Rehabilitating a Puppy Mill Momma

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freetobe
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Rehabilitating a Puppy Mill Momma

Post by freetobe » Sun Oct 03, 2010 8:19 am

Hi everyone,

I am new to this site, but very excited to be here.
I just started fostering (with the intent to adopt) a puppy mill rescue. She was taken in a little over a month ago, so she has already come a long way. Of course, she still has a long way to go. The foster home she was in before I took her in was great, but the woman worked long hours and did not have the time to really work with her.
She came home with me two days ago. She is a darling little Lhasa Apso. I set up a safe room for her in our laundry room, with her small travel crate, papers, and food and water. She has been very comforted by my little wire haired terrier mix (although he is still not so sure about her) She follows him around a lot and since he follows me around a lot she is usually near by. But when ever I go to touch her she backs away and freezes up.
All in all. She is doing far better than I expected, but I went into this not expecting much.
I have been doing a lot of reading on line and just ordered the book SPEAK! Puppy mill dogs. I guess I am just looking for some tips, tricks, advice and stories from others that have done this before. I know that I have a challenging road ahead of me, but when I look at her face I can see a sweet and loving dog hiding in there that is just waiting to come out.

Dakine'smama
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Re: Rehabilitating a Puppy Mill Momma

Post by Dakine'smama » Sun Oct 03, 2010 7:11 pm

That is so exciting! How wonderful to give a puppy mill dog a good home even if just until it finds a forever home. My neighbor has a former puppy mill mom and she has a wonderful spirit--you can tell she is happy and grateful to be in a good home and not used as an incubator!

I'm rather new to the forums but I've found lots of helpful advice in the training section. If you have questions or concerns just post them and lots of people more experienced than I will give good advice. My puppy was SO afraid to come home with me and leave his brother (that first bath was scary for him!) but slowly he opened up and it's so rewarding.It sounds like you're already doing the right things to make her feel safe and comfortable. And post pictures if you can! :D

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Re: Rehabilitating a Puppy Mill Momma

Post by emmabeth » Sun Oct 03, 2010 10:09 pm

The main things here are going to be time, and taking things at her pace.

That sounds horribly easy and it isnt, because we humans have this desire to some how prove to the dog we are not dangerous or threatening and unfortunately so many of our friendly overtures and attempts to demonstrate this.... are in fact scary and threatening to the dog.

So - back off, leave her alone. If she comes over to you say hi softly and quietly, but don't reach out to touch her (resist the urge).

The only advance I would make at all, is to load up your pockets with tiny tasty titbits. and toss them in her direction whenever you are moving around the house or just sitting about generally ignoring her.

If you can resist the urge to try and make friends, and you can toss treats to her a lot, she should get the idea that you ARE safe and good to be around.
West Midlands based 1-2-1 Training & Behaviour Canine Consultant

freetobe
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Re: Rehabilitating a Puppy Mill Momma

Post by freetobe » Mon Oct 04, 2010 7:27 am

Thanks!
It is going to be an adventure for sure.
She has been coming up and giving us all little sniffs here and there and each night she moves closer and closer into the den while I am watching T.V.
Last night she laid right near my feet, not at my feet but close.

I do have a few trouble shooting questions that maybe someone can help with.

1. She has never been on a leash..of course. So the first day I kept one hooked to her all day, but she seemed to be tripping on it a lot. She also seems so much happier outside when not hooked to the leash. But dog walks are a big part of our routine and I would like to start getting her at least used to the idea of wearing a leash, although I know taking her for a walk is not going to happen for quite sometime. Has anyone ever had a dog that they had to train on leash? what works?

2. Late last night she started barking. She did this briefly her second morning here, but as I was already getting up it was not an issue. But last night it was. I have two young kids and don't want them to be woken up. So I know this isn't the most ideal way to handle it, but I splashed a little cup of water at her. She stopped for a minute then started up again, so I did it again and she was quite for the rest of the night. It was a really small amount of water, but I still felt bad doing it. Anyone have any other suggestions?

3.Should I try petting her at all? Last night while I was watching T.V she was laying on the floor nearby so I inched over to her. She was about to get up but I slowly started petting her and she stayed. After just a few minutes she relaxed and laid her head on the floor and let me pet her for a while. I did not want to push it so I only did it for about 5 to 10 min.

4. and lastly. Getting her to come in the house after being outside. Sometimes she will follow my dog in and sometimes she mills about the door forever. It's getting colder at night and in the morning, so my husband is annoyed that I am standing holding the door open for so long. I really want her to come in on her own, without me having to pick her up. But I am not sure how to do it. Sometimes she can be tempted with treats, but most of the time she is not. And I kind of backed off on the treats a little because she had some very loose poo.

Thanks for any help!

j9padge
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Re: Rehabilitating a Puppy Mill Momma

Post by j9padge » Mon Oct 04, 2010 2:20 pm

Hi! I also have a puppy mill Momma - a maltese. She has been with us for 6 months. I thought for a while I was in way over my head as she was totally unsocialized, fearful, etc. I had a short leash or string attached to her at all times because we had to leash her to take her outside and she would cower in fear if we tried to handle her. It was cumbersome but it was the only way to do it. Are you using a harness and not a collar? The harness seems to work best on small dogs. We had her in a portable puppy pen and we would sit in it with her so she would get used to us. We moved it to the bedroom so she could sleep in the same room as my daughter - she now sleeps on her bed. I think we should have "crate trained" her from the start but that is now a moot point. We got a crate about a week after she came and it was torture for her to be in there. She even broke a tooth biting on the bars to get out. I couldn't bear it. I did "umbilical" training which is having the leash drag and almost attached to me so I could see her signals when she had to go potty. I certainly have more questions than answers myself but so far, she is progressing. She is still extremely fearful of strangers and has bitten a couple of people. I was told to do the "alpha roll" on her with disasterous results. She was so frightened, she wouldn't let me near her for days. I have to keep her leashed when around strangers and ask them to ignore her. Hopefully with more time, she will trust all people.

freetobe
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Re: Rehabilitating a Puppy Mill Momma

Post by freetobe » Tue Oct 05, 2010 11:33 am

J9Padge
It's so nice to hear from others that have done this. I don't feel like there is a lot on the web about specifics or even success stories. I have been looking up everything I can think and only just see some general guidelines of what you can expect.
So you have had your pup for 6 months/
Is she house trained? Does she let your family pet her?
I'm just never sure of how much I should push with my pup. I can tell she is making herself at home. She actually slept on the dog bed I have in her "puppy den" last night and was still snoring away when I woke up this morning, with no accidents over night. I was so pleased! As soon as she woke up I got her out the door and she did her business outside.
I've also found the best way to get her in the house. I open up the door and me and my other dog walk right on in. I just leave the door wide open and walk straight into the kitchen and she will follow through. Then once she is in I can go back and shut the door. I guess it just made her nervous when I would stand in the doorway holding the door open. SO I feel pretty good about those two things.

I guess it's just important to notice the small things as they are happening. And then I have to keep telling myself that even those things are progress.

j9padge
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Re: Rehabilitating a Puppy Mill Momma

Post by j9padge » Tue Oct 05, 2010 1:41 pm

There is very little information on dealing with dogs like ours. The "Cesar Way" of domination did not work for me at all. If she will take a treat from your open hand, let her do that and try to touch her under her chin. We did that and eventually worked up to rubbing her ear and then the top of her head. These dogs are very afraid of anything coming in over their heads and swooping motions like she is going to be picked up. I hand fed her her kibble a lot too in the beginning. I gated off my kitchen and spent as much time as possible in there with her. I read, cooked and watched TV for about two weeks with her. It sounds crazy but she started to come closer and closer, eventually sleeping under my feet. I recently had a trainer come to our home and he was great with the positive reinforcement but I think we should have even waited longer than 6 months. We had to work on handling her and gaining her trust and I paid a lot of money for her to learn that! My daughter and I can call her and play with her. She jumps on the couch and sits on our laps. BUT - she won't do that for anyone else. My husband and teenage son still scare her even though they try to earn her trust. They simply haven't put in the time and attention we have. She does have a major issue though and that is ankle biting. She will literally attack anyone who comes near her so we have to keep her on a leash when she is around visitors and even when she is around my son and husband. I am a little frustrated that no one else can see the loving little dog she is with me but in time, I think she will learn all people are not a threat.
She took a while to potty train and is 95% there. I took her out a lot and praised her and treated her when she would potty outside. I had to catch her in the act indoors so that she knew that potty outside was good but potty inside was bad. I only need to speak in a sharp tone and clap my hands and she got the message. I do wish I had crate trained her but like I said, she paniced in the crate and it was awful to see. I think she would have pottied in the crate anyway since she was confined to one her entire life.
I think that the puppy mill rescue groups need to come up with more guidelines because I felt very overwhelmed and didn't realize that this dog didn't even know how to act like a dog! She was afraid of the grass, she couldn't climb up even one step. If it wasn't for our other dog, it would have never worked. She mirrors his every move and even howls like a beagle. It is so cute. I would appreciate some good feedback and success stories. I am still iffy if this will work out since the biting issue is very serious and dangerous. I am hoping she will grow out of it and be safe around all people.

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Mattie
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Re: Rehabilitating a Puppy Mill Momma

Post by Mattie » Wed Oct 06, 2010 2:30 am

freetobe wrote:Thanks!
1. She has never been on a leash..of course. So the first day I kept one hooked to her all day, but she seemed to be tripping on it a lot. She also seems so much happier outside when not hooked to the leash. But dog walks are a big part of our routine and I would like to start getting her at least used to the idea of wearing a leash, although I know taking her for a walk is not going to happen for quite sometime. Has anyone ever had a dog that they had to train on leash? what works?
A short, thin ribbon would be better, it is lighter for her to drag round, you can add a lead to take her outside if you want. Gradually change the ribbon for cord, when she is used to the cord you can then use a thin lead.
2. Late last night she started barking. She did this briefly her second morning here, but as I was already getting up it was not an issue. But last night it was. I have two young kids and don't want them to be woken up. So I know this isn't the most ideal way to handle it, but I splashed a little cup of water at her. She stopped for a minute then started up again, so I did it again and she was quite for the rest of the night. It was a really small amount of water, but I still felt bad doing it. Anyone have any other suggestions?
You should never do this, you have probably set her back with trusting you, to her you have been aggressive and that lovely person she was starting to trust cannot be trusted. If you feel bad about doing something then don't do it. My children would wake for the slightest noise but my dog barking never disturbed them. :lol: She was barking for a reason, it was up to you to work out why and sort it, splashing her with water is teaching her that it doesn't matter what is wrong, you won't listen.
3.Should I try petting her at all? Last night while I was watching T.V she was laying on the floor nearby so I inched over to her. She was about to get up but I slowly started petting her and she stayed. After just a few minutes she relaxed and laid her head on the floor and let me pet her for a while. I did not want to push it so I only did it for about 5 to 10 min.
As long as you don't force her to accept petting and she is happy with it, then pet her, she won't learn if you don't pet her.
4. and lastly. Getting her to come in the house after being outside. Sometimes she will follow my dog in and sometimes she mills about the door forever. It's getting colder at night and in the morning, so my husband is annoyed that I am standing holding the door open for so long. I really want her to come in on her own, without me having to pick her up. But I am not sure how to do it. Sometimes she can be tempted with treats, but most of the time she is not. And I kind of backed off on the treats a little because she had some very loose poo.

Thanks for any help!
Standing at the door will put her off, you have worked out how to get her inside, well done, it isn't easy to step back like this, you will be doing a lot of that. :D
j9padge wrote:There is very little information on dealing with dogs like ours. The "Cesar Way" of domination did not work for me at all.
Cesar does have some good points especially with exercising our dogs but a lot of his methods do a lot of harm to dogs as you have found out. I haven't come across a dog yet that his methods would work better than positive training even dogs that have strong personalities, I had 2 girls, one a Staffy one a Staffy cross, who were very independent and demanded doing everything their way, positive training turned these dogs into well mannered, obedient little girls, if I had attempted to use his methods they would have done serious damage to me and paid with their lives.

My Greyhound had been abused to make him run faster, it took him 2 years to completely trust, he trusted me up to a point but anyone else he didn't. Greyhounds love sofas, it took him 2 years to get onto one, then he took route :lol:

What do you mean by "Handling" your dog? I never pick my dogs up, I expect my small dogs to be as obedient as my big ones, I can't pick them up. It is much easier to pick a dog up than train him which is why there are so many badly trained small dogs. The only time I pick my dogs up is to put them on the table at the vets. Stroking and grooming your dog needs, start by teaching them to accept stroking and the grooming follows on from that.

It is convenient to have a dog crate trained but it isn't essential, a dog proof room or play pen will do the job just as well. Dogs that have lived their lives in cages you will have problems putting them into crates, it will bring back bad memories. We crate dogs for our convenience not the dog's.
She took a while to potty train and is 95% there. I took her out a lot and praised her and treated her when she would potty outside. I had to catch her in the act indoors so that she knew that potty outside was good but potty inside was bad. I only need to speak in a sharp tone and clap my hands and she got the message.
Pottying inside isn't bad, dogs don't do bad things, they do things that they don't know they shouldn't and that is our fault, we haven't taught them properly. Clapping your hands and speaking in a sharp tone is teach them by fear which we don't do on here. Of course she got the message, wouldn't you if you were taught that way but prefer to be taught in a nicer way.
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freetobe
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Re: Rehabilitating a Puppy Mill Momma

Post by freetobe » Wed Oct 06, 2010 8:45 am

Pottying inside isn't bad, dogs don't do bad things, they do things that they don't know they shouldn't and that is our fault, we haven't taught them properly. Clapping your hands and speaking in a sharp tone is teach them by fear which we don't do on here. Of course she got the message, wouldn't you if you were taught that way but prefer to be taught in a nicer way.[/quote]


I was wondering about this myself..In this situation what would you do if you catch the dog pottying inside?? My pup has been doing pretty good. I have her in my laundry room when I am away and at night. The last two nights she has not messed in her room at all and has gone potty outside. So I am really pleased with that. But she does have an accident here and there.

Also, I know the whole water in the face thing was a little dramtic....but she has not done it since and sleeps quietly through the night. It was dark when I did it and I just popped out from around the corner and splashed the water and then hid again. So it does not seem like it has set her back.
She has been getting closer and closer to me everyday. Even laid down at my feet for a little while last night. Today when I was loving up on my other dog she came and stood right next to me. I did not reach out to her cause I know that will startle her but I put my hand out and she sniffed at me.
I'm also really happy to say that she has started sleeping on the dog beds. I have one in her room for her and then I have a large one in the living room (big enough for both dogs) They have not laid on it together, but I am just so happy that she is getting the idea.

I am going to go buy her a harness today and I will try the ribbon thing.

J9padge.....I'm sorry you are having the biting issue. I can imagine that would be hard to deal with especially with company and kids. I have read it can take years for them to truly start trusting. I know that seems like a lot of waiting! I just keep telling myself that one day this dog is going to come running up to me and I will be able to reach down and pet her and then it will all be worth it.

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Mattie
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Re: Rehabilitating a Puppy Mill Momma

Post by Mattie » Wed Oct 06, 2010 9:30 am

freetobe wrote: I was wondering about this myself..In this situation what would you do if you catch the dog pottying inside?? My pup has been doing pretty good. I have her in my laundry room when I am away and at night. The last two nights she has not messed in her room at all and has gone potty outside. So I am really pleased with that. But she does have an accident here and there.
This is a difficult one, every dog is different and will need a different way of getting her outside. The first thing I always try is to run out and talk in a high, excited voice, it has worked for some dogs but not others.

Your dogs may never sleep together, when I had Dixie, Tommy and Joe they all slept in different beds, Dixie and Tommy went to the Rainbow Bridge leaving Joe, he would often be curled up with my dogs I got after them. I have a photo of him with Gracie and Ellie.

A ribbon is a lot lighter and easier for her to cope with.

Some dogs never learn to trust, some only partly trust, even after 6 years Merlin would still react if someone moved quickly or raised their hand suddenly, that is something we have to learn to live with.

Keep a dairy of what she does every day, in a few months time when you think she isn't improving look back through it, you will then see just how far she has come in a short time. :D
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Wicket
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Re: Rehabilitating a Puppy Mill Momma

Post by Wicket » Wed Oct 06, 2010 11:33 am

Free to be, if I catch my dog having an accident in the house (usually my fault for not noticing her signs), I click the lead and say "Potty time" in happy voice. I put her on the lead and we go outside to where she can finish up. When she pees outside, I say "good girl" and we return to the house.

Patrice
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Re: Rehabilitating a Puppy Mill Momma

Post by Patrice » Thu Oct 07, 2010 12:08 pm

I'm a few days late to this thread but wanted to offer my congratulations for your new dog and thank you for taking on a Puppy Mill rescue. I don't post much but this board has been a great resource for me. You're absolutely right. There is not alot of information out there that deals in specifics on living with a puppy mill rescue. I've looked. :) This board is a wealth of dog knowledge. I often look at the posts under the training thread and even if it doesn't apply specifically to my situation, I often find useful information or information that I'll need in the future.

I adopted a puppy mill momma, too. I got her in February. She's the best, sweetest, most gorgeous dog in the world! (Aren't they all to their owners?) She spent 10 YEARS in a puppy mill as a breeder. I've met some of the people from the rescue group that helped her along the way and what these people have to do to help these animals is astounding. So kudos to you for being part (and possibly the end) of the journey for your dog.

I want to reiterate what others here have said because it's important. Take things slowly and at your dog's pace. I think part of the reason there are no detailed resources for our situation is because each situation is unique. The trauma that these dogs endure varies so much and is affected by each dog's characteristics and how long they've had to endure. You will learn alot about coping and learn patience, even if you excel at those skills already. :D

That your dog is already seeking you out and allowing you to handle her is good progress. I was lucky with Molly because she walks on lead like a dream and according to one of her early foster parents, "She taught herself." I do not know how this could be but she only pulls a tad when she gets scared. Most other times I'm constantly checking that she's still at the end of the leash since it's so slack. Molly is also housebroken. Something that can be difficult with puppy mill rescues since they are forced to potty in their crates. She has had a few "accidents" (she twice had some uncontrolled diahhrea due to giardia and an infection) that made her soil her crate and she whined and woke me up. The few times she's had an accident, I didn't raise my voice. I talked to her like we were going for a normal walk and took her outside. I praised her outside when she went. If I had caught her in the middle of it I might have said in a normal tone "uh-uh" and taken her out but since these two situations were health issues and beyond her control, I wouldn't even have done that.

Many puppy mill rescues hate crates and won't have anything to do with them ever again. Not hard to understand if you've been kept in one all your life. Molly regards her crate as security. I have to work hard with her to get her to want to be outside her crate. She will come out happily to go outside and go for walks but when we're in the house, she always wants to be in her crate. I am working with her outside the crate by keeping her on a leash but if she's in a room where she can see her crate, she struggles to get to it. The fact that your dog is already following you around and wanting to be near you is great.

Molly is scared of everything new. She's comfortable with routine to a point but change something and the cards are off the table. We had some landscaping done this summer and when I opened the front door when they were done, she took one look at new shrubs and flowers by the door and refused to go out. We went out the garage door and she was fine. If you pay attention to your dog's reactions and behavior, you will learn what works. On our walks, Molly was scared of parked cars so we walked around them with alot of space, or across the street from them. One day I noticed her stopping and looking back with curiosity, I moved a little closer and she willingly went up to the car to sniff it. Now she's fine walking past cars she knows but she may avoid one she doesn't know. I used that experience to "learn" to let her sniff anything she was curious enough to get close to. She's less scared of something she's approached and sniffed on her own.

Petting is fine if you do it on your dog's terms. Most do not, as said, like the hand over the head. Avoid sudden movements when close to your dog. When you have visitors instruct them to avoid contact, don't talk to, don't look at, avoid eye contact, etc. this includes outside with neighbors or friends. If they do ignore your dog completely that will put her at ease. Eventually you'll find your dog will approach or sniff them when SHE'S comfortable. Be aware that this does not mean she will be comfortable being pet by the person and advise them ahead of time. I was just at the vet the other day with Molly and while paying, Molly went up to a woman next to me at the counter and sniffed her. I wanted to cry as she so rarely initiates any contact with a stranger.

Enjoy and savor the little steps and small progress your dog makes. I know my friends think I'm nuts when I say things like,
Molly just came out of the crate half way for me to put her leash on for our morning walk today." I know it's a huge deal for Molly even if it's something others find normal for a dog.

Patience and love is the way to go. The look of trust I get from Molly now makes me smile. It's rewarding when your dog trusts you, even a little bit. After 6 months, we still have a long way to go. With her advanced age, we may never get there but we'll enjoy the journey and I know she's got a better life than her first 10 years.

Good luck! Just wanted to let you know you're not alone. :)

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Mattie
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Re: Rehabilitating a Puppy Mill Momma

Post by Mattie » Thu Oct 07, 2010 1:00 pm

Well done Patric,
Patrice wrote:You're absolutely right. There is not alot of information out there that deals in specifics on living with a puppy mill rescue. I've looked. :)


When we take on a rescue, puppy mill or any other type of dog we should not make allowances for them, by that I mean that you enforce the house rules as soon as they come into your home. There are many ways of enforcing your house rules, we believe in setting dogs up to do what we want and it is the same with any dog. If we don't want them on the furniture they are not allowed from they walk into the house. This doesn't mean be rough or punish the dog, it means you try and have her in a position were she can't get up on the furniture.

Information for any dog is the same as for puppy mill dogs, all dogs are individuals and training has to be adjusted to the dog, this is how we work with our dogs when we do positive training. It also means that we go at the dog's pace not ours, some dogs take a lot longer than others, some take an incredibly long time to come round but the way we handle the dog is the same, set them up to succeed and reward when they do.

Rewards have to be what the dog finds is a reward not what we think it is, some dogs love treats, many dogs don't know what they are, Dolly didn't when she first came but watches the other 2 eat first, she will still do this at times, as far as I can tell Dolly hasn't been abused in any way.

You don't forget about your dog's past but you don't keep trying to make up to her for it, dogs live in the now, they will remember a bad past but to them that isn't important, what is happening now is important.

Treat your dog as a dog, mix the rewards if you can and set them up to do what you want, be fair and very consistant, no matter where your dog came from, you will eventually get the dog you know is there.
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Patrice
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Re: Rehabilitating a Puppy Mill Momma

Post by Patrice » Thu Oct 07, 2010 1:25 pm

I never meant to imply anything different. Absolutely house rules and such should be what is done on day one. It's unfair to allow something because "oh poor Spot had such a hard life" and then weeks later change the rules. Establish the routine and be consistent.

All I meant was that understanding a puppy mill rescue's background, potential triggers, etc. and how to handle them can be a challenge to a new owner. There are common things to expect and you can find those generalities. Often what you don't find is how or what to do in those situations and that's why I found this board to be such a great resource. There were answers on how to handle shyness, how to handle potty training, etc. Same as any other dog but sometimes when you're dealing with the frustration of something not working you wish there was a detailed answer for your specific problem.

That's why I'm glad for all the help I've gotten here, even just reading other's posts.

j9padge
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Re: Rehabilitating a Puppy Mill Momma

Post by j9padge » Thu Oct 07, 2010 1:47 pm

Exactly Patrtice! This is the first place I have found in six months that has actually given me some reassurance that I am not in over my head. Thanks and keep the tips coming. PS - I still need help dealing with my dog who yesterday was sitting on the deck with my friend and I, she sniffed the stranger, licked her hands and wagged her tail. She then got off the deck to potty. I got up and went inside for a bag to clean up her "doo" and heard a commotion - my dog had raced across the yard and hurtled herself onto my friends leg, biting her right through her pantleg. Luckily, she is only 8 lbs but it was frightening to say the least. My friend had stood up and maybe that provoked the attack? I still didn't know what to do. I had to tell her No No because she was still barking, growling and lunging at my friend when I came outside. I don't know how I should handle this other than to keep her leashed to prevent it from happening again.

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