How to Spot a Puppy Scam Online

Did you know puppy scammers post fake litters online or pretend to be someone they’re not (usually an existing breeder) to take advantage of puppy sales

Episode Transcript

Did you know puppy scammers post fake litters online or pretend to be someone they’re not (usually an existing breeder) to take advantage of puppy sales (sans the puppies.) This means that if you aren’t careful, you could find the perfect puppy, send the ‘breeder’ your money, and never receive a puppy or any follow-up communication in return.

Welcome to Dog Works Radio. Did you know puppy scammers post fake litters online or pretend to be someone they’re not (usually an existing breeder) to take advantage of puppy sales (sans the puppies.) This means that if you aren’t careful, you could find the perfect puppy, send the ‘breeder’ your money, and never receive a puppy or any follow-up communication in return. Of course, Christmas-time is a big time for adding a new puppy to the family. While we do not recommend this at all, we are going to give you some tips and tricks to avoid a puppy scam online. Thanks to our friends from the American Kennel Club and the Dog Writers Association of America for helping us out on this episode.

After the episode, ask yourself, what new ideas has this conversation sparked for you? Share this episode with a family member or friends and discuss it together. As always ping me over on Instagram at firstpawmedia. Just remember dog training is a big commitment and accountability is a huge part. You can do it; I believe in you!

But before we dive into this episode, can I ask a favor? If you have been listening to Dog Works Radio for a while now, say, three or more episodes and you like what you hear, would you consider leaving us a five-star review? Something simple, two or three sentences max is perfect to tell the world about what you like about this podcast and what you have learned and why you are a rabid listener. This helps us tremendously. Just scroll down in your favorite podcast player and click the “leave a review” button. Super simple and thanks so much for tapping that subscribe button. This month we’ve got listeners in 55 countries around the world. So, hello to our listeners in Chicago, Grand Junction and Burlington VT, and our friends in Germany. We are so glad you are tuning in. Okay, it’s time to dive into learn how to spot a a puppy scam online. Are you ready?

Puppy buying is at an all-time high — so it’s no surprise that you may be on the search for a new dog right now. But the truth is, as puppy buying rises, so do puppy scams.

In today’s digital world, almost everyone uses the internet for shopping, including finding a new puppy! Don’t worry — it’s easy to spot puppy scams online if you’re aware of the red flags to look for. And it’s even easier to find a good breeder when you know what questions to ask. Here’s everything you need to know before starting your online puppy search.

What is a Puppy Scam?

Puppy scammers post fake litters online or pretend to be someone they’re not (usually an existing breeder) to take advantage of puppy sales (sans the puppies.) This means that if you aren’t careful, you could find the perfect puppy, send the ‘breeder’ your money, and never receive a puppy or any follow-up communication in return.

While many times these fake listings appear on websites like Craigslist, some scammers find ways to position themselves as reputable breeders by stealing personal info from them.

Luckily, it’s easy to know what to look for to ensure your puppy buying experience is both safe and enjoyable.

What are the Red Flags?

  • No phone calls. The seller prefers to handle communication by email and not the phone. A reputable breeder will always communicate with you via phone or video chat (if not in person) before selling you a puppy. Fraudulent sellers are oftentimes outside of the U.S. and may be hiding their phone number by only communicating by email.
  • Copycat or stock photos. Photos of the dog or ad text can be found on multiple websites. Search for the text in the listing to see if the seller copied and pasted it from another site.
  • Sketchy payment. The seller asks for wiring of money or payment by gift cards. Be aware that if you choose a non-secure method of payment, it is highly unlikely that you will get your money back. Avoid paying a stranger using apps such as Venmo, as it is harder to get your money back if you don’t get what you paid for. Paying by credit card or PayPal are typically the safest options.
  • Price is too good to be true. Research the prices for the breed you are considering ahead of time. Purebred dogs sold at deeply discounted prices are typically frauds. If the seller says they register their dogs with a specific organization, you can call the organization to confirm.
  • Breeder “badges.” AKC does not distribute badges to breeders.

How Many People Have Been Affected by Puppy Scams?

According to BBB data, nearly 10,000 scam reports and complaints have come in during the last three years about “businesses” selling puppies and dogs. The FTC estimates that only about 10 percent of victims report these crimes, so this number could be much higher.

Sixty percent of these reports indicated the consumers never received the pets they purchased, and others received pets that had health or genetic problems and did not receive documentation for their pet.

“Scammers love to try to take advantage of people when they are in high emotion situations,” said Steve Bernas, president and CEO of BBB serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “The excitement of buying a new pet can cloud good judgement, and victims can be hurt financially and emotionally when they realize they have lost their money, and hopes for a new pet.”

How Can I Safely Find a Breeder or Puppy Seller Online?

While scammers are likely to start talking money immediately, legitimate sources will always take time and diligence to make sure the dog you are choosing is a good fit for your family.

  • Analyze reviews and referrals. The best sources for purebred puppies will have ample positive reviews or referrals from satisfied puppy owners proving they are legitimate and reputable.
  • Meet your breeder or puppy seller. Always ask to talk on the phone or video chat. Meeting in person is great whenever possible.
  • Ask questions. Responsible breeders and puppy sellers love to chat and educate about dogs. Ask anything and everything that you might want to know about the breed, the breeder, and the available puppies.  Ask about the breed and how your pup’s parents compare to the official breed standard and other breed traits. How big are the parents? What do they look like? What kind of temperament do they have? Have the parents achieved any AKC titles or awards?
  • Ask for proof. Don’t be shy — responsible breeders will be happy to share information about your puppy’s parents, and proof of health records and screenings. You should be sure that the puppy has been seen by a licensed veterinarian and know where the puppy is on their shot-schedule. This will also help you so that you have the proper medical information when you bring your puppy home and you will know what shots are needed next.
  • Get documentation. Ensure that before leaving with your puppy, you will receive documentation of your dog’s papers. The words “American Kennel Club” as well as the AKC logo should be clearly visible. If the breeder or puppy seller hesitates to give you papers, this is usually a warning sign.
  • Be patient. If they seem anxious to complete the sale or get your deposit as soon as possible, or if you feel like they are pushing you to make a quick decision regarding a puppy, be careful. Such behavior is often a warning sign that the person you are dealing with is actually a scammer, and there is no puppy.

The AKC Marketplace is one of the best places to start your search for a puppy, as long as you are vigilant about the above warning signs. AKC Marketplace conducts thousands of kennel inspections a year and is the only online resource to exclusively list 100% puppies from AKC-registerable litters.

Now that you are armed with the proper knowledge to start your online puppy search safely, have fun and get ready to bring home your new pet!

We are going to take a short break here and when we come back we are going to give you How to increase your dog’s motivation? Here are 4 ideas that work!

How to increase your dog’s motivation? Here are 4 ideas that work

You are the happy parent of a cute dog and you wish to make them a little more motivated. Whether it is to learn new commands, new habits or just to keep their schedule active, a motivated dog is a very pleasant companion.

One of the most important concepts that every dog parent wishes to learn and master is how to motivate their dog to want to follow commands.

It matters to know what your dog will work for. Don’t forget, motivation varies between dogs and you have to figure out what exactly motivates your dog. So here are 4 cool ideas on how to increase your dog’s motivation:

Let’s have a closer look at each method.

Idea 1: Reward with Food

Food is a very valuable “paycheck” for dogs during training. It’s one of the few things that dogs instinctively know is good and want more of. Food holds a special place in their mind due to its primal nature. However, be aware of overusing food as a motivational tool! Using food too often as a reward, might create a dog who will only work if he knows there’s food involved. Therefore, make sure that food is being used as an occasional reward only and not in form of bribe. And yes, there’s a big difference between the two concepts!

Idea 2: Reward with Words

A good way to motivate your dog is with “marker words.”

A marker word is a sound you use to tell your dog when he/she did something right.

A marker word can be used as part of the training, to speed up communication between you and your four-legged friend, and it can also act as a reward itself! Good marker words are mostly short, sharp, and happy, like for example:

  • “Good dog”
  • “YES!”
  • “TOP”

Idea 3: Reward by Playing

For some dogs, playing is better than eating (or at least as good as eating). and here’s why:

  • The one-on-one attention your dog gets from you through playing is a great reward and can strengthen your relationship with your dog.
  • Moreover, playing is fun, and involves both you and the dog and is what makes you a team. Therefore, if you want to reward your dog for a job well done, an entertaining game would be a great idea!
  • But wait, there’s more to it: Using play as a reward will spare you from storing tons of doggie treats in your pockets!

Idea 4: Reward with Petting

Some dogs prefer petting over vocal praise. Regardless of who is doing it, dogs never seem to get tired of being petted which makes it an excellent way to reward your furry friend.  However, it is also important to understand that dogs differ in their ‘touch sensitivity’. For some dogs, stroking or being petted in certain areas might even cause mild upset or even stress. Others love it more than anything else! Therefore, make sure that your dog feels comfortable with the petting before you use it as a reward.

Implementing the Motivation Techniques

The goal in any dog training is to encourage more desirable behaviors. Generally said, praise and reward can motivate your dog to continue the desired behaviors. What kind of reward to use is up to you and, of course, your dog. However, it is always better to combine different methods and not just stick to one.

Toys, petting, and words can all be mixed and matched together along with the reward for a job well done.

A Few More Things to Consider:

  • Timing: Timing is everything when using rewards. The reward must occur immediately—within seconds—or your dog may not associate it with the proper action.
  • Consistency: This is also a vital approach! Make sure that everyone in the family uses the same commands, otherwise, your dog may be confused. Make a list of commands where everyone can become familiar with them and leave it at sight.

Finally, always reward the desired behavior and never reward undesired behavior!

For more training tips and tricks, please visit Alaska Dog

Ok…lets press pause for a sec…maybe ask yourself, why did this resonate with me? What aspect of my relationship with my K9 buddy could I apply this to? And what am I going to do differently this week to make my dog’s training a little easier? Take time to mull it over, talk it out with a family member or trusted friend, put some ideas down in your training journal and then check back next week for our next episode. And, as always, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this episode. So, reach out and DM me over on Instagram at firstpawmedia and let’s spark a conversation. Until then, keep going! You are doing great! It is time to create the relationship with your dog that you always dreamed of.

Thanks for listening to dog works radio. Find the show notes for this episode and all others at Alaska Dog Know someone in your life who need help with their dog’s training? Be a hero and share our podcast with them, and we will see you next time.