Puppy Farming

Puppy farms were created for the purpose of producing a high yield of puppies for the highest profits. Consequently, it has caused and is causing many welfare issues for both bitch and puppies. This was made illegal in the UK under the Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act, which was adapted from the Breeding of Dogs Act 1973 (The Kennel Club, n.d). Hence the reason why organisations, such as the Kennel Club and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) are educating owners into purchasing dogs from reputable breeders. Documentaries on the issue have also been published to educate owners. For example, BBC Three (2016) published an example called “The Cost of Cute: The Dark Side of the Puppy Trade”.

Puppy farm breeders aim for high profits, but this then results in standards of husbandry to decrease. Lowered standards such as bedding not being changed regularly, allows them to produce a litter of puppies at much smaller margins than those of registered breeders. An increased amount of litters per year is also used to increase profits, resulting in puppies spending less than the recommended eight weeks with their mother. By law, bitches must only produce six litters throughout their lifetime to protect the health of the dam. However, due to the effect of pregnancy, the kennel club will only register puppies from a bitch that has had four or fewer litters to discourage puppy farming (The Kennel Club, n.d).

Basic standards of veterinary care are often missing; any biological side effects caused by pregnancy or birth to dam or puppies are often undetected. Basic husbandry is often low causing many minor conditions to worsen. The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) discovered 340 dogs in chronic conditions where their teeth, skin, and eyes all needed urgent attention due to the problems caused by the conditions (see plate one). These dogs had been living in their own urine, which had caused infections within their paws and extremely matted coats (ISPCA, 2015).


Plate one: one of the 340 dogs being treated (Source: ISPCA, 2015).

Generally, if there are any signs of the brood bitches not producing adequate litter sizes, or pregnancy rates, the farm finds ways of disposing of them. This could be through the act of abandonment or euthanasia. However, the general physiological health status of the dog is usually ignored According to Dailrer (2016). Under kennel club rules, dogs are tested “for hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and inherited eye conditions” and also DNA testing to ensure the dam and sire don’t pass on any genetic conditions. Hence the reason the Kennel Club PAW survey of 2014 found that internet brought puppies were four times more likely to experience parvovirus (The Kennel Club, n.d).

The Blue Cross (2016) states that owners should be vigilant of the signs of parvovirus, as the virus attacks the intestinal cells of the dog, which stops nutrient absorption. This results in: “foul-smelling diarrhoea with blood in it, vomiting, loss of appetite, collapse, depression, fever and sudden death”. Vaccines are available, but there is no known cure as of yet. However, there are other possible signs that a dog has come from a puppy farm.

Emotionally these puppies lack social skills due to being locked in a cage with very little human and canine interaction other than their dam and siblings. This has been shown to cause higher amounts a fearfulness and aggression as confirmed by Howell, et al. (2015).

However, Pup Aid (n.d) is a campaign to try and prevent the use of puppy farms by establishing events to raise awareness such as “Where’s Mum”. The outlook for puppy farm dogs has improved with the use of a more conclusive act. Once consumers are educated in inhumane breeding practices and how they operate, the demand should reduce. This welfare issue once addressed will prevent many more dogs being affected.


BBC Three (2016) The Cost of Cute: The Dark Side of the Puppy Trade. [Accessed on 19 December 2016] http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04ksl5w.

Dailrer, M. (2016) How Much is That Doggie in the Window: The True Cost of Puppy Mills. Honours. Ball State University. Honours. Ball State University.

Howell, T., King, T. and Bennett, P. (2015) ‘Puppy parties and beyond: the role of early age socialization practices on adult dog behavior’. Veterinary Medicine: Research and Reports, 2015(6) pp.143-153.

ISPCA rescues 340 dogs and 11 horses from Carlow Puppy Farm following Closure Order. (2015) The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. [Online] [Accessed on 8 October 2016] http://www.ispca.ie/rescue_cases/detail/ispca_rescues_340_dogs_and_11_horses_from_carlow_puppy_farm_following_closu.

Parvovirus in dogs. (2016) Blue Cross. [Online] [Accessed on 19 December 2016] https://www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-advice/parvovirus-dogs.

Puppy Farming. (n.d.) Pup Aid. [Online] [Accessed on 8 October 2016] http://www.pupaid.org/puppy-farming/.

Puppy Farming: Campaigning to End this Cruel Practice. (n.d.) The Kennel Club. [Online] [Accessed on 7 October 2016] http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/our-resources/kennel-club-campaigns/puppy-farming/.


My Personal Development Plan

As part of my future career, I need to be able to reflect and improve upon previous experience. To be able to do this I have created a Personal Development Plan (PDP) so that I can set SMART targets. Also know as Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely targets. As I continue through my course and career, I will able to update my PDP to ensure that it meets the criteria of my current desired goals.

The link below is a copy of the personal development plan that I created.

Personal Development Plan

I have also included the document that I used in order to create the PDP in the first place. This ensured that I would be able to see my strengths and weakness clearer.

Personal Development Plan Skills Audit

Once I graduate I will be able to write a more updated PDP that will reflect more of what I want to achieve past graduation. Hence why I didn’t feel that it was appropriate to go into too much detail about after graduation if I didn’t know the skills I needed to develop to get to graduation in the first place.


My VARK Results

I completed a learning style test (VARK) and here are results:

Visual 9

Aural 7

Read/Write 8

Kinaesthetic 9

From looking at my VARK scores I am quite surprised how close they are, as I expected to have more of a spike towards visual and kinesthetic. Being dyslexic I knew I would have a lower aural score because I have always struggled to remember spoken words as my brain loses concentration easily. Hence the reason why my reading and writing score is lower, but from past experience, I have found that drawing pictures alongside small amounts of writing is one of the most effective revision techniques.

Personally, I prefer to have a hard copy of my notes, as I find it easier to refer back if I am struggling with a topic. However, in lectures, my notes aren’t always recorded as accurately because I can spend too much time in some cases working out how to spell certain words. I have found recording my lectures a huge asset to me, as I am able to write up my notes up neatly afterwards knowing that they are accurate.

Looking forward, I am going to focus my learning using textbooks with lots of diagrams and pictures alongside videos to back up what I have read (due to my high visual score). When I am in practical sessions I will make sure that I take an active role within the practical in order to use it as a revision tool. Overall I think it’s been a useful method for me to reevaluate my revision technique, to ensure that I am using the most effective method for me.


My Equine Handling Reflection

In 2014, I was approached about exercising a young, green gipsy cob, having never had a loan horse I wasn’t sure what to expect. Working in a riding school meant that there was little opportunity to ride youngsters. Not being the most confident rider, I was understandably nervous for the first few times I rode him. I started off lunging him, as he wasn’t a forward horse unless he had been spooked. At the start of each session, he was well behaved until we swapped reins and he would decide when he had had enough. After completing about two-thirds of a circle he would give the incorrect bend to enable a changing the rein and would get out of completing the circle. I found the fitter he became, the less he would back off. It especially helped by carrying a dressage whip in each hand for this purpose. A study observing Pony Club horses by Buckley et al. (2012) also found that obese horses were more likely to be worst behaved. 

Overall the experience became a positive one, as it gave me more confidence and also resulted in a fitter and healthier horse. However, being a small female and the horse was a large stocky cob, it made it challenging to bring him back round. In the future, I would look into strengthening my muscles with the use of weight training, so that my muscle wouldn’t fatigue as early. As been proven by Morton et al. (2016).

Reflecting on previous experiences over time aided me in improving my equine handling skills. For example, by carrying two dressage whips, it aided me to ride both sides of him forward together by creating quicker reaction times, as I had struggled to beat his reaction times beforehand. The effectiveness of reflections has shown to improve goal-directedness according to Bundick (2011), which is important for practitioners. Without being able to have a directed goal, patients can’t be treated effectively and produces an unprofessional image.


Buckley, P., Morton, J., Buckely, D. and Coleman, G. (2012) ‘Misbehaviour in Pony Club horses: Incidence and risk factors’. Equine Veterinary Journal, 45(1) pp.9-14.

Bundick, M. J., 2011. The benefits of reflecting on and discussing purpose in life in emerging adulthood. New Directions for Student Leadership, December, 2011(132), pp. 89-103.[Accessed on 23rd November 2016]  http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/yd.430/abstract

Morton, R., Oikawa, S., Wavell, C., Mazara, N., McGlory, C., Quadrilatero, J., Baechler, B., Baker, S. and Phillips, S. (2016) ‘Neither load nor systemic hormones determine resistance training-mediated hypertrophy or strength gains in resistance-trained young men’. Journal of Applied Physiology, 121(1) pp.129-138.