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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone :) Fairly new to the forum, although I have visited a couple of times from google :p Sorry in advance for the long post but I guess its better if you have all the information?

I'm looking into getting my own dog soon, and I have my heart set on an Australian Shepherd. But, I'd love some advice from people (after all, there's only so much books can teach!) - am I the right person for an Aussie/Is an Aussie right for me?

My set up is a rented, 2 bed (fairly large) ground floor flat in a pet friendly block. There isn't a garden, as such but I have immediate access outside and to a small piece of grass that I hoping could be useful for housetraining! The landlady is happy for me to have a puppy, this is currently being written into a new contract for us.

I work on average 4 days a week 9am-6pm. The OH, works variable shifts, usually 7am-1pm or 12-7:30pm. On top of that, I live roughly 5 minutes walk from work so there'd be no problem coming home at lunch for the dog. And finally, when the dog is housetrained and I can trust them not to chew everything in sight, my boss has said that I would be fine to bring the dog to work a couple of times a week. (I work in a retail situation, so the dog would be crated upstairs in the staff room, I'm not sure whether this is a good or bad thing - would the change stress him, or could it still be a better idea since he would have more company?)

Realistically, I think that exercise would be a couple of hours - 45 min in the morning, ~1hr evening/night and a break midday, be that from me, the OH or a dog walker.

Does any of this sound ok for an Aussie? Would you recommend we go for a slightly older dog than a puppy, or would a puppy work ok? Would you recommend we go down the route of stuffed kongs or a nylabone etc to keep the pup amused while we are gone?

Thanks!
Sammy
 

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I have an Aussie puppy!

Aussies kind of vary in energy level. Making sure you go to a reputable breeder for an Aussie is very important. My puppy is from a breeder who shows and works her dogs in herding. Her dogs can do what they were bred to do, but have a good off switch. You want to make sure you talk to your breeder about their dogs and how much energy they have for the breed. A good breeder will be able to help set you up with a "lower" energy/drive pup since it will be your first Aussie if you decide to go that route. My breeder gave me a more "moderate" puppy. That being said, puppies change and it isn't a surefire guarantee. Health testing is super important. Make sure they are checking for OFA hips, elbows, eyes (HSF4 cataract mutation as well), and MDR1 (some don't test for it, but they should warn you about it regardless).

That being said, puppies. Puppies are so much work. The first month, I spent no less than 3-4 hours a day playing, training, walking, rushing outside for potty, stopping unwanted chewing, and playing some more because puppy had the zoomies again. I have lots of holes in my clothes from my pup, as she has to be taught not to bite. My pup was crated no more than 6 hours a day, with a break at the 4 hour mark. She could hold it for about 4 hours in her crate.

Most Aussies NEED a job. Obedience, agility, something. My puppy is fed only from food dispensing toys or to learn new tricks to keep her mind active. She also gets kongs during crate times, which I do highly recommend. They are an amazingly smart breed, but it comes at a cost. You need to make sure they get that mental stimulation and exercise, or they will drive you up a wall. Some Aussies need more than others. Now that my pup is a little older, I give her about an hour of each and she is fine to entertain herself for awhile. However, she loves loves loves her toys/crate and playing with them (yes she likes to make her own game with her crate..weirdo) when she's bored.

Is an Aussie okay for you? I don't know. You have to be honest with yourself. You have to assume the worst and decide if you are committed to that kind of energy and intelligence that can get the dog in trouble if not properly released. I knew before getting my Aussie that I would have to change my lifestyle. I did because my heart was dead set on one, and I have no regrets. I know other people that were "dead set" on something and ended up getting rid of them because they were too much.

Have you met a lot of Aussies? If not, I would make your way to a dog show and meet a few. They are rather addicting though, with those goofy wiggle butts! I'd be glad to answer any questions you might have about Aussie puppy ownership.
 

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I think the most important thing when considering an aussie and exercise, isn't how much, but what kind? Because I could take Ammy on a walk for an hour or two hours every day, but she will never be happy with that and will still bounce off the walls when we get home. She really needs a good run, and/or mental exercise throughout the day. (Unfortunately for the cats sometimes her mental exercise is chasing them haha).

We don't have a yard either, and we do pretty well. I think she would just get into trouble in the a yard by herself anyways.

Fortheloveofdogs makes a good point about breeders. I didn't get Ammy from a reputable breeder. I love her to death but she doesn't have an off switch, which can be super frustrating. Also exhausting. I've been trying to work on it with her but she gets distracted really easily so it's hard for her to focus on settling down. Fortheloveofdogs is also right about puppies, I spent the same amount of time with Ammy as a puppy. I took her everywhere, and if I couldn't she wasn't crated more than 3-4 hours. She also didn't settle well as a puppy, she was never a sleepy puppy. I envy those puppy owners who get sleepy puppies!


I have seen aussie's go wrong though, we almost fostered a 6 month old aussie whose owner's spent no time with, training or anything. They said he "needed a farm to run on". He had absolutely no bite inhibition, was possessive (RG), and he is to date the only dog Ammy has ever growled at. Because of the last point was the reason we did not foster, I didn't want to ruin Ammy and add more stress to my life with a poorly trained and behaved aussie puppy.

They are addicting, I will always own an aussie now, I love them. Ammy has such a goofy happy go lucky personality, I've never had another dog like her :).
 

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I think you could make an Aussie work since you are willing to dedicate at least an hour each day specifically to the dog, more would be better of course but if you can get out with the dog on non work days and spend hours on end doing stuff to wear them totally down for the day that would be great.

We also do training play which wears them out both mentally and physically, just yesterday I worked on "heel" position with Lark by making her do it correctly before I would throw the frisbee for her, it turned into a kind of game for her and she enjoyed it.

The other two posters pretty much said anything else I would have said
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Goodness, thank-you so much for the in-depth replies! It's pretty hard to put everything that comes with thinking about a puppy into one thread, but you've all said things that I've been considering, like kongs, agility/obedience, puppy classes etc. So, things seem positive!

My non-work days usually mean I'm up and out of the house fairly early to go walking/hiking (we have some beautiful countryside nearby). I tend to take my camera etc and stay out for most of the day - I've never been someone who can chill around the house all day, I seem to need to always have something to occupy me! Hopefully this can translate to a good bit of exercise for both me and the dog.

I've seen these doggy backpacks around the internet and wondered if they could be useful for me to have? I love the idea that they might help tire the dog out, plus he can carry a couple of bottles of water on our walking trips :)

I've only met one Aussie to be honest. A family friend has an Aussie, 2 BCs and some working sheepdogs. Her Aussie was lovely, but I've only ever met him at an agility event so he was pretty fired up and full of energy for that, but all in all a lovely dog! I must admit, I'm struggling to find many Aussies in the UK. I've been looking for breeders for a while, but haven't had much luck.
 

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If you do use backpacks just make sure you wait until the dog is fully grown (if you get a puppy) before you put any weight in it (like water bottles and etc), otherwise you can do damage to their growing joints. You can still get them used to the pack and putting it on at a younger age, though.
 

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I think you all could make an Aussie work. :) They are such an amazing breed, and love their owners deeply. You will find lots of Aussie owners here on this board.

You must keep in mind that Australian Shepherds are working dogs, they NEED exercise. Mental exercise as well as physical everyday. Even if it is Raining, snowing, sleeting, etc no matter what they are up for anything. You were talking about hiking and backpacking like the poster above me said be careful with a young dogs joints. Lots of exercise on puppys joints can cause a whole lot of problems and expense later in life. I highly recommend interactive toys, as well as lots of chews to keep the pup/ dog busy. They will help tire him/her out, and a tired puppy is a good puppy. lol

Interactive toys/ food toys I highly recommend are:

Kongs
Kong Wobbler
KONG Biscuit Ball
Omega Paw Tricky Treat Ball
Smarter Toys IQ Treat Ball Dog Toy,
PetSafe Busy Buddy Tug-A-Jug
Buster Food Cube Interactive Dog Toy
PetSafe Busy Buddy Kibble Nibble Meal
StarMark Bob-A-Lot

I feed all of my dogs/ pups their dinners in food toys. It keeps them busy and tires them out a little. Nylabones, and deer antlers are great chewing toys for pups that love to chew.

As the others have said Aussies come in a variety of energy levels. I know someone who only exercises hers for 1 hour a day. I know others that have a Aussie like mine that needs at least 4 hours before they will calm down enough for me not to pull my hair out. haha I didn't get my boy from a reliable breeder and now I am paying for it. He already has health issues at only a little over a year old, that started when he was 5 months old. He has joint problems and has to be on meds that cost me $60 a month and thats with a discount since I am a Vet tech. Every few months he gets crystals in his urine and that adds another $30 to my meds bill not including the exam and urinalysis etc. I can not stress finding a good reliable breeder enough. Aussies can have lots of health issues and having a breeder that health screens his/her dogs can help a lot.

When not properly socialized with people Aussies can be fearful, and even aggressive/ over protective. Getting into a good puppy class, and training classes early on can help with socialization.

As far as Aussies needing a job to do, this is every true. My boy is trained/ training in Flyball, Dockdogs, herding, Rally Obedience, Bikejoring, Carting, and Treibball. If I can get his joint issues (He has pano) taken care of we will get his OFA hips and elbows tested and then start Agility after he is two years old. I also plan on starting Lure coursing soon. He loves having a job to do, and something to concentrate his energy into. If I didn't so sports with him I think he would drive me crazy. As far as I have been able to tell Show line Aussies are not as high energy as workling line.

I couldn't imagine not having at least one Aussie in my life. They are definitely a breed that wedges their way into your heart forever. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the insight everyone. I probably should have clarified what I meant - the backpack would be something to add in as he gets older, same with the hiking. I figured they would be the same with most puppies in that shorter walks, a few times a day, plus play time and puzzles/kongs etc are better.

Just a little question though - does anyone consider it a problem that we don't have a fenced yard? I only ask because we've been told that we were unsuitable for any dogs as we don't have a garden so I would like some opinions. :)

Other than that, I'd found a weekly puppy class at the vets and a Saturday agility class/trial set up for when the pup is a bit older. Having talked with the OH about the possibility of a pup, and how much I reckon that it'll change our routine, I'd like to think we're ready for the challenge! Now the next challenge is to find a breeder :) I'm struggling so far to find many in the UK - time to look a bit harder! :p
 

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Just a little question though - does anyone consider it a problem that we don't have a fenced yard? I only ask because we've been told that we were unsuitable for any dogs as we don't have a garden so I would like some opinions. :)
I don't have a fenced in yard and it's really not an issue! I trained my pup to be quick on potty trips, and now that's older he only goes out about 4 times a day so it's not that bad. As a puppy, you'd have to take him out on leash anyway, even if you had a fence.

I think fenced in yards are great for working on off leash training, and allowing dogs to play together, but especially for a single dog household, it's not necessary. The dog isn't going to exercise itself out there anyway, and you can give it freedom to stretch its legs in a local park, or on a long line.

I'm lucky that I have a decent amount of property, just no fence. Plenty of people raise dogs in apartments. If you are committed to exercising the dog and getting him out of the house everyday, you'll be fine.
 

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Some breeders do ship also, although I don't know how it is in the UK.

There are a lot of members on this board that do not have fenced in yards, and they provide far more exercise than most dogs with a fenced in yard get. Some breeders might like it better that you have one, but you can always explain your exercise plan. It's not a necessity.
 

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I do not have a fenced in yard and I would not require one from a puppy buyer. I have a very small 40' X 12' fenced area of the yard that the dogs can go when I'm not outside with them but most times when i'm out in the yard they are running free with me in the yard.
 

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I am 5 weeks into this process and it is HARD!!! I knew it was going to be really tough but I've been realizing that nothing I read about these guys could possibly prepare me for the hard work and frustration that would go into raising my little guy. That being said I couldn't be happier with him! My mom said that when I was a toddler she always loved me but there were times that she didn't like me. I think that describes the ups and downs that you will face.

Something else I would recommend is eastablishing a reliable friend or pet sitter that can check on your pup when for some reason you can't. There have been a few times that something came up for me and I wasn't able to get home within his 4-5 hour bladder window and a good friend was able to swing by and help me out.
 

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Everyone has really nailed it. I really like what Kyndall54 said, its not how much exercise but what kind. My boy isn't extermely high energy like DamonsMoms boy is, but a 2 hour walk would do nothing for him, Take him outside from running/romping, ball throwing fun in the yard for 30 minutes and he is pretty relaxed the rest of the evening.

Definitely make sure your doing your research on a reliable breeder. Breeders breed for different things so make sure your going to the right one for you. My boys breeder breeds specifically for lower energy dogs that can be lived with by more average people, some breeders are breeding for those high drive dogs. Look around, talk to people and be open and honest with the breeders your talking to.

Something else I didn't see mentioned was grooming? Have you thought about this. These dogs shed, some more than others just like everything else, but it can get pretty rough. They need a lot of grooming. Be prepared for that.

But don't feel overwhelmed be honest with yourself but be happy and excited too! These dogs are amazing and you will never regret it if you go into it with honestly with yourself
 

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I ended up with my Aussie because, can we just say grown children? He is a joy. I do have the property and dogs for him to run and romp as much as he wants. By nighttime he passes out. I can take him places and he is always willing to obey. One big problem I have is he constantly thinks that the horses needed to be herded to over there..............and back over there. He gets to do what he was bred to do-herd things. Now sometimes this behavior can lead to problems in city dogs that do not get to do things. Chasing cars, nipping kids, circling, barking at guests are just some behaviors that can quickly get out of hand if not handled right. I do not know of your background with other breeds but that you have a friend who owns one and is involved in a sport with the dog, I believe you are off to a good start.
 
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