This column is written for the Stray Ferret by Kimberley Metcalfe. Kimberley has an MSc in Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare. Her company Pooches Galore is based in Harrogate and specialises in dog training and resolving canine behavioural problems.
After seeing Gracie on the Stray Pets Rescue Club my heart went out to her. Although I don’t know about Gracie’s situation personally sometimes rehoming ex-breeding bitches can be challenging.
Gracie, if you haven’t read about her, had been used for breeding to make money and was abandoned after reaching the maximum age for reproducing. She’d given birth to around 30 puppies in her lifetime – as a result she has been left with a large caesarean scar. She was featured in the Stray Pets Rescue Club seeking a new owner.
Often dogs who are kept purely for breeding haven’t had the same start in life as other dogs. They haven’t had the same life experiences and so don’t have the same expectations.
Although there is a great divide between bitches who are family pets, loved and treated like queens while they are pregnant and beyond, there is a darker side to breeding where dogs are kept as commodities. Used purely to make money from the puppies, once they have made the owners enough money they are discarded.
This latter group of dogs often struggle in new homes. They often haven’t lived in a family home before, they haven’t even had a comfortable bed to sleep in, so everything is new to them. It does take them some time to settle in to this new, luxurious life.
There are a number of things to consider when you take on an ex breeding bitch, all of which can be overcome with patience and love.
Often these dogs are not housetrained, having never lived in a house before so they have no understanding that there are areas that they can toilet and areas that they cannot.
They may never have been on a walk. Going out on a lead and collar is completely alien to them, as is the big outside world. This can be very overwhelming: the sights, smells and textures that they experience for the first time. I remember working with a standard poodle who had been used as a breeding bitch in a puppy farm who had never walked on grass before, the joy that it brought not only her but me also when she was leaping about was one of the best moments of my career!
Sometimes they are just shut down, they don’t know what to expect, that people can be kind to them, that they are safe as this not been the case in the past.
But I promise it is not all doom and gloom. Bringing home such a dog to live with you is one of the most rewarding experiences. All they need is some time and space to feel safe and to feel loved and they make the most loyal and caring of dogs.
We are delighted that Kimberley is to become a regular monthly columnist for The Stray Ferret. If you have any doggy questions please contact her by email on firstname.lastname@example.org For more information on Pooches Galore click here.