Australian Shepherds are brilliant, loving, and high-energy dogs that were bred with the intention of herding cattle or performing in agility sports, so it’s no wonder Aussies are known to have really high energy. But do Aussies get calmer as they age?
Aussies will begin to settle down around 18 months old when you should start to see their calmer side. Maturing into calmer dogs may continue until 3 or 4 years of age as Aussies learn how to regulate their energy and emotions.
Two years old is the general basis for maturity in dogs, but depending on your Australian Shepherd’s genetic background, there is a possibility it can take a little longer. Owning an Aussie takes continuous training and exercise their whole life, no matter how much they have calmed down. So let’s dive into the life stages of an Aussie.
Will your Aussie calm down with age?
Aussies will calm down with age, but until they reach maturity it is helpful that you establish a routine with training, enrichment, and scheduled breaks. Creating a structured life for your Aussie will help them grow into a well-balanced dog and understand when to have an on-and-off switch.
There are four main growth stages for Australian Shepherd’s:
Stage 1: Puppies in the 1-4 month-old age range tend to be curious about all new smells, people, and places. You’ll see their playful and high-energy moments come out, but they are still sleeping a large portion of their day. Check out the related post of How to Care for Aussie Puppies.
Stage 2: Once your Aussie reaches 4-12 months they usually have the most energy and need the most training and enrichment. You can expect your dog to often get into mischief since they are constantly looking for the next thing to do.
Stage 3: From 1-3 years old, they should start self-regulating their emotions and energy as they enter the teenage stage. Any habits from the first or second stage of their life will now become more cemented as they begin to transition into adulthood. Be consistent with energy outlets and rest periods to ensure you break any bad habits.
Stage 4: Once your Aussie reaches ages 3-7 years old, they are officially mature. Here you will notice significant differences in your dogs’ behavior including fewer energy outbursts and more positive manners set in place. It is still important to give them proper physical and mental stimulation to meet their needs.
When they are a senior, ages 8+ years, they are no longer in a growth stage. Here you will notice a dramatic change in energy levels, sometimes due to physical or mental adjustments as their body ages. Aussie seniors may even require more mental than physical stimulation due to their physical limitations.
What activities can help calm an Aussie?
Australian Shepherd’s ancestors come from working dogs used to protect a farm or herd cattle. This leaves many homebound Aussies overly excited because they are confused about handling their natural desire to work.
Using fun enrichment exercises that make your Aussie use brain power or physical energy will allow them to self-soothe and give them the opportunity to relax at home. Here are some energy-calming activities.
- Start your Aussies’ day off with a walk allowing them to sniff and explore the scenery. Dogs have hundreds of millions of scent receptors and use their sniffing power to understand their surroundings. Allow your dog to stop and sniff on your walk to burn a large amount of mental energy helping them to relax.
- Consider getting your Aussie into dog play day, sports, or agility training to give them a job to perform. Anxiety and restlessness can come from the lack of a job. Aussies are known to thrive in agility where they can test their psychical limits by weaving through poles and tunnels and jumping over hurdles.
- If you work from home or are unable to get outside with your Aussie as much, try some puzzles and games to keep them mentally stimulated. Stuffing and freezing a Kong toy with peanut butter or one of your Aussies meals can be an excellent tool for crate training or downtime.
The act of licking is known to be self-soothing for dogs and working on a kong or similar treat toy usually takes about 10-20 minutes leaving your Aussie at ease by the time they finish.
Besides mental stimulation, physical exercise is recommended several times a day. Try to end every day with a long structured walk where you focus more on training and strengthening your connection.
Practice queues such as heel, watch me, wait, etc on your walks for a more effortless experience for you both. An evening walk will burn off any last-minute excitement before bed and help your Aussie wind-down.
For more activities, here’s a post on the Top 5 Ways to Keep an Aussie Entertained.
Australian Shepherds are loving companions that enjoy being involved in any activity you take part in, but also have high requirements for physical and mental stimulation. As they go through their stages of life, continue to give them multiple outlets a day to expend energy. Exercise and training will be the backbone in helping you raise a calm Aussie, but chances are you will not see a naturally calm side in them until they grow to 2-5 years old.
Providing physical and mental exercise and a job to do will create a well-rounded Aussie that will learn how to use their on-and-off switch.