DEAR PAW’S CORNER: As our adopted Australian shepherd, “Skip,” has grown, he has gotten more and more hyperactive. He tears around the house from room to room, and if I don’t catch him, he will chew up every shoe he can find. How can I stop this behavior? — Carol in Tucson
DEAR CAROL: You probably won’t be able to completely change Skip’s behavior, because Australian shepherds are so naturally energetic. But that doesn’t mean you can’t curb that tearing around the house and the chewing to a manageable level.
First and foremost, Skip needs more exercise. Lots more exercise. The shepherd breeds were developed to do exactly what he’s doing: run, run some more and run even more — all day long. As working dogs, they were invaluable in helping to herd sheep in pastures. So just taking Skip out for a walk a couple of times a day isn’t going to cut it.
Find a space where he can run off leash without disturbing other people or dogs, or if your yard is fenced, let him run there. Don’t just let him run alone. He needs to be supervised, and you should take the opportunity to work with him.
That’s the second part of the solution. Work with Skip on basic commands including sit, stay, (lie) down, etc. Add in playful games like fetch. Aussies are extremely intelligent, and you might be surprised at how quickly Skip learns to follow commands closely, especially once he’s worked off some of that excess energy.
Chewing up your shoes may happen less if Skip gets more run-around time. While dogs chew instinctively, anxiety can exacerbate the problem. A slightly more relaxed Skip might curb the chewing, although you should still keep your more expensive shoes out of reach
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