Beginnerís Guide to an Australian Shepherd Puppy
Author: Camille Goldin
The origins of the Australian Shepherd aren't actually grounded on the continent of Australia. The predecessors to the breed did make a small trip to Australia, but they quickly moved on to the western United States. Since the previous owners came from Australia, the name stuck. With their movements came sheep and that's what they were trained to work with. In the 1800's the breed was fine tuned giving it several unique characteristics. It is a nice compact, medium sized dog averaging 45 to 50 pounds in weight and 20" high at the shoulders. Their coats have a soft, thick undercoat with a slightly wiry top coat. This allows them to be physically able to live outside, but they need human contact and thus are not emotionally suited to a life in the yard.
Understanding a dog's history goes a long way to understanding a breed as a whole. As a herding dog, Australian Shepherds like to herd children, cats, other dogs and anything they may perceive as livestock. This is an instinct that has been selectively bred into the Aussie. You may not see this behavior early on in your puppy's life, but as they mature, you will begin to notice the signs of herding (like nipping at heels, body slamming, posturing, stare downs and the like). You want to prepare your Australian Shepherd with training to help curb that behavior into an appropriate release - no nipping on human heels. As the Australian Shepherd is a quick learner, you may find your training progresses easily, but don't let that fool you. Keep instilling the trained behaviors in then, not to prevent their inherent instincts from coming out, but to control them when they do.
One of the most important things to teach an Australian Shepherd puppy is the "come" command. As herders and subtle guardians, they need a good recall instilled in them. Aussies are not only intelligent, quick learners, they are problem solvers. This ability allows them to make decisions, some good and some bad. Other commands like sit, stay, no, run and fetch are great to teach them early on. You also want to get them used to a routine. Set up play time, run time and relax time and stick to it. This will help you to keep your Australian Shepherd out of trouble as they will know what to expect and can look forward to it.
When they grow up, your Australian Shepherd will need to be exercised on a daily basis. This is where extensive training comes. You can begin to train your puppy to stay for longer periods of time before they chase after that tennis ball. They can be trained to perform helpful tasks like pulling the kids up a small slope on a sled. Agility training is also a great and fun outlet for their energy and mental stimulation.
An Australian Shepherd makes a great companion for families, individuals, farms, etc. and with the proper training and exercise can be lifelong partners (their average lifespan is 13 years). So, be sure to start training early, set up a schedule that is enjoyable for all and most importantly have fun with your Aussie.
About the author: Camille Goldin, narrates how you can handle your Australian Shepherd puppy from Day 1. Visit TrainPetDog.com to learn about puppy care and training your Dog.
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