a sick, scared, and mistreated puppy.


The conditions that dogs are kept in at puppy mills is appalling. They are often kept in a cage for 24 hours a day with little to no room to even turn around. Their interaction with humans and other dogs is extremely limited, typically only being handled when they are being transported or when they are being bred. All of these conditions can lead to social and behavior problems down the road.

So you chose to adopt a rescued puppy mill dog, what now?

First of all, thank you! You are amazing for opening your home and heart to a dog in need. Your dog will be forever grateful, but will need some special attention and care in order to help transition out of puppy mill life and into a life of love. You may find yourself with a few more challenges than the average adopted dog from a shelter.

The Scary Outdoors

Many puppy mill survivors have spent their whole lives living in a dark and tiny kennel, and some may have never even seen the sunlight, or felt grass beneath their paws. The outdoors can be scary for any new puppy to adjust to, but it is especially overwhelming for a puppy mill survivor. Introduce them to the outdoors slowly, and give them time to process the new smells, sounds, and sights of their new home.

Lack Of Socialization

A life in a cage provides little to no opportunity for proper socialization with other humans or dogs. Your puppy mill survivor was probably stripped of their prime socialization period during puppyhood thanks to the careless and inhumane environment of the puppy mill. Because of this lack of socialization, great care will need to be taken to ensure that they are comfortable and safe when meeting new people and animals. Proper socialization as a puppy can reduce or eliminate shyness, aggression, fear, and anxiety – all of which your puppy mill survivor might be prone to.

It may take some time, but eventually your puppy mill survivor will become comfortable around you. Just look at this adorable first cuddle between a survivor and her human. This is thought to be her first ever snuggle with a human. Her sigh at the end gets me every time!

New Surfaces

Another challenge of spending your life in a metal cage is the lack of exposure to different flooring surfaces, such as tile, carpet, wood, and grass. Many times, dogs who are rescued from puppy mills and laboratory testing are afraid to step outside of their kennel. After all, their kennel is the only home they have ever known. Be patient while they gradually adjust to the new surfaces.

Potty Training

Puppy mill dogs are often kept in metal cages for 24 hours a day, and forced to relieve themselves inside their kennel, often being forced to lay in their own waste. Having to go to the bathroom outside can sometimes be a new and scary thing for them to understand. Potty training a puppy mill dog will take time and patience, but it can be done. There are some great tips available online for how to successfully potty train your puppy mill survivor.

New = Scary

Puppy mill survivors are used to a bare metal crate. This means that anything new, like toys, people, beds, or floors, can be scary for a puppy mill survivor. Squeaky toys might trigger a reaction that you would never expect. A new bed might never be used. All of these new additions into their lives will take time for them to get used to. Remember that they have spent their whole lives in a tiny metal cage, with no toys or comforts.

When they finally realize that beds are good and not scary, their joy can be felt around the world. Watch as Delilah, a puppy mill survivor, experiences a bed for the first time after spending nine years in a metal cage.

Your new puppy mill rescue has lived a hard life. When you adopt a puppy mill survivor from a shelter, it is a good idea to assume that her former environment was a worst-case scenario. She may exhibit all of these behaviors, some of these behaviors, or none at all. Regardless of her background, she are relying on you to provide them with a stable, loving, and healthy home in order to feel safe and comfortable. With a little patience and a lot of love, your puppy mill rescue will adjust and learn to love her life outside of a puppy mill.

If you are looking to add a furry friend into your home, please consider a rescue! Lack of demand for puppy mill puppies will eventually lead to no more puppy mills! Is rescued your favorite breed? Get a sweatshirt to show off your rescue pride here!

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