I’ll always find it amazing that this tiny gadget, slightly bigger than my hand, can provide me the ways to make so much money with my dog breeding program. There are things I love about cellphones and things I loathe. Do you remember when people used to refer to them as their “cell?” I imagine that terminology died out as we got rid of landlines…or maybe it’s because the word “cell” sort of sounds like prison cell, and well, let’s be honest, our cell phones can sometimes feel like they trap us like a prison! Okay, sorry, that was a little dark.
Anyway, all-in-all, as a dog breeder, phones are super helpful. In this episode I want to discuss some things I’ve done with my phone that have made the process of dog breeding much easier from my phone, little hacks that save time and energy. Most of these things you can do in between things. For me, I do lots of this kind of stuff when I’m sitting in the car while Bill is driving somewhere, when I’m in line at the post office, or when I’m sitting on the couch in the evening relaxing. Don’t feel like you need to work on your breeding business while you’re relaxing on the couch, BUT if you just need to sit after running around all day, but your brain isn’t tired, that’s a good time to do this stuff.
Here they are: 5 things you can do on your phone to make breeding easier!
1. Create an Album for Each Breeding Dog
I should’ve done this sooo much sooner in my breeding program! To date, I have 25,589 photos on my iPhone 😂. I feel like if I have that many of anything I have a problem…unless it’s money of course. However, that’s a lot of photos. I can’t tell you how many times I would text a buyer and say, “Let me send you a photo, one sec.” That one second turned into like a 15-minute death scroll through the millions of pictures. I would think, okay, that was during the monsoons, since there was mud, so that was probably August of last year…okay…so I go back to August in the dates…then I don’t find it. I check July, check September…then forever and a day later I might find the picture I wanted to send, clearly losing the momentum of the conversation with the delay.
Then one day, I got smart. I realized that finding photos was something that was a problem because it made me feel frustrated and irritated. Remember, finding out something is frustrating or irritating is the best recipe for making life better. Frustration and irritation are an invitation to reflect, analyze, and improve. So that’s what I did.
I went through my phone and I created an album for all my breeding dogs, even the retired ones who I had offspring from. I then saved the best photos for each in those albums. The saving part took a while. I didn’t sit down and hash it all out at once; rather I did it when I had time.
I use the Lightroom app on my phone for a filter to sort of give a look and feel to my photos. I tried to make sure I did that with my photos before placing them in the album. This way there was a nice uniformity to everything I was sending customers.
Best of all? It was simple, fast, easy, and I looked professional when I could produce images right off my phone on demand. I was no longer frustrated searching four years back to find a photo of Rusty in his prime.
On a side note, I recently found out iPhone has this feature where they recognize dogs in pictures and have created albums for all your dogs. It’s funny because, while it’s good at recognizing dogs, it isn’t wonderful at distinguishing which dog is which…except by color.
If you have an iPhone, check it out. Just like how you have albums for people you’ve taken photos of, you’ll have ones for dogs now. They put all my solid dogs together, even the black and brown ones as though they’re the same dog, as well as the ticked dogs all together, like they’re the same. Essentially, I’ve just taken it as a compliment from Apple that my dogs are so structurally similar and consistent that even their AI program can’t tell them apart. I guess I need to be more patient with buyers who struggle to tell them apart, too.
2. Create a Theme For Decorating Your Buyers’ Contact Info
I don’t really know what else to call it. What I am able to do on my phone is take the person’s contact information and I give all my dog buyers a dog emoji as their face. Then I change the background to a light blue. This way when the name pops up, like Jane Smith, I see the dog emoji as her image with the blue background and I know she’s a dog buyer. It’s something you need to get in the habit of doing as you go, it makes it much easier, but it does make things better when they call, I remember they’re buyers, so I can put on my dog breeding hat instead of answering with the hesitant hello I usually use for people who are in my phone and I can’t remember who they are.
Sometimes I have a little fun with the dog Memoji images on iPhone, too. For example if the person is very fun and bubbly, then I’ll use a fun and bubbly Memoji. Have you seen the feature where your iPhone will make the Memoji the same expression as the expression you’re making? I love it. If I have a buyer who is a little stuffy and rigid, I’ll often scowl when I make their contact info Memoji. I started doing this primarily because it was fun. Do you have inside jokes with yourself like I do?
That’s sort of what it was…but then, I realized, it was actually helpful because I could see the emotion of the face in the phone and remember the person and how they are, allowing me to adjust my voice and tone to better suit the buyer and assist them.
You can take this a step further by adding the dog’s name into the company line of their contact info. This will also come up when they call. It’s a helpful reminder, giving you reference.
I actually use my own custom internal code for the company line on their contact information. Then when they call or text I know which dog of mine they have. Which brings me to my next tip…
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3. Create a Unique Code for All Your Dogs
I have mentioned a few times before that in the beginning I had the idea that I needed an individual code for all of my dogs, as in the puppies I produced. It would be like a serial number that I could more easily decode. Lord knows I didn’t want to be looking at microchip numbers. I wanted something that, when I saw the code, I would know which dog was theirs.
I decided the simplest thing was putting the mama dog’s name at the front of the code. I then figured that I would like to have the year in there. This would help me quickly calculate the age of the dog. For simplicity I added the two-digit year. Then I realized most of my dogs were having two litters per year, which meant it would be possible for me to confuse which of the litters they were from. I added a letter in there, S for Spring or F for Fall. If a litter was born January 1 to June 30, they were a spring litter. If the litter was born July 1 to December 31, it was a Fall litter. Ultimately, in all my years breeding, I’ve only ever had a dog have puppies in the same 6-months one time, but it was so close to July that I just called that second litter the fall litter.
Lastly, I added a B or G with a single digit number to represent which number boy or girl they were in the litter. This isn’t necessarily the order in which they came out; rather, I just arbitrarily give them numbers.
When it’s all done, if you had a male Puppy from Pepper’s Spring 2024 litter, his code would be Pepper S24B2, or similar.
To summarize, I use the mama dog’s name, the letters S or F for spring or fall, the two digit year, then their sex, using B or G, and then their individual number respective to sex.
Obviously you can do whatever you like; this is just what has worked for me. If you have faster cyclers, where it is possible you have the same dog give you three litters in the same year, you could use a W for winter, or split it into quarters, using the numbers 1-4 ahead of the two digit year, or you could use ABC as a way to delineate which time of year. Whatever works for you.
I use these numbers on the company info of the contact name, like I mentioned above. This allows you to have reference on their dog. You could even add the code to their health record like I do, and now I use it inside HoneyBook as well.
Bonus points if you add the code to their company info and then a hyphen with their dog’s name.
4. Use Notes to Have Frequently Used Messages at the Ready.
Have you ever found yourself texting the same thing, literally word-for-word over and over again? I found I do this a lot. For example, people are always asking about the deposit and if it is refundable, if it goes toward the cost of the dogs, etcetera. I usually text something like this:
Our dogs are $1800. A $600 deposit will lock in your spot on the waitlist and then you’ll only owe $1200 at pick up. The deposit is 50% refundable, no questions asked.
It’s annoying to have to type it all out, but it really is something that is part of customer service. The quick fix is to put the text in notes on your phone or, if you’re really fancy, to put them on the text replacement in your phone. Text replacement isn’t difficult, but it is one of those things I watch a YouTube video on to do. It’ll be specific to your phone.
Notes app works great, too! You just type up what you normally say and then copy it when you need to use it.
Here are three ideas for texts you are probably already sending all the time:
- How much are your puppies?
- How does the puppy selection process work?
- What size do you expect these puppies to be?
5. Use Google Calendar to Record Your Dogs’ Gestation & Puppy Rearing
My last tip is to make a calendar inside google calendar that records gestation and puppy rearing. When your girl is bred, you can create an “all-day” event that lasts from the date of breeding to 63 days into the future, for her gestation. What I love about this is not only do you have the due date logged on your calendar, but if you click on the day in your calendar, it’ll say which day in the 63 you’re on. So if it’s the 23rd day, when you look at the event in your calendar it’ll say 23/63. I like this as a backup. When I only have one girl bred, this isn’t too hard to keep track of; but when I have more than one girl bred, it becomes rather complicated. I always seem to be on point with the first litter, but if a second or third comes in the middle of the first, it gets messy for me.
You can do the same thing when she has her puppies. I mark out 56 days on an all day event on the calendar so I know what age the puppies are with a simple glance at my calendar. It also helps to have all that information readily available for buyers. Time flies and sometimes I lose track, so this is another tool I use to keep me on track.
Another awkward, but helpful thing I do is take a picture when two dogs tie. I know, it’s gross, but it’s great to be able to go back to the pictures which are automatically dated and have it as reference. It is also a great thing to send to the owners of females you’re doing live cover on. This way the bitch owner has confirmation of the tie, which is good for liability if she doesn’t take.
What do you think? Do you already do any of these things? Is there something else you do that you could recommend? I’d love to hear it. Please send me an email with your favorite tricks at [email protected].
Thanks for listening to another episode of the Honest Dog Breeder Podcast, with me, your host, Julie Swan. I know dog breeding is kind of complicated and pretty darn dynamic, so here’s a toast to you, the honest dog breeders making things a little better every day! Thanks for joining me and I look forward to seeing you in the next episode!