I Thought I Was Ready for an Aussie-Cavalier Puppy but…

I recently got a note from a reader who was very honest in sharing her predicament:

Photo from doggiedesigner.com

Hi Karen,
I recently got a now 4 month old Aussie x cavalier mix, on an impulse buy. I thought I was ready for a dog. I was ready to put in the time and work with a puppy since I had spare time at this point of my ljfe. I signed him up for puppy training courses, puppy play dates, and a hired a dog walker, yet he still has so much energy at 4 months old that often leaves me exhausted.

We’ve come a long way with training inside my apartment and sort of have our style communicating. But I find myself getting frustrated over the little things like chewing chords, nipping at my legs, taking my clothes from the ground, etc. I thought I had patience, resilience but I’m not sure how long I can keep up with this. He’s a sweet puppy, VERY playful and I’m not sure what to feel as I keep having ups and downs about him.

For people who have lived with and loved Aussies or any dogs, for that matter, I’m going to ask you to check all judgments at the door.

This person may have been captured by the cuteness of a cuddly furball, and in a moment of need, let herself buy this puppy without being fully aware of what she was buying into.  Now she is trying to figure out what this means to her.

Dear reader:

All puppies are energetic, but any Aussie mix will be even more so. Add in typical puppy behaviors with typical Aussie puppy behaviors and you have your hands full. For at least 1 1/2 years. That’s roughly how long the puppy stage lasts. And Aussie mixes will stay very active for several years, needing consistent exercise to keep them out of trouble. As the saying goes, a good dog is a tired dog.

When indoors, the key with any puppy is to have enough highly valued play toys (stuffed kongs are always great) and the patience to train away from behaviors you don’t want to replace with behaviors you do want. A good book to help with this is “The Puppy Primer” by Praticia McConnell

Here’s a quick article on dog chewing and how to stop it.

Also, Suzanne Clothier’s website is a fountain of fantastic information. She’s one of the most thoughtful and insightful trainers out there.

As you’ve been very honest in sharing about the impulse buy and your mixed feelings, you deserve straight honesty back.

The most important question to ask yourself is are you truly in love with your puppy and even though it’s really difficult right now, you can’t imagine life without him or are you just enduring every day?

If you love your puppy, then your only option is to keep getting the help/training/information you need to make this work.

If you are just enduring your puppy–and I may be reading between the lines here–it sounds as though you may be thinking about rehoming your puppy.

If that’s the case, it’s hugely important to do your due diligence and really take the time to find your puppy a great home with people who are ready, willing, and able to provide him with the consistency and permanent home he’ll need to be a great dog, then that may be a good choice for both of you.

If this is the route you decide to take, I can’t stress how important it is to find a home that can make the commitment to keep this dog forever because Aussie mixes (and really no dogs) do well getting bounced around to multiple homes. That’s a recipe for winding up in a shelter, and most likely incredibly neurotic and eventually dead.

What your puppy needs is a home with a fenced yard, a family (without small children) who is familiar with Aussie traits, and possibly already has a small to medium-sized dog for company and mutual exercising, and ideally someone who is home most or all of the day.

Wishing you great good luck.

2 thoughts on “I Thought I Was Ready for an Aussie-Cavalier Puppy but…”

  1. Hi. I just rescued a six! year old mini aussie. She was an owner turn in, was at the shelter for over two years, was adopted and returned. I was discouraged from adopting her, they told me she was not adoptable. She is not aggressive in any way. I have had her a month. She doesn’t leave the crate except when asked – the crate door is always open. She knows the pet door and leaves the cats alone. She follows my 11 year old (also rescued) standard Aussie around when she is asked to leave the crate. She won’t stay out, and returns to the crate as quickly as possible. My old Aussie acted the same way when I first brought her home, but she came out of it after almost A YEAR and is now a wonderful and attached Aussie who behaves very well. My question – might you suggest any activities that may help this new little aussie adjust to her new home and get her out of the crate? Thank you.

    1. Hi Anne, you don’t mention how long you’ve had your mini aussie. But if you just got her, then I’m not surprised that she isn’t ready to leave the crate yet. And since you’ve already been through this with your older aussie, you’ve demonstrated the patience and love necessary to also be able to get your mini through this stage.

      I’m sure your older aussie will also be a help to your mini over time as they also bond.

      As not wanting to leave an open crate suggests that your mini doesn’t feel safe yet, I actually wouldn’t be inclined to rush her. While I could suggest walks if you haven’t already tried that, that could also be possibly overwhelming for her.

      If she’s food motivated, you could try teaching her obedience, tricks, etc. Clicker training could be a boost for her because of the frequent and clear information that she’s getting it right and getting rewarded.

      I know you’ll win her over eventually.: )

      Wishing you great good luck!

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