Sunday, November 3, 2013

What is a typical day in the life with a Mini?

Do you have a mini? 
What is your experience? 
Share it below in the comments!

Here's a glimpse of our daily life and what works for us....Enjoy!
(Or get really overwhelmed, one or the other).

A Day in the Life....

5:00-5:30 am: Wake up, lick my owners' faces and bring them toys
They ignore me, so I fall back asleep until it's light out.

6:00 or 6:30am: Go for as long a walk as possible 
& run around and play with frisbees and balls

Out for a short walk down the street.
6:45am. Tues morning. 7 months old.
7:45 am: Work on tricks before my owner goes to work

12:00 pm: Go for short walk at lunch time

5:00 pm: Yay! You're home! Time for obedience class, agility class, frisbee at the beach, or a trip to the dog park

Go to puppy class 1x per week -3-4 months old
Always running around!
Go to Agility practice, 7 months old

Always fetching balls, always
 7:00 pm: We're back home, maybe some dinner and brief snooze

8:15 pm: Refreshed from my nap! Time for more fun, toys and training so I can be tired for bed
Awaiting orders!
9:00-9:30pm: Ready to sleep

Weekend schedule can really vary.  We're either more relaxed, or we do something really big.  Sometimes we:
Go visit a neighbor and get socialized :)
Have a lazy breakfast and get spoiled
Hang out in pajamas by the fire after breakfast
Go to the beach
Explore a new area
Go for a hike
Go earn our herding certificate -tired happy puppy

Learning to herd sheep, 6 months old ($65/45 min lesson)

Very tenacious Indie!
.....Go on a HUGE adventure....

A long car trip to the Eastern Sierras

 So this is a brief snapshot of our lives since we got a mini Aussie...pretty awesome, right? But also, pretty hectic and busy! I rarely sleep in anymore really, but I credit this dedication I have to why my Mini Aussie is so balanced, happy, calm, and good-natured and has never destroyed anything in our house.

Doggie Day Care!

Another great tool to keep in your back pocket is doggie day care.  It's a great thing to do on occasion as part of socialization and training your dog to be comfortable with strangers and being left for brief periods of time.  Take them when they are young for a just some brief half hour to two hour stays.  You want your dog to be accustomed so if you ever need this service, they're not freaking out.  If you are sick, need a break, have a meeting or project or deadline then take your puppy or dog to doggie day care sometimes. When Indie was 4 months old and starting to be awake for more of the day, I started taking him to day care twice a month for a little while.


  1. Have you ever considered taking Indie to doggy day care? I have some friends who have a boarder collie and they take him to day care every workday and he loves it! He comes home tired and happy everyday and is never ever destructive because of it. The downside is that it is expensive. I'm fortunate in that my mini aussie (Tesla) is much, much smaller than Indie and gets tired a lot quicker :) I would love to take her to day care, but there is a waiting list in my area (NorCal)! Just a thought you may want to look into!

    1. Thanks Timi, I will update this post now and mention that because I certainly did utilize doggie day care. Life is crazy and we all need help, it's a great resource!

  2. Hi! Just wanted to let you know that I really love this blog. My mini aussie pup is 4.5 months old, and your earlier posts really helped me out as I grew accustomed to the schedule of raising a very smart, energetic dog. As of now, he does fine with two 30- to 45-minute walks a day around the neighborhood or on a hiking trail, but I'm sure that will need to increase soon! He's not great with fetch yet -- he loves to chase the ball after I throw it, but then he gets distracted by something else (sticks, leaves ...) or would rather just chew on the ball or play keep-away rather than bringing it back. I think this needs to become our next focus in training. Any tips? Maybe starting by fetching on a 20-foot lead?

    Also, in relation to what the other commenter mentioned, my guy has just started going to daycare once a week. He graduated puppy class, but we're going to wait for a month or two before enrolling in the next class. One full day of daycare at our training facility -- at least in my area -- is comparable in price to one hour-long obedience class. I put him in daycare for socialization more than anything else; I figured it would help him with his manners with other dogs because he can get distracted and over-excited around them, so I want to try to make being around other dogs a more normal experience. He LOVES going over there once a week, and in the evening afterward he is completely and utterly exhausted from playing with other dogs all day. Even if I could afford to, I don't think I would put him in daycare every day, because I don't want him to become reliant upon it, but once a week is working great so far.

    1. Yes, Indie was just like that with fetch as well. Also, puppies have the attention span of a house fly, he he!

      Here's my advice based on what worked for us (and we worked HARD on this):
      1) start off doing fetch in the house where there are fewer distractions. Literally just throw the ball or toy or whatever only a few feet and give them a treat when they bring it back. That way they at least know what you want. Indie could fetch perfectly inside, but as soon as we went outside? He did the keep away thing. SO ANNOYING!!!!

      2) Get a long lead (~20-30 ft) to work on short sessions of fetch in a park and use treats or tug with the toy when they bring it back as a reward. Only do it as long as they seem like their having fun (could range anywhere from 3 throws or more). This way, they learn what you are expecting of them and the rules of the game and also you don't have to chase them, you can reel them in.
      >Start with the dog by your side, wave the toy in their face to get them excited, and throw it only a short distance -say 4-5ft- at first and say the command you want [I say "Go get it!"]
      >As soon as they go to get it be really excited say "Good job!! Good job!!" and immediately call them back "Come! Come!".
      >Here's another trick: turn your back and run away...that will get them to follow you often times. I learned that trick from Patricia McConnell's book, she's a renowned PhD and has border collies.
      >If they don't come, gently reel them back in after saying "Come" and give them a treat or reward when they get back to you.

      3) Use TWO toys during fetch. Throw one toy out and then lure them back with another toy. I often used a ball for throwing and then when he came back I had a rope toy to use for playing tug with as a reward.

      4) Eventually you can use PetCorrector, it worked for us because Indie was being SO bad and ornery. Here's my article about that:

      5) Just keep working on it and don't give up, or maybe invest in one session with a private trainer which is what I did. Fetch is such an important game for tiring out a dog and having fun, I can't imagine my life without it.

    2. Commenting on the fetch thing:

      My mini aussie is now 6 months old and plays fetch really well in doors and is reliable outside maybe 4-5 times before something distracts her. I really want her to be a disc dog so here is what I have done to improve her fetch reliability and it has worked really well!

      First, does your puppy know you want him to return the ball to you? If he does here is my suggestion. Be very strict and stop play immediately if he doesn't return the toy. It seems mean but aussies are smart and they will figure out what you want them to do.Reinstate play after a few minutes, toss the toy call them back eventually he will return it. When he does provide really high value treat! This makes them realize "O! This is what you want me to do!" Don't rely on the treat but for the first few returns be overly zealous about it and eventually they will want to return the toy because it's fun!

      So like I said, Tesla is very good at playing fetch inside and she knows her frisbee is her special toy (she doesn't get to play with it whenever she wants). Moving outside: start somewhere with few distractions. I found a small fenced in area near my apartment where I let her explore 5 minutes then showed her the disc. Once again since there are still distractions, I give her a high value treat when she returns the disc. Pay attention to your pup and you should be able to tell when they are getting bored. The first time I did this with her she returned the disc around 15 times (way more than 5!) I payed attention and realized when she seemed bored and no longer seemed very interested in the game. When this happens and I don't think she will return the toy, I don't throw it. We play tug or explore but basically I try really hard to set her up to succeed!

      I've also been told that with age their ability to focus will improve. Here's hoping!

      I also wanted to comment on the exercise. So I technically have a large toy aussie or a really small mini (she's probably going to be around 16 lbs full grown) which means she does require less exercise than a full sized mini like Indie. I live in an apartment complex and everyday people take their dogs out at around 4-5 pm to play off leash. I take Tesla to this everyday for 45 min to an hour (depending on how she's behaving). Playing with other dogs, in my opinion, is way more exhausting (and fun for them) than walks or runs. Definitely take your pup to socialize with other dogs as often as possible! It's sooooo good for them! :)

    3. Thanks, this is really helpful! Basically what I'm taking away from these experiences with Indie and Tesla is that Huck and I need to work on nailing down indoor fetch first, before adding more distractions. I haven't been super consistent in teaching him exactly what I want from him when I throw him a ball or a toy, but I'll make this a new priority in our training. I'd like him to eventually be a good disc dog too! You're really lucky to have that off-leash doggy social time every day -- we encounter lots of other dogs on our daily walks and Huck loves to say hello to everyone, but we haven't tried a public dog park yet. I'm a little nervous about that because he can be a Pest with a capital P and I'm afraid of how some larger aggressive dogs might react to him. We're working our way up to it with weekly daycare, though -- hopefully some dog manners will rub off on him and we can try a dog park soon!

    4. Awesome info, thanks Timi! I agree completely, especially about withdrawing attention --that's a great tactic! Wow, Tesla is itty bitty! As Indie is now 1 year old now I can tell you for a fact that their coordination and focus gets better....WAY better...scary better. He snatches balls and frisbees out of the air like lightening on crack.

      Hmmmmm....I feel like I should make a special post about Fetching, I don't think I have one. I will incorporate all this info in there!

      Yes, frisbeeeee!!! I that's the main reason I got this breed. Timi, have you seen Mark Muir's videos on youtube? I've been learning a lot of tricks from them because I'm currently obsessed with us getting better at frisbee. I used to play ultimate in college so I've always wanted a frisbee dog. I'm thinking of ordering a stack of competition frisbees from Skyhoundz. Right now I'm working on an updated video showing our frisbee specific training we've been working on currently as well as since he was a little puppy. You'll have to check back sometime soon and see it and chime in with any advice!

      Emma, that's a legitimate concern...I was always worried Indie would get bit because he's so forward with other dogs and walks right up to their face. So far so good thank goodness, but dogs take it as a threat if another dog puts their face into it's face so it's good to be careful. But, if you're taking him to puppy class and also doggie day care, that's pretty good. They get so much better and less annoying to older dogs as they age. I'd try to keep up dog interaction as much as possible, but wait til he's older and bigger (6 months plus) before venturing to the dog park. Those can be scary. I was lucky and we always saw dogs every day on the beach and my morning trail on the bluffs so he got to play here and there consistently.

      These dogs are the <3 Thanks again for all the input here, it's SO helpful!!!

    5. I have not seen the videos! Thanks so much! And please let me know about your frisbee training! I'll take all the help I can get! :)

  3. Yay! Thanks for the comments everyone! This is what I really wanted --a resource for getting real life info on this breed and hearing from others really helps to put a more complete picture together. And I'm no expert and this is my first mini so I'm very glad to hear other's experiences, it is VERY helpful.

    Thank you for bringing that up Timi! Yes, I have brought Indie to doggie day care a handful of times where I wasn't able to do our usual morning routine. D'oh! I shoulda included that in here. Sometimes I write these things quickly to get stuff up here (I've been slacking on that lately!) and then edit them later. Day care was crazy expensive ($40 per day! but everything in SB was expensive). Indie enjoyed going to the dogdie day care at first, but then he got bored with it or something and didn't seem to like being there for long. I brought him every so often to get him socialized as well, just like you Emma, or because I was busy with work. Over all I think everyone should do that for socialization, to get a break for themselves, etc on top of doing obedience and other socialization activities.

    You know, now that I think of it, I should caveat my whole freakin blog with the warning that I am a demanding, type-A, perfectionist, competitive, control freak and an uber active person so it's hard to tell if Indie was already like this or if I made him that way. I've read you kind of create your own, if you walk your dog a lot, then now you have a dog that needs to get walked a lot. Know what I mean? Also, I was so paranoid that I wasn't doing enough and he would turn into a terror (maybe I've watched too much Dog Whisperer?) that I probably went OVER BOARD with activities and training. Either it has worked out and he's well behaved, though I think with our next puppy I know I can be slightly more lax. Any hoo....time for edits!

  4. Thanks for the reply! Wow, $40 per day is really expensive! It costs $25 per day where I live in Virginia. It's so worth it to pick him up at 6 p.m. -- after a relaxing day of not needing to walk him in the morning or go home to play with him at lunch -- and have him just PASS OUT in the passenger's seat before we even leave the parking lot and then be a couch potato for the rest of the night. And he (his name is Huck) is *relentless* in his love of playing with (read: pestering) other dogs, so I'm hoping this will be a nice little weekly outlet for him. Haha.

    Great advice with the fetch. I will give all of those things a try -- very helpful. I think the major issue is attention span, so I'll move forward in baby steps like you suggested.

    I feel you on the over-thinking! I live with my boyfriend and he thinks I'm nuts sometimes for putting this much thought/worrying, effort, research, and expense into things like his food, activities, training, etc. But that's exactly why I wanted this breed -- I wanted a dog who was smart enough and devoted enough to be able to continuously benefit from all of my effort. I've been trying to take it easy on the exercise for the reasons you mentioned above; at this point, he settles down pretty well in the house, but when the time comes that he starts acting like a hooligan more often (and I'm sure it will come soon as he is growing fast), I'll increase his exercise accordingly. He's a black tri and he's currently weighing in at about 14 lbs (at 17 weeks). His parents are both on the large side at ~35 lbs, but I think he'll end up a fair amount smaller. If his pic isn't visible on my thumbnail on this comment page, it should be visible on my profile thingy (I just uploaded it).

    1. Agreed...a day off from Aussie "maintenance" is like a day at a spa! Relaxing. Dang, Huck is ALL legs right now! He's just gorgeous. I bet you can't wait to see his coat come in as he gets older. If I get a second mini, I want a tri. Actually that's what I originally wanted, but Indie's litter was 100% blue merles (can you believe it? it was pretty wild I'd never seen that before). Well, Huck sounds just like Indie who is a pesterer-El Supremo. He runs up to almost every dog. Right into their face. My friend has this cantankerous growling chihuahua and Indie would go up and lick his face WHILE he was growling. Like he did not get the clue this dog was giving!! Oh well.

      Indie's parents are tiny, almost more like toys (which I didn't find out til later). First my breeder said he'd be 30 lbs. Then I quickly realized he would likely top out at 21 lbs if we were lucky. I bought a scale and started weighing him everyday I was so paranoid it was because he wasn't getting the right nutrients or something. I think Indie was that same weight as Huck -you can check my growth stats page- so he might well be on the small side too.

      Oh man, can't tell you how long I fretted about food....geeeeez. Especially because Indie was so small for so long and didn't eat a lot. Yea, you sound just like me and my best friend (who also has two aussie puppies). We are information hoarders and have spent many hours on the internet and on the phone with each other talking about food, training, etc and generally being over thinkers. I think it's the best way to be in my opinion. Our dogs are so lucky, don't you think? :)

      Anyways, keep me up to date and if you ever write something you think Mini Aussies owners should know, email it to me and I will post it here! I can barely write all things I want to. It seems like people are thankful for getting this info -I know I would have been. I still search to try and find other blogs about this breed, but can't ever find any or there is like one post and not much info. It's so nice to connect to like minded people!


    2. Haha, yes Huck is in what his breeder calls his "gangly chicken" phase. I love his coloring and can't wait to see how his coat turns out. I have never heard of an all-blue litter either! Huck's parents were red tri + blue merle, and his siblings were all red merle (with him as the exception with black tri) -- so funny how none in his litter were the color of either parent. I think I want a blue merle for my next one (way down the road) -- I love the look of Indie's cute little face speckles.

      Huck isn't exactly a ravenous eater either. He'd rather play, play, play. Often I will set his food bowl down, and he'll eat it for about 7 seconds and then move onto something else. Then he'll watch me scoop out a handful from his food bowl with my hands and he will be SO eager to do tricks for it -- even though there's tons more "free" food sitting right there in the bowl! I think that kind of describes this breed in a nutshell ...

      Your posts have definitely been helpful! I agree that there's a shortage of advice for this breed. I first found this blog back when I was crate-training Huck and I was desperate to see if it was normal for him to scream like a banshee for a solid hour upon my leaving the room. Could this breed possibly be THAT persistent? (Answer: Yes). He's great with the crate now; it only took a couple of sessions for him to realize that he would have a much better time in his crate if he would nap and play rather than throw tantrums. :-)

    3. Ha ha ha, that's funny! Indie did that from my hands, but turn his nose up at the bowl. Go figure, those little stinkers! Glad you got the crate thing sorted out. I remember how hard that was for us too! I can't tell you how glad I was that this has been helpful to someone. That was sole hope. I remember frantically searching the internet many a time. Keep up the good work and as someone once said to me, enjoy this time when their a puppy because it goes by quickly. At the time, it never felt that way to me, he seemed to be tiny foreeeeeever and I really wanted him to grow up so we could do more stuff. But now, it seems like so long ago and sometimes I wish he was a little fluffer-nutter again :)

  5. Thanks for your blog! We have a 14-week-old mini and I've enjoyed reading your treat and training recommendations. Would love to see a photo or 2 of how your "pup" looks now!

    1. Hi Sheela! Thanks for the note! Sorry for my late reply to your comment. Things got hectic for me suddenly earlier this year...started a new job as a Director and got married, etc. Got a post up with a few wedding pics with our little guy Indie in them :) Anyways, for some updated pics check out my post on Aussie coats here: I will try and update this post as well soon! :)

  6. Thank you so much for your blog! I can't even tell you how helpful it is for me. We just brought home an 11 week old Mini Aussie puppy this week and I'm hoping to get him on the same schedule Indie is on. I work all day, but I can come home at lunch for a little break. I'm worried though because anytime I leave my puppy alone he cries, howls, and barks for at least 30 minutes. (I took the week off to get him adjusted to the crate slowly). Did Indie ever have issues being alone at first? I'm hoping he'll eventually get used to it, but I'm not seeing any progress yet.

    1. Hi Whitney! Sorry for long delay in has been hectic. That is normal for them to cry and bark at first. But, if every time you leave you put on some soft music and also give him a kong filled with treats and string cheese, he should quiet down and get to work and then sleep (as long as he is also exercised). Coming home at lunch is a MUST! Indie definitely had issues being alone at first, they all do. I found out now it's normal. So don't worry. He'll get used to whatever schedule you get him on!

    2. You are totally fine! Our puppy ended up getting used to the crate the very next day, which was definitely an answered prayer :) He's been incredible in the crate and hasn't cried since!

      I was wondering if you had any advice on leash pulling? Our little puppy has been really obedient, but anytime we put him on a leash he just pulls and tries to chew on it, even when we have no slack and he's right by our leg. Did Indie or Tulsi ever do this? We'd love for Moose to become an "off leash" dog, but with the way it's going we're not sure if that'll happen.

      Thanks so much in advanced!!