5 Best Toys for Australian Shepherds

Aussies and Australian Shepherd puppies are very high energy dogs, which means they need a lot of stimulation to help keep them out of trouble. Here is my list of top 5 toys that will help tire them out, while ensuring their health and happiness (and your sanity).

1. YOU. That’s right. If you’re not prepared to devote yourself to your Aussie in the same way that she will devote herself to you, then you’re not ready for an Aussie. If you think I’m joking, please ask anyone who does Aussie Rescue work what is the #1 reason for relinquishment. Let me spare you the suspense–an owner who isn’t prepared for the high level of attachment and energy.

 

2. Another dog or puppy. As pack animals, dogs benefit from the company of another dog. If you’re not able to spend most of the day at home with your Aussie, please do consider adding another dog. In this instance, giving your Aussie dog company will actually make your life easier and your Aussie’s life substantially better. Aussies don’t do well alone for long stretches. They are called Velcro dogs for a reason.

 

3. Something to herd–yes, like sheep, goats, ducks, etc. But not kids. While they will be happy to herd kids if left to their own devices, this should absolutely be discouraged. A herding nip is considered a bite by the law.

 

4. An activity that lets them run, like agility, fly ball, or jogging with you. Aussies are built for stamina and love to go, go, go. As the saying goes, a tired Aussie is a happy Aussie.

 

5. Jobs around the house would be considered play for an Aussie. Train your dog to help with chores and not only will your Australian Shepherd benefit by having her mind challenged, but you’ll benefit from having a trusty helper. One of Kiera’s favorite jobs was to be guardian of the gardens, keeping all would-be thieves away. But, if truth be told, she was really just ensuring that nothing got to her beloved peas before she could scarf them down!

What?!

You were expecting a list of chew toys, Frisbees, balls and such?

Okay, so Kongs make good chew toys and they are very useful for teething, and a soft Frisbee can help you exercise a dog while you mostly get to stay stationary.  But after a friend’s dog died from choking on a tennis ball, I won’t let balls anywhere near my dogs.

But, if that’s as far as you’re thinking, then probably an Aussie wouldn’t really be a good fit for you. These living beings really only care about their family of living beings. Inanimate objects can work as temporary distractions, but in the long run, they won’t cut it.

Once your Aussie properly finishes training you, you won’t be capable of offering less than yourself. That’s the ultimate Aussie magic. And there’s nothing else like it.

*Be mindful that Australian Shepherd puppies should not be engaged in any strenuous or prolonged athletic activities until their bone growth finishes–after about a year. Check with your vet to get clearance for your puppy before beginning agility, fly ball, distance running, etc.

10 thoughts on “5 Best Toys for Australian Shepherds”

  1. Hi Karen, my husband and I have had 3 Aussies over the last 19 years and are in love with the breed. Up until 5 years ago we almost always had 2 at a time. Our current Aussie, Django, is 5 now and a great dog!! But I am constantly bothered that he does not have another dog/companion. We have resisted getting a 2nd dog just because it can make life a bit more complicated. That said, I believe it would make Django’s life more interesting and a little less dependent on us for entertainment. He gets lots of exercise with us but maybe another dog would add significantly to that. My question is, at already 5 yrs old, will he likely accept another younger dog..

    Looking forward to your response!!

    Linda

    Reply
    • Hi Linda, yes, indeed, adding a 2nd dog does make life more complicated in some ways, but since you’ve lived with Aussies, I know you know what you’d be signing up for. 5yrs old is not too old to introduce a younger dog. I might just suggest getting a female.

      Reply
      • One other question Karen…how risky is it to get an Aussie rescue…the younger, the better I would think. And do you recommend any rescue organizations?

        By the way, I wonder if you agree with me that the Aussie minis tend to be more hyper and fickle than the standard breed. I am always suspect when breeders start “messing” with a perfectly good breed, forcing a smaller size etc. to make them more saleable.

        Reply
        • Oooph! That’s a whole other kettle of fish. The questions I’d have to throw back at you are: How much training experience do you have? Have you ever had an Aussie Rescue dog before? Have you had any Rescue dogs before? How much time and patience do you have to work through whatever issues there may be?

          For the right person with the right setup, getting a rescue dog is a great thing to do. But you are opening pandora’s box. Maybe you’ll get lucky and wind up with a no-muss, no-fuss dog. But that’s not usually why dogs wind up in rescue.

          Short answer, getting an Aussie from rescue definitely has a chance of being risky. If you can find a puppy under 10 months old, in those instances, usually, some ignorant person didn’t realize what they were getting with an Aussie, couldn’t handle the energy, and dumped them.

          Aussie Rescue is the only organization I would recommend. They do their best to find out as much information as they can, and are as responsible as they can be in matching dogs to homes. But you probably won’t know what lines the dog comes from or the breeding situation. You’ll have no health records, and you won’t fully know what the issues are you’ll be bringing home. Rescue dogs usually take at least 6 months for their full, true personality to come through.

          And I don’t know enough about mini Aussies to have an opinion on them. :)

          Reply
  2. I’m thinking of getting a dog myself, (Australian Shepard), I have a 12-year-old son, and he knows how to handle dogs and train them, I’m just wondering that my entire family works, my son goes to school from 8 to 2:30 because of covid. I’m fine with waking up at 4 am to walk her, I just want to know if this breed is a good pick for me because my wife comes back from work at around 2:40, I come from work at 5. I would really like to know from you if an Australian Shepard is a good pick for us, and if not, what breed you recommend, we are looking for a medium-size dog like this one.
    Thanks,
    Bob

    Reply
    • Hi Bob, I appreciate your thoughtfulness in considering an Aussie.

      Not many dogs do well being left alone for several hours at a time. If for no other reason than the need to relieve themselves. I always ask people to time the longest they can go between bathroom breaks and then think about how they would feel if they were not allowed to go for between 7 and 10 hours. I personally think it’s borderline cruel for what many people expect of their dogs. So unless you are able to install a dog-door that allows your dog access to a fenced area or you are able to hire a dog walker or are willing to find a doggie daycare, then your current situation probably isn’t a good idea for any dog.

      Also, you don’t mention whether this would be your first dog or whether you’ve lived with dogs before. If this would be your first dog, an Aussie wouldn’t be a good one to start with. While there are some calm, mellow Aussies, most have fairly high energy and like to be busy. The boredom and loneliness of spending most of the day alone would leave any dog open to destructive behavior, but especially Aussies.

      But so much depends on the dog, herself. If you are committed to having an Aussie and you’re able to solve the need for your dog to be able to go the bathroom and have some kind of stimulation for some part of the day, then it all comes down to the breeder. A good breeder is more than willing to talk with you about their dogs’ temperaments and should be able to assess their puppies for which would be the most calm with moderate energy levels. After that, it’s all about the training. Aussies do best with positive training. While they are hard dogs physically (think, little tanks), they are soft dogs emotionally and don’t need or do well with punitive training.

      Another medium size dog that is a great family dog and less likely to have the high voltage that many Aussies do is a Lab.

      Wishing you great good luck on finding the dog of your dreams.

      Reply
  3. Hi Karen,
    I know this post is a bit older but I’ve been searching the internet for good info on Australian Shepherds. My partner and I recently adopted an 11 week old aussie and are wondering how long is too long of a walk. I’ve heard that you don’t want to over exercise your puppy and they shouldn’t go on runs with you until 18 months. Is a mile too much? He is a really mellow puppy and he sleeps a lot after we go on a mile long walk around town. I think he would let us walk for 5 miles and not show how tired he is until we get back to the house though. I’m reading info ranging from, ‘we’re not taking our puppy outside until they have had all of their puppy shots’ to people posting pictures of their puppies on hiking trails in the Adirondacks. I know the answer must be somewhere in the middle.

    Reply
    • Hi Tippy,
      I am SO glad you posted. I made the same mistake when I first got Kiera, thinking I needed to do crazy exercising with her because–you know–the aussie nutso energy level… Like your puppy, she was mellow and really wanted to just be anywhere I was. She liked to go on longer walks and runs when she got older, but it was really always about just wanting to be with me wherever I went.

      Sounds like you may have a similar puppy. Let your puppy be your guide. If he seems happy with the 1-mile walk and isn’t coming home with the zooms still in him, then that’s enough.

      I do think it’s a good idea to keep puppies protected until they get all their puppy shots. But maybe just keeping him away from other dogs and dog waste…which isn’t always easy to do.

      Wishing you and your puppy a great long life together!

      Reply

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