5 Ways to Entertain your Aussie
Australian Shepherds are incredibly agile and intelligent - sometimes too much for their own good.
My first Aussie, who I now share my life with, came to me when she was around a year old. She was a terror. She wasn't house-trained or groomed, nor did she have any semblance of basic manners. She destroyed and chewed things, peed as soon as she came inside the house, stole food from the counter, and slept outside by herself.
A bored mind is indeed a devil's playground.
Here are a few ways that you can entertain your Aussie to ensure he or she does not become bored and destructive:
Exercise and Get Outside
Daily walks are indeed a must. If not daily, then definitely every other day. For a dog that was bred to have endurance, stamina, and intelligence, sitting around all day every day simply won't cut it. Whether it's a hike with friends, walking off the beaten path, or an exploratory jaunt around the neighborhood, physical exercise is an important part of keeping your Aussie's high energy channeled appropriately.
Play with Puzzles
One of the best techniques I use to entertain my Aussie is using food-dispensing puzzles. Mixing it up between various difficulty levels and puzzles that have to be rolled, pawed, or have pieces taken out with their mouths keeps the dogs engaged and makes them work it out, which can be mentally draining.
Another great entertaining 'puzzle' to use is a Kong - a plastic, rounded cone shape that can be filled with the dog's meal, wet food, treats, or a variety of edible items. Filling it with wet food or a mixture of wet and dry kibble and freezing it will usually keep my Aussie busy for two to three hours.
Do Some Trick Training
Trick Training can be incredibly rewarding and fun for you and your Aussie -- from simple tricks like sit up and standing on the hind legs, to more advanced ones like pushing a skateboard and doing a backwards leg weave. It may take some time to learn to communicate to each other, but it's a wonderful learning experience and process. And don't be surprised if your Aussie is incredibly quick to catch on! Clicker training is helpful for this, especially for shaping, but not absolutely necessary. A few great resources to check out are: www.clickertraining.com and www.domorewithyourdog.com.
Pick Up a Canine Sport
Freestyle, Agility, Herding, Dock Diving, Flyball, Scenting, and Disc. These are just a few of the myriad of sports and activities available to participate in with your Aussie. You can just participate or compete for titles, but always for fun.
Give Your Dog a Job
Whether it's helping around the house retrieving objects or keeping you company when you go to the pet store or out and about, including your Aussie will help him or her feel like he or she has a job.
After structured and daily exercise, many training classes, daily training, and being included in the family, many of the problems my Aussie had mentioned above are now gone. She is currently four years old, she and has passed her Canine Good Citizen Test and achieved her Novice Trick Dog Title (though I am still trying to convince her that she's allowed on the furniture and to sleep on the bed with me). Time spent together doing things is worth it for a happy Aussie and an enhanced bond between dog and human.
Tiffany's Diamond Dogs.com