At Dog Harmony, I work with clients who are buying and raising a dog for the first time. Puppy training is a wonderful and worthwhile activity, but it can be difficult depending on the puppy's history. If your puppy comes from a puppy farm, not only is this unethical and unfair, it can cause the owners and trainers a great deal of problems.
Puppy farms are commercial dog-breeding enterprises, which focus on breeding the largest number of dogs possible, for the sake of earning the maximum amount of profit.
The puppy farm is the canine equivalent of a battery farm for hens.
The dogs at puppy farms are not well cared for, their accommodations are poor, and very basic. More than this, however, a great many puppy farms are operating illegally. In Britain, all commercial dog breeders are required to be registered with their local authority, and undergo regular inspections, to ensure the health and welfare of their dogs and the puppies they are breeding. Many puppy farms are unable to pass these inspections, and so are not registered. This means they are functioning without regulation, and can circumvent many of the necessary steps needed to safely breed puppies.
The responsible dog breeder focuses their attention on breeding a small number of exceptionally happy, healthy puppies, from their prized and treasured dams and sires. Their dogs are loved, and well cared for, a part of the family rather than a cash cow. This ultimately means the dogs will be adopted, puppy trained, and live long and happy lives with their new owners.
The dams and sires of breeding farms produce litter after litter, with dams producing two or more litters every year. There is often a high rate of inbreeding, as well as the pairing of dogs who should not - for health reasons - be allowed to breed. As a result, puppies from puppy farms are far more likely to suffer from health conditions, either as a result of inherited traits, or illness, disease and injury resulting from their poor living conditions and lack of veterinary care.
The problem is that not all puppy farms are easily identifiable.
People buy puppies with their hearts, not their heads. It’s so easy to fall in love with an adorable pup and take him home, without ever questioning how he was bred.
The sad truth is that I seldom see a happy outcome, with puppy training or otherwise, from a puppy bought at a farm. Many dogs from puppy farms develop extensive and extremely costly medical conditions that owners are simply unable to pay for. The dogs ends up in a rescue centre, or worse still, put to sleep, because the owners are unable to cover the medical bills. These cases are not only devastating for the dog, but the owners, who are forced to give up their beloved pet.
The last thing you want is to fall head over heels in love with a new pup, only to be forced to give her up, put her to sleep, or lose her to illness.
1. Check if the breeder is offering pedigree puppies for sale without formal breeding paperwork, or certification. This is usually a good indication you are dealing with a puppy farm. However, some farmed puppies are registered with the Kennel Club: the provision of Kennel Club registration is not an indication the breeder is legitimate.
2. A breeder offering multiple breeds and types of puppies for sale at once is not a good sign.
3. Take note of the age of the dam (the mother). Very young dams are another sign you may be at a puppy farm. If the puppies are shown to you without the mother, or individually rather than as part of a litter, question why?
4. Have a look at the premises when you go to see the puppies. Check for the presence of a lot of outbuildings, sheds, caravans, and other temporary structures, or cordoned off areas that appear to be very busy.
5. Ask questions about all the puppies you see, and specifics about their breeds. Responsible breeders know a great deal about their breeds and are very familiar with their puppies. Superficial knowledge and a lack of connection between the breeder and the puppies is a very bad sign.
6. Expect the breeder to question you. Responsible breeders want to know their puppies are going to good homes. They won’t sell a pup to just anyone. They will want to know you understand the responsibility you are taking on, and will be raising and puppy training the puppy in a safe environment.
7. Be very wary of puppies that are shown to you in a cage or crate.
8. Pay close attention to the relationship between the dam and the breeder. If the mother doesn’t appear to recognise their name, and has no bond with the breeder, be wary. Sadly a lot of the sires and dams on puppy farms are never given names, and while the breeder may refer to them by a name, this is to create the illusion they are loved and cared for.
Once you've carefully bought your puppy from a safe, registered breeders, make sure you get in touch to start your puppy training and send your dog on their way to a happy, fulfilled adulthood.
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