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Be Gentle with These Timid, Special Souls...
Rebuilding Trust Takes Love, Understanding & Patience


Some of our available dogs have been used for breeding and thus have only lived in a kennel their whole lives. Every kennel survivor is different. What works on one or many, will completely fail on others. The only thing that is consistent is that they will need lots of patience, understanding, love, and probably most importantly, unconditional acceptance of what they are and what their limitations may be.

We would love to say that every kennel survivor only needs love to turn it into a wonderful family pet, but that would be a lie. Love is definitely needed in large amounts, but so is patience. The damage done during the years in the kennel usually can be overcome, but it takes time and dedication.

It Takes a Very Special Adopter for One of These Dogs

Not being "up to it" is not a crime, so it's important to be honest with yourself, and us, about your expectations. These dogs have already been through more than their share of heartache and if your entire family is not willing to make the commitment, the dog is better off staying in our care until the perfect home for them is found.
  • You will need to learn how to handle your kennel dog.

  • You will need to teach your dog how to walk on the leash.

  • You will need to potty train your new dog.

  • And, you may need to teach him not to mark in the house.

  • Most importantly, you will need to learn how to gain their trust.
Handling Your New Kennel Dog
  1. Many of these dogs have had their spirits broken, so aggression is not normally an issue. There may be memory triggers that the dog may experience after it is settled in your home, so we will talk briefly about this.

  2. Many of these dogs have only been handled by the scruff of the neck, so they may be sensitive to the back of their neck.

  3. Many kennel dogs may try to always face you, not trusting you enough to give you easy access to them from behind

  4. NEVER startle a kennel or puppy mill dog from behind, you will lose any trust that you may have gained.

  5. You will need to learn how to pick up your kennel dog. We have some tips that may help you, should you consider adopting a kennel dog.

  6. Always be gentle and try to avoid picking them up until you see that they are receptive to it.
The bottom line is that these dogs have to progress at their own pace. Anything you force them to do will not be pleasant to them. Let them visit with you on their terms, whenever possible.

Learning About the House

  • Many times when you bring a kennel dog into your home, it is their instinct to hide in a quiet corner.

  • Kennel dogs usually do best in a home with another dog.

  • It is ok to use a crate as long as it is in a central location in the house. The dog will feel safe yet be able to observe activity.

  • Very few kennel dogs know what a leash is. After the quarantine, when the dog is out of the crate and supervised, it is not a bad idea to let them drag a leash around with them.
Gaining Trust
  • A kennel dog has no reason to trust you. Your trust needs to be earned, little by little.

  • Patience is a very important part of rehabbing a mill survivor. We have seen a lot of kennel dogs that don't want to eat whenever people are around.

  • Feed your kennel dog on a set schedule with you nearby.

  • Accepting a treat right out of your hand is a show of trust. Offer treats regularly.

  • While you shouldn't overly force yourself upon your dog, it does need to get used to you. Sit and talk quietly while gently petting or massaging your dog. It is best to do this an area where they, not necessarily you, are the most comfortable.

  • They probably won't like it at first, but given them time to adjust. Some dogs sadly, never will adjust, and we'll talk more about them later.

  • Never allow friends to force attention on a kennel dog. Ask them not to look your dog directly in the eyes. It is not uncommon for kennel dogs to simply never accept outsiders.

  • Let your dog set the pace.

  • A kennel dog has never lived in a home. They do not know that it is unacceptable to potty in the home. You will need to spend time to potty train your newly adopted kennel dog.

  • A child spends the first one to two years of their life soiling their diaper and having you remove the dirty diaper and replace it with a clean one. A kennel dog spends its entire life soiling its living area. Potty training a child and housebreaking a kennel dog are the exact same procedures.

  • A regular schedule, constant reinforcement, praise, and commitment on your part are a must! Would you ever scream at your child, march them to the bathroom and make them sit on the toilet AFTER you discovered they soiled their diaper? A dog is no different in this sense; scolding them after the deed is done is of no benefit to anyone.

  • The two most important things you can do are to get your new dog on a regular feeding schedule (which will put them on a regular potty schedule) and to observe them closely after feeding time.

Kennel dogs all have one thing in common...they were all used for breeding. A dog that marks its territory is 'warning' other dogs that this is its area...stay away! However, in a kennel situation, the dog's area is normally a 2X4 cage with other dogs in and around their 'territory'. It becomes a constant battle of establishing territory and it is not uncommon to see male and female survivors with marking problems.

You may need to spend time training your kennel dog not to mark in the house. We have additional tips to give you, should you decide to adopt.

We hope this gives you some ideas as to the level of effort required when adopting a kennel dog. If you choose to proceed, we have additional suggestions and may suggest using a trainer as well.

We have come across a book that may also help those who are adopting a dog that has lived in a kennel.  Puppy Mill Dogs Speak by Christine Palm Shaughness can be ordered from this website

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