How to Raise an Australian Shepherd

aussie dog playing with a red ball in winter

Australian Shepherds make excellent watch dogs and companions. They were originally bred to heard livestock in the western United States, and are extremely intelligent and quick-thinking.

Originally bred to work livestock in the western United States, Australian Shepherds are highly intelligent and quick-thinking active dogs. They make excellent watchdogs and companions and are devoted family dogs. Owners may find it challenging to keep one step ahead of their Aussies, but it is essential to do so to allow them to develop into sound dogs that are both fun and reliable. You'll get the best results from raising Australian Shepherds if you start working with them as soon as you bring them home. Raising an Australian shepherd requires understanding their herding instincts and providing consistent training and exercise.

Temperament and Socialization

The driving force behind the development of the Australian shepherd was the need for intelligent dogs that could out-think livestock with the stamina to work the herd all day. Aussies are happiest when they are given the chance to put their brains to work at jobs of all kinds, and they excel in obedience work, herding, and canine competitions. If they get bored, they are likely to come up with things to do on their own, and these types of activities are usually destructive and tend to involve digging and chewing. Aussies must also be well socialized to prevent them from developing serious behavior problems, such as being fearful or shy. Properly socialized Aussie shepherds are great companions and generally healthy dogs.

Such a dog may become a fear-biter, a serious difficulty that can lead to injury of humans and other animals. You can avoid this by taking Aussies out in public as often as possible, exposing them to as many different people, animals, sights, and sounds as you can so that they accept the world around them. This is vitally important when your dog is young, but it is good to allow Aussies to socialize no matter what their age. Never place your dog in a potentially unsafe situation, such as near an aggressive dog or children that may be too rough. Ensuring your Australian shepherd is properly socialized will benefit their entire life. Taking them to dog parks can also provide excellent socialization opportunities.


Australian shepherds should begin training as soon as they are comfortable in their new homes. Find a reputable trainer in your area by asking your vet, groomer, or friends for recommendations, and sign up for classes. Going to class will give you the chance to teach your dog behavioral commands, as well as help with their socialization. Most areas have classes for dogs of all ages, from puppies to adults. Local dog clubs are also a good source of information regarding these classes. You can also join a specialized club that focuses on one type of training, such as agility, herding, or obedience. The club will help you continue socializing with your dog, and you will learn how to compete so that your dog can earn titles and awards. These activities help Aussies work off excess energy and give them a mental challenge, with the added bonus of increasing the dogs' bonding with their owners. No matter what type of training you choose, you'll find that your Aussie can rise to the challenge and do very well.

Even if you don't want to involve your dog in a sport, all owners should keep their Aussies socialized and teach them at least the five basic commands: "Sit," "Stay," "Heel," "Down," and "Come," working first on a leash and later without one. Australian shepherds, like their cousin, the border collie, have strong problem-solving abilities and a strong desire to please their owners. Being a clear leader and establishing a regular schedule is key in training these active dogs.


Make sure that your Australian shepherd gets all the necessary shots, wormings, and any other checks your veterinarian deems necessary. This is not only because your Aussie will be around other dogs but also because this breed is prone to certain health issues, including blindness, deafness, and hip dysplasia, and dogs should be watched for signs of these problems as they grow. Dogs that are suspected of having these or other problems should be taken to a veterinarian for a full examination. Aussies also need their heavy double coats brushed at least once a week to avoid mats and skin problems. Regular grooming and preventing matting are crucial for maintaining the health of their coat.


The best way to housebreak Australian shepherds is the crate training system. In this method, Aussies are placed in crates that are large enough for them to be comfortable. Australian shepherds will not normally soil their sleeping quarters, but they must be let out on a regular basis to prevent accidents. Puppies can usually last only a few hours without needing to relieve themselves, but older Australian shepherds can wait all night once they are adapted to the schedule. As dogs learn to go outside to relieve themselves, they can be given increasing amounts of freedom in the house. Crate training is highly effective for potty training Aussie puppies, and setting a regular schedule will aid in their development.

Raising an Australian Shepherd Puppy

Raising an Australian shepherd puppy requires patience and understanding of their active and intelligent nature. Australian shepherd puppies are full of energy and curiosity, making them both a joy and a challenge to raise. Early socialization and training are crucial during this stage to ensure they grow into well-adjusted adult dogs. Engaging them in activities that stimulate their mind and body will help in managing their high energy levels. Puppy classes are a great way to start their training and socialization journey, and they also provide an opportunity for your puppy to interact with other dogs and people.

Herding Dogs and Working Dogs

Australian shepherds are renowned herding dogs and have a strong instinct to herd anything from livestock to children. This natural herding ability makes them excellent working dogs, especially on farms and ranches where their skills are highly valued. Being a working dog, an Australian shepherd thrives in environments where they have a job to do. This could be herding livestock, participating in agility competitions, or even performing tricks and tasks at home. Their intelligence and eagerness to please make them quick learners and highly trainable for various tasks.

Active Dogs and Great Companions

Australian shepherds are active dogs that require regular exercise to keep them happy and healthy. They enjoy activities such as running, hiking, and playing fetch. Due to their high energy levels, they are best suited for active families who can provide them with ample physical and mental stimulation. Despite their working dog background, Australian shepherds also make great companions. They are loyal and affectionate and form strong bonds with their owners. Whether they are working on a farm or being a family pet, their versatility and loving nature make them wonderful additions to any household.

Raising Australian shepherd dogs involves understanding their unique needs and characteristics. With proper training, socialization, and health care, your Aussie will be a loyal and joyful member of your family. In the dog world, Australian shepherds stand out as a highly intelligent, active breed that excels in various roles, from working dogs to great companions. They interact well with other pets and other breeds when properly socialized from a young age. A consistent routine, such as regular feeding times with their food bowl and ample exercise, will keep your Australian shepherd happy and healthy. Ensuring their heavy coats are brushed regularly will prevent matting and keep them looking their best.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Australian Shepherds easy to raise?

Australian Shepherds can be relatively easy to raise, but like all breeds, they require time, effort, and training to become well-behaved and well-adjusted pets. Australian Shepherds are intelligent and respond well to training, but they can also be independent and stubborn at times. It's important to start training and socialization early, use positive reinforcement techniques, and be consistent and patient. Australian Shepherds are energetic and need daily exercise to burn off their energy. This can include walks, runs, and playtime, as well as activities like agility or herding. Australian Shepherds have a double coat that requires regular grooming to maintain their health and appearance. They need to be brushed at least once a week and more often during shedding season. Like all breeds, Australian Shepherds are prone to certain health issues, such as hip dysplasia and eye problems. It's important to keep up with regular veterinary check-ups and to follow a healthy diet and exercise routine to help prevent these problems. Overall, Australian Shepherds can make wonderful pets for the right families. They are loyal, loving, and devoted companions who thrive on attention and affection. With proper care and training, they can be a joy to have as part of the family.

Can Australian Shepherds be left alone all day?

It is generally not recommended to leave any dog alone for an entire day on a regular basis. Dogs are social animals and need human companionship, mental and physical stimulation, and regular breaks for bathroom breaks and exercise. Leaving a dog alone for long periods of time can lead to separation anxiety, destructive behavior, and other problems. Australian Shepherds, in particular, are energetic and active dogs that need plenty of exercises and mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy. They are also intelligent and can become bored easily if left alone for long periods of time. It's important to provide them with plenty of opportunities for physical and mental activity, even if you're not able to be with them all the time. If you do need to leave your Australian Shepherd alone during the day, it's important to set them up for success. This can include providing them with plenty of toys and puzzles to keep them occupied, setting up a secure and comfortable space for them to rest, and making sure they have access to water and a bathroom area. It's also a good idea to hire a dog walker or pet sitter to check in on them and provide them with a break and some exercise during the day.

Is an Australian Shepherd a good house dog?

Australian Shepherds are intelligent, energetic, and loyal dogs that can make excellent house pets. They are typically good with children and can be trained to perform a variety of tasks. However, they have a high energy level and need plenty of exercises and mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy. If you are considering getting an Australian Shepherd, it is important to be prepared to give them the exercise and training they need to thrive in a domestic environment. This may include taking them on daily walks or runs, playing games with them, and training them to perform tricks or obedience exercises. With the right care and attention, Australian Shepherds can be great companions and can thrive as house pets.

What are the cons of having an Australian Shepherd?

Australian Shepherds are known for their high energy level and need a lot of physical and mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy. If you're not able to provide them with plenty of exercises and mental enrichment, they may become bored, destructive, or anxious. Australian Shepherds are intelligent and eager to learn, but they can also be headstrong and stubborn. Training and socialization are essential for these dogs to become well-behaved and well-adjusted, but it can take time and patience. Australian Shepherds have a medium-length double coat that requires regular grooming to maintain. They shed heavily, particularly during shedding season, so they may not be the best choice for people with allergies or who don't want to spend a lot of time grooming their dogs. Like all breeds, Australian Shepherds are prone to certain health problems. These can include hip dysplasia, eye disorders, and certain types of cancer. It's important to choose a reputable breeder and to stay up to date on your dog's preventive care to minimize the risk of these conditions. Owning a dog can be expensive, and Australian Shepherds are no exception. They require a high-quality diet, regular veterinary care, and plenty of toys and other supplies to keep them happy and healthy.

Are Australian Shepherds attached to their owners?

Australian Shepherds are known for their strong bond with their owners and are generally very attached to the people they consider part of their "pack." These dogs are loyal, affectionate, and protective of their loved ones, and they thrive on attention and interaction. They are also intelligent and quick learners, which makes them eager to please their owners and form strong bonds with them. That being said, every dog is an individual and will have their own unique personality and level of attachment to their owner. Some Australian Shepherds may be more independent or aloof than others, while others may be more clingy and constantly seeking attention. It's important to get to know your dog's individual personality and to be prepared to provide them with the attention, exercise, and training they need to be happy and well-adjusted.

References & Resources

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