Bringing home a dog that has spent its life in a cramped cage with little human contact presents unique challenges. Scarred by abuse or neglect they often have trouble with the simplest of activities: putting on a harness, walking on a leash, settling into a confined space.
Two trainers who have helped rehabilitate puppy mill dogs seized during raids conducted by the Humane Society of the United States have brought their knowledge to the public in a new DVD, "Adopting a Puppy Mill Dog (everything you need to succeed)."
Leigh Seigfried, of Quakertown, is a professional dog trainer who has managed an award-winning dog day care and training center. Elizabeth Marsden, of Chaplin, CT, is a professional dog trainer who has worked in nonprofit animal shelters. Together they are Mission Dog, offering enrichment training sessions and workshops for shelters and rescue groups.
They discovered that enriched dogs - those provided with proper exercise, socialization and mental stimulation - are successful and relaxed, while under-enriched dogs are more stressed, exhibit behavior problems, and simply are frustrating for owners or staff who aren't sure how to meet their needs.
Their DVD is aimed at the puppy mill survivors, the least enriched dogs of all. The 20-minute DVD introduces timid dogs who have never been walked to a harness and leash, coaches them through their first walk and offers tips for dealing with stress and providing a comfortable confinement area.