#95 – How to Handle Someone Coming After You or Your Program for Breeding or Your Breeding Practices

by | Jul 4, 2024 | Business Management, People Management

Has anyone ever tried to hurt your breeding program or come after you? Maybe they make a snide comment about your program or one of your breeding practices.

One of the breeders I work with has built a nice Instagram following. She has beautiful dogs and has been moving forward in breeding her dog, who is 14 months. She made the announcement on her Instagram that she was planning on breeding, and a trainer went in her comments and began to ask questions about when her dog was born. And this trainer claimed that, without a doubt, she was a backyard breeder because she couldn’t have done hips until she was two years old.

The breeder tried to explain that she had used preliminary testing and that her dog had passed with flying colors, but the trainer wanted nothing to do with it. It wasn’t open for discussion. The trainer made her statement, and claimed that she had to say something because it was saving dogs from being in shelters.

Let’s break down that comment

Okay, so first off, let’s break that apart. There is rarely a variance in hip results from prelims to permanent score at 2 years. You can even use PennHip which states their test is accurate at 4 months of age! It will definitely get you the information you need to know to determine whether or not your dog has the quality of hips to breed. If there’s any question at 4 months, then you probably want to sell that dog and opt for another for your program. All makes sense to me. It’s much easier to rehome a 4-month-old dog than a 2-year-old dog, not to mention the delay in your program!

Anyways, the prelims on this dog had been great, the dog came from great breeding stock, and there’s not a concern of hip dysplasia.

Now, let’s just take a second and acknowledge the strange correlation that this trainer put together … somehow, she decided that breeding a dog at 14 months meant that she didn’t test for hips, which meant that her puppies would end up in shelters. What?! Does that even make sense? These things aren’t even remotely related. They’re a bunch of garbage spewed about breeders that doesn’t include facts. It doesn’t even include discussion. For some reason many people have drawn random lines in the sand, picking random criteria on one side or the other, and determining a breeder is either all good or all bad.

Okay, so we know this is untrue and frustrating, which we could ignore because it’s ridiculous, except for the fact that it’s posted publicly on your Instagram …so what do you do?

You have a few options, but the situation will dictate what will be the best option.

Is It a Discussion, Debate, or Judgement?

There are a lot of keyboard warriors out there. You know who I’m talking about, Joe Blow sitting in his mom’s basement, eating chips, getting exercise only when walking between the fridge and the couch. That’s the guy writing nasties on Instagram feeds and often looking to poke at people just to have something to do. These are the kind of people who glance at the headlines and think they know what’s going on in the world.

These people simply are placing a judgment, often unfounded, and this is our first scenario. In this instance, you can tell that this person simply wants to get under your skin, try to start something, and is probably doing it out of boredom. It’s clear that this is not a buyer, and someone who is wasting everyone’s time. With these people, I recommend you make no comment, delete their comment, and block them. If they sent you a nasty email, you can just delete it.

A good example of this is the comments I get from time to time on my Honest Dog Breeder Instagram where people will tell me that I am the scum of the earth because I’m a dog breeder,  that I’m personally responsible for dogs in shelters, and the overpopulation of oops litters, apparently.

In the beginning, when I was a little gung ho and naive, I would engage with these people, thinking that I could open their minds up to the truth: most breeders adore their puppies and dogs, taking excellent care of them and continuing to support their buyers. Well, it was a good waste of time. These people are often brainwashed into a simple way of thinking, thinking that is black and white, good or bad, all dog breeders are bad, in this case.

A mark of someone who hasn’t thought through a problem is when they state a problem, but can’t explain to you why that problem exists.

Most problems in the world are solved. Why? Because solving problems makes money most of the time; so if a problem continues to exist, that means the problem is complicated to solve or there is a benefit to the problem existing, often both. If you can only state the problem and not the source of the problem or why it exists AND you’re not willing to talk about it, then it’s not a conversation worth having. For example, many of these people won’t be able to tell you where these dogs at shelters came from. With a quick stroll down the aisles of the shelters, you can see the majority of the dogs in those shelters are not dogs from breeders. A lot of times we can’t even figure out what they are from their appearance alone. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that most of these dogs aren’t from breeders, yet there are those people who will still jump into the comments and be that guy.

I wonder what it’s like to have so much free time that you can spend it on other people’s feeds–people you don’t know, don’t care to know–just to start problems. It doesn’t make sense to me. That also goes for breeders who bash other breeders. You know what I see when I see a breeder bash another breeder, judging them or criticizing them? I see an insecure breeder. That breeder is in such a low place in their mind and heart that they feel bringing other breeders down to make them feel better is their only option for relief from their own insecurity and pain. Yet bringing others down to make yourself feel less like a failure is not a good look, and it’s not going to give you any sort of lasting results, nor make your program any better off. There’s enough crap for breeders out there to deal with, don’t make it worse.

If you find yourself inclined to bash another breeder, then ask yourself what story are you working with inside your own head that makes you feel insecure. Do they appear more successful with their marketing? Instead of judging them for something, why not get curious and try to see what they’re doing that’s working better than what you’re doing?

Anyways, sorry. It just breaks my heart to see other breeders bringing each other down. It’s completely unnecessary.

The goal is always to be better with yourself and your own program. If you focus on your program, your goals, your dogs, your buyers, that’s where you need to put your energy.

Okay, so back to people messaging unnecessary comments on your feed.

If you’ve determined them to just be judgmental comments, comments that prove they aren’t open to discussion, then you can just delete the comments and block the person. However, if they are people that seem curious and want to know more, you can then explain in a quick reply why you’re doing what you’re doing. If they ask why you are planning to breed prior to two years of age, you can explain how the preliminary testing is quite useful, and that your research suggests that dogs recover more easily when bred younger, making the process more comfortable.

If they look like they’re trying to be sweet, but then trap you in a conversation, then you can determine that they aren’t actually curious, they’re just trying to corner you. So I move to blocking and deleting comments.

This might seem lame or like you’re trying to hide something, but the truth is, those comments ruin the experience of the people that are following you to engage in your community and dogs. Ultimately, their comments don’t help anyone and since they aren’t willing to discuss, they just need to be removed.

What if they are willing to discuss, or maybe they’re concerned, confused, and eager to know more?

If they really want to know more, then take the conversation to DMs or, dare I say, a phone call. People are really afraid to be the problem. They want to do the right thing, they want to be considered a good person. This means that, when buying from a breeder, they want it to be right, they want to be supporting a good breeder. They don’t want to be supporting puppy mills or breeders who simply don’t care. They may be getting flack from their friends or family for wanting to buy from a breeder instead of going to a shelter or rescue.

These people might come across as interrogators, but really, they’re curious and want to cover their bases. Some of these people can turn into your most amazing buyers and eventual owners.

How can you tell them apart? Well, when they ask a question, it will be open ended. Instead of them saying “all good breeders wait until 2 years of age,” they’ll say, “I thought it was important to wait until two years of age.” This is them providing you an opportunity to change their mind or to educate them on your decision-making process.

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It Takes Confidence

One thing I come back to stressing frequently is that you need confidence in the decision you’re making. How do you get that confidence? It can come from a lot of places. But mainly, you yourself have to take the time to be mentally onboard with the idea. You have to go through the pros and cons of the decision, and you have to make up your mind on what’s right for you. I’m sorry to say, but you can’t just take anyone’s word as truth. That’s the equivalent of telling your kids they have to do something “because you say so.” That’s not an acceptable way to make decisions. You need to weigh the decision out and make the right one for you and your breeding program.

I know this seems crazy because I teach dog breeders like yourself how to do things. But really, there is no one way to do all this stuff. My goal in teaching you is to show you the options and help you choose which path is right for you. All breeding programs are different.

The confidence comes from believing in what you’re doing because you’ve mulled it over and made the decision, believing in that decision.

When you know why you’re doing something and you believe in it, you’re untouchable. When people ask you questions, then you’ll realize that they just don’t understand what they’re talking about. It won’t get under your skin because you’re confident in what you’re doing. Instead of it irritating you, it’ll feel like those people are trying to tell you the sky is green. You’ll sort of look at them, smile, and think to yourself, “It’s okay, they just don’t understand; but, since they might confuse people, I’m going to take this conversation privately and remove these comments so people don’t misunderstand.” You’ll be at peace and be able to calmly interact with those.

I’ll tell you something, I’ve had a lot of other GSP breeders in Arizona try and bring me down. They talk poorly about me or my program behind my back, to potential buyers. As you may recall, they won’t even allow me to post in their Facebook groups, deleting a post before it passes admin approval. I’ve been breeding for a decade, I’ve produced over 400 puppies, I’ve whelped over 80 litters, and helped with countless others. I’ve never had my genetic health guarantee called in, and I take care of my buyers. I’m not a puppy mill, not a backyard breeder, and I don’t bash other breeders. What they don’t like about me is my success.

Where do you want to put your energy?

When it comes to deciding where to put your energy, you could channel it back to those breeders who try to bring you down, or those trainers claiming you’re something that you’re not. You could put your energy there, but it would be wasted. Why not use that energy for good? Why not channel your energy into making your breeding business even better?

Imagine two scenarios: in scenario one a trainer bashes you, she says you are a backyard breeder because you’re breeding your beautiful, healthy, clear, and expensive dog at 14 months. You could go Google that trainer, you could read all her reviews and judge her for people leaving a four-star review because she was late to an appointment or because she didn’t use treats. OR, you could write a blog post on your website explaining how we have the tools to evaluate hips at an earlier age, and how you’ve incorporated that into your breeding program to help you evaluate breeding dogs at a younger age, allowing you to rehome them earlier if they aren’t fit to breed, but also allowing you to breed them at a younger age, which is optimal for fertility and recovery.

How will you feel after those two scenarios? After you Googled the trainer, your blood pressure is up, you feel like calling your mom and telling her all about how this girl was so rude and that she’s not perfect herself and ugh … doesn’t that just feel yucky?

After you write a blog post, improve your website and SEO, … mmm, doesn’t that feel good?

Remove yourself from the madness, don’t engage and waste your precious time and energy. Spend that energy on something that will propel you and your business forward. And, if you aren’t sure why you’re doing something in your program, then go research it! Learn! Be better! The whole reason I created the Dog Breeder Society, my educational community for dog breeders, was to give you exactly that: a place to learn all the things you need to learn and consider to make the decisions you need to make! I share my experiences and the experiences of others to help you see options and opportunities.

Speaking of websites, did you know I offer a Website Cohort where we get together as a small group and build your website together over 7 weeks? It’s the perfect way to easily build—or refresh—your website in under 8 weeks! During the cohort I give you a bunch of templates and options for building your website, I’ll help you organize the website for ease of navigation, customized to your breeding program. I’ll even help you set up email newsletter integration and Google Analytics so you can capture leads and learn how people are finding you! If you’d like to learn more, check out it out here.

Thank you for joining me for another episode of the Honest Dog Breeder Podcast, with me, your host, Julie Swan. Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to hang out with me. I enjoy every minute of it and I can’t wait to see you in the next episode!

Want to Get the Roadmap to a Successful Breeding Program?

Hey! I’m Julie Swan! I’m here to help you build a breeding business that you love, one that produces amazing dogs, places them in wonderful homes, gives you the life you want, also pays the bills!