When looking for which dog breed to choose for your family, there are always several issues to take into consideration. Jesse and Harley, who are brother and sister, are the first Australian shepherd dogs we've had in our family, and I must say, I am very impressed by this breed of dog.
When Harley was a puppy and had chewed her squeaky ball to a frazzle, I put it in the bathroom sink to temporarily get it out of sight before I could throw it away. I didn't want any of the loosened rubber to get lodged down her throat. I heard a scrambling noise behind me and lo and behold, Harley had managed to scramble up the side of the bathroom cabinets and was joyfully standing in the sink, retrieving her ball!
Right then and there I knew, this is no ordinary breed of dog! We have no herd of sheep for them to corral, and we only have an oversized, fenced backyard for them to play and romp in, but lots of play at dog parks and long walks in the woods have been a necessity to keep these Aussies happy. Australian shepherds are fantastic dogs for agility training also. The fast-paced runs are perfect for their athleticism.
All in all, I've found them to be energetic, super smart, playful, good with children and one aspect that I really appreciate is that they are a breed that doesn't roam. As far as training, they are so smart, that it doesn't take long for them to catch on to what I am trying to help them understand. The slant I use for training is a gentle, positive approach. With repetition, they are quick to catch on.
For an example, if Jesse rolls in something nasty during our walks, or gets totally muddy playing in the small child's boat we keep full of water in the summer, all I have to do is ask him to jump in the tub, and show him what I mean, and he knows to go straight into the house and jump into the bathtub for a quick wash. My previous dogs were a yellow lab and a German shepherd, and I'd never experienced a dog who could just jump in the tub so effortlessly as Jesse can.
In closing, what I'd like to stress to anyone considering this breed is that they need lots of exercise (not necessarily strenuous), interesting things to do, and to stay close to their family. They are happiest in continual contact with their ‘flock' which includes their human family. They want to make sure everyone in the family gets along, too. Harley especially will emit a low growl if she thinks play is too rough (between other dogs or people). She is an expert at breaking up dogs who are too rambunctious with each other if she feels one of them is being bullied or picked on.
All in all, I would highly recommend this breed to the right family. They would not be suitable for a small apartment, but rather need space and an active family to let their personalities and their boundless energy shine through.
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