ARE AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD GOOD FOR FIRST TIME OWNERS
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ENERGY/SPACE We’ll jump right in and go over the Aussie's exercise requirements because they are as demanding as you would expect from high-caliber herding dog. The Aussie has a high-moderate to a just plain high energy level, which is, of course, higher until they reach maturity. Once they are fully grown they are still high achieving canines that need a job to do. They aren't going to exercise themselves since they are quite bonded to their family, which means you'll need to spend at least 2 to 3 hours a day working off their mental and physical energy. This can be a huge commitment for first time canine leaders and one that is often underestimated. It may seem like no big deal, or a good reason to you exercising more too but keep in mind that this is a year round and all weather commitment. Be really honest with yourself and keep an objective view when considering what kind of help and commitment your family is willing to make as well. TRAINABILITY/INTELLIGENCE You're probably aware that the Aussie is a sturdy medium size breed with impressive herding instincts and is quite intelligent. But did you know that intelligence goes both ways? Sure, it can make them easy to train, but they can also train you just as easily if you're not experienced with working-class canines. Your Aussie may refuse to eat one night, so you add something different to make it more appetizing, and they happily eat it. The next night, same story, and on, and on until you're cooking a whole dinner for them. I know it sounds silly now, but I promise things like that happen far more often than you think with this breed. FAMILY/SOCIAL You might be considering an Aussie because they are can be excellent family watchdogs both in instinct and fearlessness. And while they are wonderful watchdogs, their instincts and energy can put them at risk in everyday situations. People who are afraid of dogs, or even just not comfortable around them, can set their instincts on edge and they are known to nip when not incredibly well socialized. They also tend to herd playing children which can cause them to fall, or just be startled when their Aussie nips their heels. You should absolutely not consider bringing an Aussie, or any similarly high energy breed, into your home as a first-time canine leader. I don't say this to be dramatic, but it's a sad fact that so many beautiful canines, Aussie’s and others, end up in shelters because they require more time and training than their family could give them. AFFECTION/INDEPENDENCE Aussie's are laser focused on their primary person and very aware of everyone else in the home as well. Their families affectionately call them Velcro dogs, because they are literally touching their person most of the time. Moving from room to room, sitting on the couch, in bed, and anywhere else you go, they'll be as close as they can get. It's easy for boundaries to blur when their affection melts your heart, but their devotion and willingness to please are satisfied best when they know what's acceptable and what isn't. Another massive consideration with this breed is their affection because it means they won't be happy being outside only or if their family is gone for most of the day. They can be prone to boredom and will destroy even the toughest kennels if they aren't thoroughly exercised multiple times a day. It's not a requirement, but Aussie's do best when someone is home at least several times a day. WRAP UP To say it plainly, Aussies are NOT a great fit for first-time owners. They might not even be a good choice for experienced owners if they haven't developed the skills to be the calm, consistent canine leader this breed demands. There are many wonderful breeds out there that are better suited to inexperienced owners, and jumping right in with such a demanding and energetic breed like this is a recipe for disaster. No matter what breed you choose, or your experience level, seriously consider your lifestyle and how happy the canine you choose will be with it.