What do ethical dog breeders want in puppy parents?
September 8, 2015 9:19 AM   Subscribe

I am shortly to go visit a dog I want (5 month German shepherd) from a super ethical breeder, and I don't want to accidentally flunk out. Please help me know what to say and calm down before this interview so I can be a good and happy dog parent!

I have already passed the initial questionnaire section but am really worried about the in person interview. I have never had a dog, my husband has, but he can't come to see the dog because of work. I have ideas about how I want to raise and train him, but really I'm not married to any of these ideas, I just want to do whatever is right for the dog. I am willing to do what he says is best but am worried that will sound sketchy. Please help me not fuck this up.
posted by corb to Pets & Animals (7 answers total)
I can tell you really want this to go well, but I would just honestly answer the breeder's questions and express that you are open to their suggestions on areas of puppy raising you are unfamiliar with. They do this for a living, so don't feel bad about not knowing as much as they do! But you also are not required to raise your dog exactly as they do, so don't feel like you have to agree to everything they suggest.

And remember that as much as they are interviewing you, you are interviewing them. Ask questions about what happens if the dog is found to have a congenital health problem? Do they help with those vet bills? What has the puppy's socialization looked like thus far?

Be prepared for questions about how much time the dog will spend alone or outside and where the dog will sleep. They'll likely be looking for answers of limited time alone and sleeping inside near you.
posted by cecic at 9:33 AM on September 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

Select a veterinarian beforehand, and know where your local animal ERs are, too.
posted by FergieBelle at 9:45 AM on September 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

I was nervous about this when we had our "interview" with a dog rescue that we hoped to adopt from. When they asked how we'd train the dog, we just said we were planning on taking the dog to the basic training course (dog manners 101) offered by the local Humane Society in my area, which has a good reputation. I felt like that made it clear that we weren't currently married to any particular approach in terms of training, and gave them the opportunity to say "Oh don't go there, go here instead." It ended up fine, they pretty much just wanted to make sure we weren't enthralled with the idea of dominance training.
posted by iminurmefi at 9:55 AM on September 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

I would locate dog training options, and discuss those options with the breeder. If you haven't had a dog, dog training will be helpful, as it's really dog owner training. It will signal to the breeder that you are well-prepared to be a good owner. Congratulations, and enjoy your new pup!
posted by theora55 at 10:25 AM on September 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

I found it helpful to look through several different breeders' websites to get a feel for what they saw the common issues as being (in your case, maybe try searching for "don't get a GSD if...") because then I could develop talking points for the interview. Importantly, even if some aspect of your life does run afoul of one/a few of the "rules", most likely what the breeder wants to know is that you're aware of the issue and have plans for addressing it. For example, with Newfoundlands, some breeders really hate hard floors in the house (out of concern for the joints). We do have wood floors, so we've always made sure the dog has plenty of soft surfaces to lie on and when we play indoors, it's on an area rug so he doesn't slip. Our breeder was perfectly happy with that compromise and glad that we had done enough research to understand what the actual concern was and how we could still take good care of the pup.
posted by teremala at 11:33 AM on September 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

In my experience with adoption agencies, the number one concern was that I had a safe and secure (inescapable) home for the dog or cat. For example, if you have a yard that's not fenced and a doggy door, or plan on letting the dog off-leash, that would be a concern. I'd either bring that up or emphasize it if it's mentioned.

But I'm sure you'll do fine! I think the fact that you're so concerned is great, but I think they're really screening for the people who aren't.
posted by Room 641-A at 1:19 PM on September 8, 2015

Our puppy was a rescue, however we had to apply to get her and went through an interview process as well. I wa was in the same boat you are. My husband grew up with dogs, but I didn't. Most of the questions surrounded how long our Belgian Malinois would be home alone, if we planned on crate training, if we have a fenced in yard, what our previous experience with dogs was, how often we exercised, and if we had cats.

Really, she wanted to make sure that we weren't planning on using the dog for dog fights/junk yard dog and weren't going to return the dog because we didn't understand what we were getting into. So long as you know what you're getting into when it comes to having a dog (how it impacts vacations, time intensive training, feeding, expensive vet bills for puppies and vaccines, etc etc) you should be fine.

I second the idea of getting a vet ahead of time. It shows you did research and know that your puppy will need a vet and regular visits during the first year. We had a vet because we already had two cats, and she wrote a letter of recommendation for us, which helped get our dog. It may be helpful to have your vet write a brief letter that you visited, explained what was going on, and that you are fully aware of the next steps of taking care of a puppy on the medical side.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 1:37 PM on September 8, 2015

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