If you have an Australian Shepherd, you’ve probably noticed that your dog loves to be the center of attention. Australian Shepherds naturally seek out human affection. However, this attention-seeking nature can easily become clingy and obnoxious, leading many dog owners to wonder why Australian Shepherds are so needy.
Here are 5 reasons Australian Shepherds are so needy:
- Australian Shepherds are highly energetic dogs.
- Aussies are always looking for something to do.
- Australian Shepherds can have separation anxiety.
- They need to have a stable daily routine.
- Aussies can display a defensive personality.
Paired with their natural working-dog tendencies, their sociability with humans makes Australian Shepherds among the most popular breeds for family dogs. Keep reading to learn more about what makes Australian Shepherds–sometimes called Aussies– such a needy breed and what you can do to balance their needs with your life and schedule.
1. Australian Shepherds Are Highly Energetic Dogs
Australian Shepherds were bred to be working dogs, meaning they have naturally high levels of energy. This makes them great companion dogs on adventures or afternoon fetch games. If not given a regular outlet, that same high energy can make Australian Shepherds restless, mouthy, or destructive.
Aussies need regular exercise to get their energy out. Knowing a breed’s required activity level before choosing a dog will help new dog owners to find a companion suitable to their environment and lifestyle. It also reduces the likelihood of dogs being returned, released, or sent to the pound.
If you have more than one dog and have access to a safe area to run and play, Australian Shepherds can get their energy out without destroying the house. High energy dogs like Australian Shepherds aren’t well suited for apartment or low-activity living. I recommend taking your Aussie to the local dog park and let them play with other dogs or play fetch with them. A sport ball launcher or floating fetch toy (both available on Amazon.com) are great items to own when you have an energetic dog like an Australian Shepherd.
2. Aussies Are Always Looking for Something To Do
It’s difficult to imagine a dog with ennui, but it happens far too often. On top of being a physically active breed, Australian Shepherds also need regular mental stimulation. This, too, is a product of Australian Shepherds being bred to work.
The mental activity of corralling and herding sheep and livestock, for which Australian Shepherds were bred, is ingrained in the breed’s personality. If left without mental stimulation, Australian Shepherds will become bored, leading to negative behavior.
The best way to keep Australian Shepherds mentally active is to provide mental and physical challenges.
Here are a few possible games that’ll stimulate an Australian Shepherd’s inherently curious intellect:
- Obstacle Course. Obstacle training is a great way to keep any dog physically and mentally healthy. Use either a real course at a dog park or a DIY course at home. Training your Australian Shepherd to go through obstacles provides an opportunity to train them for commands as well as much-needed exercise.
- Hide and Seek. A game of fetch may be too simple for an Australian Shepherd’s intelligence. Hiding a favorite toy or treat toy will engage the Aussie’s find-and-protect mental faculties, preventing boredom and bad behavior.
- Task Training. Because Aussies are working dogs, training them to do certain tasks is healthy for their mind. Training your Aussie to fetch your newspaper and slippers isn’t just convenient for you but also beneficial to your pet. Australian Shepherds are content when they have a job to do.
3. Australian Shepherds Can Have Separation Anxiety
Many dogs are prone to separation anxiety, and Australian Shepherds are definitely among them. Separation anxiety occurs when a dog becomes too dependent on a particular individual. So, when that individual is away, the dog panics and can become hyperactive, whiny, mouthy, or destructive until the individual returns.
Separation anxiety can be reduced with proper socialization, but each dog is different; there is no hard, fast rule. In general, however, socializing Australian shepherds with people, other dogs, and other household pets is most effective when the dog is still a puppy.
Among foster and stray dogs, separation anxiety is especially common. In some cases, it can be a trauma response if the animal has received abuse or neglect in the past.
Kenneling can help reduce separation anxiety if the dog has been kennel trained. It provides dogs with a “cave,” or personal space, in which they feel secure. I got a Midwest Homes crate from Amazon to train my dog Lily and she loved having her own spot.
4. They Need To Have a Stable Daily Routine
Australian Shepherds are extremely routine-oriented dogs. Once a daily pattern has been established, they’ll adhere to it devoutly. Too much change in the daily schedule of events, especially if it happens suddenly, can cause Australian Shepherds to become confused and frustrated.
For this reason, Australian Shepherds aren’t a good breed for dog owners that move locations frequently or have irregular schedules.
The strictness of the daily routine in Aussies’ personalities is likely related to their traditional vocation. Herding requires repetition of the same schedule while still addressing new mental and physical challenges every day.
Keeping a breed’s origins in mind can help determine what they need to thrive in a modern setting.
5. Aussies Can Display a Defensive Personality
The primary function of any herding dog is to gather, move, and protect livestock. Placed in a modern, domestic setting, that defensive nature can lead Australian Shepherds to guard the house, family, or the perceived “herd” against outside threats.
This trait makes Australian Shepherds good watchdogs, boosting their popularity with family dog owners. However, an overly protective or defensive dog, especially if they’re not sufficiently exercised or stimulated, may become a threat to postal workers, neighbors, or other animals in the neighborhood.
Some Australian Shepherds, when trained not to attack outsiders, may become timider instead. This, too, can be remedied by properly encouraging socialization. Rewarding your Australian Shepherd for behaving well with strangers will reinforce good behavior. Try using Train-Me dog treats (Link will take you to Amazon.com) to reward your pup.
How Do I Prevent My Aussie From Being So Needy?
You can prevent your Aussie from being so needy by spending quality time with it. Aussies need at least 2 hours of exercise, including playtime, to keep them happy and healthy. Give it its daily walks and toys to play with. Reward it every time it refrains from displaying attention-seeking behavior.
If, however, your Aussie’s attention-seeking behavior worsens, don’t hesitate to consult your local vet for help.