Description

Australian Shepherds or 'Aussies' are a medium-long haired, large sized dog breed. They are highly intelligent, active and loyal companions who require lots of exercise and love making their owner happy. As working dogs, they have strong herding instincts and require lots of stimulation every day.

Neonatal

During the first 4 weeks of your Aussie Shepherd's life, they should spend most of their time with their mother and litter-mates. It is highly unusual for the puppy's owner to care for them during this time and is best left to a responsible, reputable breeder. Your puppy's body will double in weight as their muscles, organs and bones develop.

Nutrition During the neonatal stage, your Australian Shepherd puppy will get most of their nutrition from their mother's milk. At around 4 weeks you may wish to introduce a mush of minced protein such as beef, but always consult your vet first before changing your puppy's diet at this stage.
Health During this time it is important to monitor your Aussie for any infections, diseases or birth defects. Puppies are unable to urinate or defecate by themselves initially, so their mother helps them but may additionally require your assistance.

Keep your vet's contact details close by and educate yourself thoroughly on this stage of puppy development. By the end of this period, your puppy will be mobile and will explore the world mouth first — be sure to keep choking hazards and toxic foods out of their reach.
Behaviour During most of this time your Aussie will be asleep or inactive, but they will soon be playing with their brothers and sisters. After 3-4 weeks they will go through as much sensory development as a human baby does in a few months. It is important to avoid disturbing the puppies' mother as she will be likely be protective, but some interaction with the young pups is normal so they become used to human touch.

Weaning

When you take your Australian Shepherd home (usually at around 8 weeks) you should shower them with stimulation and attention. This is a formative time for your puppy and will be when they learn to walk, play, bite, hold their bladder, and interact with others. You will soon notice their attentiveness and curiosity, but their incredible intelligence needs to be managed so use this time to assert yourself as boss and make sure that your yard is impossible to break out of.

 

Nutrition During the weaning stage, you should slowly introduce into their diet a nutritionally complete dog food which is appropriate to your Aussie's large size and young age. Aussies are fond of eating so be sure to not overfeed them or you may risk stunting their growth. You should also familiarise yourself with lists of toxic foods and plants to avoid and hide as your puppy will soon find ways to get into forbidden snacks.
Health During this time you should provide your puppy with a small, shallow bowl of clean water and refresh the contents frequently. Due to their intelligence and eagerness to please, it should be relatively easy to toilet train your Aussie puppy. At this early stage it is important to consult your vet to check for eye and hip diseases which can be common for this breed.
Behaviour Due to the changes in their environment, your Aussie will likely be under a significant amount of stress. It's important that you provide lots of attention and positive reinforcement for good behaviour at this time to establish your dominance and build your relationship early. Aussies can sometimes be shy with strangers so it is important to introduce them to children, places and other animals early to encourage being social later in life.

Puppy

By the time your Australian Shepherd reaches puppyhood their personality will be well developed and you will have established a strong bond. Your Aussie will be full of energy and already require lots of time exercising, playing and learning. Your dog will top the class at puppy training school and require extra stimulation through toys and jobs you must find for them to do.

 

Nutrition Your Australian Shepherd puppy's diet should be based around a high quality, nutritionally complete puppy food. You may also wish to introduce them to fresh, lean raw meat — however, don't feed your puppy any meat you would not feed to a fellow human being. It is particularly important that you make sure your pup has the right diet at this time as poor nutrition can exacerbate hip conditions which this breed is susceptible to.
Health Australian Shepherds are full of energy and require a large amount of stimulation — even as puppies you should play with them frequently and start some light training to occupy their minds. It is important to give them access to fresh water, especially in warmer months. It's important to regularly groom your Aussie to avoid matting of their fur, which means daily brushing with an appropriate brush. After around 8 weeks your puppy will be due for some vaccinations, so they will need a checkup at the vet and to arrange for boosters after that.
Behaviour Aussies are very loyal to those that they know, but are often shy with people they don't know, so familiarise them with friends, strangers and other dogs early. Aussies have intense herding instinct which you may be tempted to discourage, but you will soon find this impossible — it is wiser to find creative methods for taking advantage of this instinct, such as 'herding' your family in the morning or before dinner. Herding provides mental satisfaction to your pup and is essential in fighting boredom, but make sure to discourage biting, nipping and barking.

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