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#64 – Dog Breeder Insecurities – and What To Do About it?

by | May 27, 2023 | Business Management, People Management

Recently I had a breeder steal a Dog Breeder Society Badge, edit someone’s kennel name off it, and put her own.

If you aren’t familiar, I host the Dog Breeder Society, it is the spin off community from my podcast and coaching programs, where I create MasterClasses that deep dive into various aspects of running a breeding business. Members in the community earn a badge for membership, it’s a digital badge with their kennel name showing the current year of membership, they’ll get a new one each year to show continued membership.

Regardless, the breeder who copied the badge isn’t a member of the society. She decided to take a shortcut to look like she was a member. While I’m flattered that she desires what my badge means, she didn’t earn it. She hasn’t learned anything from my MasterClasses to stand behind that badge.

IS IT UPSETTING?

Other than the fact it’s a lie, oh and the irony of fraudulently placing the Honest Dog Breeder’s badge which is not lost on me, I would have to say that I’m not really emotionally charged by it, I’m not upset, I suppose I’m not surprised. To be honest, I find it mostly disheartening. Imagine how insecure about her program this breeder must feel, so insecure about what she is doing, believing that it isn’t good enough that she feels she has to steal the badge off another breeder’s website and take the time to edit that breeder’s name off it and add her own.

That can’t feel good. So if the act of doing that actually makes her feel better, maybe gives her less anxiety about selling her puppies, then it’s hard to truly conceptualize how much she really dislikes herself and her breeding program. She must be so uncomfortable all the time, riddled with anxiety. That tiny voice inside her head chanting “your breeding program isn’t good enough, no one wants your puppies, you, as a person, aren’t enough.” What a painful place to be in.

Let me distinguish this from using a contract someone gave you and adapting it to your program or looking at how other breeders lay out their social media posts or their websites. When you’re doing this, you’re getting ideas, sparking your creativity and giving you a basis to work with. Very few breeders get into breeding because they used to write contracts, that’s not a natural progression, so I don’t imagine many of you were biting at the bit, excited to write your contracts.

Taking ideas and adapting them, buying templates and changing them to reflect your program, that’s not the same thing as copying a badge, changing it for your kennel, and then putting it on your page like you earned it. It’s basically the same thing as buying a trophy at the thrift store, putting it on your mantle, then telling this great story about how you won it.

Our dogs and buyers need us. They need us to be the best we can be. They need us to continually improve ourselves, our programs, and our service to them. They are relying on us. That’s why they choose to buy from us, because of what they can expect.

If we are willing to lie by broadcasting a badge on our site that we didn’t earn—what does that say about our integrity? About our service to our buyers? We are lying to them before we even meet them.

I’m not sure about you, but it makes me feel like the beginning of a bad relationship. Reminds me of hiring someone who lied on their resume or talking to someone who lied about who they are. All recipes for disaster, bound to bring disappointment to all involved parties.

WHO ARE YOU COMPETING AGAINST?

We have to ask who are you competing against? Do you need a fake badge to feel better about yourself? I doubt it, it would probably make you feel worse. Are you doing it to stand out against other breeders? Possibly, I imagine this was part of the thought process for this breeder, she was worried buyers wouldn’t buy from her over other breeders and was hoping this badge would help persuade them.

In fairness, while you could say there is competition amongst breeders, more so than I wish there were sometimes, I will say that when your program is on the right path, then you know that your relationship between you, your dogs, and your buyers is really all that matters. What other breeders are doing is less of a concern because there is enough to fix within your own program, enough to worry about just working on yours, you really don’t have time to try and “keep up” with other breeders because your program has its own path to take. If you find yourself tempted to copy or steal other breeders’ stuff, then let that be an indicator that you need a plan. Copying isn’t a plan, it’s attempting to throw mud at the wall until it sticks, a messy way to try and find your way.

Remember, success in a breeding program is defined by if your buyers, your dogs, and you and your family are all taken care of in a way that everyone is getting what they want. The buyers are getting the lifestyle they want with their puppy, where the dog is a net positive in their life. The puppies are getting great homes, living a life that meets their drives and fulfills them. Your breeding dogs are happy and healthy, living a quality life. And, of course, your family and you find that the dog breeding business brings you more positives than negatives, enabling you to have the life you want.

Going back to the insecurities and feeling like you’re not enough…

Want to Get the Diagnosis Worksheet to Solve & Resolve Problems in your Dog breeding Program?

WE ALL HAVE SOME INSECURITIES

I’ve been where she’s been, I never copied someone’s stuff and made it my own like that, but I have felt insecure about my program and I’ve felt poorly about myself, worried I wasn’t enough, my breeding program isn’t good enough. It’s a painful place to be in.

If you’re feeling this way, I want you to know you’re not alone, every breeder I’ve talked to new and seasoned has insecurities about their breeding program. There are still things I’d love to fix and improve with mine. That’s a part of why you’re listening to this podcast, right? You want to be better.

In a way, these feelings are blessings, they tell us where we need to improve, but sometimes they get out of hand and cover us like a blanket and we are left trying to wrestle out from under it. So how do we work with these insecurities? Well, write them down and really break them down.

For example, don’t write, “My breeding program sucks.” That’s not very useful. Instead write down, “My buyers contact me all the time after they get their puppies and it’s annoying.” Then you can look at that and think well, either I am not setting boundaries well enough with them (if that’s the case check out the last episode, #63, all about boundaries with buyers). However, maybe it isn’t boundaries, maybe they need more education on how to work with a puppy, so in that instance you could start to build resources for them that help with raising a puppy. I have a whole MasterClass inside the Dog Breeder Society on how to build a puppy guide if you need help or ideas.

However, that also may not be the problem, maybe the buyers just didn’t know what to expect from their puppies. Maybe they aren’t a great fit for your dogs, in which case you either need to better set expectations and maybe you need to look at honing in your Ideal Puppy Buyer. And yet, it could also be parasites, maybe you’re sending pups home with giardia and they’re getting worse after the stress of the transition to a new home. So the answer is in their health and what it looks like to improve that prior to pick up.

Do you see how saying, “My breeding program sucks” doesn’t get us anywhere, it just makes us feel down about ourselves, but, saying, “My buyers contact me all the time after they take home their pups” now gives us a place to start, it is a productive way to look at our programs. A productive way to improve things.

Work to articulate and ask yourself the right questions, they’ll lead you to the answers and solutions you seek. Then take action and implement.

If you do this over and over, you’ll blow yourself away with the cumulative effects of it all. You’ll see how your program gets better here, then it gets a bit better there, then the stress isn’t there anymore.

Sometimes it’s worth doing a big audit on your program, looking at all the details of it, pointing out all the problems. I’ll warn you, while important to do, it’s always a little overwhelming. When it’s done you’ll have this big list of items to work on and that, too, is overwhelming. Take that list, look at possible solutions for each item, such as ‘more education for buyers’ and then start to see where to implement that in your business, and when you look at where to implement, I recommend you don’t ever make it a task for you to just remember or to spout off when talking with buyers. Make a system that consistently gives buyers the information, whether that’s improving social media, your website, or your education to buyers prior to pick up. Take the load off your plate, open up your time, and watch how it enables you to have a better, consistent, and more profitable program.

I do have auditing services if you’re a bit stumped, if you’d like to get started for free, just book a business strategy call with me at honestdogbreeder.com/strategy.

I also made you a worksheet to help you diagnose some issues, solutions, and then avenues to fix them. You can get the worksheet using the form below.

Once you have all the issues sorted through, then look at the tangible solutions and see what will give you the most bang for your buck. Maybe the key is a website redesign or better organizing your social media. Sometimes there are so many things on your list, it can be difficult to feel okay about picking one, but remember, breeding businesses are built over time. Pick one thing and give yourself 30-90 days to just accomplish that one thing. Then once that’s done, work on the next thing.

Also remember that completing one thing often opens up more time for you to do other things, so if you were able to restructure facilities so your dog management was only two hours per day instead of four, that’s huge, that’s a free two hours each day.

Maybe those two hours gives you time to work on your business, but it’s also okay if that time goes back to your family, maybe you’ll be able to do more cooking at home or get your laundry done. Maybe that simply means you have time to play a little catch in the backyard with your kids and read them a bedtime story. Giving that back to your family can often create a better feeling of alignment within ourselves and that gives us more energy to work on things in our business when we allocate that time.

Once you’ve accomplished one thing, mark it off your list, and then jump to the next. You’ll get new ideas as you go, keep a notepad of those ideas or a list on your phone in notes, that way you don’t lose the idea, but you aren’t distracted by it either.

I hope this helps you feel a little better about any insecurities about your business. You know now you’re not the only one, we all feel it in some way or another. Taking action and making things better is the best remedy to the anxiety that comes with it. Remember, you’re here, you’re listening, you are already taking the steps to building a better breeding business.

If you’re stuck, you can always reach out, seriously, just book a free strategy session with me, when we’re done I’ll give you an Action Plan on what to do next. It gives you a kicking off place on where to start taking action. Taking action is like a snowball slowly building momentum. As it gets bigger and bigger, it’s harder to stop, so when that’s rolling in your favor, things will naturally fall into place.

Oh, and I do offer a limited number of one-on-one coaching slots, if you’re interested, start with the 30 min strategy session, we can talk about your needs and I’ll build a customized plan for you. I love the results breeders are getting.

I am so grateful you’re here and I appreciate all the hard work you are putting into your program, it really does make the world of dogs, and the lives they provide their owners, a better place.

Want to Get the Diagnosis Worksheet to Solve & Resolve Problems in Your Dog 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!