It’s the most important step you can take to help a newly adopted puppy mill dog adjust, say experts: If you don’t already have one, get another dog.

While patience is the quality most needed by puppy mill rescue adopters, research conducted by Dr. Frank McMillan and presented at the University of Florida Maddie’s® Shelter Medicine Conference found that the most effective way to actively help these dogs adjust to live in a family home is to have, or get, a dog who is social with humans and friendly with dogs.

After bringing home a new puppy, one adopter told Dr. McMillan, “We had (puppy mill rescue) Nicky for years before Brandy the puppy came home. Once Brandy was there… boy, did Nicky come out of his shell!”

These well-adjusted dogs not only provide a model the puppy mill survivor can follow to understand his or her new life, but serve as a way to diffuse the attention of the adopters — attention these dogs aren’t used to and aren’t comfortable with.

Of equal importance, although often not considered, is the impact of the other dog on the adopters themselves. Adopting a puppy mill dog can be frustrating for people who want to pet, love and interact with that dog in ways the dog might find unwelcome. Having a social dog who can be touched and played with can ease that frustration, making for a happier family group over the long run.


“We used to think the best place for these dogs was a quiet, non-dog (home)… but we found out that’s not the worst, but it’s not good, and does not bring them along nearly as fast as having other dogs,” said Dr. McMillan. “A lot of rescues that work with puppy mill dogs won’t adopt them to homes that don’t have other dogs. The reason is that this is so powerful as a tool to help them over come it.”

To see Dr. McMillan’s complete presentation, visit “Therapeutic Insights for Treating Animals Rescued from Puppy Mills and Hoarding Situations” on the Maddie’s Fund® website.

Also of interest:

Physical and Psychological Health Issues in Puppy Mill and Hoarding Rescues

Instructions and Prognostic Information for Adopters of Puppy Mill and Hoarding Animals

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