Sep 012012

Happy Labor Day weekend!  It is difficult to travel and leave your fur friends behind and it’s equally difficult to decide who will care for them.  Since I retired from my teaching job in 2007, I have operated a pet sitting business called Puppy Luv Pet Sitters LLC in my local area to provide loving care to the pets that my clients can’t take on vacation with them.

I am definitely not anti-boarding facility, but you know your dog and I know mine.  My pups would go absolutely crazy and be majorly freaked out in a place where the other dogs were barking non stop and the cats meowing at the top of their lungs.  In fact, many dogs are so stressed, they come home sick from any variety of problems.

This is where hiring a local and qualified pet sitter might be your answer. If you check references, ask about insurance and talk with your prospective pet sitter before hiring them, you are most likely to have a good experience.  You can find professional pet sitters who are serious about their business by searching or using your zip code.  Most reputable pet sitters will have websites as well.

There are reasons we don’t ask our neighbors and family or the neighborhood teenager to care for our dogs while we travel.  Firstly, our neighbors, while being super nice people, just don’t want to be up at 6-7 am to let our dogs out and then back during the day and late evening.  They might graciously do the tasks for a day, but over a long period of time, you may find they no longer answer your phone calls.

Family members who know our dogs are also candidates for pet care, but many have jobs and often do not live nearby.  In addition, they may not quite be on the “same page” as you with your animals and it’s a sad story when you have boarded your dog or dogs at a parent or sister’s house and they accidentally let the dog get out to be lost in a neighborhood where they are not familiar.  I personally have witnessed that happening a couple of times when I was walking a client’s dog and saw distressed family members searching for their daughter’s dog who had “run” from fear.  Both times, I had this sinking feeling that they just might not be found 🙁

As an adult that has raised two children to adulthood, I just couldn’t leave my house key with even the most responsible teenager or even college age young person.  The liability of an empty house and teenagers isn’t something listed on my homeowner’s policy!  After all, I was a high school and junior college teacher for 28 years so I do know something about the youth psyche and good judgement isn’t always top of the list.

Taking your dogs along is always the best answer when it’s possible, but if you must leave them home when you go on vacation, consider using a pet sitter.  The dogs will be comfy in their own beds, eating from their own bowls and because they do not have the sense of time of humans, when you come home….they’ll think you’ve just been to work!

 Posted by at 6:15 pm
Aug 302012

As I was reading the newest edition of The Whole Dog Journal today, I was reminded of the dangers of some dog treats, particularly chicken jerky and semi soft treats imported from China.  The first issued warnings were in 2007 from the FDA and frankly, nothing has changed.  Warnings are still on their website available to the public.  Additional information can be found at

Since those warnings, I find myself looking at the small print on the back of dog treat packages for the country of origin, and if I see China, it goes back on the shelf.  And, you do have to be careful because sometimes “packaged in USA” is in big print and “made in China” in very tiny print.

Perhaps circumstantial, but I have had a couple of pet sit client dogs with ongoing diarrhea while their owners were gone when I was following the instructions to give the pups a “treat” each day.  When the treats stopped, so did the stomach upset.  Enough said.

To quote from the article Jerky Treats (and others) still Making Dogs Ill,  The Whole Dog Journal, September 2012:

“All of these treats have been associated with a type of kidney failure in dogs called acquired Fanconi syndrome.  Affected dogs may show any or all of the following signs:

*Decreased appetite


*Vomiting and diarrhea, sometimes with blood

*Blood tests may show signs of kidney failure”

There are plenty of wholesome treats on the market for our dogs.  My pups love baby carrots, frozen green peas, fresh or frozen green beans, chunks of sweet potato or apples in addition to some treats that I pick up from the pet store shelves. I’m not a fanatic and my dogs do occasionally get some “junk food”, but I admit I’m very careful about where the products come from.

 Posted by at 10:22 pm
Aug 292012

Because my mini Aussies are Frisbee fanatics, I’m often asked how to teach them the sport so this is a general guideline from simple to complex.

To begin, not all dogs have the same drive to retrieve, but you know your dog and if they like to carry socks around or stuffed animals and will bring them to you..that’s all the “talent” they need to learn to play Frisbee.  Some are speedier and have fancier moves, but just a go out, pick up a frisbee and return it is all the skill needed for you to exercise your dog while you watch 🙂

1  The first step is to teach your puppy to “get it” with any kind of toy. With puppies, I usually start with a stuffed toy that they love or a little ball.  I jiggle it over their heads or around to get them really excited, toss it just a little distance where I can still reach it and happily say “get it” and encourage them to return it to you.  This is a fun little game for puppies and yes, they may run the other way, but when they do bring it within reach, take it and give lots of praise when they “drop” or “give it”.   I do this often with puppies and with different objects so they have different textures in their mouth.  I do have a very small rubbery and fabric “disc” that I use for this  inside game along the way.  The key is inside where you have control of the object.  Reminder, do NOT give chase if they go the other way because you are reinforcing a behavior that you don’t want.   Praise when they come near you and will let you have it or tug with it and essentially ignore when they don’t.  When you start, you may want to be in a small room like a laundry or bathroom, where they don’t have far to go.

2 Once you have the “get it” and  “drop” going well, you can move to a bigger room, longer distance, but not outside yet.  Stay with their favorite ball and soft toys for awhile adding the little rubber disc.  Make “get it” the most exciting thing they’ve ever done.  Lots of praise and use only a fun voice.  Switch up on the toys so they learn that “get it” applies to lots of different things.

3 Now, it’s time to move outside with the small rubber disc. I keep a 20 feet piece of light clothesline with a clip on the end for recall and for practicing frisbee. I attach the line to the puppy’s collar and tie it to my belt or my leg.  I use my most excited voice ever and get the dog all “revved” up before I toss the little rubber frisbee no more than 5-6 feet from me and then say “get it”.  As soon as the puppy picks it up (and you can rub a little peanut butter on it), I happily reel him in and take it.  Treat time!!!

4  Practice with the line on and lengthen the distance, eventually just letting the puppy drag the line.  If he goes the other way, absolutely do not reprimand, but just step on the line and reel him in with LOTS of praise.

5  When dependable to return the disc, take the line off and practice some more.  Your attitude and voice must make it the most fun thing on the planet to grab that little piece of soft plastic and bring it back to you.  If you have skipped to this step and haven’t gone through the first ones, you most likely will have a dog that will grab the little frisbee and take off.  If this happens, back to step 1.

6 As the dog grows, so can the size of the disc.  However, don’t be chintzy and buy the hard plastic ones out of the dollar bin because they can break your dog’s teeth.  Go with a softer disc meant for dogs available at  I start my dogs on the “puppy” ones and move them up as they get more proficient.

7  Next question is how do I get the dog to catch it?  If you have built their excitement and worked their drive, this isn’t a hard step.  I jiggle the frisbee above their heads and get them really excited, then I hold it just slightly above their eye level, and do a pretend very low slow toss and instead of letting the frisbee go, I kind of let them run into it with their mouth to simulate a catch.  Gradually, I do this step faster and higher so they get the feel of the impact of it going in their mouth. As I practice, they get the idea and their little feet will leave the ground.  Woohooo!  At the end of this step, visualize a little child holding their arms out and turning circles, except it’s me holding a disc and the dog following the disc with his eyes and simulating a catch.

8 All things in life take practice.  Your dog will not have good precision or timing at first when you have them go out to get the flying frisbee.  The tosses need to be as near their eye level and at a speed that they almost run into the frisbee. On one perfect toss, the dog will get it just right and do a catch!!! Bring out the sparklers!!!  Hooray!!!!  Good dog.

9 Fast forward to days, weeks or even months of your dog just picking up a rolling frisbee and returning it to you, then retrieving a tossed frisbee with an occasional catch when the timing is just right, to doing a smooth jump to snatch the disc out of the air almost every time.  Two things have happened.  You have learned to toss a frisbee that is catchable and your dog has timed himself to be there just at the right time with the right lift to catch it.  This is when the fun begins!  How long does it take?  My dogs start to run out and catch a “perfect” toss by the time they’re 9 months to a year old.  Once they get their confidence and coordination, then you can start with really long and high fliers.

10  Most importantly, you must make this exciting and not give up. Some dogs learn very quickly, some over a longer period of time and those Basset Hounds are just not built for this task.  Consider your dog and his body style.  Herding dogs and retrievers are born to Frisbee!!  Do be sure to check out Disc Dog Competition videos on YouTube and check with your local training centers for competitions to watch. Have fun!

 Posted by at 2:05 pm
Aug 232012

Black Tri Miniature American Shepherd Females

Check out the resemblance of Fancy and two of her daughters, Rosie and Nika. Fancy is the larger of the three with the full white bib.  Rosie is the red tri female, which was my keeper from her 2011 litter. Fancy is registered with National Stock Dog Registry (NSDR) as a Miniature Australian Shepherd and American Kennel Club (AKC) as a Miniature American Shepherd. I wanted to get some candids while Nika is visiting us this week.

Since Fancy is a black tri female, it was not obvious until she whelped Rosie if she carried the “red” gene.  In order to have red puppies, both the dam and the sire must be red factored and black is always dominant in this breed.  If one parent is merle, then that opens up the crayon box!  A blue merle puppy is a black tri dog carrying the merle gene and a red merle puppy is a red tri dog with the merle gene.  Detailed information is available online for the correct genetic terminology.

This means that genetically Fancy, a black tri female that is red factored and Randy, a blue merle male that is red factored can produce any of the colors. We’ll see what we get this Fall in the 2012 litter!!

 Posted by at 11:15 pm
Aug 232012

 Mini Aussie Puppy with Swim Vest

Bentley, another of the puppies from the Fancy x Randy litter of 2011 is probably the smallest so far of that group.  He left Kentucky to travel north toward the Great Lakes and his little flotation device keeps him safe in the big water.  What a cutie!!  It would be hard not to snuggle that little man 🙂

Contrary to what folks often think, dogs do not necessarily swim naturally.  They have the instinct but must be comfortable in the water or fear will do the same thing to them as to us, panic and drowning. In addition, they can misjudge their distance if they are playing and get exhausted before they can make it to shore. When introducing dogs to the pool or lake, it is best to be safe by having them wear a vest and to teach them to be comfortable by always showing them where to “exit”, either on the stairs of a pool or the shore. All those laps on the swim team build confidence and style, all those doggy paddles do the same.

 Posted by at 4:17 pm
Aug 222012

Nika from Fancy & Randy’s 2011 litter boarded with us this past week.  Like the other siblings that I’ve posted pictures of, she is a model Mini Aussie and could walk right into the show ring and turn heads.

This litter at 9 months has a range of sizes which is typical of the breed.  Remember, these dogs have been bred down from the full-size model so genetics come into play with weight and height, just like it does with humans.  I can predict adult size at 8 weeks old, but absolutely no guarantees.Technically, Mini Aussies (Mini American Shepherds)  are 13-18″ at the withers.  If smaller, they show as a Toy Aussie and if taller, a Standard.

When Nika came in with her family, she was greeted by Rosie and Swagger, the two young ones.  As is always the case when dogs greet, there was lots of sniffing and head turning, but because all three were puppies, it didn’t take long for them to determine there was no threat.  At that age status doesn’t factor as highly and playtime is the preference.

Nika’s owners asked if Fancy would remember her puppy so I brought her downstairs to visit.  It was obvious that even if she remembered, rank was more important to her as an adult dog.  Nika, coming from an only dog home, hadn’t mastered the “don’t stare” rule of dog language so Fancy raised her lip at her to let her know that her forwardness wasn’t appropriate.  Fancy also mounted her as an indication that she was higher status, at least at this point in their “conversation”. Did she remember?  Hard to tell, but definitely if she did, it was not important.  Nature’s way.

As the day passed, I introduced her to the other dogs in the pack one at a time.  Ike saw no challenge to his leadership from a young female, so after some sniffing and asking Nika in his way to show submission,  that was that.  Izzy, the dominant female, is typically welcome to other young dogs as was the case again this time.  Nika got with the program and rolled on her back and offered her belly to Izzy to indicate that she was no threat to the pack order.

Once everyone had been introduced individually, it was time to let her be with the whole pack.  No problems and Nika now better understands how to merge into a group of dogs peacefully.

As the week progressed, the dynamics of the six dogs was interesting to watch and my husband and I observed very clearly the order of ranking.  First of all, sexually immature  puppies like Swagger, typically don’t figure much into the mix because they are not big enough to eat at the big table.  What did happen, however, is that Fancy, my lowest ranking adult, tried to elevate herself by showing dominance over Nika, not with aggression but with her body language of standing over her.  When she took that position, Izzy came in from the fringes (always watching) and would stand on her tiptoes and give Fancy the evil eye.  That’s all it would take to let Fancy know…too bad, you are just who are and rank hasn’t changed.

The most interesting event that made it very clear who was number 1 and 2 occurred when Fancy was playing with Nika and we heard a little squeak from Nika.  Ike dashed over pronto to check on the situation in his quiet benevolent way to show he’s the “man”  in this house and he doesn’t tolerate any rowdiness between his underlings.  Almost at the same time, Izzy came over and did her stance just in case.  You can’t help but smile at how they keep peace.  World order would be less destructive if humans would acquiesce as easily.

It was nice to see how one of my puppies has developed and reminded me once again that the ones coming from my lines are turning into very nice dogs, both in looks and personality.

 Posted by at 9:25 pm
Aug 222012

Male black tri Miniature American Shepherd

G’day, what a handsome bloke you’ve become!  Ozwald aka Oz was one of two male puppies from Fancy and Randy’s 2011 litter, and Rosie’s “big” brother.

His striking feature to me is his symmetrical coloration on his face, tan points above his eyes and blonde rather than the darker red on his face.  Very nice conformation ears for a Mini Aussie and full coat even at 9 months makes him showy. This boy is put together very nicely.

And congratulations to his skin parents on their engagement!

 Posted by at 9:15 pm
Aug 192012

Blue skies, puffy white clouds, temperatures only approaching 80 degrees on a Sunday afternoon–perfect day to take a dog for a walk, which is exactly what I did.  I had to draw straws, and since Ike, my older male, seems to be the last one chosen, he got the walk today!  Nice music with a good beat in my earphones, breeze in my hair, dog nose to the wind, bliss!

All said to review a product that is one of my favorites, The Buddy System Hands Free Leash, available on Amazon or perhaps a store near you.  It’s a nice adjustable and comfortable fit around my waist and the dog’s part of the leash attaches very easily to my part with a strong clip.  Of course, it depends on your dog, but Ike has a very nice heel so I keep the length of the leash where he’s right beside my left knee and AWAYYYYYYY we go!  With the Hands Free leash, I have a hand to adjust my music on my phone and another to hold my Tervis Water Bottle, a gift from my husband for my birthday 🙂

 Posted by at 10:44 pm

Fancy x Randy Puppy All Grown Up

 Miniature Australian Shepherds  Comments Off on Fancy x Randy Puppy All Grown Up
Aug 162012

Minature American ShepherdCody Mini Aussie aka Pippi

This is Cody aka Pippi at 8 months old.  She is from Fancy and Randy’s litter of 2011 and gorgeous.  It’s so fun to watch the puppies morph into happy and beautiful Mini Aussies.  At this age, puppies are about 85% their adult size.  Their bodies will continue to mature and their coat will thicken and grow as they pass a year old. With my own dogs, this is a big hurdle because they should be fairly reliable on potty training and settling in to family routines. Goodbye “puppy uglies”! Thanks to Cody’s owners for this lovely picture.

 Posted by at 5:15 pm

Requests for Mini Aussie Puppies

 Miniature Australian Shepherds  Comments Off on Requests for Mini Aussie Puppies
Jul 252012

Several folks have inquired if I have puppies on the ground.  My next planned litter is a repeat Fancy x Randy cross in early Fall.  Rosie, my keeper, was from that breeding last year and she has a better temperament than a Walmart greeter.  She is happy and thinks the world was created just for her while still having that mini Aussie intelligence and drive.  What a combination and a testament that these two dogs make nice puppies.

I do keep a wait list to notify, but to make the “game” fair,  I will post here and also email when Fancy has been bred.  At that point, I start taking deposits.  Buyers making a deposit will get their choice of puppy in the order that I receive the money and we contract for sale.  If there are no viable puppies in the litter, the deposit will be refunded or the buyer can transfer to my next litter.

All the details about my adult dogs are on my website at along with my contact information.  My dogs are house pets and I do not have a kennel. I limit my girls to one litter per year (every other season) because I value them more than the puppies they might produce if that makes sense.

Fancy x Randy puppies will be eligible for registration with NSDR (National Stock Dog Registry) as Miniature Australian Shepherds also American Kennel Club (AKC) as Miniature American Shepherds.  Videos of their last litter are on my Alangus Aussies YouTube Channel in  the date range December 2011-February 2012.

Bet ya can’t have just one!!! 

 Posted by at 6:43 pm
Jul 162012

None of us will argue that dogs have different intelligence levels just as people do.  Some are focused and tuned into their owners and some are just “out there” with a mind of their own doing what they please.  In my half century of living, I’ve had dogs in both categories and have settled on a breed and bloodlines that are of the “tuned in” variety.  No dumb dogs in my house!

I’m getting lots of feedback from Izzy’s last litter of puppies and there is no doubt that her intelligence has passed to her prodgeny. Plus, Swagger was a keeper to stay with me so I have some first hand experience.   I have to admit that I’m being shamed by some of the puppies’ new owners with their dedication to training and there have been video and pictorial evidence that these very young dogs can learn lots of tricks with repetition and positive reinforcement.  The more a puppy learns, the more she wants to learn and the more she becomes capable of learning because of those connections being made early in the brain development.

Do I have any preschool teachers out there in the audience?  Isn’t it proven that early  childhood  experiences lead to the development of what we consider intelligence and the lack of stimulation can thwart later learning, even though the capability was inherent in the child.  This concept is the same with our fur children as with our skin babies.  Learning is fun and leads to the inquisitiveness to learn more.

I stand by the notion that early puppy training, particularly in an intelligent breed like Miniature Australian Shepherds ie Miniature American Shepherds leads to increased ability to learn.  The key is starting with small behaviors that please us and marking them  with a clicker or a verbal marker and using a treat to reward.  Then, we must watch closely and continue to reward the actions we like, and ignore or redirect the actions that we are discouraging.

The question, “is it necessary for a dog to have intelligence to be trained”?  Yes. But, it is just as important for the owner to take the lead and teach the puppy “to learn”.   Smart dog? or Smart owner?

 Posted by at 7:21 pm

Mini Aussie versus Mini Ameri

 Miniature Australian Shepherds  Comments Off on Mini Aussie versus Mini Ameri
Jul 112012

Last summer the American Kennel Club, AKC, voted to accept the Miniature Australian Shepherd into their ranks. With the introduction of the Minis as a new AKC breed, the name is changed to Miniature American Shepherd.

 In the “mini Aussie” world, there has been some controversy over the name change and although bloodlines criss cross every which way, some breeders have polarized on one side or the other.  

The change will not affect the average buyer of a pet puppy that is to be spayed or neutered so don’t be alarmed and just don’t pay attention to the rigamorole. One day the dogs were called mini Aussies, the next day mini Ameris and they didn’t even get a bath in between. 🙂

 Posted by at 6:04 pm
Jun 282012

While camping and riding the bike trail, we’ve picked up a few freeloaders, those icky ticks. I treat my dogs monthly with topical Revolution from my vet so the critters don’t “hang” around but I read a great idea for being sure the ticks and fleas that might hitchhike into our house get a really bad headache..put a flea and tick collar inside the bag of the vacuum cleaner.  That’s ingenious!!

Do you have other ideas like that one that you’d like to share? 

 Posted by at 2:29 am
Jun 262012

Puppy in Bicycle Basket

Our favorite vacations are to take the dogs in our motor home and ride our bikes, non-motorized, on a scenic rail to trail. This summer our choice was the Katy Trail spanning Missouri east to west. There’s always beautiful nature since the old rail lines ran through the countryside and often along waterways.  This trail is no exception.

After a slow start and a poor choice of campground for our first night, we landed in Hermann, MO in the middle of Mssouri wine country. The little town with obvious German heritage  was a neat place to relax. The city park had shaded campsites just half mile from one of the wineries with tours, tasting and a nice German themed restaurant menu. Poor planning delayed getting our rental car a couple of days, but once we were mobile to get to a trailhead, helmets to the wind. 

Although the trail is over 100 miles long stretching from St. Charles, MO to the west, we only had time to ride in 10 mile segments because of the heat of midsummer with daytime temperatures approaching 100 degrees F.  We hit the trail very early in the morning for our ride and if possible stoppwd at a local diner in one of the little depot towns for a hearty breakfast. The first morning’s ride took us from McKendrick east to Rhineland, MO with acres of flat cornfields with some hills in the distance.

This trip we traveled with Izzy, Rosie and Swagger our 3 mini Aussies. Ike and Fancy stayed home to be cared for by the lady that works for me in my pet sitting business. I bought a bike basket just for dogs on Amazon and this was our debut. Swagger LOVED IT!!  He has his face to the cool morning breeze and was a happy rider. Rosie and Izzy got in a morning nap back at ground zero.

 Posted by at 9:52 pm
Jun 192012

I know puppy poops is an odd topic, but since I have big dogs and little dogs in my house and I also run a busy pet sitting business, I see lots of them.

Of course, a normal dog poop should be firm and with shape and a normal brown color.  Sometimes, that’s just not what we find in the yard, unfortunately, and for lots of different reasons.

First, I’d like to address puppies.  The number one reason that the new puppy you just brought home has what I call pudding poop is stress and the second is a quick change in the food you’re feeding or too many treats.  Both of those have easy solutions.  If it’s stress related, give the puppy more time alone to rest away from the kids and commotion of life and perhaps add just a little yogurt to their meal to help their gut flora.  When changing puppy food, do so slowly by combining the new food with the old food for a few days before taking the old food out of the mix.

I should also mention that worms can cause puppies to have diarrhea, so be sure to rule out that possibility by either giving worm meds appropriately or having their stool checked by your vet.

Another reason for puppies to have pudding poop is a little more complicated.  Puppies have antibodies which protect them against all kind of stuff in the environment as long as they are nursing from their mommies.  Very shortly after they are weaned, their own bodies have to pick up the slack and do the work on their own.  A couple of “bugs” that are out there that can make a puppy sick with diarrhea are giardia and coccidia.  Most adult dogs have immunities but are often carriers so they can pass these ailments to puppies.  In addition, either can be picked up from the grass, standing water, or even from the floors or toys or bowls in our multi dog households.  You may even bring your puppy home from the breeder to find that they are in the process of “shedding” the organisms through their poop.  If the poop looks like it is encased in mucous or has some blood, those are indicators that they need some medicine from the vet, usually Flagyl for Giardia and Albon for Coccidia. Although not immediately life threatening, small puppies can get dehydrated and we just don’t want their bellies to hurt, so get them in for a checkup.  In most cases, the vet will want to also treat your other dogs because both are highly contagious.

In a worst case scenario and if your puppy is very sick and lethargic along with diarrhea, get the vet ASAP because they just might have Parvo.  Luckily, very early treatment and intervention raise the chances of survival.  You will know the difference between a romping puppy with loose stools and a sick puppy.

Diarrhea in adult dogs often is the result of eating too much food, stress, too many treats, or food from our plates.  I see stress diarrhea a lot with my pet sit clients because our dogs are a little confused when we leave for an extended period of time.  I keep a probiotic called DogZymes on hand and have terrific success with adding a small amount to each meal to keep tummies feeling good.  It is available from  It is an all natural product and I have seen no ill effects, only positive results.  I use it for my own dogs when we are traveling or have guests in the house.

If, however, your adult dog has diarrhea with blood or mucous, they may also be fighting off giardia or coccidia as mentioned above.  My dogs tend to get a round of giardia in the early Spring when there’s a lot of rain and my backyard grass is especially wet.  When I see that mucous in their stool, I immediately give them a round of Flagyl.

This may be more than you wanted to know about puppy poops, but if you are intrigued by the topic, the Internet provides all kinds of detailed information about the ailments I mentioned.

 Posted by at 8:33 pm
Jun 082012

Since the puppies are with their new owners, except Swagger, it’s time for us to get my other dogs back into their exercise routine.  Exercise is so important for a happy and healthy dog and for a healthy and happy human.

It’s easy to do passive exercise with Izzy and Fancy, because they are disc dogs and will play until they can run no more.  However, there’s more to exercise than running after a disc in the back yard.

We have a 4 mile walking/running/biking trail just down the street from us and as of this week, I promised myself and especially Ike, Fancy and Rosie that we would be there once a day.  Besides burning calories for myself, the benefits to walking on a trail are numerous.

First, dogs need to walk on a loose leash beside you and that takes practice.  In my younger life, I thought an extend leash was the way to go and wondered why my dogs pulled until they choked themselves on a walk.  Now I know they had not learned that we were partners in the walk rather than them being the head honcho and me the underling. Some dogs learn this much more easily than others, but I’ve found that a pocket full of super yummy treats to pop in their mouth when they’re doing it right soon teaches them the reward of staying with me.  Loose leash is not “heeling” as we do in obedience competition, but does mean they walk at our side in a relaxed fashion.

Second, our dogs have to learn to make way for the other walkers with wheels: bicycles, little children on their trikes, and skaters.  Herding dogs like to herd, of course, so they have to practice ignoring those folks that buzz by us at top speed.  You remembered…a pocket full of treats, and add a clicker on your wrist if you think to bring it along.  Bike passing, say pup’s name, they look at you instead of the bike, click and pop a treat.  It won’t take long, until they are begging for bikes to come by.

And, of course, walkers with other dogs.  That one is not so easy because some of those “other” dogs aren’t as well behaved as ours.  If I’m out with more than one dog, I don’t typically do any greeting on the trail, it just turns into a mishmash of dog tails and is too risky.  It doesn’t always work, but I keep my dogs by my side as much as I can, do lots of singsong talking, pop treats and keep walking.  If you hear me singing Happy Birthday to my dogs, it doesn’t mean they have a cake with candles waiting at home.  It is a happy song after all, and gets their attention and gives me a more relaxed feeling so I don’t panic when I see a 120 pound Mastiff walking my way on the trail straining against the owner’s leash, and of course, the owner has on earphones and is not noticing their dog’s body language.  Happy birthday to you….pop a treat…happy birthday to you…pop a treat.  You get the idea.

Izzy got her dose of Frisbee tonight with Swagger running along behind her (so darn cute) and the other dogs got their walk on the trail.  They are relaxed and I’m relaxed.  What a good way to spend a cool Spring evening!

 Posted by at 3:30 am
Jun 032012

Blue Merle Mini Aussie Puppy

1  –  2 –  3  strikes, you’re out…out like a light after playing and gathering her toys just in case someone tries to filch them while she’s sleeping.  Little Phoebe is so lucky to be in her new home and I won’t be surprised to see her peeking from a bag of dance slippers or out of a backpack at the ballpark.

You’ll notice this puppy has safe things to keep her entertained, a Wubba, a soft Frisbee, and a Skinneeez toy with no stuffing.

A tired puppy is a good puppy, and this is one good puppy 🙂

 Posted by at 11:54 pm
Jun 032012

  Black Tri Miniature Australian Shepherd Puppy

Alangus Adda Daddy’s Girl is going to be a hit in her new modeling career since her new skin daddy is an accomplished photographer.  Addie, as we know her, is not just beautiful, but also quite intelligent as I hear reports of her having mastered “sit”, “down”, “shake”, and of course, “get the ball” after only 3 days in her new home!

Although this is written with a smile on my face, you just can’t underestimate the intelligence of a miniature Australian shepherd puppy nor the adult they will become.  They love to work and work needs to be both mental and physical.  Training is so easy and so enjoyable, I can’t imagine skipping that part.  You can almost see Aussies grasp new vocabulary and at our house, we have to spell F R I S B E E or a frenzy ensues.

Way to go Addie, we’ll be watching for your next glossy! Perhaps we can enlist K to give us some hints on pet photography as a blog post!

 Posted by at 11:46 pm
Jun 032012

 Blue Merle Mini Aussie Puppy

Ian Dunbar, a noted author on puppy and dog behavior, indicates that our puppies should meet 100 people in the first weeks of their lives along with being exposed to different sounds and environments and light scenarios.  This is especially true with mini Aussie puppies because unlike some breeds, they are not genetically wired to open their hearts to strangers unless they learn very early that people=fun or in dog terms, TREATS!

Swagger, our keeper from our last litter spent the day at some of the places we frequent for his first big dose of socialization.  If you want attention, ride an 8-week old puppy around in your shopping cart at Lowes!  If you happen to be a little shy yourself, this will definitely bring you out of your shell and you can meet all kinds of interesting people.  My favorite phrase, “would you like to pet my puppy?” always brings the children around followed by their smiling parents.  Perfect…inexpensive, and I would be there anyway with my husband browsing in the electrical aisle.

We want only happy and healthy experiences, so I didn’t sit Swagger on the ground yet since he has only had his first round of shots.  Being at eye level was the perfect scenario for some coos and ahhhhhs and isn’t he the sweetest thing evers!! It was fun and gave others an opportunity to share with me the stories and even pictures of the dogs that they love.

 Posted by at 11:34 pm
Jun 022012

Four little puppies lying in the bed, one rolled over and the little one said…I’m crowded, rooooollllll over, three little puppies lying in the bed……………….

I was reminded today that I’ve been away from my Blog for a couple of weeks and it’s definitely time to return.  This week was moving out time for my litter of mini Aussies and what fun to see them going into such terrific homes.  Little Addie already has her new owner trained to throw a ball and wake up at all hours to go for puppy walks, Paddy is crossing the border into Hoosier land, and when skin Daddy says jump, Phoebe jumps!  What fun lies ahead!!

Puppies at eight weeks are just right to send to their new families.  They are eating well, have had time to learn puppy manners from their litter mates and mommy and are at a stage in their development where their allegiance is easy to transition to someone new.  Plus, I enjoy those last two weeks of really getting to know their personalities and seeing them grow.

After Phoebe, the last to leave,  took off for northern Kentucky, it was time to rearrange the puppy area.  I was reminded of when I rearranged my daughter’s room as a child and she went from a crib to big girl bed.  I opened the play area back into one large pen so Rosie and Swagger can be roommates.  Rosie was as attached to the puppies as they were to her, so both of them may need a little comforting.

I also opened the door and let my big dogs downstairs and I watched Izzy, mama dog.  She is an awesome girl and I sure hate losing her ability to have puppies, but she will be spayed this Fall.  When her puppies were first born, I could watch her count them after she’d gone out to potty.  Her nose would move from one to the other to be sure they were all there and then she’d settle herself to lie down.  Today when she came down the stairs, she went to the puppy pen to count and I saw a little look of confusion in her eyes.  Of course, she will be fine because that is the way animal life works (and ours too actually).  She did her job, she raised them well, she taught them the lessons she had learned and then they move on to live their own lives. Hmmm….I think I’ve been there with my skin children.

Ike, my pack leader, is now lying quietly in the basement with his family all around. We are a happy pack 🙂

 Posted by at 12:42 am
May 112012

Those cute little fluffy puppies start to morph into adult dogs just like our sweet skin babies pass through life’s stages. At about 3-4 months old, ears start to look funky and the chewies begin indicating that baby teeth are starting to loosen and adult teeth are making their mouths sore. Toward the end of this period, puppies are fully into their adolescent time and their independent spirit takes hold. Sadly, many puppies find themselves banished from their family or even worse, given up to a shelter or rehomed.

How do we survive the next few months?  First, we must realize that our goal is to have a loyal adult dog and no one wants a puppy forever just like we want to see our own children and grandchildren grow into respectful adults.  

Potty mistakes are only mistakes and can be cleaned up. The best defense is crate training and having the puppy in an area easily mopped and to do potty walks often.  They don’t mean to make a mess, they just haven’t learned the rules yet. Consider it the transition from diaper to potty chair to toilet.

At this adolescent stage, puppies also get a wild hair and will take off to explore the world. Knowing this will happen, the best defense when they aren’t in a fenced area is to let them drag 20 feet of light clothesline from their collar so you can step on the end to reel them in if necessary.  The line can get twisted around them and potentially hurt them so only use it under direct and watchful supervision. I use it also to practice recalls.  Of course, don’t chase, but turn from your puppy and call with a happy voice of they get out of reach. And, when they come to you…only good things happen.  Never snatch them up to take them inside immediately or scold them.

Chewing doesn’t  have to be a problem if you have lots of safe toys and Nylabones handy. My floor looks like the dog toy monster spit up.  And…shoes and other valuables just have to be put away until the puppy is dependable, probably after a year or more old.

Time does fly by and with diligence and watchfulness, your rowdy adolescent will develop into the friend you had hoped for.

 Posted by at 2:08 am
Apr 302012

The puppies are into their 3rd week of life and I started them on food today and they took right to it. The first week, I use a mix of the puppy food I like (Diamond Natural Puppy for Small Breeds) mixed with Puppy Gold which is a milk like product for puppies and a little hot water to make a gruel. They were all about it. I could tell from their fussing they weren’t getting satisfied so I’ll offer them food 3 or 4 times a day and let Izzy clean up the leftovers.

The puppies are moving about a lot in the last couple of days. I changed out the big Perla whelping bed for a crate that is big enough for them and Izzy and they’ve learned to come in and out on their own. By the end of the week, I’ll change it out again for a small crate since Izzy won’t be with them for very long at a time. She’s about finished except for letting them nurse 3 or so times a day.

The puppies are starting to come out to potty so I put a pee pad just outside their crate door for them. Their instinct tells them to leave their den for business, which is the first step in potty training. Once they start to be rambunctious, the paper one will be traded for the washable kind.

The progression is interesting for the mama dog with puppies.  It goes from constant watchfulness and fierce protection, to the “let me out to rest” phase, to ” please keep them away” at about 5 weeks. Once weaned at 6-7 weeks, the mama will go back to them to play and train them, a very important time I think which is why I like  keep them until 8 weeks old.

 Posted by at 1:53 am