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