Activities For Miniature American Shepherds

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Introduction

The Miniature American Shepherd, or Mini American as they are affectionately called, is a versatile herding breed that originated in the United States. The Mini American is very similar to the Australian Shepherd, the breed that they were derived from, and can do anything that the Aussie can, just in a smaller package. The Mini American is a very high energy dog that does require a job to keep them happy and from becoming a nuisance barker. This breed does best with an active family that is willing to provide them with the proper training and exercise needed to keep them content. 

Therapy Work

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Any Day
Moderate
Easy
30 min
Items needed
Collar/harness
Leash
Treats
Visit Log
Activity description

A therapy dog is not the same as a service dog, even though a Miniature American Shepherd can excel at both, it is generally easier to train your dog to perform therapy work and you can earn titles through the American Kennel Club (AKC). Dogs can earn their first therapy dog title after just ten qualifying therapy visits. The Mini American is a very enthusiastic dog, but when trained properly, is an obedient dog. They are also intuitive dogs and will be able to provide a calming presence. Most therapy dogs will perform their work in nursing homes, hospitals, libraries, and schools. Being a smaller dog, the Mini American is not an overwhelming dog when they provide comfort to those in need. Therapy dogs generally work indoors; the weather is not usually an issue. It is of moderate expense to have your dog become a therapy dog; you will need to join a dog club and pay those dues as well as take your dog through a basic obedience class in addition to courses on therapy training. 

Step
1
Research therapy dogs
Make sure you do your research before you decide to give therapy work a try. Look into where the greatest need is for therapy dogs and see if it is where you will be comfortable volunteering. There may be a greater need for therapy dogs in nursing homes, however, if you are not comfortable visiting these facilities, then therapy work may not be the best choice for you. If you can find a niche that you and your dog enjoy, it can be a fulfilling experience.
Step
2
Join a dog club
Before your Miniature American Shepherd can become a licensed therapy dog, you will need to join a dog club that offers a therapy program. Do a bit of research and find a club near you that offers a therapy dog training program. The club will help you understand the requirements of a therapy dog and get you started on your training. They will also help you find where your Mini American can be the most useful.
Step
3
Training and visits
Your dog will go through an evaluation before the courses start, to determine their suitability for this type of volunteering. Training will take a few months; your dog will be tested for things like willingness to stay still for long periods of time and reaction to loud noises or quick movements. Before you go for your first visit, print out the official visit log and have it ready to be signed by the supervisor of the facility you are visiting. Call your desired position and ask about the therapy dog program and schedule your visit. After you have your visit scheduled, prepare for your visit by gathering your dog’s treats, leash, collar or harness, and the visit log.
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Herding Trials

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Any Day
Moderate
Normal
1 hr
Items needed
Flat buckle collar
15-20 foot training line
Training whistle
5 foot bamboo or PVC pole
Activity description

The Miniature American Shepherd is a herding breed that is a natural born herder. If you have children, you may notice that your Mini American tries to herd them around the house or yard. Herding trials are an excellent way for your dog to use their abilities in a productive nature. The Mini American is able to move stock of all sizes despite their smaller size. They are easy to train because they are extremely intelligent. Inexperienced handlers may need to find a dog club that offers training classes. Some dog clubs will also offer mentorships for those just starting out. Herding trials will be held in any weather, however, mild weather without any rain or snow is best. It can be moderately expensive to compete in herding trials. You will need to have a leash, flat buckle collar, training whistle, and a five-foot bamboo or PVC pole. 

Step
1
Basic commands
A herding dog is the most efficient when they have a basic knowledge of obedience and will listen to their handler and act immediately. Again, if you are an inexperienced handler, you will need to put your dog through a basic obedience class. After finishing obedience school, you will need to start teaching the commands that are used in herding. Work closely with an experienced handler if you have never trained a dog for herding trials.
Step
2
Introduce stock
When you begin introducing the stock, do it slowly. Do not start with the whole herd, pull a few of the slower, easier to handle animals and have your dog start herding those. As your Mini American becomes more confident with moving the stock, you can add more animals into the arena. Be patient with your Mini American and reassure them if they exhibit fear or uncertainty around the stock. It may take several days of introducing them to the stock before they grow confident enough to actually herd the animals. If your Mini American is too excitable around the stock, remove them from the pen and calm them down. Once your dog is refocused and calm, you can reenter the pen. An overly excited dog can become injured around stock and you want to protect them from getting injured or inflicting injury on one of the animals.
Step
3
Practice
It takes a lot of practice for a dog to become an expert herder. Be patient and be prepared to spend hours in the practice pen with your Miniature American Shepherd and the stock. The more your dog is exposed to the stock, the more confident they will become with herding them and listening to your commands. Once you feel your Mini American is ready to test their herding abilities, it is time to enter a herding trial.
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Pool Party

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Sunny Day
Cheap
Easy
1 - 2 hrs
Items needed
Pool
Doggy Life Vest
Fresh Water
Bowls
Pool Toys
Treats/Snacks
Dry Towels
Activity description

Miniature American Shepherds usually enjoy water and many will enjoy learning to swim. If you have a pool in your backyard and do not mind having a group of dogs enjoying the coolness of the water, then a pool party is ideal for your Mini American. The cost of a pool party should be pretty cheap if you already have doggy life vests and other pool toys for the dogs to enjoy and be safe. You will also want to have bowls of fresh water available for the dogs to stay hydrated while swimming and offer small treats throughout the party. A hot, sunny day is ideal for your pool party, but some cloud coverage would not put a damper on the party. 

Step
1
Teach to swim
Not all dogs are natural swimmers and before you decide to host a pool party, you need to make sure your Miniature American Shepherd is able to swim. To keep your dog safe in the pool, put a life vest on them and stay next to them while they learn to swim. Do not force your dog into the water and if you notice they are beginning to panic, remove them quickly from the water. Once your dog has learned to swim, you can start planning your doggy pool party.
Step
2
Set up party
A doggy pool party should be simple to set up. When issuing your invitations to your pool party, keep in mind the sizes of your friends’ dogs. Mini Americans are smaller dogs; therefore inviting large or giant breeds might not be wise. Try to invite dogs that are close to the same size. Also, request that your guests bring a life vest for their dog; you want to ensure that all swimmers are safe while in the pool. Set out bowls of fresh water for the dogs and a cooler of drinks for the humans. Put some treats and snacks readily available for all your guests.
Step
3
Enjoy the fun
Once all of your guests have arrived, go over the rules of the pool and tell your guests that you expect them to follow the rules so everyone can be safe and have fun. Make sure all the dogs visiting take breaks from the pool and re-hydrate often. Spend time snapping some photos and posting to social media and hanging out with your friends and their dogs. Have plenty of dry towels handy to dry off after everyone has tired of being in the pool.
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More Fun Ideas...

Dock Diving

Australian Shepherds love leaping off docks and landing into the water so of course, the Miniature American Shepherd, the Aussie’s “mini me” also finds it exhilarating to leap off a dock splashing into the water below. Dock diving is an ideal sport for your dog. During dock diving competitions, your Mini American will race down a dock and leap into the air after a toy, landing with a splash into a pool of water. Dock diving is a relatively easy activity to learn but it can be costly to participate as each dock diving event does have entry fees. 

Trick Training

Trick training can be a fun and mentally challenging activity for your Miniature American Shepherd. They are smart dogs that love to perform tasks for their owner. Take a few minutes each day and work with your dog, teaching them fun and useful tricks such as shaking hands or picking up their toys. It is easy and free to teach trick training to your dog. Remember to give them plenty of praise and treats to keep your Mini American interested in performing tricks for you. 

Conclusion

The Miniature American Shepherd is a smaller version of the Australian Shepherd but does have the same energy level. They are an intelligent herding breed that has a strong need to complete a job each day or they will become bored with life. When a Mini American becomes bored, they will find things that can easily get them in trouble and they can become nuisance barkers. The Mini American does best in a home where they have a specific job or with a family that is active and includes their dog in those activities. Take some time to research different ways to keep your Mini American from becoming overly bored so they can be a well adjusted member of the family.