For ethical breeders selling puppies is a minefield. Not because of a lack of potential new owners, but because finding the right homes for your beautiful bundles is a tricky business. Sorting through the various applicants, getting to grips with their family dynamics and preferences is a major headache.
Ultimately how do you, as the breeder, play “Match Maker” ensuring the right puppy, finds the right home?
I have no doubt at one time or another during the process of selling puppies you will have felt that nagging doubt around a family who is hoping to have one of your puppies.
I have felt that unease myself as a breeder, something just doesn’t sit right. Is it because they are totally novice owners? Maybe one of the family seems keener than the others, or perhaps you just feel they are not truly aware of the huge responsibility they are about to take on.
Whatever the reason, your gut instinct is screaming at you that these people are not quite right for the puppy they think they want.
So, how do you take the lead (forgive the pun!) and ensure you are selling your puppies to the right families?
I am putting pen to paper on this because I want to empower breeders to feel more “in charge” when it comes to matching puppies and their future homes. We want you to lead with authority, knowing that it is in fact you that has the ability to set each of your puppies and families up for success.
Breeding Dogs For Profit – A Moral Responsibility
I know how much you care, and how invested in your puppies you are. I also know how tricky it can be managing your potential owners and it can be a real nightmare trying to please everyone. So let me make it easy for you and take a whole load of responsibility away from you.
It is literally that easy. You are the voice, the guardian, the advocate for your puppies, and their paws are literally in your hands.
There is no getting away from it, the vast majority of breeders make money selling puppies. Otherwise, they would not do it. There is nothing wrong with that at all, as long as ethical practices and a strong sense of moral responsibility are intertwined in the process.
As breeders, we decide on the future path our puppies take and ensuring it is the smoothest one is totally and completely our responsibility.
Whole life care for the puppies we choose to breed starts with placing the right puppy with the right owners.
The right puppy in the right home is a happy puppy, a puppy that will thrive and blossom into a balanced and fulfilled dog. The owners will be content with their companion and friend. They are far less likely to end up in rescue, and your reputation as a breeder will benefit.
The wrong puppy in the wrong home is often a sad, anxious or frustrated puppy.
They are difficult to live with, and neither the owners or the puppy progress well with their relationship or bond. These puppies are far more likely to end up being passed on, often developing deeply embedded behavioural issues that limit them for life. This is not what any ethical breeder wants, and this outcome will only serve to damage your reputation as a breeder.
So let’s talk about selling puppies and how to get right! By using profiling and matching, we get to step away from the old model of homing puppies, usually based on a photo, colour and gender alone, or based on the owners thinking they had been “picked” by a particular puppy upon meeting the litter. Let’s skill up and step up as breeders and make sure we are setting our puppies up for success.
Using Application Forms To Help Match Puppies To Good Homes
Application forms are a great way to glean lots of relevant information about your potential puppy owners.
You get to ask a raft of questions delving into their expectations from dog ownership to their living arrangements and you can form a full picture of the life and lifestyle they have. As a breeder myself I use an online form, it’s free and easy to use. I link that form to my website, or email the link to any families who express an interest and once they complete it I receive an emailed copy which makes it super efficient to look back on. It also means I have a standardised set of questions, which makes comparing families with each other really simple!
Have a sneak peak here at an example of my APPLICATION FORM
I have developed this form over a number of years and it helps me to be fully informed on what the options are for the puppies I have.
The extra cool part is that this is also time-saving. We are busy enough right!
Our skills are best utilised by investing our time in raising the best puppies we can. Time saved not emailing, messaging and communicating with families who are not suitable for our babies is a bonus!
The next step is to plan and manage conversations and expectations with the families who are suitable.
It is streamlined and efficient and it really sorts the wheat from the chaff! I invite owners for a telephone chat or zoom call, with a view to arranging a visit. On that call, I impress upon them the importance of ditching aesthetic choices for temperament and lifestyle choices that create a match made to last.
I go on to explain that my puppies are individuals. Their colour and gender do not define them, but their personality and behavioural traits do. I explain about the breed history, how the breed has developed into the dogs of today and I explain that at 8 weeks no puppy is a blank canvas.
Urghh… a history lesson you may think! BOOOOOORING! My owners just want to see cute puppies!
Yes, of course, they do. But first, before they are blinded by the bundle of umbilical tugging, emotionally blackmailing puppies it is your duty to be clear and strong in your voice for the puppies.
We all know they will not be cute forever, in fact, quite quickly they become annoying, bitey land sharks.
We know they have the knack of eating your favourite shoes and then pooing at the bottom of the stairs just in time for you to stand in it barefoot on the way for your third coffee in a bid to wake yourself up after a night of sleeplessness.
But they are often guided by emotions, and that is not the best place to start!
My owners are fascinated when I explain how I have observed and profiled my puppies, and that I see them all as sentient individual beings. I tell them how as I have watched them develop that they all show me different behaviours and traits, some they have inherited and some they have learned, either way, they are all different and so they all require slightly different homes.
This way of thinking is always positively received and my owners are always impressed by the lengths I go to ensure I match the right puppy to the right family.
Puppy Temperament Testing – An Alternative View!
Before we start talking about temperament testing, I need to debunk some of the terminology, mainly because I do not like the word “test”. I do not think it is appropriate to “test” a baby dog.
When humans talk about testing, we subconsciously translate that to whether the subject passes or fails…. How can we reasonably expect a young, immature, inexperienced baby dog to pass or fail before they are 8 weeks of age?
Science shows that the critical learning window for puppies is up to 20/24 weeks of age. On that basis, they have a huge world to explore and plenty of time to develop in all aspects of their experiences and their training.
I think there is a danger that we “label” puppies as a by-product of the result of our “tests” and that can be detrimental to the puppy, and its life chances.
Temperament testing in puppies is a fabulous idea…. However, as we move forward, I will call it “puppy observations” because that is what we, as breeders, should be doing. We should be observing our litters so that we learn the behaviours they display and what type of reactions they show under certain circumstances.
We can then build a foundation profile on them which recognises them as individuals.
No one spends more time watching and interacting with the litter than you. No one is more qualified to talk about the puppies as individuals, and no one is better placed to describe them to potential owners.
I bet there is a super speedy one, that from day one has zipped around the whelping box. Or a lazy bum, that troughed at the milk bar, rolled over and slept it off! There is always one that escapes, one that will not come in from the garden, one that prefers his or her own company.
Do not underestimate these things. They are all critical observations.
Observations that can be used to describe, and therefore build a foundation profile for your puppies.
You can then translate those observations onto the individual Puppy Profile. You can use your findings to build a plan for each puppy.
That plan can include targeted exercises that create a tailored plan for the puppy. That can be shared with the new owners so that they can recognise the behaviours and work with them. They can then include their trainer, and at that point, you have thoroughly supported your puppy into its new home.
This has a two-fold effect. It teaches the owners to look out for specific, individual behaviours that they may not have previously spotted. It also creates the idea in their minds that the puppy is evolving, and that various behaviours will show themselves, but they can be worked on.
This is a great “expectation setting” exercise.
It highlights to the owner that they will have to work through issues, that they will have to give their puppy that amount of detailed focus and thought, some owners will baulk at that.
Those owners should be avoided. They are not committed enough to take on a puppy.
We need our owners to have an open mindset, a mindset of acceptance and understanding that raising a puppy takes a plan, the dedication to then execute that plan and the ability to adapt it in the event of the goalposts shifting. All of those thought processes can be led by us as the breeders.
I have been practising profiling and matching in a structured format for a few years now and I find that it works well. You may think that your owners will be put off by you suggesting that you are going to “choose their puppy for them”. However, in truth, they are relieved that they do not have the pressure of making that choice, because they do not want to get it wrong.
They do not want to buy the wrong puppy and often they do not have the confidence in their own ability to make that choice. Moreover, they will respect you, as the breeder, for ensuring that they get the best fit. It will reaffirm to them that they have chosen wisely when choosing you as their breeder.
Free Dog Breeder Webinar
To help you develop your breeder skills, so you too can profile and match your puppies we have a FREE webinar for you! .
Get instant access to 2 hours of powerful education where I will be leading you through the observation and profiling process and giving you lots of breeder skill-up opportunities!
Where To Advertise Puppies For Sale
If you are not yet established enough to have a waiting list for your puppies then knowing where to advertise is key to getting the right kind of owner for your breed.
There are multiple free online sales sites, but beware, those without seller or buyer screening can harbour undesirable types that may be waiting to scam or steal from you.
Use sites that are well respected and have a history of ethical practice.
For example, Tailwise Breeders is a breeder and puppy matching service. Breeders are screened and owners pay a finders fee for quality puppies. Then there are sales sites like Champdogs and The UK Kennel Club website, both are respected platforms for sales.
Creating a social media page is a free resource that you can employ to build up followers and gain potential puppy buyers. This means you can build a trusted group of people who can see your ethical practices as the week’s pass.
Posting pictures and videos of how you are raising your puppies is a great way of engaging people. Everyone loves a photo of a puppy! Transparency around what you do and how you do it will help your reputation grow, and although you cannot actively sell puppies on most social media platforms, once people have visibility around how you are breeding and raising your puppies, you will no doubt receive enquiries. It also allows people who have already made contact with you to see the puppies develop across the weeks.
Evidencing professional competency is also critical.
People want to know that a breeder can “do the job” well, with education and a proven record of excellence. Aligning with us at Pupstarts Breeders is one way of proving your worth as a breeder, and highlighting your dedication to continued learning and development as a breeder.
Puppy Paperwork – What You Need To Give New Puppy Owners
More admin! Yup, your puppy paperwork needs to be a meaty folder containing all of the vital information your owners will need moving forwards!
Your packs should include;
- Sales Contract, including Lucy’s Law Information.
- Details of parent’s health testing
- Registration Papers (if appropriate)
- Details of microchipping
- Vaccine record
- Details of flea & worming treatment to date
- Veterinary Health Check Form
- Early days care sheet, including feeding advice
- Training Advice
- Profiling Information
- Details of financial transaction
- Puppy Insurance Documents (if appropriate)
Has that list fried your brain? It looks a lot to have to pull together doesn’t it, but don’t worry we have you covered in our Pupstarts Breeders Paperwork Bundle.
Not only does the bundle contain over 75 individual documents that are designed to get you through a dog breeders licence inspection, it also covers all of the above. We really do have you covered! Check it out here!
Selling puppies can be uber stressful and full of anxieties for breeders, puppies and owners.
Ultimately we know you want your puppies to go to the right, long term homes. After all, it is you who watches them grow, you are the one who sees their first wobbly steps, you feed them their first meal, you feel that sense of pride the first time they venture outdoors. You get to see all of that development and be the awesome breeder that influences their whole lives, with knowledge, love and care.
Be your puppy’s voice and add profiling and matching into the process you use for selling your puppies.