First-time breeder: things to consider
The prospect of breeding your first litter of fabulous puppies can be incredibly exciting, but it’s also quite nerve-wracking. Just like having a child, there are going to be some parts of becoming a new puppy parent that you’re not going to really understand until you experience them.
Thankfully, you can prepare for most of the challenges you will face. Let’s look at some of the most important things to consider and plan for before making a firm decision about breeding your bitch.
Remember that you don’t just have practical considerations to think about. Puppies are a delight, but they still take a significant mental and emotional toll on your wellbeing, as well as your dog’s.
What to consider as a first-time breeder
Depending on your individual circumstances and where you live, you might need to get a breeding license from your local council or local government authority. If this is your first litter, the chances are this won’t be a formal legal requirement. That doesn’t mean that you should ignore the licensing system, however. Breeding licenses are required to protect the health of your dog and her puppies. It’s worth making sure that you meet the criteria for a license, even if you don’t need one.
Why not think about the kennel club-assured breeder scheme? This shows prospective purchasers that you take your responsibility as a breeder seriously and gives you peace of mind that you’re taking great care of your beloved pooch.
Health considerations for your dog
Pregnancy might be natural, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy or always straightforward. Think seriously about the health of your dog and whether you’re sure that she’s in the best condition for pregnancy.
It’s also important to consider what qualities she will likely pass on to her pups. What’s her temperament like, and how does this compare to others of her breed? However much you love her, it’s not always a good idea to breed an anxious or aggressive dog, especially if the breed is known for these traits.
Do you have a budget for the healthcare your dog might need during this process? Talk to your vet before making any firm commitments about breeding to get an estimate of costs and a second opinion about whether your dog is a good candidate for breeding.
Getting your house ready
If you thought that getting your house ready for bringing your first puppy home was a challenge, just wait until you have a whole litter of them to handle. Not only that, you get them from an even earlier age.
Depending on the breed, you could have around 15 furry balls of chaos looking to chew anything they shouldn’t and waiting to be litter trained. We’ve put together an essential checklist to help you make sure that your home is safe and welcoming for your new additions.
Consider whether you have the space to keep the puppies mentally and emotionally safe, as well as physically. Do you have a space where they won’t be disturbed when they need rest? If you have young children, can you separate them when necessary?
If you’re breeding a litter of puppies, it’s up to you to make sure that you give them the best start in life. One of your biggest responsibilities is to make sure that they’re properly socialised. This can help avoid a wide range of behavioural problems later on.
Think about how you can create opportunities for controlled socialisation for your young dogs before they go on to their new homes.
Don’t forget about breeder’s mental health
Before we finish, let’s talk a little bit about you. Obviously, the health of your dog and the puppies is hugely important, but it’s equally important to consider your welfare.
Having puppies is wonderful, but it can come with new mental health challenges for you as a breeder. You might have to hand-feed one or more pups, putting a 2-hour maximum limit on your sleep cycles.
Even if everything goes according to plan, you’ll probably have some anxiety about the welfare of all the dogs concerned, especially during the birthing process. You’re also going to have a lot less time for self-care — it’s all going to be devoted to puppy care.
You don’t have to navigate your first litter alone
Breeding your dog can be intensely rewarding, especially if you’ve made sure to plan for all the challenges you’re about to face. You also don’t need to face them alone. Get in touch with Paws in Work’s breeder team firstname.lastname@example.org to see how we can help you prepare for your first litter of puppies.
And don’t forget to check out Paws in Work’s mental health masterclasses to see the most enjoyable ways to improve your mental health at work.