AusFX Australian Shepherds Puppy page

 

 

 

 

Puppy FAQ

 

I appreciate your time spent reading this page. It will probably evolve over time, and communicates some things I feel are important to state clearly so that everyone starts with the same expectations, along with my response to some frequently asked questions.

What you, the puppy buyer, can expect from me, the breeder.

So you're interested in adding an Aussie (or perhaps another...) to your family.

All dogs used for breeding by AusFX are hip and elbow scored, and eye tested. Other genetic testing will be carried out as required: for instance, to determine a puppy's MDR1 (Ivermectin sensitivity) status.

Puppies are whelped inside my house and raised in a home environment with lots of handling and an appropriate balance of 'inside, underfoot' and also outside time after they reach 4 weeks of age. At around 8 weeks they are assessed against the breed standard, and only then are final decisions made on potential homes. Before they leave, pups have their first vaccination and are microchipped. They are eye tested and registered with Dogs Victoria. Most puppies are sold on a non-breeding contract as companions and will be Limit Registered. If you are interested in a puppy on the Main Register, this can be discussed on a case by case basis. Sometimes I will place a puppy on breeder's terms: this might be a puppy that I feel would do better in a one- or two-dog home, or when I am not in a position to keep a puppy from a particular litter but would like the option to watch them mature and possibly contribute to my breeding program.

I offer the option of a small crate to commence crate training immediately. A small crate can be a helpful tool, as a crate sized to suit a mature dog is far too large for a puppy.

I also offer, particularly to first-puppy buyers, an in-home session with a behaviouralist trainer to assist with any issues that arise after you've had the puppy at home in the first few weeks or months. This is currently available only to limited areas around Melbourne, but if you don't live in those areas and need some help, we will try and work something out.

Since discovering its existence in 2016 I have incorporated Puppy Culture protocols to raise puppies that are as well prepared for their future world as possible. The Puppy Culture program teaches the puppy to be an enrichment seeker, and gives them a voice, generally resulting in a calmer, happier, more balanced puppy. As an enrichment seeker, the puppy will look for jobs to occupy their time, and it is important that they are given appropriate direction and leadership, or they are likely to take it upon themselves to find their own tasks.

Find out more about Puppy Culture here:

 

Ideally, I'd like to place my pups with people who are prepared to actively continue the foundation training I do before they leave me. The owners of a Puppy Culture puppy must be prepared to spend time training! This may entail sessions of a minute or two long at a time, but you need to put in a consistent effort daily for maximum benefit, especially in the initial few months of having the puppy.

Puppy Culture adds a useful structure for the best ages to introduce activities and situations so the puppy gets the most value from everything they are exposed to. For instance, working breeds (including Aussies) can be quite sensitive to loud noises. From approximately 3 weeks of age, this can be addressed by ensuring they are exposed to noise - dropping pans in the kitchen, vacuuming, etc. You want the puppy to startle, and then recover/ go and investigate what made that noise.

As your first training tool, the AusFX puppy pack includes Puppy Culture the movie. Training a puppy is not rocket science, it is common sense plus time; however if you've never done it before there are times you might feel a bit out of your depth. If you have done it before without Puppy Culture, prepare to notice differences! As an example, the default behaviour of most puppies who want attention is... to jump on you. Imagine scenario 1) you arrive home from work - tired, in your good clothes. As you walk in the door, Puppy is excited to see you after having been alone for the day, and they are jumping, jumping, jumping. You are most likely to say a grumpy NO several times, push them off you, and then walk away and ignore them while you go and do your wind-down-for-the-evening routine. Now imagine scenario 2) you arrive home from work - tired, in your good clothes. As you walk in the door, Puppy is excited to see you after having been alone for the day, they are sitting quietly, waiting for your acknowledgement and attention.

Which scenario appeals more? I've had both, and I know which one I prefer. With application and consistency, the second scenario can be your puppy.

Part of the Puppy Culture program is to reprogram that jumping for attention into a sit, although it's not actually a sit and it's not a behaviour that you need to initiate with a command. It's called 'manding', and it provides a polite and acceptable-to-a-human way for your dog to ask for something.

Animals raised in an enriched environment have been shown to have intellectual and emotional benefits, such as: improved ability to learn and remember; excellent emotional stability; and higher resistance to stress. This is known as the Enrichment Effect.

Your second training tool is one of the Puppy Culture accompaniments - Attention is the Mother of all Behaviours. If someone was asking you to do something, but just behind them there was another person handing out $100 notes, would you be listening or going to get your free money? Many people can't get their dog's attention, and it's because they don't communicate in a way that motivates their dog to focus on them. This DVD is the stepping stone to a consistent recall and a solid stay - two foundation behaviours that can cause much grief if they aren't reliable.

The initial learning oppportunities in the Puppy Culture program do not mean that your puppy will be perfectly trained when you get him or her! What it does mean is that (s)he has had a good start and they are 'primed' to learn. The foundation has been laid, but there is always more to teach them. It's up to you, and how consistent your training is, as to how well behaved your adult dog is.

When the pups are 5, 6 and 7 weeks old, I'll have the Saturday morning of each weekend available for your to come and socialise. I use these socialisation times as an opportunity to observe pups with people. More often than you might think, a puppy will choose their people... you just need to be paying attention. Generally it is only the Saturday morning - I also need to put time into training my own dogs

I reserve the right to make the decision on puppies' final placements. I haven't done it very often, but if I don't think there is a puppy that will suit your family and situation, I will tell you that. If I offer you a puppy and it's not the one you want, it is of course your prerogative to refuse the puppy offered, and I will do my best to help you find a breeder that has the right puppy for you.

When you come to see the puppies at 5 or 6 weeks old, I will ask for a $100 deposit, which goes towards the cost of the Puppy Culture training material. I think it's a great idea to have PC before you get your puppy - because once you have the puppy, you'll be super busy!

 

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Q: "What does an AusFX puppy come with?"

A: The AusFX puppy pack includes:

* the Puppy Culture Movie - so that you can be informed about what your puppy is learning, when and why, and also so that you can continue with their training because I want you and your puppy to get the most benefit from their early experiences;

* the Puppy Culture accompaniment - 'Attention Is The Mother Of All Behaviours';

* a few days' worth of food the puppy has been eating (to mix in with what you will feed);

* cloth toy with home scent;

* basic grooming items - pin brush, slicker brush, comb;

* Plush Puppy bathing product;

* clicker;

* vaccination card;

* microchip change of ownership paperwork;

* an AusFX calendar;

* a dvd of puppy photos (will be sent separately after you collect your puppy);

* registration papers issued by Dogs Victoria (sent separately after you collect your puppy);

* lifetime "I-Don't-Know-How-To-Fix-This-Problem-That-Has-Just-Come-From-Nowhere" support;

* if required, a puppy-sized crate to commence crate training immediately;

* if required, an in-home session with a behaviouralist trainer (not available all areas).

There may also be other relevant items in the puppy pack.

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Q: "Can I put my name on your waiting list?"

A: I do not keep a lengthy waiting list. I get regular enquiries, and one of the ways I gauge people's interest level and initial commitment is if they are prepared to take responsibility for staying in contact with me, rather than making initial contact and leaving it to me to contact them back at some point down the track if I don't have puppies available right then. To everyone who enquires about a puppy, I extend an invitation to come and meet my pack. Whether that invitation is taken up is, to me, a good measure of how keen and prepared to make an effort someone is (assuming they live close enough for it to be a viable course of action).

Accepting that invitation is not a waste of time, although there probably won't even be a puppy here when you come to visit. It gives me an opportunity to observe how you interact with my dogs, who are at various ages and stages of training. It gives you and I an opportunity to meet over a common interest. To be perfectly blunt, it gives me a face-to-face opportunity to see if I like you, and if I think you are someone who would do the right thing by and be a good personality match for a puppy I've bred. As the Aussie continues to increase in popularity it is clear that the breed does not suit everyone and although I will take back any dog I have bred at any time in their life, I think it's fairer to both owners and dogs if I do my best to get it right the first time.

 

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Q: "I want a blue merle female with a tail and one blue eye and one half-blue, half-brown eye. <If this is not your ideal, insert your own in-a-perfect-world, dream-Aussie requirements here>."

A: Ok <deep breath> ...

Please understand that although personal preference for a particular physical appearance is taken into account where possible, it does not mean that the puppy you want will automatically be available just because you want it, even if there is one like that in the litter you are looking at. The breed is wonderfully diverse in appearance and that is part of its appeal, you never get two that look exactly the same. That is not to say, however, that you won't get the puppy you want... just that you might instead get the puppy you need, if there is a puppy who is better suited to your home situation. For example, your family with two small children might be drawn to a puppy who is better suited to a family with older or no children.

There is no form to fill in; puppies are not produced to order. For my own interest, I collected data from 177 litters with one merle parent and one tri-colour parent. From that 177 litters there was a total of 1120 puppies. Of that number, 575 (51.29%) were tri-colour, and 546 (48.71%) were merle. This means that approximately half the Aussies in those 177 litters are merle. Only half. But amazingly, all of those 575 tri puppies are as Aussie as the 546 merle puppies - just as beautiful, just as athletic, just as trainable, just as loving. Simply a solid body colour.

If you want a merle - that's fine. If you want a tail, or bob tail - that's fine. If you want blue eyes, brown eyes, marbled, green, or whatever colour eyes - that's fine. I have my own personal preferences too! Just don't let your preferences blind you; physical appearance truly is only a small part of the whole package. I have in the past chosen puppies solely on their appearance - not because the puppy chose me, and in all cases itwas incredibly hard work to build the bond with those pups. This, my personal experience, is the underlying reason that I believe wholeheartedly that it's not the best way to choose a pup, and the reason I might not offer you the puppy you want.

Ask yourself honestly, do you want a dog that is merle/ tri, has blue/ brown/ marbled eyes, has a tail/ bob tail because it looks like that? Or do you want an Aussie (please read the breed standard), because Aussies come with many different physical characteristics. And if you want an Aussie, then you should already know that they are a breed in which a natural bob tail gene occurs, which means some Aussies do not have full tails.

I do understand that a bob tail is a deal breaker for some people. I have Aussies with tail and without. My dogs with tails - I can’t imagine them without. Similarly, my dogs without tails are wigglebutts, and I can’t imagine them with. A tail or lack thereof does not change their personality - they are who they are. The presence or absence of a tail does not change that.

If you hold out for that blue merle, bob tailed, blue eyed female (or insert your own dream-look Aussie here), you may find that a) you are waiting longer than you anticipated in our instant-gratification-driven world, or b) you end up with a dog that does not suit your lifestyle or living situation because you have prioritised what it looks like over all other factors. You may be happy to do this, and you may find a breeder who is happy to sell you a dog based solely on colour or other physical characteristics. However, it can be difficult to sustain the effort it takes to make that work successfully in the long term if the dog is not compatible with you, and this is one reason a dog might end up at the local shelter, because someone is embarrassed to return to its breeder and say that for whatever reason, the dog is not a good fit, or even just that their living situation has changed and they can no longer keep the dog.

What should be the most important factor is whether the dog’s character will fit your lifestyle. If the colour is the one you want, that is a bonus and most responsible breeders will try to accommodate stated preferences wherever possible... however, sometimes people fixate on a puppy that is clearly not going to suit them, while completely ignoring the puppy who is trying desperately to get their attention because they know who their person is, even if the person doesn’t.

As an aside - any responsible breeder will always take a dog of their breeding back, if for any reason you can't look after it. Any responsible breeder would prefer to take the dog back, rather than find out from another party that your dog was surrendered to a shelter. So choose your dog's breeder carefully - ask questions and make sure that there is the option to return the dog for any reason, even if you never have to take it up. Having a pet should be a pleasure, not a chore. If it becomes a hardship for you to keep the dog, that benefits nobody - not you, not the dog, and not the dog's breeder.

 

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Q: "We want a pet puppy."

A: That's perfect. I want my pups to be, first and foremost, a treasured pet and companion, part of the family and not alone in the back yard most of the time. Aussies can vary in intelligence, but any dog needs company and stimulation, or it can become bored, destructive, or develop bad habits. It would be wonderful if every single dog owner trained and trialled, but that road to a mentally challenged, happy dog doesn't suit everyone. As long as the dog is getting plenty of positive attention and all other needs are being met, it doesn't really matter how that occurs.

 

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What I, the breeder, expect from you, the puppy buyer.

Finding the right homes for puppies is probably the most important, and in many ways, most difficult part of breeding. There are many, many wonderful homes out there, but the Aussie is not a breed that suits everyone.

At a minimum, I expect from my puppy buyers that they will be prepared to, and able to train basic manners to their pup, including commands such as sit, drop, stay, come. This does not mean that I expect every puppy buyer to attend obedience, agility, herding, or whatever, training for the dog's entire lifetime. Training and trialling can be a great way to bond with your dog and measure your progress against sporting standards and other competitors, but if it's not your cup of tea, that's fine. However, all dogs do need training, even if it is simply to become a well-behaved part of your daily home life.

I expect if you are having issues, particularly in the early weeks and months, that you will keep in regular contact and seek appropriate advice to address whatever the problem is. This does not mean a vague email about "having trouble with Puppy jumping" or digging, or nipping, or barking, with no follow up information given. If there is an issue it needs to be addressed quickly, otherwise the cute things your small puppy does rapidly become far less amusing when they are being done by an older and bigger dog. It is also much harder to break what has by that stage usually become a rewarding habit for the dog. If you are not prepared to put in the effort (and you're more likely to be honest with yourself than with me about that), perhaps you should think carefully about the suitability of this breed for you. Well behaved dogs take up time, and training to make them so takes up even more. You get back what you put in.

I expect if a health issue crops up with your dog, that you keep me informed about it. Although they belong to you, I consider it my responsibility as their breeder to be aware of any health issues, so that I can make informed decisions regarding my breeding program. Every effort has been made to produce healthy Aussies, but sometimes the unexpected can crop up. It is what the breeder does with the information that is the measure of how responsible they are with their breeding program.

In fact, I'd like to know that you will keep in contact. Not because it's part of the contract, but because you want to, because you are happy with your dog and will take the time to send an email or Facebook message and photo so I can share in that too. I can't possibly keep every single puppy from every single litter - and I wouldn't want to! - but that doesn't mean I don't care about them after they leave, and love to hear about how they are doing.

 

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Changes last made: February 2019.