The Australian Shepherd is known for its beautiful coat, intelligence, and great people skills. These gorgeous dogs have long been considered family dogs, although they were originally bred as herding dogs. Often called a Velcro dog, due to their determination to stick close to their owners, it’s understandable that Australian Shepherd owners would wonder whether it’s safe to leave their Aussies alone.
While any pet owner wants to spend as much time with their pet as possible, there’s no way to stay with them 24 hours a day. When it comes to an Aussie though, it’s recommended that these Australian Shepherds aren’t left alone for more than 3 to 4 hours at a time. Let’s learn why these dogs shouldn’t be left alone for extended periods, what happens when they are, and how you can work around an Aussie’s need to be near you when you have to be away so you and your dog can have a great relationship.
The Australian Shepherd
As we mentioned, the Australian Shepherd was originally bred as a herding dog. From the name, you’d expect that these dogs originated in Australia, but that’s not the case. This breed is believed to have begun in Spain, then moved to North America. Once there, ranchers began using this breed for their amazing herding skills and intelligence. The more these dogs were used, the ranchers began to see their loyalty and need to please. This made the transition to a family dog easier for the breed.
Australian Shepherds are known as people-oriented dogs. They love the interaction with their owners and want to be near their families as much as possible. This makes them great with children. You should be aware, however, that their love for family and their innate herding skills often combine. Don’t be surprised to find your Aussie nipping at the heels of the kids, or even you, in an attempt to keep the family in line. They’ll also stay at your side, bark, and react if they think you or members of their family are in danger. That’s how loyal and loving this breed truly is.
Aussies and Alone Time
Australian Shepherds don’t typically do well left alone. They show immense loyalty to their owners and when they cannot be together, they may act out, epecially, if you’re away from them for more than 3 to 4 hours at a time. These dogs are highly intelligent, and once they realize you aren’t at home, they may come up with other ways to keep themselves occupied. Often, this may mean destructive behaviors.
Now, this doesn’t mean every Aussie will destroy your home when you’re away, but you should be aware that there is potential for this type of behavior when your Aussie is left to its own devices for long periods.
Is Leaving My Aussie Alone Dangerous?
For a breed of dog that doesn’t do well with being alone, there are a few side effects they may experience when this happens consistently. While not every Aussie is the same, you should be aware that your pup could have issues when you’re away.
One of the most dangerous issues your dog may face due to this is separation anxiety. If you notice your Aussie is struggling when you’re away, speak to your veterinarian so they can help you determine what you can do to help your dog deal with these issues. They may recommend calming sprays or anxiety medication, in conjunction with a behavioral modification plan, depending on the severity.
The 5 Tips for Leaving an Aussie Alone
While you may not want to leave your Aussie alone, it’s going to happen from time to time. Luckily, there are some things you can try to make things easier for them. Let’s take a look at a few of those below.
1. Hire a Pet Sitter
When you’ll be away for most of the day, having a pet sitter may be your best option. Choosing a person you feel you can trust will make the situation easier for both you and your Aussie. They can come by, take your Aussie for a walk, spend a bit of time with them, and help them cope with you being away.
2. Give Your Aussie a Safe Space
Just like humans, dogs feel safest when they have their own space to retreat to. Many dog breeds consider areas like this a den in which to hide. If you want to try this approach, place your dog’s crate, their favorite blankets and toys, and water bowl nearby. It’s also best if this area is far away from potential stress-inducing issues like outside noise. Your dog will feel safer here and will retreat to this area with some training.
3. Something of Yours for Comfort
You may not believe it, but having something of yours they can interact with when you’re away is a great way to comfort your Aussie. This is especially true due to a dog’s incredible sense of smell. Choose an old shirt or item of yours that is sure to have your scent on it. This will let your Aussie smell you when you aren’t home and provide them with a bit of comfort. Don’t do this if your Aussie chews a lot as it can be dangerous.
Try leaving the television or radio on. Noise can be soothing to your dog and make them feel like they aren’t so alone.
5. Interactive Toys
Interactive dog toys that can keep your very intelligent Aussie occupied can also make life easier when you need to be away. If your dog takes to the toys and enjoys playing with them, they’ll use these to release their energy instead of destroying your home.
As you can see, Australian Shepherds need to be near their families and a high level of intelligence can make it difficult to leave them on their own. If you must go out or work away from the house, don’t be discouraged. The tips above can help your pooch feel better when you aren’t around. The key to a happy Aussie is to spend as much time with them as you can, and ensure they are safe and well cared for when you’re away from home.
Featured Image Credit: OlgaOvcharenko, Shutterstock