THE AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD
LIVING WITH AN AUSSIE
They are initially reserved with strangers and can be known to bark to alert their owners of strangers in the vicinity. This is a breed trait, as they were kept as ranch guardians as well as livestock herders in their native America. Careful and appropriate socialisation as a youngster is essential to avoid any potential reactivity issues in later life.
Aussies are extremely intelligent and capable of learning dozens of commands! They are very obedient and fun to live with if their owners are willing to put the time and effort in to teach them various skills and tricks. Many viral internet videos you may see contain Aussies doing tricks, and, being a famously versatile breed, they compete successfully in obedience, agility, heelwork to music, working trials, rally, flyball and other canine sports in the UK and USA. They love to learn new things and most Aussies love to show off their skills to anyone who will watch them! This does mean though that if you are not teaching them new skills continually and “keeping their brain happy”, that they will find their own entertainment – which can be destroying the furniture! It’s extremely important spend time training them and also to give them proper enrichment and puzzle games to do to keep them engaged, otherwise they will definitely find their own “jobs” to do.
They are a “velcro breed” – they want to be in your skin! They will follow you to the toilet if you let them. They love to be in their owner’s personal space and thrive on attention. For this reason though, they can develop severe separation anxiety if not taught to relax on their own. Crate training is definitely helpful for this – it gives them a safe place to relax and hang out when you’re not around (or even when you are there) and it keeps them safe from chewing any wires, electrical equipment or dangerous foods like chocolate or chewing gum whilst you’re not with them. Start crate training as soon as you get your Aussie, its worth it’s weight in gold!
An Aussie that has not been socialised with Children can not be be expected to get on with children, however with the right socialistation, introductions, and so long as the children respect the dog, they can make great family additions. They can be very playful with children but it is important not to allow children to climb on or harass the dog. Children and dogs can coexist very well if the children are taught respect for the family pet from an early age. This of course is the same rule for all breeds of dog, not just our beloved Aussies.
All in all, they do need a well structured home life with appropriate boundaries and both physical and mental exercise in whichever form of “work” you choose to do with them. They make fantastic active companions for both adults and families, when their owners foster confidence in them and have the time and patience to own a highly intelligent working breed. They’re not a breed for everyone but in the right homes they really do thrive and flourish.