Four Reasons Dog Breeders Need a Community of Practice

by | Dog Breeding

Dog Breeders As Part Of A Community Practice

I’ve been pondering dog breeding lately and how we can improve our passion and breeding programs to produce better and better dogs. One of my fields is sociology and it tells us that human beings are social learners so forming communities around our passions helps our progress. these are called Communities of Practice.

A community of practice is a group of people with a common passion who focus on sharing best practices and creating new knowledge to advance the professional practices in that field.

Ongoing interactions between members, in person or online, are an essential component of a successful community.

You can see that Communities of Practice are more than social clubs, status symbols, or groups where all voices are equal, no matter their experience. No! Communities of Practice emphasis best practices, growing knowledge, and advancing the field.

Yet, dog breeders often work alone, with just their dogs and puppies. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, formal dog activities were declining in popularity so more and more dog breeders were on their own. Our isolation is worse now making a Community of Practice even more critical for every dog breeder.

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Why Dog Breeders Should Be Members Of A Community Practice

Here are four reasons that I think all dog breeders should be members of a Community of Practice.

1. Learning is the hard work of experiencing incompetence on our way to mastery. Making mistakes is an essential part of learning. Although classes and seminars prepare us, most of our learning happens in the whelping box. The only way to become a dog breeder is to breed dogs based on study and learning about dogs and dog breeding with a supportive community that will help you understand your mistakes and do better next time.

2. Learning opens the door to personal identity, which in turn determines behavior and guides decisions. When someone says, “I am a nurse”, they’ve taken their learning and certification, combined it with their livelihood, and announced it as their identity. This identity arises from a community, and its standards, practices, support, and contribution.

“People like us do things like this.”

Communities of practice define the “things like this” and thus determine our behaviors, standards, procedures, and ethics.

3. In turn, our community of practice determines how we think about formal education, accreditation, and contribution. In the past, dog breeders didn’t have access to formal education so apprenticeships (or mentorships) were our schools. Dog shows became our accreditation. However, these provided first-hand knowledge to only some breeders but not all, varied widely in their quality, and are no longer the optimal solution in today’s world. The Internet gives us additional options now. Our community, Avidog, highly values formal education, accreditation, contribution, and practice for all dog breeders, including those with mentors.

4. Today we can intentionally join the community of practice that best fits us, our goals, our dogs, and our clients–our buyers. In the past, we often fell into a community by accident or default, just by our breed or local club or social network. This often limited our community of practice and thus our breeding success. At Avidog, we have intentionally built a community of practice that creates a powerful, productive identity that people can choose to become “responsible dog breeders.”

Our Avidog community of practice is built on:

  • Shared passion
  • Best practices
  • New knowledge
  • Advancing the field
  • Ongoing interactions

My hope for you is that if you are a dog breeder, you are enmeshed in a supportive, experienced community of practice that values education, accreditation, contribution, and standards. If not, please find one or join us!


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