How to Care For an Australian Shepherd

An Australian Shepherd is a wonderful pet to have. However, remember that when you bring this breed home, you are essentially adding another member to your family. If you want your pooch to be happy and healthy, it is important to meet their needs.

Here is your ultimate Australian Shepherd care guide:

The Best Living Environment for Australian Shepherds

australian shepherd care
Photo by Stephanie Smith.

First things first, what kind of homes or spaces can Australian Shepherds live in?

One of the most common questions asked is, can Australian Shepherds live in apartments? Technically, the answer is yes. If you give your dog enough exercise every day, they can be indoor dogs and live inside smaller spaces.

Nevertheless, this isn’t recommended.

Australian Shepherds function best in medium to large-sized homes as they are a larger breed. Furthermore, they are happiest when they have some outdoor space as this is an active breed who loves to run and play all day.

Due to this, it is a good idea to consider if you have the right amount of space for an Australian Shepherd before you get one.

Provide a High Quality Diet For Your Australian Shepherds

As you can imagine, diet is quite important for Australian Shepherds. Ensuring that your pooch gets all the nutrient they need can help them stay healthy and happy for a longer period of time. The right diet will also support growth and development.

High Protein Diet For Your Australian Shepherds

One of the main components of your Australian Shepherd’s diet is protein. This is responsible for growth, development, energy, etc. So, any dog food that you choose must have an appropriate amount of protein for your dog.

On average, puppies and lactating dogs will require a minimum of about 22% of protein in their diet. Adult Australian Shepherds will need no less than 18% of high quality protein.

This is the first thing that you should check on the ingredient list. Remember, dogs should be given high-quality animal protein, no substitutes or derivatives.

Appropriate Fat Content For Your Australian Shepherds

Fat is also an important part of your dog’s diet. This food group provides calories and also allows for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins.

Puppies and lactating dogs will need about 8% of fat in their diets, while adult dogs require about 5%.

It is a good idea to hit these limits and to steer clear from dog foods where the fat content is too high. Fat is a calorie dense component and too much can cause your dog to become obese, which is something that you want to avoid.

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Limited Carbohydrate Content For Your Aussie

Finally, there are carbohydrates. This is another food group that works best in limited quantities. Carbs can provide fiber, various nutrients, and are an easy energy source.

Despite this, carbs are the least important part of your dog’s diet. Look for brands that contain low quantities of high-quality carbs.

Whole Food Ingredients

Unfortunately, there are a lot of dog food brands that will try to cut costs down by using meat derivatives, flavors, and fillers such as corn. While these ingredients “bulk” up the dog food, there is no real nutritive value to them.

In fact, they will simply add unnecessary calories to your dog food and in some cases can cause health issues for your Australian Shepherd. Not to mention, if your dog isn’t eating a well-balanced dog food, then they aren’t getting the nutrition that they need.

This is why it is important to always consider the dog food sources. The ingredients need to be whole food and free from fillers, artificial flavors, and added colors.

Required Calorie Intake for Australian Shepherds

The exact calorie requirements will depend on several factors. This includes age/growing stage, level of activity, weight, and individual metabolism.

On average, an Australian Shepherd will require around 1300 calories a day, per 50lbs of body weight. Puppies and lactating mothers will require more than this.

Each brand of dog food will contain a different number of calories per serving. This is why it is important to follow the feeding recommendations provided by each brand.

Divide your dog’s total calorie requirements into however many meals that you provide each day.

If your Australian Shepherd is particularly active on a daily basis, it may be better for you to get them food that is specially designed for active breeds. This will guarantee that your pup is getting the required level of calories.

Do bear in mind that obesity is a harmful condition for Australian Shepherds and can trigger various health conditions. As such, you should never feed your dog more than what is recommended.

Provide Daily Exercise For Your Australian Shepherds

taking care of australian shepherd exercise needs
Photo by Joséphine Menge.

Australian Shepherds are one of the more active breeds that you will come across. To ensure that they are happy, it is important to exercise your dog 1 to 2 hours a day.

This includes walks, runs, and other interactive games such as fetch and Frisbee.

Unlike other breeds, you can’t only work out Australian Shepherds properly on the weekends or a few times a week. They need to be played with every single day or they will develop destructive behaviors.

In addition to physical activity, this intelligent breed also needs mental exercises as well. This involves interactive dog toys, puzzles, agility training, and more.

Australian Shepherds and Company

The reality is that Australian Shepherds aren’t a good fit for all families. It is important to know that you can provide the right social environment for your dog to ensure that they are happy as well as healthy.

Can Australian Shepherds Be Left Alone?

Australian Shepherds are incredibly people-oriented. They love being around their humans and it isn’t uncommon for them to follow people from one room to another.

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Due to this, this breed isn’t well adapted to being left alone for more than a few hours. Australian Shepherds work best in homes where someone is around for most of the day.

If you are planning on leaving your Australian Shepherd by themselves, make sure that it isn’t for more than 4 to 6 hours and do so only occasionally. It is also a good idea to have various food puzzles and other distractions around so that your dog can keep themselves occupied.

Are Australian Shepherds Good Around Kids?

Whether or not Australian Shepherds are good with kids or not will depend on the individual dog. More often than not, though, this breed does work well with older kids.

As for smaller children, it can be a hit or a miss. As Australian Shepherds have natural herding instincts, they may herd smaller children around.

Proper training, socialization, and plenty of exercise can help to avoid this situation. Still, it may be best to not get an Australian Shepherd if you have very small children.

Do Australian Shepherds Tolerate Other Dogs?

how to care for an Australian shepherd
Photo by Jametlene Reskp.

Australian Shepherds are often great with other dogs and make wonderful playmates. At any rate, they certainly enjoy the company.

The one thing to keep in mind is that it’s important to socialize your Australian Shepherd at a young age. In doing so, you will be able to guarantee that they get along with other dogs without any issue at all.

Do Australian Shepherds Get Along with Cats?

This is another thing that will depend on your dog. A lot of Australian Shepherds get along with cats quite well, while other pups may simply exist alongside felines.

Of course, you should be aware that this breed does have a high prey drive. As a result, they may automatically go after smaller animals.

This can be prevented if your dog is introduced to cats and other small animals at a young age.

Socializing Australian Shepherd Puppies

One of the most important things to do to properly take care of your Australian Shepherd is to begin socializing them as soon as you bring them home.

This breed can be a bit shy and wary. So, exposing them to different kinds of people and animals can help them break out of their shell. Socializing your dog at a young age can also get rid of aggressive tendencies that may crop up later on.

It is all about ensuring that your Australian Shepherd puppy gains a positive worldview. From the time they are 5 to 6 weeks old, they should begin to meet people of all sizes, colors, wearing different types of clothing such as hats, glasses, sunglasses, etc.

Make sure that anyone who enters your home or yard interacts with the puppy in some way. This can include pets, treats, etc. This shows the pups that they can have positive interactions with everyone.

Once your dog has been vaccinated properly, they can begin to meet other dogs. You can start off with puppies and small dogs, and then slowly move up to bigger breeds. Again, it is a good idea to limit their interactions to dogs who are happy and outgoing themselves.

When introducing your pup to places such as dog parks or doggy daycare, don’t do it all at once. It can be overwhelming for your pup to meet many dogs at the same time.

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This is why it is a good idea to walk around the perimeter of dog parks at first. This lets your dog get used to all the different scents and can even let them see other dogs interacting with each. You can then build up to introducing your pup to these dogs.

Training an Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherds benefit a lot from training. In fact, they love to be trained! This is because they function best when they have a task or activities to do. Due to this, one of the best things that you can do for this breed is to continue to train them.

Training can start when your Australian Shepherd is around 7 weeks old. Start with easy, basic commands and make sure to always keep the commands the same, even from one person to another.

Always keep the training sessions short – around 15 to 20 minutes is ideal. With puppies, you may want to keep it shorter. Remember, the goal is to keep your dog engaged. If he or she begins to get bored or lose focus, then the point of the lesson is lost.

Australian Shepherds respond well to rewards. This means that you have to reward good behavior and avoid punishing bad behavior. In a similar manner, end every training session with playtime as this puts a positive spin on the training.

This breed can be pretty headstrong, although they do take to training quite well. As such, it can be helpful to enroll your dog in puppy training classes. This will provide you with guidance on what to teach your dog and how to get them to respond to commands.

Maintaining Your Australian Shepherd’s Health

While proper nutrition and exercise can go a long way in keeping your dog healthy, there are other steps that you should take.

Stay Up-to-Date with Vaccinations For Australian Shepherds

Make sure that your puppy gets all their vaccinations at the recommended time. Until your puppy is fully vaccinated, they will need to stay away from other dogs.

If there are any booster shots or other vaccinations to be given when your dog is older, make sure to stay on top of these as well.

Getting your puppy vaccinated can ensure that they are kept safe from all preventable diseases.

Vet Visits For Your Australian Shepherds

In most instances, you will only need to see your vet when your puppy needs to get vaccinated or when they are ill.

However, ask your vet about any known health issues that you need to be aware of. This will allow you to take note of any early symptoms and act accordingly.

As your dog gets older, you will need to schedule more vet visits. Make sure to do this as you can guarantee a more comfortable life for your dog.

These are some of the guidelines to follow if you want to properly care for your Australian Shepherd. Stay on top of them and you will have a happy and healthy dog.