What should you do with your Aussie when you go out?
Young Aussie pups should be left in a crate or pen until they’re old enough to know right from wrong, otherwise they could endanger themselves by chewing or knocking over something dangerous. Alternatively, you could invest in a dog gate that keeps them confined to a small, safe area of the house. Either way, your pup should have enough room to stand up, lay down, and move around.
Be sure to leave adult Aussies with access to their bed, drinking water, and some toys to keep them company (as long as your dog won’t destroy them). If you can’t just leave them roaming free in the house, make sure they’re in a well-lit part of the home with windows and that the house is secure. Never leave your Aussie shut in one room, especially when they’re rescue dogs.
If you’re going to be out for longer than 4 hours at a time, ask a close friend or relative to come over and check on them, or take them to a family member’s house for the day. You could even try leaving the radio on so that they feel less alone.
If you’re going to be away from home on a regular basis, you could also consider hiring a pet sitter, dog walker, or taking your Aussie to doggy daycare.
Do Australian Shepherds get lonely?
Aussies are very sociable dogs. They can feel lonely when they’re left alone often and are prone to suffering from separation anxiety. This is when dogs feel an overwhelming sense of anxiety over being apart from their owners.
It is a common puppyhood phase, but can also come about from being bored, lonely, or coming from a background of neglect or abuse. It can also lead to destructive behaviors out of distress, such as chewing or ripping up household furniture, excessive barking, and going to the toilet indoors. This can be especially difficult for Australian Shepherd owners who live in apartments.
No matter how frustrated you feel, you should try not to react angrily to these destructive behaviors, as it is a symptom of a bigger issue that you, as the owner, need to fix. Plus, the attention can actually encourage them. Instead, show them that this kind of behavior gets no attention and try confining them to a safe place in the home until you can fix it.
To prevent/overcome separation anxiety, you need to instill a sense of confidence and independence in your Aussie. Start by leaving the house for a small amount of time and slowly increase the length of time that you are gone each day. This way, they get to learn quickly that you always come back. Never make a big deal of leaving, but always make a fuss of them when you come back so that they know there’s something to look forward to when you go out.
Encourage solo play with puzzle toys and treat dispensing balls to build their confidence. This shows them that spending time alone can be fun and rewarding. As long as the toy is safe, try leaving them with it when you go out to form a positive association with spending time apart.
If their anxiety is severe, you could even invest in some anti-anxiety products to aid your training, like herbal supplements or plug-in diffusers. You could also try using a pet camera that connects to your phone, alerts you to noise, and lets you see what’s going on when you’re not at home. Some of them even let you talk to your pets through your phone.