It’s the end of Puppy Awareness Week, but do puppies have secret powers?

The Kennel Club’s national Puppy Awareness Week (PAW) ended today (14th September).  PAW aims to make sure that puppies live healthy, happy lives with suitable owners. The focus is on making sure that you get the right dog for your lifestyle and that you buy from a reputable breeder.

There is lots of sound advice for potential puppy buyers to help them avoid buying puppy farmed puppies.

By coincidence, this week I was sent a link to a really interesting blog post: “Do puppies have secret powers?”  It’s written by Justine Pannett who is Senior Campaigns Manager with the RSPCA and it discusses some research carried out into the factors that influence puppy buyers.

The key findings were as follows:

  • The decision to get a puppy is deeply ingrained from a childhood experience or happy memory, or it is a trigger reaction in response to something dog related in the media, e.g. cute puppies in TV ads. This makes it very difficult to interrupt the buying process.
  • Everyone thinks they’re an expert on dogs so many people won’t do any research pre purchase or be receptive to messages about responsible puppy buying.
  • Many people are overwhelmed by what’s involved in puppy ownership and the impact it has on their life. They feel guilty, and if it doesn’t work out they think it’s OK to take the puppy back (or give it up for adoption).
  • There is a misconception that pedigree = quality. People buy into a specific breed of a dog in the same way they would a consumer brand – and if the breed/brand experience doesn’t live up to expectations they will take it back.

In my opinion, there are some significant implications arising from this research.  Firstly, no amount of education or communication will get through to a large proportion of puppy buyers; the “cute puppy factor” together with a desire to “have it now”, overwhelms their buying decision.  Following on from that, if it’s difficult to influence the demand side of the equation, then it’s essential that we continue to address the supply side.  That means educating and challenging breeders to adopt agreed good breeding practices (as per the KC’s Assured Breeder Scheme) and ensuring factors such as conformation and genetic diversity are considered so that puppies are likely to lead long, happy and healthy lives.

You can access Justine’s full presentation here.

If you’re thinking of buying a Dachshund, I’d still encourage you to read the Breed Council’s advice!

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