Preparing Your Home for Your New Miniature American Shepherd Puppy
Preparing your home for a puppy is much like preparing your home for a new baby. Puppies are naturally very curious and can get into trouble if given the opportunity. Before bringing your puppy home take some time to walk around your house and pick up any small objects that are within reach a puppy could possibly choke on. Also take the time to pick up anything your puppy could potentially chew on that isn't a toy (shoes, wallets, purses, etc.) and work with everyone in the household to get in the habit of picking up things when they aren't needed.
The Basics for a Puppy
Puppies need a lot of things!! Below is a list of basic necessities I recommend that families have on hand and ready before bringing home their new Miniature American Shepherd Puppy.
1) Flat Buckle Collar and 6-8 foot leash - flat buckle collars are standard to training and a 6-8 foot leash is a nice length to use for training.
2) Crate - there will be times that you cannot be home with your puppy or you cannot directly be supervising them so they need to be confined in a crate for their safety. We recommend either having several sizes of plastic crates to use as your pup grows or buying a wire crate that is adjustable. Crates should be big enough your pup can stand up and turn around, but not so big they have a lot of room to walk around.
4) Bed/bedding - most pups enjoy having a small bed and some form of bedding in their crate with them. Always supervise your pup with bedding initially to make sure they will not try to chew it up and possibly ingest it. I also have a few beds around my home which I use as a safe spot a pup can be trained to go and relax or play with a toy while I work nearby.
5) Enzymatic Cleaner - No matter how hard you work your puppy will have accidents. A key to house breaking is to clean up every accident with enzymatic cleaners so that the odor is completely removed from the area so that the puppy will not return to the area and have the smell motivate them to urinate or defecate there. We have used Nature's Miracle Cleaner and really like it.
Toys and Entertainment
Keeping your Miniature American Shepherd Puppy busy can seem like a full time job. This little breed of dynamos loves to work and play hard. For that reason we recommend purchasing a variety of food and interactive toys so that you can keep them entertained for hours. I rotate toys every other day so that my dogs are seeing different toys all the time which helps keep them interested in it. Below are toys that we like and use as well as links to where you can buy them...We expose our puppies to many of these toys before they ever leave our home. I try to have these toys available when puppies are picked up as well so that owners can see them.
1) Kong Wobbler
2) Kong - a kong comes in everyone of our puppy packs
Veterinarian and Dog Trainer
As you prepare to welcome your Miniature American Shepherd Puppy into your home one of the things you need to think about is the veterinarian that you will use to keep your puppy healthy. If you do not have a previous relationship with a veterinarian I would encourage you do to some searching online of veterinarians in your area and/or ask for suggestions from friends. You can even take the time to set up an appointment with a veterinarian before you get your puppy if you would like to meet the veterinarian and discuss any questions and concerns that you have.
Another person you will want to find as you prepare to get your first Miniature American Shepherd is a good dog trainer. Even if a family is experienced with training and handling dogs it is always beneficial to attend a puppy kindergarten class with your new Miniature American Shepherd pup. In many cases puppy kindergarten classes fill up very quickly so scheduling and registering for a class even before you get your puppy maybe necessary.
When you are looking for a dog trainer always focus on trainers that use positive reinforcement training (for more information on this see our page on training and socialization). Positive reinforcement trainers focus on rewarding good behavior. Trainers using positive reinforcement do not use tools like shock collars or teach dominance based training. Whether or not you plan on competing with your Miniature American Shepherd or just having them as a companion, dog sports is a really fun way to let Miniature American Shepherds use their intelligence and burn off their energy. Miniature American Shepherds excel in obedience, agility, dock diving, barn hunt, rally, and other events.
Miniature American Shepherds do have a double coat which requires some maintenance. You can choose to groom your Miniature American Shepherd at home yourself or may want to look for a skilled former in order to help you with the task. If you do decide to groom your Miniature American Shepherd at home below are some tools and products that you might find helpful.
When you are working with your Miniature American Shepherd Puppy on grooming be sure to make short sessions fun! Lots of positive reinforcement is needed so that your puppy enjoys being brushed, sitting on a grooming table, being bathed, etc. Be patient as your puppy learns and becomes comfortable with the various aspects of grooming.
1) The first tool you will need for basic grooming is a nice slicker brush. We use the Chris Christensen Medium Mark III slicker and have been very happy with it. It does a good job and our dogs do not mind its use like they do other slickers.
2) A good comb is also necessary along with a slicker in order to maintain a good coat and can help to untangle any knots that may pop up behind their ears.
3) A good shampoo is a must for taking care of your Miniature American Shepherd's coat and ensuring that neither their skin or coat is damaged or dried out too much. I personally like Isle of Dogs Everyday Shampoo, Isle of Dog Waterless Shampoo (for those days when you don't have time for a full bath), and Earth Bath Natural Pet Shampoo.
4) After a bath you need to dry your dogs coat and that is easiest done with a force dryer versus just a towel or hair dryer. One benefits of a dryer designed for a dog's coat is that it can help blow out the dead undercoat that a brush may often miss which minimizes shedding in the house. Dryers range in price from less than a hundred dollars to several hundred dollar, professional dryers. For someone who is looking to just do basic drying of their companion at home the XPOWER 55 dryer has served us and some of our clients well. If you are looking to step up to a more professional dryer we have been very happy with the K9 II Dryer.
5) While it isn't necessary having a grooming table can make grooming easier on your back and most dogs can easily be trained to enjoy sitting on the table. There are a variety of grooming tables available, but we have been happy with the Go Pet Grooming Table 36 inch size.
6) Trimming your Miniature Americans Shepherd's nails is part of good grooming and it can be something your pup can learn to tolerate. There are several styles of trimmers that are available and it is personal preference on which ones you use. For our show dogs we use a Dremel to keep the quicks nice and short. One type of nail trimmers we use is the Professional Pet Nail Clipper which is a traditional style of nail clipper. We have also used Resco Nail Clippers which some owners prefer.
7) Some owners choose to learn to clip and trim their own dogs coat around the ears, feet, and tail while others prefer to use a groomer. If you are going to learn to do some trimming yourself invest in a good pair of straight shears, curved shears, and thinning shears.
8) The last tool that might be helpful to have is an undercoat rake to help pull out dead under coat. If you bathe and blow out your Miniature American's undercoat regularly you may not use an undercoat rake often, but if you do not use a force dryer or bathe frequently a rake can really help cut back on shedding.
A couple rules of grooming for your Miniature American Shepherd are as follows...
1) NEVER SHAVE your Miniature American Shepherd. The Miniature American Shepherd's double coat helps to keep your dog warm in the winter and cool in the summer. They should never be shaved!
2) NEVER USE A FURMINATOR on your Miniature American Shepherd. Furminator's tear and cut the coat and are never recommended.
3) Patience...a good and gorgeous coat takes time to develop and good care. Many Miniature American Shepherd's do not have their full adult coats in until they are two years old. If you are concerned about trying to help your dog grow a thicker coat I recommend the following...
~Platinum Performance DHA/EPA Oil