Do you see that nervous twitch in the breeder’s eye?
What has caused this?
Often as breeders we hear the sentence :
“I want a dog so that it can teach my kid/s responsibility” – or a slight variation on a theme. Depending on how the breeder is feeling at the time, combined with their past experiences (both good and lots of bad often), you may hear the following response:
“I’m sorry I can’t help you” – or a slight variation on a theme.
Often what a breeder will hear when you say you want the dog to teach the kid responsibility is:
- When my kid gets sick of it, the dog will languish in the backyard until we dump it at the pound or with someone else
- I will blame the breeder because of the dog’s poor behaviour. He/she should have known that a kid can’t be responsible for a dog. In fact, I want my money back, and I’m going to make sure everyone in the world learns how irresponsible they were to sell me a pup.
- It’s not my fault that my dog is un-groomed. The kid was supposed to groom it, and the pup has failed to teach it responsibility.
- The reason my dog is sick is because it was the kid’s responsibility to check on it, and the kid has failed to do such. It’s not my fault.
- My dog goes hungry at least 2 days a week because my kid forgets to feed it. That dog has been a really poor teacher of responsibility.
- I am so not taking my dog to dog training lessons. That’s my kid’s responsibility.
- My dog can’t walk properly on the leash because my kid failed to teach it. Not my fault!
If you’ve bred dogs long enough you may be unlucky to hear of the above scenarios, either you’ve had an owner say it to you directly, or you’ve heard it through the grapevine.
Perhaps you are aghast that a breeder could even interpret your words to the above sentences, and you certainly did not want them to “hear” those messages. If that is the case, rather than say that you want “the dog to teach the child responsibility”, is there possibly a much more sensible and sensitive way of getting your message across that demonstrates you mean something quite different?
After all, breeders are not mind readers. They don’t want to put words in your mouth.
I would like to tell you what to say, but I think it’s important you think about what you really want to achieve through having a pup.
When I place my puppies, I want to nicely be able to say “I’m sorry my pups don’t come with a 3 year qualification in child behaviour” without sounding like a smart aleck. Nor do I want to sound rude and say, “If you think a pup is going to teach your child responsibility, you need to go back and get some better parenting lessons.”
So why are breeders being so ‘”difficult”?
Good, caring breeders want their dogs to end up in homes that will truly optimise the possible relationship between humans and dogs, while taking full advantage of the endless possibilities that exist to have a well trained dog.
No breeder ever wants to have to rescue a dog from an inappropriate situation, or have to re-home a dog that is badly behaved. Breeders around the world are currently tearing their hair out, so to speak, with owners who haven’t properly taken on board the amount of time and work required to raise a pup properly. Many breeders treat the responsibility of raising a pup as a very serious process, and not something that can be delegated to a child.
Despite what people may think, there is not 1000 people lined up at a breeder’s door wanting to buy a badly behaved older dog that a puppy person has returned with no training. Nobody wants a barking, jumping, biting lunatic. No breeder wants to hear “this dog would do much better back with you”. What do you think the breeder wants with that badly behaved dog? In some cases, yes, a breeder will be taking that dog to the vet on a one way trip.
Personally, I believe raising a pup to be an easy and joyful process. But that’s just me. I’ve always been good with that sort of thing. I am certainly in the minority. The vast majority of people will find raising a pup to be lovely at times, but often frustrating, difficult, exasperating, and be wanting to throw in the towel. If you see a well behaved dog – well that’s the result of a lot of work, not just a lucky person.
Please don’t under-estimate the time you will need to put into raising a pup. Please do not overestimate your ability to train a pup. Take your dog to dog training every week for at least the first year of their life, and run mini training sessions every single day. You the adult is accountable for this, and for the grooming, and for the meals, and for the vet visits, etc. Never a child.
And please, after reading this that you believe that your child should be responsible for raising a pup, I’m sorry, I won’t be able to help you with a puppy.