How to Find and Care for a Australian Shepherd
Australian Shepherds are herding dogs that are intelligent and hard-working with high energy levels. They love to do chores and be active, and they prefer to be around their family all the time. They are sensitive dogs and can become scared of noises, but they are known to be in tune with the emotions of their owners. Australian Shepherds make great pets for those who know how to care for them. To care for an Australian Shepherd, make sure to give them the appropriate level of exercise, understand their particular personality traits, keep their coats groomed, and feed them properly.
Finding an Australian Shepherd
Contact an Australian Shepherd rescue.The AussieRescue & Placement Helpline is an Australian Shepherd specific rescue organization. They only rescue and put up for adoption full breed Australian Shepherds. If you are interested in owning this breed, consider starting here to rescue an Aussie in need of a home.
- To adopt a dog through this rescue, you must fill out an application. The application must include references. After reviewing the application, a representative will contact you.
- You will probably be required to allow the rescue representative to visit your home to ensure that the dog will be adopted into an appropriate home.
- The rescue generally only accepts people who have owned dogs before.
Buy through the Kennel Club.The American Kennel Club and the Kennel Club UK have lists of dogs and litters that are available for sale. The list breeders with recent litters with puppies available and classified ads of puppies for sale.
- For each website, go to their “Find a Puppy” section. Type “Australian Shepherd” into the search box, and the results will list all available puppies for sale.
Find a responsible breeder.Another way to find an Australian Shepherd is to contact breeders and buy a puppy from their litters. Breed parent organizations, like the United States Australian Shepherd Association, have a breeder directory of reputable breeders. This is a good place to start.
- You also may ask around in your area for reputable breeders. You may consider asking other Australian Shepherd owners online which breeders they bought their dogs from.
Try a pet website.You may decide to browse through the that list dogs for sale. These websites have classified ads listing puppies and dogs that people are selling. These sites include PetFinder, AdoptAPet, and even Pets at Overstock.com.
- Be careful buying puppies from these kinds of websites. You never know if you are dealing with a reputable breeder or an irresponsible breeder and puppy mill. Always research the people you are dealing with, ask questions about their dogs and breeding practices, and insist on seeing the puppies in their home with their litter prior to buying.
Visit a local shelter.You may also consider looking in local shelters for Australian Shepherds or Aussie mixes. Shelters, Humane Societies, and other local animal fosters and rescues have many dogs that need good homes. You may find an Australian Shepherd ready to be adopted at one of these places.
Grooming Your Australian Shepherd
Brush your Aussie’s coat regularly.Australian Shepherds have beautiful thick coats. Because of the weight and length of their coat, they need to be brushed at least once a week, if not more. This helps reduce any tangles in the fur.
- By brushing your dog often, you help minimize shedding and keep their coat healthy.
- A slicker brush works well with your dog’s thick coat. It will help remove dead hair.
Bathe your dog.Since your Australian Shepherd has longer, thicker fur, regular bathing helps your dog’s coat stay free of mats and debris. You don’t need to bathe your dog every week. Bathe them every few weeks or when they get muddy or extremely dirty.
Trim your dog’s nails regularly.Keep your dog’s nails short to help prevent cracking and keep their paws healthy. When trimming their nails, make sure not to trim the quick because this part is still alive. Give your dog a treat after trimming their nails.
- If your dog won’t allow you to trim their nails, you can get their nails trimmed at the vet.
Taking Care of Your Aussie’s Needs
Schedule regular vet visits.To ensure your Aussie lives a long and healthy life, you need to take them to the vet for yearly checkups. This includes checking them for things like heartworms and checking their teeth and gums for any signs of disease.
- If your dog isn’t spayed or neutered, consider getting them fixed. This can prevent certain reproductive diseases and eliminate the risk of your dog having unplanned puppies.
Provide daily exercise.The Australian Shepherd is a herding dog with a high energy level, so your pet will need a lot of vigorous exercise each dog. This includes long walks at a fast-pace or games of fetch or frisbee. If you have a large backyard, this is ideal for the Australian Shepherd so they can run around.
- Australian Shepherds are great dogs if you like to run, hike, swim, or be active with your dog.
- If you live a sedentary life, if you are not home a lot, or if you live in a small home with a small yard, an Australian Shepherd may not be for you.
Provide chewing toys.Australian Shepherds may chew if they are bored. To help make sure they don’t get bored, give them toys and objects to chew on. Consider giving them puzzle toys you can place treats or small pieces of kibble in to keep them entertained.
- You may want to give them stuffed toys, rubber balls, rubber chew toys, squeak toys, rope toys, or rawhide.
Train your dog.Australian Shepherds are extremely trainable. You can teach them to pick up laundry, bring you the paper, or pull a cart for you in the yard. You can also train him to play games and sports and do tricks. Even if you adopt an adult dog, you can start trying to train them.
- You may want to take your dog to obedience classes. This can help you learn how to train your Aussie.
Socialize your Australian Shepherd.Because the Australian Shepherd is a herding dog, they are protective and can be mistrustful of strangers. They take awhile to warm up to strangers. This means you should socialize your dog to ensure that they become used to being around others.
- If an Aussie isn’t socialized when young, they might be shy or aggressive towards strangers.
Feeding Your Dog
Feed the dog quality dog food.Australian Shepherds are medium breeds that have a long lifespan. Choosing quality food for your dog is important to keep them healthy and give them a long life. When choosing a dog food, you should make sure the first ingredients are meat, not a grain or meat by-product.
- This ensures that you are feeding your dog a protein-rich food.
- Look for food that is developed specifically for your dog's life stage. These stages are usually branded as puppies, adults, and seniors (for dogs over 8 years of age).
- Talk to your vet about what food choices would be appropriate for your dog.
Feed your Australian Shepherd on a schedule.You should adopt a schedule for feeding your Australian Shepherd. This helps your dog get into a routine and know when to expect their food. Feed your dog twice each day, once in the morning and once in the evening.
- Australian Shepherds are medium-sized dogs. To figure out how much to feed your dog, look on the back of the dog food container. It should give you the correct amount to feed your dog.
Limit treats.Treats are okay for training and positive reinforcement, but they should be given in moderation. They should be a small percentage of the dog’s daily diet. When you use them for training, use small pieces of treats.
Watch your dog's weight to ensure that it is a healthy size.Australian shepherds are generally 55–70 pounds (25–32 kg) for males and 35–55 pounds (16–25 kg) for females. If your Australian Shepherd is at a healthy weight, you should be able to feel but not see its ribs. It should also have a clear waistline. If your dog loses or gains weight, adjust food portions accordingly.
- If your dog suddenly loses or gains weight, you may want to take it to the vet to be checked out for any underlying medical conditions.
Provide fresh water for your dog.Water is just as important for your dog as food. You should make sure your dog has access to clean, fresh water at all times. A filled water bowl should be always be in your home.
- Make sure to change the water every few days.
- If you keep your dog confined to an area during the day, make sure that you place water in that area.
Understanding Australian Shepherd Behavior
Identify herding behavior.Australian Shepherds are herding dogs, which means they will herd just about anything - small children, other pets, inanimate objects, and you. They may nuzzle you, bark at you, or nip at your lower half as you walk. This is not aggressive behavior but a herding instinct.
- Due to this, your Aussie may nip people’s calves, heels, or buttocks. Sometimes, this may be hard enough to bruise. Australian Shepherds are almost never aggressive dogs, so this is generally due to the herding instinct. This can happen with Australian Shepherds who come from a strong herding line.
- If your dog demonstrates this herding instinct, make sure to keep them busy and give them plenty of exercise. Have them chase balls and frisbees. You may also be able to enroll them in a herding class.
Be aware that Aussies are sensitive.Australian Shepherds are sensitive to the stimuli around them. They are very attuned to light, sound, chaos, and even human emotions. They are very intelligent and perceptive, which means they will pick up on when you are angry and upset. Try not to overstimulate your Aussie so as not to make it scared or aggressive out of fear.
- If you have children, teach them to treat the Aussie with respect. Some Australian Shepherds have been considered aggressive because children were allowed to yell, shout, and scream at or around the dog and allowed to hit them.
- Aussies are by nature not aggressive, so if your Australian Shepherd seems aggressive, they are more than likely scared due to the environment.
Be prepared for the Australian Shepherd’s energy level.Because the breed is a work dog, they need something to do. They are intelligent and love to be busy. This requires work and forethought on your part. Without the proper activity level, the Aussie can be destructive.
- Australian Shepherds may destroy your house, chew things, or bark a lot if they are bored.
- He needs daily training and exercise. These dogs do well with competitive sports and agility training.
- The Australian Shepherd may chase cars, people, or animals if they are bored and do not get enough activity.
Include your Australian Shepherd in your family.Australian Shepherds are fiercely loyal. They have a drive to be around their family nearly all the time and stay close by their side. This dog does best when socialized with the family. Don’t get an Australian Shepherd if you are not home a lot or want to put them in the yard for long periods of time.
- They will protect their family if need be.
QuestionHow do you stop an aussie from chasing cars?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou can't stop it for having fun. Let it play as long as it wants. Just be sure it is on leash or safely fenced in.Thanks!
QuestionCan Aussies be left at home for 6 hours?Velana ValdezCommunity AnswerIt depends on how old they are. If they are getting used to it, have a neighbor or another pet sitter come over every two or three hours to check up on them. Eventually, you won't have to check up on them anymore, after they get used to their routine. Make sure that they go to the bathroom before you put them in a playpen or crate them.Thanks!
QuestionIs 1.5 hours of vigorous exercise, half an hour of advanced training, and plenty of playtime enough for a toy or mini Aussie?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, you should aim for about 2 hours of exercise/activity for a younger Australia shepherd, though more is always better. Older dogs will obviously require a little less, since they get tired more easily.Thanks!
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