UK-based canine behaviour consultant Karen Wild asked me my thoughts about what makes the ideal puppy purchaser. This was too good a question to Twitter so I’m writing my response here.
What We at Kennel Björkwood Look For
First and foremost, I look for someone who is prepared to commit their time and energy to raising a healthy, well-socialised dog. And that doesn’t mean just for the first month after you bring pup home. Training and behaviour modification can be necessary throughout a dog’s life.
Here at Kennel Björkwood we’re very wary of people who think you can get instant results with a dog, and particularly a basset, because we know they need time and patience. Hell, make that a hefty dose of patience!
An ideal puppy purchaser doesn’t have to be an experienced dog person. Some old-hands believe they know it all and aren’t open to changing the way they interact with dogs. I’m always happy to come across people who ask questions, seek answers and don’t rest on their laurels. Nowadays there’s more emphasis on positive reinforcement when it comes to training and I look for people that are open to that.
We never stop learning about dogs no matter how much experience we have.
Ideally, you want someone who has taken the time to find out about a breed (or the multi-breeds that make up mixed-breed pedigrees) and is not just trying to buy on impulse or because, for example, bassets are in fashion this month.
What to Avoid
“Can I pop round and pick a pup up?” one gentleman recently asked me, as if I was a hardware store, not bothering to ask me any questions about our kennel other than did we have a pup available. He also didn’t like it when I asked him my list of questions.
He wasn’t invited round.
I’m also wary of people that don’t realise the cost of what it takes to look after a dog and especially people that don’t listen. If a prospective owner doesn’t listen to me, how are they ever going to listen to a dog that primarily communicates paralinguistically?
The ideal puppy purchaser to my mind would come to a dog show, say Lilla Stockholm, and have a look at the bassets. They’d talk to lots of breeders and get an all round feel for the breed.
If possible they would come and visit the kennel when there were no pups there to see how adult dogs really are. It’s hard to think straight when presented with the cuteness that is a basset hound puppy.
I appreciate it if people come again when pups are five or six weeks so we can talk about what they’re really looking for in a dog. I want to see them interact my dogs and get a sense of who they are. That way we can offer them a variety of choices, hopefully, to find the best fit.
Then having settled on a pup, my ideal puppy purchaser would keep in touch as the dog develops.
My biggest fear is that puppy buyers disappear with a pup and never get in contact again. As a breeder you want to know how your dog has developed; have there been any health or temperament issues that you need to know about.
So I also look for people who are reliable and know how to communicate. We don’t want to be best buddies with everyone who buys a dog from us; but we do want to feel that we can pick up the phone and ask how things are going. And vice versa.
What about You?
If you have a kennel, what do you look for? Or if you’re a puppy buyer, what do you look for in a kennel?
You can hear an interview with me talking about what we look for in a puppy buyer over on Dog Cast Radio. The interview was broadcast on June 13, 2009 and is available to download as a podcast.