The Puppy Mill Effect

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This short video is heartbreaking and encouraging at once. Marshall is a sweet, scared puppy mill escapee, and I share this because it so clearly illustrates just one of many lasting psychological challenges that these innocent creatures face when they step out into the real world.

From his rescuer:  Marshall makes it over the threshold! Marshall spent ten years in a puppy mill and is now learning how to be a dog. His first week home with us he finally learned to come through the door. Puppy mills are known for slamming the dogs heads in the door to frighten them so much that even if they escape their cages they won’t challenge the door. Marshall had an enormous fear of thresholds. This was a huge first step for him. For more about Marshall visit:

I intend to follow Marshall’s progress and provide updates as he settles in and gains confidence. Stay tuned or subscribe for the rest of his story.

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45 thoughts on “The Puppy Mill Effect”

  1. I have seen this fear of entrances/entering into areas that are dark or darker than the areas where they are in numerous dogs that we have adopted and have been told that this is more typical than not. So… Using information from Temple Grandin’s book about how cattle fear entering areas that they cannot see clearly or other such areas, I decided to always light up the entryway room and other areas of transition (hallways, rooms) so that they can clearly see everything in the areas they are about to enter and have no longer seen this hesitation.

    I was not aware of puppy mills’ habit of deliberately and abusively teaching dogs to fear doorways. That is absolutely unacceptable. We must be relentless in trying to enact legislation to put a complete and total end to puppy mills and set significant punitive consequences to counteract such horrific treatment of our fellow creatures.

  2. One more thing: As long as there is money to be made by engaging in carelessly breeding animals or factory farming, there will be enough at stake for those who do this to lobby for to maintain the status quo or for even less restrictive rules. We need to make it less profitable so that there is less pressure on the government to allow this to continue. We who care about animals need to be a greater presence than those other folks.

    • That is a great idea! I am going to put a good deal of thought into this and see if my dog-loving friends will buy into it. Thanks!

      • It’s amazing what a missing comma can do to a sentence: “No thank you.” vs. No, thank you (emphasis on the “you”). Glad that got cleared up so I can start the “bloody” campaign. Love the idea!

  3. Bless you, Susan, for you tender and positive encouragement to help Marshall overcome his past neglect and abuse.

  4. One of my 3 Golden Retrievers, Honey, was rescued from a puppy mill in Missouri in May 2010. She has been with us since July 2. She has suffered the same trauma of coming through the door but we did not know why. =(
    The good news is that Honey now gets through the door very well! Having two other dogs to help her walk in helps too.
    There is a special place in hell for puppy mill operators.
    I am not a violent person but I could shoot them all point blank in the head and feel no remorse whatsoever.

  5. Now I know why the mini-schnauzer I fostered from a puppy mill would throw out his legs whenever I walked through a doorway carrying him. I figured that the millers had just banged his head against the walls and doors, but your reason makes more sense. He got a great home where he is incredibly spoiled.

  6. Hurrah for Marshall for finding you, Susan!
    I, too, particularly like the example you set in the video of being upbeat without ‘throwing a party’, the latter not being best for some dogs.
    One of my dogs was terrified when I used the Big Happy voice – he didn’t notice the happy over the Big.
    So I learned to use quiet, gentle praise with him.

  7. Poor sweet boy. He’s one of the lucky ones though. I can’t imagine that they slam the door on the dogs’ heads. What on earth could be so important that they have to hurt innocent little creatures? It just disgusts me. You’re going to be ok, Marshall !

    • What could be more important? Money, money, money. Sad, isn’t it? This is the world we live in. We value money over lives.


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