AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD WITH CHILDREN AND PETS
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HISTORY The Aussie is a long time herding breed as their name suggests. The Aussie we know today is a superior working and herding dog like its ancestors that were developed by the Basque people in 19th century Europe for their flocks of sheep. The gorgeous Australian Shepherd found itself on the shores of Califonia in America at the turn of the 20th century after spending some time herding flocks of sheep across the Australian flatlands. Let's take a closer look at how an Aussie typically does in the modern family home. OTHER CHILDREN When it comes to children, most dogs are loving and accepting of their own home's children, but not all breeds handle other children nearly as well as the Aussie. As an extroverted breed, the Australian Shepherd is easily socialized to children from outside their homes. They do well in chaotic environments naturally and have the energy to keep up with all the games of their children and friends. Remember, Aussies are herding dogs. It doesn't matter if it's their own children, their friends, or complete strangers in a park; Aussies will herd them. This is an instinctual behavior and should be redirected early on in their life since it can make them a serious tripping hazard. In some cases, Aussies will nip at the child, usually around their feet, when the child doesn't herd like they want them to. Again, this is why it's so incredibly important to redirect this behavior early. It's to protect your canine companion as much as it is to protect everyone else. That being said, Aussies are highly social and are often very friendly with strangers of all ages. They will quickly adore any other child who plays with them and gives them a pat on the head. Their low reactivity and keen intelligence also mean they are likely to be watchful of children playing and aren't likely to be aggressive. OTHER PETS/SMALL ANIMALS The same temperament Aussies have for other children extends to other pets and small animals in the home. As I mentioned, they are very social and commonly work with other dogs when herding large numbers. They will enjoy having other dogs, especially high energy ones like other Aussies, in the home or meeting them at dog parks. You'll enjoy them wearing each other out too. Bred to herd sheep, clearly a prey animal to wild dogs, the Aussie has an extremely low prey drive. They don't generally see small animals as prey, but if it's small and runs or flys away in a sudden motion, even the most highly trained canine on the planet is going to go after it if you're not there to direct them elsewhere. Cats and small birds seem to be the biggest weakness for the Aussie, but when raised with them they generally get on without issue. Aussies are often used in competitions and entertainment shows to herd Geese or Ducks around a large enclosure and then into a small corral. They are an absolutely brilliant dog breed that can be trained to accept and work with a myriad of other small animals. The real key to a well behaved Aussie that accepts the other pets and small animals in your home is tons and tons of socialization and training from an early age. This solidifies you as their leader and the other animals as their flock that they should tend to... not eat. With early and proper socialization the Aussie will easily accept other small animals with almost no fuss. The real key is to guide them so they see any of the other animals in your home as their responsibility to look after. You'll need to be mindful of their herding instincts throughout their entire life but many fans of the breed find this a small trade-off to have such an incredible canine companion in their home. WRAP UP The qualities that made the Aussie a top-notch herding dog and loyal shepherd's companion were immediately noticed by the Califonia ranchers and cowboys who fell in love with the breed. The breed hasn't changed much in the last 100 years even though there are far fewer working ranches around. The Aussie has become a common household companion because of it's sweet temperament and loyalty. With calm and consistent canine leadership, the Aussie can do exceptionally well with other children and smaller pets.