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Pet Education & Training

Training a Puppy Mill Rescue

How to touch and handle your dog

It is in our nature to provide comfort to scared or frightened animals by cuddling, holding and embracing them. When you look at a puppy mill dog, it seems like a good cuddle is all they need. But it isn't.

The majority of puppy mill dogs are made uncomfortable with physical contact from humans. They have received very little or no positive human contact in their lives, and being touched, even in a gentle way, is something that can be new and scary to them.

It takes time to build trust and time to change, so remember to be patient.

Steps to take:
-Occasionally and gradually move your arm, leg or body closer to your dog to show them there is no reason to be scared of you. This may take several weeks, but don't force your dog. If they show discomfort, don't be afraid to backtrack.

-Don't get discouraged

-If your dog accepts your touch, you can try to pick it up - do so in gradual steps.
First make sure you dog allows you to touch its sides, then allows you to put a hand under their stomach. Next, apply upward pressure then pick your dog up slightly off the ground and work your way up to longer "lifts". If at any point your dog gets uncomfortable or scared, go back a step and work slower.

-Work at a slower pace if your dog shows signs of submission. For example, if your dog tries to flatten itself on the ground when you attempt to lift or if it rolls onto its back and even passes urine.

If you accomplish something, remain calm. If you get excited and make a loud noise, it may scare your dog, hindering further progress.

Don't place your face near your dog. This may frighten your dog, and their instinct may be to bite.

Don't make direct eye contact at first. For humans it's a sign of respect to look one another in the eyes, your dog may take it as a threat, though. Instead, turn your head slightly to the side.