The Australian Shepherd is a dog bred to herd livestock and to perform all the tasks a dog needs to do on a ranch. Therefore he is happiest when he has a job do to. He is a wonderful companion if he can work with livestock or his intelligence and energy are channeled into dog sports or activities. Lacking a job to do, he becomes bored, destructive, and loud. He might also invent his own job such as herding your or somebody else’s children, chasing bikes, cars or joggers; or taking your house apart. If you don’t have the time or energy to train and exercise your Aussie on a daily basis, he’s not the breed for you.
But if you’re interested in competitive dog sports, the Aussie’s the one. You can even teach an Aussie to help you with chores around the house, such as picking up dirty laundry or small items off the floor and bringing them to you. Australian Shepherds are very versatile and intelligent, which means that you can do any sport with them. The are found in herding, agility, obedience, Rally obedience, Turnierhundesport, canicross, tracking, nosework, maintrailing, rescuing, hunting, following you on hiking, canoeing and biking trips, … He is very loyal and gets closely attached to you, though is still independent and loves to “solve problems”. If you treat him well and give him a job to do, he would do anything to keep you happy.
To be able to move a cow which is several-fold heavier than your Aussie, he needs a high amount of “pushiness”. This characteristic can carry over into your home and he might take over the dominant role in your family, if you are timid or inexperienced. As the Aussie needs a firm, confident and experienced owner, we do not recommend the Aussie as your first dog.
Australian shepherds are very loyal to their family, but are by nature standoffish with people they don’t know. We will therefore already expose the puppies to many different people (at the appropriate age) and this should be continued even when they come into their new home. Otherwise they can become fearful of strangers which may lead to biting out of fear, aggression or due to their protectiveness.
If you continue to socialize them well, they will also accept other people and animals outside their family. The Aussie has not been bred to be a family dog, but with clear rules and consistent education, they will be a loyal companion and gladly follow wherever you go and whatever you do!