Friday, August 12, 2011

How to convince your husband (wife) to get a dog - Part 2

Now that you have picked your breed, the real campaign begins.

STEP 3: Build desirability in your product

Brands like Louis Vuitton and Chanel built their desirability with consumers over decades and centuries, so forget the idea of trying to convince your spouse of the value of dog ownership overnight. To increase desirability, protect against negative emotions associated your product. Here are a couple of do's and don'ts.

  1. Look for opportunities where he can experience well-behaved, clean dogs at their best. Check your local Meetup to see if there are any appropriate doggy events in public places and drop by with your spouse in tow. For instance, the pet supplies store on our block often hosts parties for new puppy parents in their back garden, which is visible from the street. Even the most resistant heart will melt at the sight of an arm full of puppies playing together. WARNING: this does not apply to stores that sell pets. NEVER ever buy a dog from a store as you are 1) feeding the puppy mill industry and 2) running the huge risk of future medical and behavioral problems of your pet.
  2. Watch movies or TV shows together that portray a dog's positive effect on human owners. I put a number of pet related shows on DVR from Animal Planet.
  3. Organize trips to pet-friendly locations to show how the addition of a dog would make vacations more fun. Last fall, I planned a mini-vacation to an upstate lake-side inn that was pet friendly. My husband shockingly confessed that it wouldn't be so bad to have a dog after seeing all the well behaved pets with their owners at the beautiful location.

  1. EVER buy a puppy on impulse or from a pet store. Think about what will happen to your relationship if that cute puppy in the store turns out to require expensive medical treatment or develops hard to break habits like coprophagia (eating poop) or incessant barking, both of which are more common with puppy mill dogs.
  2. Don't expect miracles to happen overnight. To do this properly, which is to say to make him to want to have a dog and not only acquiesce to your demand, you need time to win his heart and mind.
  3. Don't push too hard in the beginning. Any good salesman knows that getting the client into a defensive position is the easiest way to lose the sale.

STEP 4: Research breeders and stage the "sale"
  1. Search for the national or regional association of your breed online and look for a list of breeder referrals in your state (here is the one for Pomeranians).  
  2. Contact the breeders individually to see if they have any available puppies or planned litters in the future. Make sure to include a short description of your ideal puppy (sex, color, temperament) and your living situation. Breeders that I have come across tend to be wary of one-liner emails asking for puppies. 
  3. Make sure to ask or confirm certain important information about the breeder (such as how many litters are bred each year, the genealogy of the litter being offered and of the parents, the environment in which the puppies are raised). A rule of thumb from my own experience in speaking with more than 20 breeders is that there is usually no mention of money in the first correspondence. Reputable breeders are more concerned about the quality of the future home for their puppies than making an instant sell. Be wary of breeders who ask for money straight away before making an assessment of the environment you are to provide for the puppies. 
  4. Make a short list of breeders that match your needs and within a reasonable distance of your home, then begin to drop hints to your spouse about your research. Always be positive try to make it sound interesting and fun.
  5. Plan a day trip to visit the breeder that also incorporates a fun activity for him. For instance, consider perhaps combining it with a visit to a microbrewery, local winery, or cheese producer (getting him a little inebriated before meeting puppies will definitely not hurt your chances). You might also consider activities like, hiking an easy trail, karting, or even apple picking. This will depend on the interest of your spouse. The point is to give him something to be excited about for the trip. 

STEP 5: Closing the sale

If you have done your homework and have given the idea enough time to brew, by the time you reach the breeder, your spouse should be at a point where he is no longer actively resisting the idea (if he is, then you have proceeded too quickly and need to go back a step and repeat). At this point he should be in a state of undecided inertia, and all you need to do is close the sale.

  1. Refrain from becoming overly excited or offering your opinion on the puppies immediately. This is the time to allow him to "fall in love" with the pups without any distractions. Doing so will allow him to feel that he is ultimately making the decision about the dog.
  2. Give into impulse at this point when you meet a puppy that both you and your spouse like (assuming all the homework about the breeder has already been done). Once he's on the hook, there is no need to give him time to second guess himself.

Finally, do give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back and bask in the glory of knowing that you have just added a wonderful new addition to your life that will provide endless love and entertainment for years to come.

One final note: I have not discussed the option of a rescue dog here on purpose. I believe that dogs in shelters make wonderful pets that could offer just as much if not more quality companionship and love as the top show dog.

In fact, I researched shelters and rescue groups thoroughly in step 3 and 4 of my own pet selection process, and found that
  1. there were no small-breed puppies that matched my needs (i.e. low daily exercise needs)
  2. as a novice dog owner I was not experienced enough to manage some of the behavior issues that came with certain older smaller dogs I did find, such as food guarding and fear aggression towards children.
I personally believe that it is more irresponsible to knowingly bite off more than one can chew when it comes to pet owning.

However, now that Figaro is 9 months old, my husband and I have been talking about adding a second dog to our home next year and with the experience gained from our first pup (from the more than 30 books I've read on the subject, and the hours of puppy classes we have attended) we are more than ready to take on a more needy pup, so stay tuned :)


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