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Can Australian Shepherds Be Left Alone? Vet Approved Facts & FAQ

Written by: Melissa Gunter

Last Updated on July 16, 2024 by Dogster Team

Cute australian shepherd dog at kitchen, modern interior

Can Australian Shepherds Be Left Alone? Vet Approved Facts & FAQ


Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg  Photo


Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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The Australian Shepherd is known for their beautiful coat, intelligence, and great people skills. These gorgeous dogs have long been considered family dogs, but they were originally bred as herding dogs. Often called a Velcro dog, due to their determination to stick close to their owners, it’s understandable that Australian Shepherd owners wonder whether it’s safe to leave their Aussies alone.

While any pet owner wants to spend as much time with their pet as possible, there’s no way to stay with them 24 hours a day. However, it’s recommended that Australian Shepherds aren’t left alone for more than 3 to 4 hours at a time. We’ll discuss why they shouldn’t be left alone for extended periods, what happens when they are, and how you can work around an Aussie’s need to be near you when you have to be away so you and your dog can have a great relationship.

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The Australian Shepherd

As we mentioned, the Australian Shepherd was initially bred as a herding dog. You’d expect that these dogs originated in Australia from the name, but that’s not the case. The dog’s ancestors were from Spain, and the breed was refined in the western United States. Once there, ranchers began using Aussies for their amazing herding skills and intelligence. The more they were used, the more the ranchers began to see their loyalty and need to please. This made the transition to a family dog easier for the breed.

Australian Shepherds are known as people-oriented dogs. They love interacting with their owners and want to be near their families as much as possible. This makes them great with children. However, You should be aware that their herding skills can cause problems. Don’t be surprised to find your Aussie nipping at the heels of the kids, or even you, in an attempt to keep the family in line. They’ll also stay at your side, bark, and react if they think their family is in danger.

Red Tri Australian Shepherd Sitting
Image By: Felipe Cespedes G, Shutterstock

Aussies and Alone Time

Australian Shepherds don’t typically do well left alone. They show immense loyalty to their owners, and when they cannot be together, they may act out, especially if you’re away from them for more than 3 to 4 hours at a time. Aussies are highly intelligent, and once they realize you aren’t at home, they may devise other ways to keep themselves occupied. Often, this involves destructive behaviors.

It doesn’t mean every Aussie will destroy your home when you’re away, but you should be aware that there is potential for this type of behavior when your Aussie is left alone for long periods.

Here are some other signs your Aussie may exhibit to tell you they’ve been on their own for too long:
  • Destruction, chewing, or scratching
  • Howling and whining
  • Nervousness when you return home, such as cowering or shivering
  • Urinating in the house even though they were taken out before you left

Is Leaving My Aussie Alone Dangerous?

For a breed that doesn’t do well with being alone, there are a few side effects they may experience when it occurs frequently. While not every Aussie is the same, you should be aware that your pup could have issues when you’re away.

One of the most dangerous issues your dog may face due to this is separation anxiety. If you notice your Aussie is struggling when you’re away, speak to your veterinarian so they can help you determine what you can do to help your dog deal with these issues. They may recommend calming sprays or anxiety medication in conjunction with a behavioral modification plan, depending on the severity.

Australian Shepherd Puppies
Image Credit: lightman_pic, Shutterstock

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The 5 Tips for Leaving an Aussie Alone

While you may not want to leave your Aussie alone, it will happen occasionally. Luckily, you can make your absence more tolerable for them.

1. Hire a Pet Sitter

Having a pet sitter may be your best option when you’re away most of the day. Choosing a trustworthy person will make the situation easier for you and your Aussie. They can come by, take your Aussie for a walk, spend a bit of time with them, and help them cope with you being away.

2. Give Your Aussie a Safe Space

Just like humans, dogs feel safest when they have their own space to retreat to. If you want to try this approach, place your dog’s crate, their favorite blankets and toys, and water bowl in a quiet area. Your dog will feel safer and retreat to this area with some training.

Australian Shepherd puppy running
Image Credit: Chris Curtis, Shutterstock

3. Something of Yours for Comfort

You may not believe it, but having something of yours they can interact with when you’re away is a great way to comfort your Aussie. This is especially true due to a dog’s incredible sense of smell. Choose an old shirt or item that will surely have your scent on it. This will let your Aussie smell you when you aren’t home. Don’t do this if your Aussie is a heavy chewer since it can be dangerous.

4. Noise

Try leaving the television or radio on. Noise can be soothing to your dog and make them feel like they aren’t alone.

Red Tri Australian Shepherds
Image Credit: Fotoschauer, Shutterstock

5. Interactive Toys

Interactive dog toys that can keep your very intelligent Aussie occupied can also make life easier when you need to be away. If your dog takes to the toys and enjoys playing with them, they’ll use them to release their energy instead of destroying your home.

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In Conclusion

As you can see, Australian Shepherds need to be near their families, and a high level of intelligence can make it difficult for them to spend time alone. If you must go out or work away from the house, don’t be discouraged. The tips above can help your pup feel better when you aren’t around. The key to a happy Aussie is to spend as much time with them as possible and ensure they are safe and well cared for when you’re away from home.

Featured Image Credit: OlgaOvcharenko, Shutterstock

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