Why We Use Checklists in Avidog

by | Apr 9, 2020 | Dog Breeding | 0 comments

I’m Colonel Steve Watkins, a recently retired Army pilot and Avidog’s new chief of staff. As a military pilot for 30 years, I used checklists from Day 1 of my aviation career. Initially, I didn’t understand the importance of the checklists; I just knew I was required to use them. As I progressed through flight school and into my unit, I quickly learned how vital checklists are.

Today, I think the same thing about checklists for dog breeders! Checklists save puppies’ and dams’ lives, as well as improve your breeding and puppy rearing success!


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Checklists Save Lives

In aviation, little mistakes can quickly evolve into huge problems that can become catastrophic. Over my career, I flew over 5,000 hours in training, during Hurricane Katrina and other disaster relief missions, when overseas, and most of all, during combat missions. For each mission, checklists were critical to ensuring things went well so I used them during every phase of each operation — pre-flight, take-off, in-flight, landing, and after the flight to ensure everything worked right and the aircraft would be okay for future flights. Every step for every flight for every mission!

Many other professions use this remarkable tool. In fact, checklists have dramatically and significantly reduced errors in many highly complex arenas such as surgery, and anesthesia. Atul Gawande in The Checklist Manifesto found that surgical checklists reduced serious complications by 37 percent and deaths by 47 percent!

The Benefits of Checklists for Dog Breeders

Dog breeding may not be aviation or medicine but in breeding, little mistakes can quickly evolve into huge problems that can become catastrophic. Dogs, puppies, and Mother Nature love to throw twists and turns into breeding. Add sleep deprivation and the ambiguity of birth and puppies, and its easy to miss a sign or make a mistake. We reduce mistakes by developing and using checklists for every step of breeding, whelping, and raising a litter. With these lists, we have more successful breedings, live puppies, and optimal outcomes. As a result, we are convinced that breeders are more successful when using and trusting checklists rather than just relying on memory, books, or even past experience.

No matter if you have been breeding for decades or are just starting out, we recommend you also use checklists for your breedings, too! From preparing your bitch to breed, timing the breeding, handling her pregnancy, whelping and raising a litter, checklists can guide you each step of the way. We are convinced that you will have more successful breedings, whelpings, and litters if you do!

Top Seven Reasons YOU Should Use Checklists for Every Breeding


1. Enable us to capture and you to use the knowledge of successful, experienced breeders, regardless of how many breedings you have accomplished.

2. Ensure that you do not forget or overlook any step, especially when you are tired, unsure, confused, or stressed.

3. Reduce your mental effort and decision-making during emergencies when things aren’t going as planned. The checklists tell you what to do and when to do it.

4. Are effective in reducing or eliminating inadvertent mistakes. Checklists function as your memory, so you don’t have to remember all of the little things.

5. Lead to consistency. Whether it’s your first or tenth whelping, it is 3 AM, or you haven’t had any sleep in 20 hours, a checklist ensures that you do everything you need to do in the right order.

6. Make you more confident and reduce the ambiguity inherent in breeding dogs and raising puppies.

7. In addition to using checklists, we have also found that it is important for breeders to review the checklists in detail ahead of time and even practice or rehearse steps, so the first time you are reading it is NOT during an emergency.



1. Gawande, A. 2011. The Checklist Manifesto. Available through Amazon.

2. Ludders JW and M McMillan. 2017. A Brief History of Checklists in Errors in Veterinary Anesthesia, First Edition. John Wiley & Sons.