How To Handle It When Someone Asks How Much You Paid for Your Pet

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You just expanded your family in a very cute and furry way — or maybe you’ve had your pet for quite awhile now. Either way, you were a bit taken aback when a friend, family member or complete stranger asked how much you paid for your pet.

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Knowing how to respond is tricky, because you don’t want to be rude, but you also might not be comfortable sharing that information. Christos Philippou, owner and trainer at Delaware K9 Academy, based in Wilmington, Delaware, said he often coaches clients on how to communicate with strangers on issues related to their dog.

“If somebody were to ask me how much I paid for my dog, I’d give a general price range,” he said. “Maybe $500 less to $500 more.”

He said he would also offer a quick comment that touched on the research he conducted prior to choosing his pet, the reputable breeding and the quality of the animal.

“Good breeders aren’t cheap and cheap breeders aren’t good, so you’re certainly getting what you pay for,” he said. “I tend to say that most purebreds are around $X anyway, so I felt comfortable paying $X for a quality breeder who does health testing, etc.”

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What If You Don’t Want To Share?

If your first instinct is to not answer the question at all, Laura Doyle, a New York Times bestselling author with more than 20 years of experience in relationship coaching, said she understands.

“You may be wanting to say something along the lines of ‘It’s none of your business,’ and I tend to agree with you, but this may come off as abrasive,” she said. “The other person will feel attacked, for asking what they thought was an innocent question, and antagonism is typically met with more antagonism.”

She said you don’t necessarily need to answer the question outright.

“Injecting a bit of humor into the scenario may get the point across,” she said. “Something like my right arm and left leg, but his cuteness is worth it.”

Alternately, she said you could offer up a clever redirect.

“Answer their question with a question — something like are you looking to adopt?” she said. “In which case you can change the subject by directing the focus to what they may really want to know, for instance, should they do the same?”

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Think About Why You’re Being Asked This Question

Jodi RR Smith, president of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting, based in Marblehead, Massachusetts, said there are three main reasons for asking the price of a pet.

“Your ability to suss out the reason will help inform the way you answer,” she said.

She said the first is purely self-righteous.

“This person is asking the price of your pet as a quick prelude to their launching sermon about why you should adopt,” she said. “You need not supply the price, nor do you need to justify your decision.”

If they start to give you an “adopt, don’t shop” speech, she said to agree with them.

For example, “Pet stores are horrid, and even worse are some of those fraudulent posts for puppies online,” she suggested saying. “I am so glad the regulations in so many states are eliminating unlicensed breeders and internet scams. Hey, I know the shelters take donations of towels, do you know if they accept other linens?”

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She said the second reason people ask the price of your pet is that they’re nosey.

“They know, especially during the pandemic, pricing on puppies went up and they are just super curious,” she said.

In this case, she said you can be vague with your response.

For example, she said you might say, “That is good question. When we contacted the breeder, they told us we would need to wait two years. But then we received an email that Fido’s mom was having a litter of 11 and they would have a pup for us. We were just so thrilled. It has been so busy with housetraining, but we will get there. What have you been up to this summer?”

Smith said the last reason for this type of question is that the person is in the market for a new puppy and is gathering information to budget appropriately. In this case, she said to refer them to the breeder’s website.

“Gosh, we reserved Fido eons ago and I am not sure about the current pricing,” she suggested saying. “If you are interested, let me know and I will send you the website. What breeds are you considering?”

Essentially, if you want to share the price of your pet, Smith said you should feel free to do so.

“However, if you consider this to be personal and private, you can acknowledge the question without ever actually answering,” she said.

If you feel like this question is taboo, she agreed with you.

“Who can resist the temptation of petting a new puppy?” she said. “No one. But who should resist asking the price tag? Everyone. Just as you must wait to ask the owner before giving that ball of fuzz a cuddle, you must tamp down your desire to play the ‘Price is Right.'”

It’s really no one else’s business whether you paid a lot, a little or nothing for your pet. Therefore, you should never feel obligated to divulge more information than you’re comfortable sharing.

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About the Author

Jennifer Taylor is a West Coast-based freelance writer with more than a decade of experience writing about anything and everything. Since earning her MBA, personal finance has been her favorite topic, as she’s passionate about writing stories that educate, inform and empower. Specifically, she specializes in budgeting, debt repayment, savings and retirement.

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