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Caring for your Australian Shepherd

The Australian Shepherd is considered a high energy herding dog.  They are also know as velcro dogs as they are your shadow following you around everywhere.  They are definitely not an independent breed and are constantly seeking out attention and love.  It is also this devotion that makes them easy to train especially using positive reinforcement methods.  Aussies are very food and play motivated!  

Aussies do require a good amount of exercise to keep them stimulated and prevent them from becoming destructive.  Playing 15-20 minute games of fetch or Frisbee are great for aussies and will settle them down a lot.  They also love to swim, hike anything that you participate together in they will enjoy.

Their coat does require a weekly brushing to keep it healthy and their nails should be trimmed every two weeks.  This is a great article on nail trimming that has great pictures and details.

I highly recommend group classes for all aussies for the 1st year of their life.  Dogs go through many developmental phases and fear periods and a good trainer will be able to help you work through these phases and explain what is normal and what is not and how to prevent bad behaviors from occurring.  I include free puppy classes and phone consults to all my puppy buyers!

As for vaccinations I tell people that I recommend Dr. Dodds protocol:
9-10 Weeks Old:
Distemper + Parvovirus, MLV (e.g. Merck Nobivac [Intervet Progard] Puppy DPV)

We also started doing Nomographs which we send to CAVIDS Titer Testing Laboratory
University of Wisconsin-Madison
School of Veterinary Medicine
Madison WI USA
This titer determines when the maternal antibodies will run out and when we should vaccinate.  A copy of this report will go home with all puppies to show your vet.

14-16 Weeks:
Same as above

20 Weeks or Older (if allowable by law):

1 Year:
Distemper + Parvovirus, MLV (optional = titer)

1 Year after the initial dose:
Rabies, killed 3-year product (give 3-4 weeks apart from distemper/parvovirus booster)

Perform vaccine antibody titers for distemper and parvovirus every three years thereafter, or more often, if desired. Vaccinate for rabies virus according to the law, except where circumstances indicate that a written waiver needs to be obtained from the primary care veterinarian. In that case, a rabies antibody titer can also be performed to accompany the waiver request. See the Rabies Challenge Fund website.

Lepto is important if you have a pond or stream on property and of course there may be others depending on your area.  Please consult with a veterinarian.  

Again every dog is different and this is just a recommendation and one I follow-the choice ultimately is yours and/or your veterinarians. 

Diet/ Supplements

Just like vaccinations nutrition is very controversial.   I do strongly believe that diet affects overall health and behavior.  I truly feel that if you eat well you will feel well.  I do spend a good amount of money on my dogs food as I think it will save me in their health.  I feed the best that I can afford.  This is a personal choice again and my recommendation is only a guide line.  You need to do what is right for you and your lifestyle.

I raise my puppies on raw food exclusively and then when they are a year they eat a combination of raw and high quality dry food such as Orijen.    If you prefer not to feed raw I can have your puppy on dry food alone-you just need to let me know.  I really like Answers Detailed Food for their quality ingredients and the fact that they don't use synthetic vitamins.  I also rotate their goats milk and fish stock several times a week.  I have been feeding raw and started in 2002 under the direction of our holistic veterinarian at the time.  I have used many pre-made brands and even made it myself.  I really like Answers as it is complete food and very easy for people to manage.  

I also highly recommend two supplements for any diet, but especially dry dog good-coconut oil at 1tsp per 10lbs and a good probiotic.  A probiotic must have at least 1 billion CFU.  Anything less will have no affect and is a waste of money.  I use the brand Probiotic Miracle by Nusentia.

All my dogs have only needed routine care and have the most amazing coats.  I do CBC blood work every 3-4 years and all their levels are excellent.  My oldest girl is almost 14 now and you would never know it by looking at her and she runs around like a puppy at times.  I truly believe it was due to her diet!

People often ask what dry food I recommend and honestly I change it all the time.  My dogs do fine with that.  If they didn't I would assume it was that food.  Some of the dry foods I like  and have used are:

Merrick                    Petguard
Fromm                    Open Farm
Honest Kitchen

The Whole Dog Journal is a great resource for dog owners that I highly recommend to everyone.  I have been get their magazine for a decade now and every year they explain and rate dog food and teach you about reading labels.  They also have a training article, product review and health article in every magazine.

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