Australian Shepherds are beautiful and gracious canines that rank under the top 10 smartest dogs in the world. That means this dog needs you to keep his mind active as well as his body. These fluffy pups are highly trainable and are outstanding in the field of obedience.
They were bred as a working breed and their job description is in their name. These dogs are born with the instinct to herd livestock and work hard for their owners. If you don’t find yourself with a flock of sheep in your backyard, you will need to get creative and go the extra mile to ensure your dog gets plenty of mental and physical stimulation.
Aussies average around 60 pounds and are naturally slim dogs. Sadly, this makes them very prone to obesity if they are not kept very active. Here are the best exercises for your Australian Shepherds and some tips to understand your Aussie’s physical and mental needs a little bit better.
How Much Exercise Does an Australian Shepherd Need?
There are no two ways about answering this question: A LOT! Australian Shepherds have immense amounts of stamina and are able to keep active all day long if they have to. Unfortunately, not everyone can provide the constant exercise and space this dog might need.
Your dog will need at the very least an hour’s worth of vigorous physical activity per day. This does not mean you can take a leisurely stroll in your neighborhood. You should constantly try to increase the intensity of their workout by adding inclines on your walk, maybe adding a backpack to your dog for extra weight, or letting them run off the leash to cover more ground than you are able to.
Another option is to let your Australian Shepherd join you on a run or bike-ride rather than a walk. This will require them to burn more energy to keep up and up the enjoyment factor for them significantly. These dogs are great at dog sports so make sure to train them early on to partake in games such as fetch or Frisbee.
How do you mentally stimulate an Australian Shepherd?
For a dog to be able to herd it takes a great deal of cognitive prowess to successfully complete a task. Thus, you will have to pay extra attention to stimulating your dog mentally along with fulfilling their physical needs. Failing to do so will promote bad behavior and you shouldn’t be surprised if your Aussie starts to chew, bark or dig. You have been warned!
Mental exercise does not mean your Australian Shepherd will have to complete algebra equations either. There is plenty of fun to be had for both you and your dog during this time. Puzzles are a great way to keep your dog guessing. These puzzles will have your dog move around parts to retrieve treats and get a great deal of satisfaction from completing a task. Feeding time can be turned into a whole activity on its own with various dispensing toys that can be used or hide and seek games that can be played.
It is also often the oldest trick in the book that can be the most rewarding. Your Australian Shepherd will love to learn commands and simple tricks like “sit”, “stay”, and “play dead” can be a great starting point. Thereafter you can teach your dog the name of toys or more complicated commands to see the limits of your bright pup’s abilities.
Best Exercise for Australian Shepherds
1. Practice their Herding Skills
It is invaluable to tap into your Australian Shepherd’s natural herding abilities and encourage them to apply them in a healthy way. If you do not stimulate this inherent desire they have, they might try to herd your children or other pets which will result in nasty nipping and barking.
Using Jolly Balls is one of the best exercises for your Australian Shepherd. They are virtually indestructible balls that have been created to satisfy your dog’s herding desires. These balls come in different sizes and can also be filled with sand or water to increase the difficulty level. They have a smooth surface which makes them extra slippery and they can keep rolling for ages.
Your Australian Shepherd will have hours of fun trying to herd the balls into a spot. Try to teach them commands that go along with this activity or up the difficulty level by having them herd the balls onto a specific spot.
You can also increase the number of balls the dog will need to bring together. There are endless ways to adapt this type of play to your dog’s unique ability, desires, and skill level.
2. Frisbee Games
Frisbee can be fun for the whole family but your Australian Shepherd will get the most benefit from this high-energy, interactive sport. Being able to catch a Frisbee mid-air will also take time and training which will keep your dog highly interested.
You should start off by rolling the Frisbee on the ground like a wheel. This will get your Australian Shepherd used to grabbing objects in motion. Then you can move on the throwing the disk at shorter distances low to the ground. Before long, your dog will be running and jumping and showing off its immaculate agility.
Moreover, Frisbees also lend themselves to be used as props in a range of other tricks your Australian Shepherd can learn. They can search and retrieve the disks or perform balancing acts with them. Playing with a Frisbee is an exellent exercise for Australian Shepherd and will teach your dog how to keep their focus and also develop their muscle tone and strength.
3. Playing Catch
Playing catch is also another great exercise for your Australian Shepherd. It unleashes their energy by making run in short burst and resting in between catch.
Make sure that you use a ball that you don’t care for since at the end of the day, your ball will become quite unrecognizable.
I hope that this article on the top exercises for Australian Shepherds was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Dog Category!