Are Australian Shepherds Good Family Dogs? The Surprising Truth

If you are looking for a dog that would be a great member of the family, it is important to think about your family lifestyle as well as how you live. Another very important question is what age your children are. Some breeds of dogs are very patient with children, others get along better with older children. Some dogs would love to be in constant confusion, while others just want to sleep all day on your knees. There are dog breeds that have enough space in the apartment and others need more space to release energy. Well, if you are already reading this article, you are probably considering buying an Australian Shepherd. Are Australian Shepherds good family dogs? Let’s find out!

Australian Shepherd Dogs in a Family Unit

Let‘s start with the question, what should a family dog look like? A typical family dog should ideally be balanced, playful, friendly with children, peaceful and cuddly. All family members, especially young kids, should feel safe and comfortable with the dog. Every family should choose a dog that suits their lifestyle. If you‘re one of those people who likes to spend their free time at home watching TV, you should probably choose the less active breed. On the contrary, if you are in a hurry to look for an active activity as soon as you return from work, a dog of a more agile breed would be more suitable for you. So how about Australian Shepherds? How do you know if this breed will suit your family? The following questions can help you to make a decision:

1.     How active is your family?

Australian shepherds are active dogs who need a daily discharge of energy. This breed was invented as working dogs to help on the farm. Therefore, this breed should be chosen by a family with at least one or more members who enjoy active leisure, sports and long walks. In order to maintain a healthy dog both physically and mentally, about 1-2 hours should be devoted to daily exercise (source).

However, this does not mean that Aussies are only suitable for people who own a farm or live somewhere in the countryside. The ways to spend time can be very different. Maybe you live in the city center, but enjoy long walks in the park in the evenings? Australian Shepherd would love to join you if you enjoy riding a bike or perhaps enjoy hiking? In this case this breed would be suitable for you. The whole point is that they are active dogs that need enough time and attention.

2.     Where do you live?

Another important point is where does your family live? In an apartment or in a house with a garden? As we mentioned above, if you live in an apartment, you will need more time for the dog. You will need to look for a park or some remote place where the dog can play and release energy. On the contrary, it can sometimes be easier if you live outside the city, or just in a house with a fenced area. Your Australian Shepherd will be able to play in your own yard and you won‘t have to ride anywhere on a daily basis. Here‘s an article for more information on how to raise an Australian Shepherd while living in an apartment.

3.     Do you have children and how old are they?

Also, a very important point when considering whether an Australian Shepherd is the right breed for your family are children and their age. Some Australian Shepherd owners notice that from time to time their dog likes to herd on smaller children. Well, these are the instincts of this breed. But of course, it cannot be said that this will be for all cases. A lot depends on how you socialize your dog from an early age.

In most cases, they are happy to spend time with children, especially older children. Australian Shepherds, a breed that likes to constantly play, move, run. And who can have more energy than a child of several years? So, these dogs can definitely become best friends with your kids, but be prepared to work a little in the beginning.

Both the dog and the child need to understand the need to behave gently, not to pull each other. If you have a newborn or the child is still very young, you should not leave him alone with the dog. The Australian Shepherd is a dog of sufficiently large breed that can accidentally injure him while playing with a baby. As well as young children can often be disrespectful to dogs. Here is in-depth article on how to introduce a child to a new dog.

4.     How much time do you have?

It is important to understand that the dog needs to be given time each day. Is there a person in the family who could take multiple walks a day? Dogs need attention, exercise and grooming. Depending on the length of the fur, the care can also take up a large part of your time. Australian Shepherds have a long coat, and there will also be a lot of hair at home. This will require more frequent housekeeping. Or maybe it‘s just better?

Of course, everything can be solved. Walking the dog can be shared by several people. Maybe you can take a walk in the morning and your husband or wife during lunch and evening? Maybe you can afford to hire a dog walker? You have a robot-vacum cleaner at home and you don‘t even have to worry about housekeeping? It is important to understand that your agenda will change when you purchase a dog. And before you buy a dog, think about whether your family have time to take good care of it?

5.     Who takes responsibility?

It is important to decide who will take responsibility after purchasing an Australian Shepherd. Are the children old enough to already bear some of the responsibility? The family dog need to spend some time with everyone. The distribution of tasks should be clarified before the purchase.

Although a family dog entails responsibility for the whole family, parents should be aware that as adults you are always responsible for the well-being of the dog. Both parents and children of the family must be aware that getting an Australian Shepherd can be a decision for the next 10-15 years and that your entire life and previous habits will change with it.

6.     Are there allergy sufferers in the family?

Before getting a dog, you should test whether you, your partner or the children have an animal hair allergy. If a family member is diagnosed with a dog hair allergy, the purchase of a dog would not be a very good idea.

Dog hair itself does not actually trigger an allergy. It‘s the dander and the saliva that sticks to it. If the dog then loses hair, it spreads everywhere along with the allergic substances. In this case, a better solution would be to look for a breed that sheds very little or not shed at all.

Australian Shepherds with Other Family Animals

Buying a new dog can be a very joyful event for your family. However, a newbie can cause a lot of stress for the family‘s former favorite animal. If an animal notices less and less attention, it can lead to your pet misbehaving. To avoid this, it is advisable to prepare your pet for the arrival of a new family member in small steps. When bringing a new puppy to a home where there are already pets, it is important to respect the needs of both parties so that they can live friendly.

Dogs tend to follow a strict hierarchy of relationships. Therefore time and proper preparation of pets are needed. They need to establish roles and hierarchies with each other in order to live together in harmony.

In general, most Australian Shepherd owners say that their dogs make good friends with other animals. The most important thing is to introduce them properly and learn to respect each other‘s needs. For example, if your current pet is old and you are planning to bring a completely young and energetic Australian Shepherd home, you may need to prepare separate spaces for them. Sometimes adult dogs can be annoyed by a constant desire to move or play, when they prefer to spend their days quietly lying and sleeping somewhere.

With cats the situation is very similar to that with dogs. Most Australian Shepherds get along with cats. The most important thing is to properly socialize the dog at a young age. And to properly introduce other family members.

Early Socialization is Key

Socialization is the process of developing relationships with other living beings in your environment. The first months of your puppy‘s life are the most important for his further development. If the puppy is not given enough opportunity to make the necessary social contacts during this period, appropriate social skills may not be developed, which later manifests into cowardice, shyness or aggression.

You should start this socialization process from the first day of acquisition and continue until the puppy grows up. Start with a simple, quiet introduction to one person and gradually involve more and more people in a noisier environment. As soon as your veterinarian tells you that your puppy is sufficiently immunized, go for a walk with him as often as possible.

Another great way to start early socialization is to participate in various dog training communities. There is now a variety of communities where puppies are trained and socialized. These activities not only help puppies to start training programs properly, they also provide great opportunities to develop a variety of social relationships with other puppies and people.

Exercise Requirements

As mentioned earlier, Australian Shepherds needs about 2 hours of daily exercise. All dogs require physical activity, the intensity of which is chosen according to the dog‘s age, breed and physical condition. Regular walks are always worth brightening up with games that will not only diversify your daily routine, but also strengthen the connection between you and your pet. Below are some ideas on how to spend time with your dog. Maybe some of these activities are already one of your family‘s favorite activities?

1.     Go for a walk

A regular walk outdoors with a dog will allow you to breathe in the fresh air and exercise your body. Every dog loves to explore the environment. The best place for that is nature, so let your dog run around the park, forest or mountains.

2.     Go run with the dog

Jogging with a dog will be a great opportunity to relax, improve your health and breathe in the fresh air.

3.     Roller skating

If you are not ready to run, an alternative would be a rollerblading. Tie the dog to the leash and go for a quick walk.

4.     Play a Frisbee

Great activity for the dog is Frisbee game. The dog will not only be physically discharged, but he will also be encouraged to learn and use the command “bring it to me”. Don‘t forget to praise the animal when he brought the item back to you!

5.     Swimming

Swimming is one of the more intense physical activities, so go swimming with your Australian Shepherd. On a hot summer day it will be a great refreshment for your dog. Most Australian Shepherds love to swim!

1.     Ride a bike

Take the dog with you when you go for a bike ride. Your Aussie will be happy to run nearby. Try not to ride your bike fast and occasionally offer your dog a drink of water. Cycling is a great way to exercise and spend time together.

Final Thoughts

So, to find out if an Australian Shepherd is good breed for your family, you need to do some homework. You need to understand that this breed is active and will require time. But it doesn‘t bother at all if you like to spend your free time actively.

Sit down with the family and talk about when it would be a good time to buy a dog. When do you have more time to socialize your puppy properly? Share responsibilities and if all members are still dreaming of a new puppy after the conversation – voila! With a little work in the beginning and proper socialization of the dog, Australian Shepherd will definitely be the dog you always dreamed of!

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