As a smart breeder, you shouldn’t be solely motivated by money and how much money you can get out of every potential buyer that comes along. There are lots of other factors you must take into account when trying to identify the best possible homes for your puppies and dogs.
You’ll need to ask every interested person a range of specific questions to help you understand whether the person is suitable to take assessments further. Questions may be asked over the phone, via email or face-to-face, but should be asked early on in the process.
If the customer gets annoyed by your questions, he doesn’t deserve the opportunity to become a loving pet owner. He should appreciate that you, as a responsible breeder, want to find the ideal home for all your little bundles of joy. You’re the expert in this scenario but you’re both evaluating each other. The World Wide Web has plenty of good tips on how to evaluate a breeder, there’s not much information on how a breeder assesses a potential customer.
Responsible breeders will put possible customers through a very intense screening process that will include: interviews, home visits, background checks, and lists of the pros and cons of the specific breed. It’s critical that you do your homework and take all the time you need.
A genuine buyer will appreciate your thoroughness, whereas a bad one won’t, and that may help you cross them off the list. Listen to the people as they speak and also watch body language. They’ll often tell you lots of things, without realizing it, and parts of the discussions may be negative.
The main concerns you, as a breeder, have is wanting the buyer to have access to enough educational material to learn all aspects of pet care (especially if this is their first dog). This includes giving them links to various websites, including the club site, as well as hand-written material. Breeders will spend plenty of time with each new owner, explaining health issues and everything else the buyer needs to know.
The ideal owners are generally good listeners who will take positive action based on the advice they’re given. A breeder also needs to evaluate the buyer’s financial position and whether he has the means to care for the dog’s needs, now and into the future. Most breeders guarantee they’ll accept any dogs that may become a financial burden due to life changes and they regard the buyers as part of an extended family.
- Keep in touch.
- Get photos of puppies as they mature.
- Receive updates on how they’re doing.
- Send out regular newsletters and articles.
- Keep the lines of communication open if they have questions.
This style of support assists the buyer in maintaining their contract, and generally means you won’t have to enforce it.
While you do need to spend money to buy the dog in the first place, there are many different costs that accrue over time and they’ll vary from dog to dog. You should sit down with any new buyer and do a weekly, fortnightly, monthly and yearly budget.
Consider licensing fees, the initial purchase price, vet costs, insurances and the ongoing costs such as food and bowls, toys, a leash, collar and harness and so much more. It’s best to do these sums in the early stages if a person shows interest.
There’s no point waiting until they’re ready to do the paperwork because it will quickly change the situation in many cases, if a person doesn’t have money behind him and good money coming every week. The money spent will generally reflect how much the buyer actually cares for the new addition to his family.
Serious red flags that crop up during that first interview.
- If he’s in a hurry to pay and go.
- If he objects to desexing the dog.
- If he requests a bitch so he can breed.
- The request is for a mating pair.
Another definite red flag is if the buyer has small kids because they generally don’t have good coordination, they wave at the dog, the parent or at each other, and puppies consider all these signs as play time.
Busy adults won’t have sufficient time to supervise every time the puppy and the toddler interacts. There’s a high risk factor for the puppy and/or toddler. Check whether the buyer has a fenced yard and no more dogs already in the household. Otherwise it’s a no-go.
Common questions breeders ask possible buyers:
Why are you looking for a puppy/dog?
This is where you start to determine the customer’s suitability so you can help them make the best choice to meet their needs. If you have been a breeder for a long time, you’ll have a sixth sense about whether they may be good or bad owners for your dogs. The customer shouldn’t be looking for a puppy as a Christmas present because a large number end up in shelters within a year, and many within the first couple of weeks.
Why do you like this breed of dog?
After you learn why they want a dog, you’ll have a better chance of learning why they have chosen this particular breed. As an expert in this particular breed, you’ll understand it inside out and back to front. This means you’ll be able to quickly assess the buyer and give him an honest opinion as to whether this is the best breed for their particular expectations. You must also evaluate the way they live and if it’s a suitable home in which your dog can also live.
Who will be responsible for caring for the dog?
Taking ownership of any dog is very much a privilege…BUT it’s also a massive long term responsibility. The dog will need attention and care every single day (no resting on weekends or holidays), monthly health checks and dealing with any emergencies that may arise. Add it all up and it’s not easy, but it’s certainly worthwhile because a dog offers his love unconditionally.
If there’s more than one responsible person living in the home, the tasks can be shared, but owners must have an action plan from the first day so everyone knows what to do in any given situation.
Do you (and your family) have sufficient time to take care of the regular feeding, exercising and training tasks your new pet will demand?
Certain breeds should be exercised more than others. Some members of a litter require extra training. Outline the requirements to the potential new owner to verify whether they’re able to deal with the hard work that goes into raising a puppy. Feeding him means ensuring he enjoys his food, not merely scooping kibble into his bowl. Training isn’t just teaching him how to go potty; it’s also learning socialization skills and ensuring he obeys all commands when used.
Some dogs are happy just playing fetch while others need long walks every day, and more play time, to ensure they can burn off their excess energy. Because you’re the breed expert, don’t sugarcoat the truth when covering all aspects of the huge commitment a dog demands.
Do you have children?
Children generally love dogs and vice versa. However, if there’s a baby and/or puppy in the home, extra care must be taken. Children should be taught how to behave when the dog is around and all owners MUST have practical and/or theoretical experience as a minimum, when it comes to handling all potential problems, including the most serious ones where the dog is aggressive around a child.
As a breeder, it’s in your own best interest and your reputation, to teach owners how to deal with all potential problems. The owner can never be too prepared/careful as they may not have time to ring you or a vet for advice.
Does anyone in your family have allergies?
People wanting to introduce a new canine addition to the family will generally know if a family member has allergies but it’s always a question that a breeder should ask. No dog breed is 100% hypoallergenic; certain breeds are more compatible than others.
Are you genuinely committed to the long term health, care, grooming and maintenance of a dog?
Regardless of the size, age or breed of a dog, one thing is certain; they must all be cared for when it comes to their health, fitness and grooming. It involves spending quality time and a great deal of effort at times when ensuring your pet is happy and healthy.
It’s something many new owners underestimate at the start so it’s up to you, as the breeder, to ensure they have enough information and knowledge because they won’t remember everything all at once. This is where the breeder and club websites come in handy. Owners can read about different aspects of caring for their new family member without being overwhelmed by a massive input of knowledge all at once.
What’s your view on obedience and training?
Whether they’re looking to buy a herding bitch, a Great Dane, a chihuahua or something in between, you need to know the new owner’s attitude towards educating and training the dog as well as how he plans to deal with obedience issues. Any tips and/or warnings you can offer in this area should be shared. Ensure the customer is aware of the common ways to socialize his dog so unwanted behaviors may be avoided down the track.
How often is a member of the family at home?
Your home shouldn’t be a large rambling empty house all day long, with nobody there to attend to the needs of the new dog in the family. If the dog will be alone all day, the owner must make sure he gets used to it from the first day. In an ideal situation, it’s better if someone was home, or even if the owner had a neighbor who could walk the dog daily.
If a dog doesn’t have enough time with his owner, he can become very lonely and sad indeed. It won’t work if the master spends almost all his time with the new dog for a period of 10-12 weeks and then he goes to work all day, leaving the house empty. Naturally people have to work but don’t buy a dog if you simply have no time to commit to caring for him and this includes your work and other commitments.
Do you have enough time to give your new dog the attention he needs and deserves?
The words “presence” and “quality” aren’t synonymous. An owner might very well be home much of the time but may work from home or be too busy to pay enough attention to the new puppy sitting in the corner, watching him with sad eyes.
Inclement weather, social outings with family and friends, work…are only a few of the excuses an owner may use if asked how much time he spends caring for his new puppy. Caring includes walks, training, feeding, playing, and handling health issues when necessary, etc., are all part of that long term commitment a customer promises you before buying and taking home the new pet in the first place.
Sometimes, you’ll need to sacrifice personal activities so you can go for walks with your dog (good exercise for both of you), train him or play with him. While you’re sitting on the sofa watching TV, he may rest his head on your leg for petting or he may roll over so you can give him a pleasurable tummy rub.
When all’s said and done, a breeder should never allow one of his canines to go to an unsuitable home. A potential new dog owner should never buy a dog if they’re not prepared to put in enough effort, time and money into caring for a dog. If in doubt, don’t do it.
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