Originally bred to work livestock in the western United States, Australian Shepherds not only have active natures but also are highly intelligent and quick-thinking. 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 Australian shepherds if you start working with them as soon as you bring them home.
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. 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.
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, plus you can join a specialized club that focuses on one type of training, such as agility, herding or obedience. The club will help you continue socializing 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 gives 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.
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.
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.
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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