Listening, Education are Key in Puppy Placements

by Ann Thibault 

We have received many phone calls from people wanting a Newf puppy as a surprise or gift during the holiday season. I tell them that I don’t sell surprises or gifts. I do answer their questions and try to let them do most of the talking. The novice callers who know little or nothing about Newfs are sent NCA information about Newfoundlands and told to call back after they have received and read the material and that we will be glad to let them come for a visit to meet the big dogs and puppies. The callers that sound knowledgeable about the breed are invited to come and visit whether we have puppies or not and are also sent NCA info.

When interviewing potential homes, we ask that the entire family comes to visit as I want to see how the children respond to the dogs and if parents can control their children. People are introduced to the adult dogs first, then puppies are brought in for them to meet and greet.

I let the people talk about why they want a Newfoundland and ask if they have any plans for the pup. What are their interests? Are they a family who does many outdoor activities or are they the stay at home family? Is the yard fenced? Have they had a dog before? What happened to it? My contract requires that each new dog owner attend a puppy class and a sub novice obedience class. Who will attend the classes or will both of them participate? Who will be the primary caregiver? Have they used a crate before? Use of a crate is required in my contract. Puppies are sold on a limited registration unless otherwise agreed upon by both buyer and seller. A spay or neuter clause is included in the contract if the pup is purchased as a pet. Have they been to visit other kennels? If not, then they also need to go talk with other breeders. They are allowed to groom a puppy or help brush a big dog as we talk. The type of flooring in their house is of importance. Slick flooring is a disaster for a Newfoundland. Where will the puppy sleep?

The entire time we are talking, I watch reactions to the dog’s movements and the hair and drool. I watch reactions to questions and invite people back for another visit. We may communicate by email or telephone.

Invariably, by the third visit people have a tendency to trip themselves up in the information they offer. I tend to go with my gut feeling and make no promises in regard to whether or not the people will get a puppy. After the people leave, my husband Ron and I then discuss what we have observed.

We do ask many questions and pay attention to the information that the potential owner does NOT give. They don’t elaborate about their previous dog or dogs. They talk about how busy they are. Their reasons for wanting a Newf are not definite, although their six-month-old other dog really needs a companion. They mention that their other dog is really clumsy and used to fall down the stairs all the time as a puppy.

Much more information is offered as the potential buyer becomes comfortable and at ease. Hopefully a puppy buyer Much more information is offered as the potential buyer becomes comfortable and at ease. Hopefully a puppy buyer that visits and talks to several breeders can make an informed decision. This lets the breeder know that they are doing their homework and are willing to learn.

reprinted from Newf Tide 3Q 2000