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How to sell your gundog puppies responsibly and safely during a pandemic

The COVID pandemic has led to more people than ever wanting a puppy. So how can you ensure yours are going to the right homes?

Puppy crate training

Gundog puppies are always sought after as they come from popular breeds and tend to have sociable natures.  At the moment, demand is higher than ever.

So how can you ensure that yours go to the right homes and that you are protecting yourself and the youngsters from the wrong sort of buyer? What do you need to know about selling gundog puppies responsibly?

Beware of thieves

Shooting UK spoke to a gundog breeder who wished to remain anonymous but advised: “Because of the risk of potential theft we never advertise our puppies because that would also advertise our whereabouts. There have been many thefts from locked kennels overnight and anybody breeding gundogs or with gundogs needs to make sure their security is as good as it can be.

“Don’t put pictures of the puppies or impending litters on Facebook or any social channels as these are being monitored by potential thieves.”

Many sought-after breeders never have to advertise their gundog puppies anyway. They will have an existing customer base and a waiting list.

Beware the unscrupulous buyer

Soaring prices for gundog puppies  has also created some unscrupulous behaviour.  The same gundog breeder told Shooting UK: “We heard of somebody who had a litter of working springer puppies who sold one for the usual price. The buyer then sold the puppy on for double what they had paid for it. So the puppy ended up in a home the breeder knew nothing about, which was very upsetting.”

To prevent this happening, you are advised to draw up a contract with the buyer which states that the buyer can’t sell the puppy on within a certain period of time. The breeder said: “This never used to have to happen, it was all done on goodwill but with people tempted to sell on for a higher price, you need a contract to protect your puppy’s future.”

The Kennel Club has a useful example of a contract here in which the buyer agrees not to sell the puppy on to a third party. You can view it here.

Shooting UK spoke to the Kennel Club who also advised: “If you have concerns about whether a buyer could intend to exploit the dog and even possibly be a puppy farmer, then you could check if anything whether their details are advertised on listings sites such as Pets4Homes, or even do a Google or other internet search.”

Selling gundog puppies to the right people 

Don’t be afraid to ask the potential buyer a lot of questions about their life and their daily activity. A bona fide gundog buyer will understand this, as they will want the best for the dog and they will expect to be asked about their home, their working life and whether they have a garden.

The gundog breeder we spoke to gave the following advice

  • Find out what the buyer’s working hours are
  • Don’t sell to people who work for more than four hours a day out of the house (and can’t take the dog with them)
  • However shiftworkers are good owners, because there is almost always someone at home
  • If you sell to a buyer is pregnant, it is more likely than not that the dog will come back as the buyer will find it hard to deal with a baby and a new puppy unless they are very experienced dog owners
  • Assess the situation carefully if there are toddlers in the house
  • Be careful about selling to people who have children with diagnosed ADHD. This can result in the young dog being over-exercised because the children can’t judge when to stop playing with them.
  • Don’t knowingly sell to somebody who lives in a flat – although a ground floor flat is fine.
  • Talk to them and get a feel about them. Do you think they can afford to keep a dog? This is difficult to assess during COVID as you can’t physically see somebody and assess their body language.
  • Give yourself a period of thinking time to decide whether a buyer is right. Don’t make a snap decision.
  • Ask the buyer how they plan to socialise the dog and train it. Where will it spent its time? Where will it sleep.

In addition the Kennel Club says:

  • Ask potential owners about any other dogs and/or pets as well as their general living arrangements. Request photos of the house the puppy will be living in.
  • Meet the whole family, including any children.
  • Find out their plans for the puppy, i.e. whether it will be purely a pet, a working dog, or whether they might be interested in breeding at a later stage;
  • Be transparent about the dog’s characteristics and the care it requires. As gundogs were originally bred to hunt and retrieve, they are very active dogs and can require a lot of exercise as well as mental stimulation, so it is vital that new owners have the time and space available to accommodate this.

Finally protect yourself

Be extremely wary of enquiries that don’t ‘feel’ right. Be careful about giving out your address to anyone you have doubts about and always try to get hold of a landline number to call them back. And if you give a mobile number and receive a call when you are away from the gundog puppies, don’t give your address until you are back at base. One owner received a call when away and said they would be home in 30 minutes, only to arrive back and find all the gundog puppies in the garden kennel had gone.

Be very wary of posting images of the puppies on social media – and tell your friends and family the same. A clever thief will work out from nearby landmarks where your kennels are and locks and alarms don’t always keep thieves out.

And for the puppy

Be wary of buyers who don’t want to see the puppy with its mother. Or are reticent about where they live and how the puppy will live. Ask plenty of questions when selling gundog puppies.