Bringing home your new Australian Shepherd puppy: Well in advance, you will want to buy the nessesary supplies. DISHES made out of non-tip plastic, stainless steel, or heavy crockery bowls are good choices. I recommend the crockery for most Aussies as some like to play with their water bowls, and may scrape and pounce at them. This deters it. A large to medium bowl is the best for an Aussie.
Being inquisitive and intelligent, you will need to provide TOYS for your puppy. You should offer a varied selection, as Aussies invariably find a favorite. You will want to have a good stock of twenty or so toys, but only let your puppy have five at a time, and rotate them each week to avoid boredom. You will want to give them a HARD TOY, which may be a hard rubber ball, a nylon chew-toy, a plastic-soccer-type ball for dogs, or a chew toy such as rawhide. Many people say that rawhides can be dangerous, but just about anything can be dangerous at some point, and if you teach your dog to chew rawhides, they wont need too much dental attention. You should also have soft, CHEWABLE TOYS, Aussies almost always love their own little stuffed bear, or other animal. I also use old socks, and always have knot tied in them so that they can distinguish them from your own socks. You should definitely have an ACTION TOY, such as a squeaky, a rope toy, a tug-of war toy, or other kind.
You will need to get a good COLLAR and LEASH. The collar should be an adjustable one that ranges from about 10″ to 20″ which is the average growth range for an aussie pup to adult. Be sure that it is a clip, and not a buckle collar so that you can release the COLLAR quickly should it be caught on something. Also you will need a lead. There are many types and I have found there to be three useful sizes, and I have them all. A belt-type leash, which has a hard plastic containment and a belt that can extend and contract is great for walks. They usually come in 16 ft and 28 feet. A three-foot leather lead makes a good walking LEASH and is the standard for obedience competitors. A six-foot is the standard for any use, but if you get the two above, you will quickly find that this type becomes obsolete.
You should fence off an area of your yard, as a KENNEL, if it has a pool or other dangerous thing in it you wouldn’t want a four year old to be near. Your entire yard should be fenced, but a puppy should have a smaller area that he learns is his own. Temporary wire fencing and stakes makes a good boundary. Be sure there is a good area of shade for the pup. This area should be the designated area in which the puppy is encouraged to eliminate himself. In the house, you will want a safe place that can be separated from the rest of the house with a door or portable baby GATE. Your puppy will probably have a few accidents and you’ll want the area he does it on to be okay with you. An indoor KENNEL may give your puppy a sense of its own place.
Find out from the breeder, or home you are getting the puppy from, what they feed so you can buy the same FOOD. If it is high in protein and the pup is younger than three months old, you will want to wean them off of it or it can cause a painful lameness, associated with too much protein during growing.
A CRATE makes a delightful addition to your home. While many people see it as a cage, the puppy soon comes to see it as his own place to get away from it all. Until he is HOUSE BROKEN, it would be of help to keep him here at night because they do not like to go to the bathroom in their own place. You should keep a BED or sample of carpet in this crate. When deciding which size to get, a medium to large is the best choice. Also, a BED with cedar filling, or a bean-bag type is appreciated. This one should be laid out in the home somewhere out-of-the way.
You will probably want to get the SHAMPOO and BRUSHES now, too, so they are on hand when your puppy discovers the joys of mud. You should definitely puppy proof your home. Put house plants out of reach, Tape cords to base boards, or behind furniture. Don’t leave cigarettes in ashtrays or in their boxes. Keep objects such as pills,small toys, jacks, marbles, pins, pencils, bones, glass, or wood out of puppy reach. Clear books and magazines, empty trash, keep the toilet lid down, put the kitty-litter out of the way of your little tyke. Don’t leave shoes or socks out, household cleaners should be secure. In the garage, anti-freeze, weed killers, insect and rodent poisons should be put out of reach. Remove poisonous plants and baits in the yard, as well as garden edging as it is sharp.
The first night away from his dam will be difficult. You should at all costs stay with him during the night. It helps imprint them on you and he will feel much more comforted. You may choose to sleep on the couch in the puppy-area, or put your pup in a crate next to your bed. Expect to get little sound sleep for a week. The first time out to his play yard, should be monitored to see if there are still unsafe spots. You might want to put his crate out there for comfort and shade.
Socializing and Training your puppy: I think House training should be tackled first, because I bet that’s on your mind. I suggest buying a dog door and showing your puppy how to use it by leading him in and out with food, because they house train very quickly on their own if they don’t have to soil the house. Keep a schedule and you should have no problems. Take your puppy out as soon as he wakes up, after eating and drinking, and after play. Take him out first thing in the morning and last thing at night. This will help establish good habits for him.
You might like to train them to urinate when you use a command such as “potty.” This helps on extended trips or if you are in a hurry. Always praise him when he has finished his business. Do not punish your pup should he make a mistake, regard your puppy as a baby soiling his diaper. If your puppy sniffs, turns in circles, beginning to squat, take him outdoors, he is about to urinate.
Keep in mind that all dogs go through certain stages in their youth that can affect them the rest of their lives, so be sure to take extra care in socializing. If your puppy reacts unfavorable to a situation it is imperative that you not coddle him or pet him. This only reinforces his fear. If he should react adversely, act like you expect otherwise, and he is going to do it or else. An example of this is with my own puppy. We took him to a fourth of July parade and at the end, there were people shooting guns, I just stood there and when the guns went off, so did my dog. When friends began to coddle him and cover his ears, he was afraid of the gun shots. Just act like there is nothing to be afraid of, adopt a “I’m sick of it” attitude here or you will have an extremely sensitive Aussie.
At all times in his life take your Aussie everywhere. Try to have him ride in the car all day while you do errands. Take him to parades, on a walk on a busy street, to an elementary school, outside a supermarket, or anywhere else where he will receive lots of stimuli.
Enrolling him in puppy kindergarten helps him understand what you want and how to deal with other dogs. This helps socialization as well as helps you two establish firm roles. You must always be dominant because sometimes Aussies grow up confused and may become aggressive if not shown their place in life. Frequently wrestle with your dog, but always roll him on your back, play tug-of-war, but always win. Occasionally take away his food bowl while he is eating. Take him away from something interesting and do not allow him the object. This will help you get him to respond to you, and you will have a solid, friendly relationship that will save you agony down the line.
The easiest way to leash train a puppy is to put on the collar and lead an go for a long walk. He may balk and buck at first, but will settle down with all the new stimuli, and it should help you in the future. You can train your puppy a few easy tricks from three months on, but do not expect him to heel and be totally reliable. Serious training starts from a year to two years, depending on the personality of your dog. You should never overwork your puppy, and do not overlook the importance of enjoying his puppyhood.
Good Owners, Great Dogs – This book is an excellent resource for managing your new Australian Shepherd puppy.
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