I can’t help it, y’all. The Australian shepherd is a remarkable dog. I’m in love. Over the moon. Head over heels. Who wouldn’t be? Look at this face:
This is Bella, as some of y’all know. I have a good friend who fosters a special needs child and I’m the designated babysitter, since I went through the class and passed the background check. With flying colors, I might add. This friend has a gorgeous red and white Australian shepherd, Bella. And last night was babysitting night. Look at this dog!
She’s a beaut. But she’s not well trained. I’m thinking I need to babysit more so we can work on some basic commands. Like sit. So I can take her picture.
Aussies are highly intelligent herding dogs. This breed wants, and is bred, to work. They have a thick skull (cows and sheep pack a mean wallop when they kick). I know from personal experience that the Aussie nips to make it’s intended target go where it wants. An ankle, back of the knee, the thigh – whatever it takes. Dad’s finger tips when he doesn’t pay the dog enough attention at the end of a long day at work. Y’know.
Being brilliant, Australian shepherds learn beautifully, House training, commands, agility – you name it. Being brilliant also means a high level of activity, especially their first two years, and destruction if they’re not being socialized, taught, paid attention to. Like children, see? Like extremely ADHD children.
The Australian shepherd is a mean Frisbee catcher if trained. Look at sweet Bella. She also does well with a soccer ball.
I think one of the most important things an Aussie owner can do for her dog is to socialize it. Aussies are protective, herding not only large animals when available, but small children. It’s sweet to know that your Aussie will keep the children in the yard and protect them from bad guys, but if they’re not thoroughly socialized, you may not be able to have family and friends over, due to the dog’s need to protect your family.
What do I mean? Last night, when I showed up at my friend’s house, and every time I arrive, Bella goes insane, like she wants to kill me. Maybe she does. Even though she knows and likes me (I bring her pig ears, for Pete’s sake), I’m still a stranger bent on taking her children, every time I arrive. It’s not until they’ve put Bella outside and she comes in after I’m settled that we’re friends. My dogs are the same way, to a lesser extent. They just bark.
And socializing? What was suggested to us, and what has worked well, is taking your Australian shepherd with you everywhere a dog is allowed to go. PetSmart, the park, the beach, church. Heh, alright, maybe not church. Take obedience classes with your dog. Make sure your Aussie meets and greets all kinds of strangers. Everywhere. Have people to the house. People you know and trust. Work on the people skills wherever you can. If you don’t, your Aussie can become over protective. Maybe bite someone you don’t want it to. It becomes very awkward.
So. To sum up.
- Train – train the heck out of the Australian shepherd. This will mean work on your part. If you’re not into working with your dog, DON’T GET AN AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD.
- Socialize – take your Australian shepherd everywhere you can. Have people over. Don’t lock your dog away when company comes. Practice with people who like you, people you trust.
And it’s just a personal thing, mostly because I really want to do this myself, but the Aussie is truly the perfect dog for agility. Find groups in your area. Go.
And that’s it! Except to say that if you haven’t already, you really should read yesterday’s post and enter the giveaway for the pig ears. Jones Natural Chews pig ears rock.
Until I write again …