One statement I read several times on forums and websites is “my Australian Shepherd is out of control.” Every person who owns an Australian Shepherd or understands the breed knows they are incredibly active and energetic dogs; in fact, there aren’t too many dog breeds that have anywhere near the Aussies’ physicalities.
But how do you know if it’s just the nature of the breed or are you coping with a hyperactive dog; you are probably asking yourself, when do Australian Shepherds calm down?
Australian Shepherds are notorious for being hyperactive when owners don’t give them the physical and mental work they need to tire them out. As the owner, you must provide these exercises and tasks to your Aussie every day, or they will get hyper. It might also explain an Australian Shepherd’s aggressive or other behavior issues if it happens with your dog.
Are Australian Shepherds Hyper And Does My Australian Shepherd Have Behavior Problems?
If you have owned other dogs in the past and now have an Aussie, you might notice he is far more restless than your previous dog. This restless spirit isn’t to be confused with hyperactivity; this is the Australian Shepherd’s natural state. Herding dogs need to be independent thinkers, dominant, and highly intelligent; Australian Shepherds are all that and more.
1. Australian Shepherd Exercise
Not all Australian Shepherds lean towards hyperactivity; some have average energy levels, especially if they are not working lines (we’ll talk about working lines a little later in the article). However, exercise is still crucial for the Aussie.
Most Aussies aren’t going to accept a 10-minute stroll around the block; they need significantly more exercise than that. If you live in an apartment or small house with no yard and out at work most of the day, then Australian Shepherds are a terrible choice for you.
However, if you’re into fitness and lead an active lifestyle, for example, if you bike, go jogging, or hike into the countryside, the Aussie is right up your street. Even if you don’t particularly enjoy outdoor activities, there will be plenty of clubs you can join. Such as obedience classes, agility, and dog sports any or all of these will provide your Aussie the activity he craves.
2. Training Your Australian Shepherd To Work
Along with the exercise requirements, Aussies are super intelligent dogs. It’s bred into them to work and use their intelligence and skills. So Aussies need a job. Because of their intelligence, they understand what you require them to do. You tell them what you expect of them; it can be something as simple as taking care of the house while you’re away.
Teaching them agility tasks and entering them into competitions. The AKC (American Kennel Club) has a herding program offering both trials and tests. They use livestock such as sheep, cattle, and ducks. Dogs need to be capable of moving and herding these animals, and the dogs are tested on their abilities. The AKC offers over 22,000 annual events. If you can’t get to one of their events, there is bound to be something similar close to your home.
3. Australian Shepherd Training
Training starts with an Australian Puppy the day you take her home. Remember, these dogs are smart; training never stops throughout the life of your Aussie. Having an Aussie is a love affair for life, and so is training one.
As mentioned, Aussies were born to work and use their brains. So if she’s not herding, you need to train her for other things. The great thing about the Australian Shepherd is how fast they pick things up; this means you and your Aussie can have fantastic fun training together.
An Australian Shepherd must have a leader, or they’ll assume the role themselves. Teach your Aussie puppy basic training commands and progressively move into more complex training. Teach her tricks, dog sports, and agility. The more she learns, the happier and content she’ll become. There’s never any need to train your Aussie harshly, shouting or losing patience. Aussies respond to your moods and are very sensitive to them. Use only positive reinforcement, praise, and treats.
4. Socializing Your Australian Shepherd
It’s imperative to socialize an Australian Shepherd; after all, they are not bred to be friendly to strangers; their job entails herding and protecting, so they are naturally wary of strangers.
Socializing your Aussie puppy has to be your priority; between six and sixteen weeks old is the optimal age bracket. An Australian Shepherd needs to meet new people, hear sights and sounds, anything and everything to get her accustomed to every situation you can. Even though a puppy cannot go out until after their jabs, nothing stops you from carrying the puppy around with you.
It’s surprising just what can spook a dog, from things flapping in the wind to making a wide berth of some trash bags on the sidewalk. After all, you don’t want your Australian Shepherd nipping strangers; it’s still considered a bite.
5. Choosing Your Australian Shepherd Puppy
If you want an Australian Shepherd as a family pet, I will urge you to stay away from working lines. Before you purchase a puppy, research, research, and research again, find yourself a responsible and professional breeder. Do not buy from pet shops, puppy mills, or some cheap online ad. Find professional dog trainers and behaviorists in your local area and ask their advice about Aussie breeders they know well.
When you have narrowed your breeder choice to at least three, visit them and ask plenty of questions. Any reputable breeder will welcome every one of your questions and answer them honestly and thoroughly. Working lines produce puppies with strong herding instincts, and they possess minds of their own. It will make your job of training and socializing your Aussie that much more difficult.
Australian Shepherds are beautiful and unique dogs, but they aren’t suitable for every family. They are not a good choice for first-time owners and need thorough training and socializing. Their exercise needs could be too excessive for most families, and in fairness, owning an Aussie is a full-time job.
So if you don’t want to be posting on forums claiming my Australian Shepherd is out of control, I suggest you think carefully about the points raised in this article to establish if the Aussie is the right dog for your family.