How to Care for an Australian Shepherdby Katherine Barrington
Australian shepherds were originally bred for herding livestock. Known for their agility and obedience, they make great ranch dogs and they're popular as family pets. Australian shepherds are energetic dogs that require daily exercise and regular grooming. The Australian shepherd is a medium-size breed. If you plan to purchase an Australian shepherd for your family, be sure you can provide for the needs of a dog of this active breed before bringing one home.
Caring for Australian Shepherd Puppies
Provide your Australian shepherd puppy with his own personal space. Give your puppy a crate along with a set of two bowls -- one for water and one for food. Place a few of your puppy's favorite toys in this area.
Establish a house-training routine with your puppy if he is not already housebroken. Take your puppy outside after naps and meals and wait for him to do his business. When he does, praise him and reward him with a treat so he learns to do his business outside.
Limit your Australian shepherd puppy's range in your house. Keep doors closed to rooms where there are fragile or hazardous items so your puppy does not get into them. It is wise to keep your puppy in your sight at all times.
Take your Australian shepherd puppy outside on a leash several times a day. Let your puppy explore the yard but keep him on the leash so he learns that you are in control.
Walk your puppy at least once a day for 30 minutes, keeping him on the leash at all times. While your puppy is still very small you can take him on walks through the yard, but once he grows you can go to the park or walk the trails and sidewalks near your home.
Keep your Australian shepherd puppy's water dish full at all times and refresh the water at lease once a day. Feed your puppy a high-quality dry puppy food, following the instructions on the bag to determine the proper amount.
Give your puppy plenty of toys to play with so he does not chew on other objects in the house. If you find your puppy chewing on something he shouldn't be, take the object away, saying "no" as you do. Give your puppy one of his toys, then, so he learns what he can and cannot play with.
Keep your puppy in his crate at night and provide him with a bowl of water. Make sure the bottom of the crate is padded, or put a small dog bed inside. Take your puppy outside in the morning immediately after letting him out of his crate.
Enroll yourself and your Australian shepherd in obedience classes once the dog reaches four months of age. These classes will help you learn to control your Aussie's energy and herding tendencies while also teaching your puppy some basic obedience.
Brush your puppy on a daily basis using a small slicker brush or wire-pin brush. This will help to cut down on shedding and will keep your shepherd's coat healthy and soft.
Care Tips for Adult Australian Shepherds
Walk your Australian shepherd for at least 30 minutes a day. Australian shepherds are very active and, without the proper amount of daily exercise, their energy could become difficult to control.
Brush your dog's coat once a day using a wire-pin brush or medium-bristle brush. This will help to control the shedding of dead and loose hair. Daily brushing will also prevent mats; but if this is too much for you, weekly brushing may be sufficient.
Bathe your Australian shepherd when necessary. Always use lukewarm water and shampoo formulated for use on dogs. Do not bathe your dog too often because it could dry out or irritate his skin.
Trim the fur on the bottom of your shepherd's feet once every six to eight weeks. Use a pair of straight shears to cut the fur even with the pads. This will help to prevent matting between the toes.
Provide your Australian shepherd fresh water daily and feed him a high-quality dry adult dog food. The amount of food your dog needs will depend on his size. Simply follow the suggestions on the package or ask your veterinarian for recommendations.
Take your dog to the veterinarian for regular check-ups. Your vet will inform you what vaccinations your Australian shepherd needs and will keep an eye on your dog's ears, teeth and eyes.
Clean your Australian shepherd's ears at home as often as recommended by your veterinarian. Squirt a dog ear cleanser into the dog's ear canal, then massage his ear to spread it. Wipe the dog's ear clean using cotton balls.
Play with your dog as often as possible and allow him plenty of time to run around outside. This will give your Australian shepherd time to work off excess energy and it will keep him fit.
Items You Will Need
- Puppy crate
- Water and food bowls
- Puppy treats
- High-quality dry puppy food
- Dog toys
- Small dog bed
- Small slicker brush or wire-pin brush
- While you are house training your puppy it is wise to take him outside five or six times a day. The more frequently you take your dog outside, the less likely he is to have an accident in the house.
- If you do not already have a fence around your yard, consider building one. A fence will keep your dog from wandering off where he could be hit by a car or become lost.
- Never punish your dog for bad behavior. Not only can yelling and punishments have a negative effect on dogs, but positive reinforcement for good behavior is much more effective.
- Tri-color Australian Shepherd Standing. image by Valentine from Fotolia.com