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Long time lurker, first time poster. I'll cut to the chase and then provide some background.

My question is, would any of you mind sharing your experiences with rescuing a mill puppy? (Particularly one in the 4 to 6 month category.) We figured it may require some extra work and patience, which we're perfectly fine with. But we were told today that mill puppies will always have mill tendencies, so they can never be trusted off a leash and will always have the potential to be aggressive/skittish.

Background: My wife and I have a nearly 6-year-old golden, Jay, who is the absolute best dog. I got him when I was about a year out of college from a terrific breeder in Canada called Golden Retriever Haven.

Well, now we are on the market for our second dog. We feel like Jay is at a good age where he'd be a great role model for the puppy to learn from, yet young enough to have energy to play. And hopefully a puppy helps keep him active.

We're considering adopting a puppy from a local golden retriever rescue organization. One we have our eye on, and are in line to adopt - if all goes well - is a 4-month-old female who was rescued about a month ago from a puppy mill.

We had our initial interview with the foster mom by FaceTime today and it went swimmingly. She shared that the pup is gaining confidence but still is easily startled with loud noises, etc., as is to be expected with a mill puppy. She also has trouble going through doorways and is not very food-motivated with regard to training. Otherwise she's a pretty normal puppy as far as we can tell. But the foster warned us that she'll never be a "normal" golden because she was rescued from a mill.

I'm hoping that there are exceptions to this rule because we would love to give this puppy a loving home. We feel we have all that is necessary to give the pup a great life (time, energy, sufficient resources, fenced yard, great resident dog to learn from, etc.), but I'm a little thrown off by that comment. One theoretical question we got today is "What if the puppy can't be trusted with kids?" (We mentioned in our written application that we have no plans to have kids soon, but plan to at some point at least 3+ years down the road.) I'm having trouble envisioning a scenario where a golden puppy that doesn't show any aggressive behavior right now, and is brought up in home like ours for 3+ years, winds up not being able to be trusted around kids.

Am I being ignorant? Would love to hear any and all experiences with rescuing mill puppies. Thank you!
 

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Welcome! A puppy of 4 months might be going through a fear period, which might explain her skittishness. From what you described, she does sound just like a normal puppy and it surprises me that the rescue would make such a comment. Could you ask them for an elaboration on why they do not think she'd ever be a normal golden? Many dogs are rescued from such situations at much older ages and after some adjustment & training fit in nicely into a home without issues.

i would not be overly concerned with their remark unless they have identified some indicators that point towards serious insecurity, fear or agression etc ( which does not sound like it). Some behaviours might manifest in your home, especially as you will be a multi dog household, but thats where training comes in.

Regarding the kid question, as always when you have a kid teach them to be respectful of a dog's personal space, and allow supervised gentle interaction.

If you could perhaps you can meet her in person with Jay to see how they get along! Good luck and do keep us posted. I'm sure you will be getting more replies from others with rescue backgrounds and experience shortly.
 

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My bridge girl was a former puppy mill momma, I adopted her at age 2.

It should be easier working with a pup, but it's going to take time, patience and consistency.

Since you have Jay, the pup will learn a lot from him. It's easier and usually recommend to have another dog with a puppy mill dog.
 

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Most any dog who comes from a previous owner will have some patterns of behavior that need to be addressed. I experienced that with our rescue (which you might also consider from a reputable shelter). Oscar was afraid of loud noises, fire, could not climb stairs, and was pretty disinterested in listening to us. Three years and counting, most of those issues are resolved (although we still can't trust him off lead). We adore him with his remaining faults and are blessed to have him in our home.
 
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