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AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD DOGS, THEIR NATURE AND NEEDS
Australian Shepherd dogs are bred to work, and are herding dogs by nature. They have extremely high energy levels, and can herd other animals all day long. They also have a protective nature, and will guard the animals from danger. Aussies typically keep other animals within boundaries through lightly biting or nicking their heels. They also use their bark to keep other animals within boundaries, and bark frequently.
Aussies come in a variety of colors, and sizes. They can be almost the size of a typical Golden Retriever Dog, or come in an intentionally bred mini size. They enter this world in a variety of colors, as Black tri puppies, solid black, red tri or solid red, blue merle, red merle, and with different hair textures, lengths, and eye colors. Eyes can be blue, brown, gold or amber, olive green, or tri eyed, with eyes of different colors. They are especially fun and interesting for breeders, as one never knows what to expect from an Australian Shepherd litter.
Australian Shepherd dogs are extremely intelligent, energetic, and loyal to their people. They are protective, and require socialization in order to keep this positve quality from becoming a negative one. When socialized and trained appropriately, Aussies are very obedient, and excell in high energy competition and herding duties.
Australian Shepherd Dogs require intense socialization, preferably as puppies. If you are considering an Australian Shepherd puppy, plan to take him or her to a number of different environments that include people of both genders, and all racial types. He or she should accompany you to crowded locations that include other dogs and many people you do not know. Your aussie should attend obedience school as soon as possible, and you should practice his or her training lessons at home in-between training school sessions.
Most potential problems with this breed can be remedied and eliminated through appropriate training and socialization as discussed above, as they are very intelligent and eager to please. One problem that may occur; however, even with a friendly, well trained aussie, is the problem of barking, and neighbor complaints if you keep your Australian Shepherd Dog outside. If you plan to keep your dog outside, and have neighbors living in close proximity, do not get an Australian Shepherd Dog. In that case, I would recommend either a lab or Golden Retriever. These dogs do not bark very much and enjoy being outdoors.
Australian Shepherd Dogs are herders by nature, and they will bark constantly, and bark loudly. They need to live inside if you have neighbors living close by, unless your neighbors also have herding dogs and do not object to dogs barking for seemingly no reason at all, possibly at all hours of the day and night.
ADULT PROBLEM DOGS
Do not give up on your adult problem Australian Shepherd. This breed is extremely intelligent, and can be socialized at any age. Purchase a muzzle, if your dog is overly protective, demonstrating aggressive behavior towards other animals or people, and begin to expose him or her to others while on a leash and muzzled. Your dog will gradually learn that other people are not dangerous or cause for fear or alarm. Do not rush this process. It is better to be safe than sorry, and you have the rest of your dog's life to resolve the problem. Mesh muzzles are available that allow dogs to pant, drink and even eat, so it is not cruel or insenstive to require your dog to wear a muzzle anytime others are present in your home. In fact, it is much more humane than so-called humane euthanasia, your other option, and one I hope you will reject.
AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD DOGS AS PUBLIC SERVANTS
Aussies need a job, so give them one. Australian Shepherds have been used as Search and Rescue Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Seeing Eye Dogs for the blind, and also visit nursing homes and hospitals. Your Aussie can bring much joy to you and others, if he or she is treated "half as good as you would treat a dog." Do it, and see if you don't reap the benefits of unconditional love from your dog, and those he or she serves. Remember that it is never too late for a dog to learn new behavior.
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