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 attention and love. It is also this devotion that makes them easy to train, especially if you are 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 ensure they are physically and mentally satisfied. Aussies love to be involved in anything you are doing and love to swim and hike. A quick walk around the block WILL NOT be enough! They actually thrive on mental games such as tricks and scent/nosework. This will tire them more easily than physical exercise.
Their coat does require a weekly brushing to keep it healthy and their nails should be trimmed every two-3 weeks. This is a great article on nail trimming that has great pictures and details to help guide you.
Just like vaccinations, nutrition can be a controversial topic. 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 time/research on different types of food. I do firmly believe that every dog is different and even though one food may agree with one it may not with another. The dogs reaction to the food by their coat, stools and behavior will tell you over time.
People often ask what I feed my dogs, and that answer is always changing. I believe in a rotation diet and feed a variety of dry foods, can foods, as well as raw foods. I do not do anything abruptly and I often mix two different dry foods together. Some meals are dry dog food some are raw. I don't feel any one particular diet is the best. Some of my dogs do great on raw; others not so much. Some do well with certain foods and others I struggle with. I look at the overall health, coat, and stool consistency to see what is working and what needs to be shifted. Puppies have important requirements nutritionally and if a food is not balanced correctly like a raw diet-it can cause more harm than good. For that reason, I feed /switch between Royal Canin Puppy Food for the first 4-6 months or Proplan Sport 30/20 formula and Nutrisource Puppy. Please contact me to see what food your litter is on as it can vary between litters.
The following is a list of foods that I have tried and can recommend. Again keep in mind every dog is different and may have different needs. I literally have half a dozen foods on hand as my aussies eat different food depending on the particular dog and what I see.
ProPlan 30/20 Sport-I like this food for my nursing moms as it is high in fat. Keep in mind the average pet dog may not need this high of a formula. I do not feed this to my males as adults as it is high in protein. (This is the only formula of Purina's I like)
Nutrisource-Beef and Rice- This has a lower percentage of protein at 22% and my males do well on this.
I really love the raw diet-I have seen so many benefits from it but like everything else it may not be for everyone. I feed it along with their dry food (just not the same meal).There have been studies it helps prevent hip dysplasia and is great for dogs with allergies/sensitivities. It was introduced to me by one of the veterinarians I originally started working with when I had my 1st litter in 2002 and one of the pups I held back had extreme sensitivities and we tried a dozen foods before she recommended raw and it worked wonders for him. Again it may not for everyone but I like to supplement my dogs diets with it.
All of my dogs get Raw Energy 3-4 times per week. https://raawenergy.com/
I use the turkey or chicken medley a lot. Please note this is not balanced and complete. I feed raw one meal and a dry dog food the other. After consulting with a veterinarian canine nutritionist Dr. Judy Morgan we felt that this balance of the two would be good.
If you want to feed raw by itself I highly recommend Answers dog raw dog food.
I also like Dr. Harvey Miracle dog food that you can simply add lightly cooked meat (without bones) or raw food (again no bones with Dr. Harvey as you could throw off calcium/phosphorus ratios). If I only had one or two dogs I would feed this food often.
Other foods I have tried and like are Annamaet, Carna4, Honest Kitchen, Steve's Real Food and Answers.
If my dogs ever need a bland diet or have a bad case of giardia/coccidia they picked up in the environment I switch them to Hills Digestive Care for a week. I cannot rave enough about this food as I have had dogs with horrific diarrhea and surprisingly this food helps tremendously and quickly. I always have this on hand. You usually can purchase directly from your vet if you need it quickly but chewy, petco all sell it as well.
I also highly recommend two supplements for any diet, but especially dry dog food-a good fish oil and probiotics (make sure they have at least 1 billion CFU) Purina Fortiflora has very good reviews.
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, what is not, and how to prevent bad behaviors from occurring. I cannot express how important it is to correctly socialize Aussies as adolescents. Like most herding breeds they can become suddenly fearful or not as confident as when they were young puppies and a trainer who really understand canine behavioral science will be instrumental in getting you through this stage.
I highly recommend trainers from the IAABC https://m.iaabc.org/
I was an Associate member with them and also Certified with the CCPDT and to become Certified is quite the process but will truly demonstrate their knowledge of canine behavior. In order to become certified-thorough independent testing is required from both these organizations to demonstrate the trainers knowledge.
I include discounted puppy classes and phone consults to all my puppy buyers!
Below are some great videos I highly recommend to help you prepare for your puppy!