The Australian Shepherd is a lovable and beautiful breed that can make your family complete. Many people seek out this breed because of their high intelligence, their active nature, and their incredible loyalty.
These dogs are quite fun to be around, and they make great companions for the right individual. However, they do have some common habits that you might want to keep in mind.
The Australian Shepherd is bred to herd which may cause problems for both humans and other dogs. When exercised properly and given a job to do, they may sleep more and eat more than you think and obsessive-compulsive behaviors will be curbed. Prepare for a loud dog who has no problem vocalizing.
If you are ready to learn more about the Aussie temperament and their habits, this list of quirks is just for you!
Australian Shepherd Temperament
Many people fall in love with the Australian Shepherd because of their beautiful coats and coloring first. However, they quickly learn to love the wonderful personality that this dog has. While each dog will have a unique personality, the breed does tend to share a few common attributes.
To start with, Aussies are highly intelligent. They are constantly watching and learning from what you do.
It won’t take long before your Australian Shepherd understands exactly what you expect from them and a few ways to get around it.
Because of their high intelligence, the breed is also exceptionally easy to train. Many Australian Shepherds make great working dogs for herding, search and rescue, and even as service dogs.
Australian Shepherds are also extremely loyal dogs. Their tendency to stick by their owners in every type of situation has earned them a nickname as “Velcro dogs.”
Oftentimes, they will follow you throughout the house, even if all they plan to do is take a nap at your feet.
Because of their loyalty, they are also very protective over their owners. They will not stand for it if they think you are being threatened in some way.
Despite their somewhat small stature, the Aussie can be quite a bold dog. This breed is often relatively fearless when they feel that they need to offer you their protection.
Keep in mind that your Australian Shepherd is going to need a lot of exercise. They are an extremely active breed that is bred to perform work for hours on end.
If you don’t plan to spend a lot of time with them and give them exercise, you may not be pleased with the end result!
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10 Typical Australian Shepherd Habits
Whether you are a new Australian Shepherd owner or a seasoned expert, you might be surprised to learn that this breed has a lot of quirky behaviors and attributes. Here are a few behaviors that many dogs of this breed tend to have in common.
Bred to Herd
If you know anything about the history of Australian Shepherds, it probably comes as no surprise that they love to herd. Your children might be running and playing in the backyard while your Aussie nips at their heels.
They are constantly trying to herd their family members in the proper direction. Herding behavior is instinctual, and it is something that you aren’t likely to be able to train out of your pup.
To keep their herding behavior in check, give them the opportunity to use their skills at the right time. Take them to the park and let them herd the geese.
Better yet, purchase a few big balls and teach them to play treibbal in the backyard. They can get some of their energy out, fine tune their skills, and it prevents them from herding their humans.
Be Careful at the Dog Park
While Aussies are an extremely friendly breed, you may have a hard time taking your dog to the dog park. It can be hard for them to resist the urge to herd their new four-legged friends while they are playing.
A few nips toward the wrong dog can lead to major issues and possibly even fights.
Make sure to keep a very close eye on your dog at the park to make sure they aren’t wearing out their welcome with the other dogs.
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Prefer to Have Company
Australian Shepherds develop a strong bond with their owners, and they prefer not to be left alone for long periods of time.
When you are home, they are likely to follow you from room to room. They simply want to be in your presence for as long as possible. Because of their bond with you, they are likely to develop separation anxiety when you’re away.
If you plan to leave your dog alone for long periods of time while you’re at work, an Aussie may not be the best fit for you.
They tend to bark and howl when they are displeased at being left alone. For those who leave their dogs out of the crate while alone, they are likely to partake in some destructive behaviors like chewing, digging, or having accidents in the home.
Separation anxiety is a real and serious issue for many Australian Shepherds. It takes a lot of training to get them used to spending some time solo. In some extreme cases, you may even want to talk to your veterinarian about medication.
Need More Sleep than You Think
Most people are already aware that Australian Shepherds are an incredibly active breed. They are not good pets for someone who is a couch potato or who only wants to take a quick walk around the block in the evening.
They need lots of activity interspersed throughout the day to keep them from developing bad habits like barking, chewing, and digging. However, they likely need more sleep than you think.
An Aussie who is properly exercised will typically sleep between twelve and fourteen hours a day. This means they should be more than happy to curl up with you at bedtime and get a few hours of shut-eye.
They will also take frequent naps throughout the day, though they are probably not sleeping very deeply. If they aren’t sleeping this much, it might be a sign that they aren’t getting enough exercise.
While most Australian Shepherds are a medium-sized breed, their appetite does not exactly match. This breed eats more than their fair share of food on any given day.
Because they are an extremely active breed, they are constantly burning calories when given the proper amount of exercise.
To maintain their weight, they will need to eat more to balance out what they are burning off when you take them for long jogs or practice agility with them.
You might be surprised to learn that Aussies require about three to four cups of dry food daily. They need almost as many calories as many humans with their minimum requirement being about 1,300 calories per day.
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Lots of Shedding
If you love to keep a clean house, get prepared for extra chores! Aussies are well known for their extreme shedding, especially if they have longer coats with more feathering.
They tend to blow out their coats about twice a year for several months at a time. Be prepared to brush your dog daily and sweep up after them several times a week. Chances are that you will be sweeping up a tremendous amount of hair.
Prepare for Vocalizations
Compared to other breeds, the Australian Shepherd tends to be a lot more vocal than you might be expecting. They will love to bark, howl, and whine to get their way.
However, their vocalization is important for more than just getting what they want. They often use it as a way to warn you that something dangerous might be heading your way.
This breed is extremely loyal, almost to a fault. If they are not properly socialized, they might view anything outside the home as a potential threat.
People walking by the window on the sidewalk, bicycles, and even the mailman might all present as a possible threat.
They want to warn you about the impending dangers, so they frequently vocalize. While they may not be aggressive, they can be quite loud when they feel that they might be in danger.
Fortunately, you can train your Australian Shepherd to quiet down when you need them to. Simply redirect them to lay quietly on their dog bed or to play with a toy. Some owners have success interrupting their dog’s barking by shaking a can filled with coins.
Reward your dog whenever he quiets down and give him a command like “quiet.” It won’t take long for your Aussie to learn that he gets rewarded for quiet behavior!
Messy Water Drinkers
All dogs have the tendency to be a bit messy around their food and water bowls, but Aussies tend to take this to an extreme.
They tend to submerge their snouts all the way into the water dish, soaking up as much water as they possibly can while holding their breath.
When they finally emerge from their water dish, chances are that you have quite a mess on your hands. Try to steer clear of their snouts for a bit as they are likely to share their water all over your pants or your hands!
Check out these related Australian Shepherd articles:
- Why Does my Australian Shepherd Follow Me Everywhere? (3 Reasons Why)
- Miniature Australian Shepherds vs. Standard Australian Shepherds – What’s the difference?
Give Them a Job
If you don’t allow your Australian Shepherd to herd, then you definitely need to come up with some other job for them to do. They need to keep their bodies and their minds busy to stay happy and healthy.
Aussies without jobs tend to develop habits that drive their owners crazy. They are more prone to barking, digging, chewing, and other destructive behaviors.
What kind of jobs can you give your dog to do?
Start with basic obedience training, as this can be the most helpful when you are out in the yard, around the house, or when you take a trip out in the community. From here, you can teach them agility or flyball to help them get some of their excess energy out.
Teach them to retrieve things for you around the house, constantly sending them on new missions. The possibilities are practically endless for a dog as intelligent as your Aussie.
You might be worried if your Australian Shepherd repeatedly engages in repetitive behaviors such as pacing, chasing their tail, licking, or chewing.
Unfortunately, your dog is likely just suffering from some obsessive-compulsive traits. These often surface when the dog is not getting enough exercise, both physically and mentally.
If you are experiencing a surge in these behaviors, try taking your dog for a longer walk or play a few rounds of fetch with them. T
his can distract them from their need to engage in these actions. For those who are not home with their dog all day or who don’t have the luxury of taking time to exercise their dog midday, consider giving them something else to do.
These dogs tend to love puzzle toys that allow them to use their sharp minds to access yummy treats!
Getting the Right Breed
Australian Shepherds are a highly sought-after breed for good reason. They are loyal to a fault, extremely intelligent, and a real joy to be around.
Unfortunately, they do have some habits that can be problematic for owners to curb such as barking, digging, and chewing.
On the other hand, many of these behaviors can improve with access to proper exercise and some training. Consider how your Aussie compares to some of these common habits!
Are Australian Shepherds good family dogs?
Australian Shepherds can make good family dogs, but they tend to bond closely to just one individual. They do not like to be left alone for long periods of time. This means that they will enjoy the company of just about anyone that they love and trust in the family.
Do Australian Shepherds bark a lot?
Unfortunately, Australian Shepherds are a very vocal breed. They tend to whine and bark often to get your attention. They may be particularly ferocious when they feel that you or their territory are being threatened.