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Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

Australian Shepherd Energy Levels

by Barb
(Temecula, California)

We are seriously thinking of purchasing an Australian Shepherd puppy. We have done a lot of research and found a very solid breeder that we are happy and confident with... but the more I read, the more questions and concerns I have.

We read over and over how Aussies need something to occupy their minds with daily ~ that they need to be given a "job" to perform because of their intelligence and high energy level to keep them from getting bored and destructive. Could you tell us exactly what that means?!

At the same time we read what wonderful family dogs they are! We love going for long walks and taking our dogs everywhere we can with us. On the weekends we spend a lot of time hiking, kayaking, biking, walking the beach ~ anything outdoors. But can an Aussie be content laying by our sides too while we watch a movie at night, ha! We both like to run..... But we do work (I'm usually home by 1:30 or 2:00) and we don't live on a ranch or farm for our dog to roam and run freely and use up all that energy. Will she be fine at home till mid afternoon waiting for us to get home to her?

We want to make sure our lives are suitable for an Aussie in our city life! We are active and want a strong sturdy dog to go hiking, etc. with us, but we also want a dog that is a loyal companion that be content just hanging around with us too once in awhile. We are being discouraged with everyone's HIGH ENERGY comments about Aussies and how if they don't get a TON of exercise they become nippy and aggressive?? How much is enough??

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Comments for Australian Shepherd Energy Levels

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Our experience
by: Anonymous

We had the same concerns, as we had two small kids. But, our Aussie has been the perfect mix. She loves to canoe and kayak, and is also good around the house with the kids. They do require exercise, and if they dont get it, can be hard to handle. Ours is approaching 2 yrs, and if she gets a nice game of fetch before I go to work, it helps alot. We also try and let her have one trip to the creek or lake on the weekend, to wear herself out. We certainly know it if she does not get enough activity, or exercise. She is certainly an adventure dog, but, with the proper exercise, and discipline, can be a well mannered family dog. She will sometimes get over excited and knock one of the kids over, but it is excitement, not aggression. We have noticed lots of improvement in her since she began to come out of the puppy stage. We also have a fenced in backyard for her, which is almost a necessity with their activity level.

Australian Shepherd Energy Levels
by: jcrply

I haven't had a lot of experience with Aussies, but I will share with you what it has been like for me. Many, many years ago I had horses and a border collie. Border collies are obsessive herders. Mine lived for the horses ... or ducks or whatever he could herd. He was a very sweet dog. When I no longer had horses or land, but was ready to get another dog, I knew it probably wouldn't be wise to get a border collie, and the Aussie to me is the next closest type of dog. I read a lot about them and consulted a woman who has a farm and also raises both border collies and Aussies. She agreed that the border collie wouldn't be right for my situation but that the Aussies can adapt to most any lifestyle and do not have to be herding cattle, but that they are extremely devoted to their people and just need to be with them as much as possible. So I got my first Aussie at that time, 1995. The advice the lady gave me was absolutely correct. Our first Aussie, Bear, was just fine with whatever exercise we could give her (mainly just two short walks a day and swimming in the pool whenever she wanted to) and she was our shadow in the house. She was a very happy dog and not destructive, nor did she develop any bad habits. On a daily basis she was seldom at home alone, but when we would go on vacations, we would just leave her in the house and a neighbor would come over and feed her and take her out 3 times a day. She was just fine. Our second Aussie, Ursa, is similar in many ways. I do give her more exercise every day than our first Aussie got. It sounds like your lifestyle provides your dogs with lots of exercise and mental stimulation. Personally, I think the main thing about an Aussie is that they crave being with you as much as possible. Since you say that you are home by mid-afternoon, I don't think your Aussie would have any difficulty adapting to your schedule.

Aussies / Energy
by: Nonnie

I agree with the two answers you already have. Sounds like you have a great atmosphere for an Aussie. We have two females. They are half sisters born two weeks apart. We didn't intend to have two, it just happened that way!

Ours are not the full size Aussies. We have a mini, Bailee, and a toy, Maggie. Bailee is very active while Maggie couldn't care less. They are perfect for our family. Play time, walks are great. We live in Texas where sometimes it is too hot to let them play Frisbee or take them for a walk. We have to do something in the house. So we have soft ropes that we toss gently in the house for Bailee. We take turns since she needs to do this for a good amount. She will play, then get her bone, then bring then rope again for an hour or so.

Aussies are like velcro. Mine follow me everywhere and sit by my chair when I sit down.

Good luck and let us know what you decide.

Australian Shepherd Energy Levels
by: Karen

I have a one year old Aussie and we raised her in an apartment. City living is possible with this breed as long as you commit to at least a full hour of exercise per day. We live near a state park and walk her about four miles daily. Also, taking her to the dog park is an excellent release that will keep her well behaved indoors:) Interacting with other dogs at the dog park really keeps her happy. The key is a lot of running. Socialize them well when young and you can bring them everywhere. To keep her mind occupied we play ball and frisbee regularly. You will realize these dogs are naturals:) We will be buying a home soon with a yard. That will make all the difference I am sure.

What a great help!
by: Barb Baune

Thank you so much for all your positive responses and taking the time to help us work through our decision! It surely is greatly appreciated! I think we feel pretty confident about bringing an Aussie into our lives now ~ next we just have to decide on the timing! :D

games to play
by: Anonymous

With our aussie/beagle cross we play hide and seek with her outdoors. While she is interacting with one member of the family, the rest of us will hide behind trees, rocks etc. Then the member who is with her will give her the command to 'go find' and she will. She almost prefers this to playing fetch and it is much more 'mental' for her. In the house we can also play this game, or we will keep her in the kitchen while we 'plant' treats or dog kibble throughout the house. She gets the reward but is also getting the mental workout again and loves both of these games. This is a great game to play when the weather or time limits your outdoor time.
Good luck!

by: Emily

My Aussie mix is a nut!!! Be ready for a smart, stubborn, active, velcro dog.

She adores her person and lives for fetch. In my opinion, Australian Shepherds need a ton of training so that they will be safe off the leash (come when called, stay away from other animals, have some self-control). I live in a city, but in a neighborhood, so most of our walks are off the leash. The ability to explore, sniff, and be stimulated is huge for her. She sits by the door and whines until I take her for a walk in the mornings.

But no matter whether you can walk her off the leash or not, training is NOT optional. They are too smart and too stubborn not to be trained. I recommend not sending them to a "boot camp" but instead going to train with them in a class. It is more about you learning than them, lol.
I am a medical student, so often my time is not my own. I make sure to spend as much time as I can training and walking with her. She is very good in public places with a "gentle leader" on. I recommend looking that up. She loves to be around people.

She is about one year old. She can definitely, definitely be destructive when she does not get enough exercise. But exercising with her has become such a grounding point in my life that I hardly ever neglect to do it. I am sure you will be the same way. She is my best friend.

I had the same worries
by: Anonymous

Not sure how old this post is but figured I could add my experience for those who are googling this question and come across this article, as I too had the same questions.

I came across a Mini Aussie breeder who was far away from me and raises her puppies on a farm. I spent a good week talking to her and researching the breed because I was also worried about what I would be getting myself into. She assured me many pups from her previous litter or two have successfully lived in urban settings, so that was helpful information. You really need to discuss with your breeder what type of energy level and drive their puppies have that they produce. My dog has a working/herding mom so she does actually have a pretty high drive and energy level.

If you feel like you are down for the new exercise and outdoor regimen and that it’s what you are looking for in a dog (outdoor partner, getting into dog sports or training, etc) then I think you’ll be fine as long as you’re being honest with yourself. I set my expectations high as far as energy level goes. I told myself I’m prepared to give her as much exercise as she needs.

But I also work a full-time Monday to Friday job. I started from day 1 (I took a week off from work) to get her used to solitary time. She had the den in my house set up as her room, so she had lots of space to play and stretch her little legs. She would go in that room for short stretches, and I implemented crate time as well into her raising. She is a happy, confident, stable dog through the structure that I raised her. I wanted to be sure I didn’t spend the whole day coddling her and creating any separation anxiety.

As she’s gotten older I’ve had people comment and come to realize that she is in fact a very high energy Aussie! But because she is my first dog and I just expected crazy energy, I knew no difference and it really helped me adjust to our new outdoor lifestyle.

She has been in odour detection training, agility, and lots of training on my part in public spaces and distraction areas. Your dog is as great as the work you put into it as well as the work the breeder did. Anxiety, nervousness and stranger distrust seem to be very common behaviour problems so I suggest you really spend time talking to your potential breeder/s to ensure you are getting a bloodline known for a temperament that suits you.

Good luck, be honest with your expectations, and seek out the best puppy you can find! Papers mean nothing if the puppy ends up high strung and anxious. And from day one, set up strict rules to raise the puppy to your lifestyle.

No energy??
by: Anonymous

Aussies are very easy to train. Think I trained mine too well, lol. I got her in the winter, I thought that would be the best time for training, yard only. I live in a trailer park, I'm also 65yrs old. They say Aussies are very energetic. I'm not. I guess because the way I raised her, calm quiet person that I am, she has adapted to me. She likes to catch the ball but not too interested in going after it anymore. She stays in the yard, I'm doing all the work. She runs early am, since nobody is around then. I take her out 4x a day to get exercise. She's only 18mos old. I have to force the play. She gives up playing and takes the ball to the front door, lol. I always say 1 more time, she will go for it 2 more times then lays down in front of the door. Don't want to play anymore. I should be happy, but I'm kinda worried.

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