What should be included in the Information you give to your Puppy buyers?
Remember our goal as an exceptional dog breeder to operate in an ethical manner? Well, as we discussed at the start, that means doing everything we can to help foster a positive dog owning experience for our clients. An important component is to provide a comprehensive guide to successful dog ownership as a complementary gift to your clients. I use a plastic folder with a clear cover and 20 plastic sleeves in it. In it include:
- An attractive coversheet with your breeder’s prefix, contact details, and a picture of the breed.
- Copies of the parent’s pedigrees.
- The pup’s vaccination certificate.
- The pup’s diet, worming and vaccination history up to the age of 8 weeks and when the next treatments are due.
- Pointers on preparing for the puppy.
- Information on how to feed a healthy diet.
- A guide to socialization.
- A guide to general training and house-training.
- A brief troubleshooting guide.
- An overview of how to groom the breed.
Good preparation is essential to successful raising of a pup during the critical first few weeks that your clients have him home. The guide is handed over to clients as soon as they have paid their deposit on a puppy. They are instructed to read the information before they come to collect it so that they can avoid making mistakes that will be much harder to remedy later. You should not assume that your buyers will know what to do.
Many of your clients will not have had the pleasure of owning a dog before. They may have been raised in a city, or be from a culture where dog ownership was not practiced. For others it may have been many years since they last had to contend with raising a puppy. Even experienced dog owners will appreciate the great information you offer.
All will appreciate the special care you take to ensure they optimize their dog owning experience. For you it is yet another opportunity to stand out as someone exceptional in the dog breeding field. Your clients will proudly show off the attractively presented information pack to their friends and family. This is great marketing for you! As a gesture of your commitment to your pups’ welfare, you should also offer to be available to answer any concerns or questions the owners may have for the life of the dog.
As an ethical dog breeder you should do all in your power to ensure that the dogs you select as breeders are likely to be free of genetic disorders, and outbreed to further increase the chances of producing genetically sound pups. In this way you protect both the quality of your pups and your reputation and viability as a breeder. With this confidence you should guarantee buyers that your pups will grow into dogs that are un-afflicted by the serious genetic diseases inherent in the breed. And you should offer to either refund the purchase price or replace any pups that do develop serious inherited defects.
A good return policy
It is a good policy, aside from guaranteeing the genetic soundness of your pups, to tell owners that your will take back for re-homing any pup that does not work out with them. In 18 years as a breeder I have never had such a return. Careful matching of the right puppies with the right owners, good socialization, and owner education (i.e. the information pack) will ensure that virtually all pups settle well into their new homes and provide a quality ownership experience for your clients.
A lot of breeders insist that their clients sign a non-breeding agreement as a condition governing the purchase of their pups. They maintain that as responsible breeders dedicated to improving their breed that any dogs that are sold as pets are those that have not met the stringent and highly particular breed standards and should therefore be sterilized. Such dogs are just as sound as any other to be pets, but are disqualified as breeders by simple morphology – for example, their ears don’t fold correctly, their color is not quite right or they don’t have that desirable degree of squashiness in their face.
While this is normal practice in the breed I work with, I do not follow it. My reasoning is, that non-breeding agreements are impossible to police and therefore worthless. Further, I (perhaps cynically) believe that the real reason behind non-breeding agreements is simply to limit the supply of the breed, and therefore help to maintain their monetary value. This is borne out by the fact that while any breeder only need breed a bitch once or twice in its lifetime to produce quality replacement stock, in actuality they churn them out for the pet market as frequently as allowed under the breeders’ Code of Practice! So, like much of what many breeders spout, it’s a load of hoo-ha. All this makes it very hard for you to get hold of registered quality pups to breed with (so much for such restrictions being about improving the breed!). But once you do (and if you are persistent enough, you WILL) it makes perfect sense to protect your market by similarly limiting the number of registered breeding-quality dogs that you contribute to the supply side of things.
Instead of non-breeding agreements I sell nearly all my pups unregistered (but do include copies of both parent’s registered pedigrees with their information packs). Therefore, any pups bred from them will also be un-registerable. This protects my market. However, if you are approached by someone who wants to become a registered breeder I suggest that you do cooperate with a select few people who are serious about it. Friends and family members are prime candidates.
So foster a cooperative relationship with people interested in sourcing (or, preferably, already holding) bloodlines not related to yours to make up their little stud. One or two such prospects can be a source of outside bloodlines and replacement stock for your enterprise for years to come. They will also protect you from totally losing your lines if tragedy happens to wipe out your stock (unfortunately it happens).