Australian Sheepdogs: An Amazing Working Dog

by Sleddoggin Staff on March 28, 2012

Developed on ranches in the Western United States, Australian Sheepdogs are a breed of intelligent and capable herding dogs. They got their name from some having arrived on boats alongside Australian sheep, not from having arrived from Australia. Still, the name is almost as good as any other, and despite it the breed became well known for their incredible herding capabilities and their high intelligence.

With great intelligence however, comes an ingrained need to work. Above all else this breed is one fit for herding, for working cattle and other livestock across open plains, and so in order to keep them happy and healthy they need attention and exercise. On a ranch that is likely not a problem, but outside of that, in places where these dogs make wonderful pets but where herding work is not available, they can get into mischief if left to their own devices.

They are famous diggers and escape artists, and like many dogs, they can be known to enjoy chewing on things better left alone. This is a fairly easy fix, as there are a myriad of ways to keep them occupied. Off leash parks present a chance to run as much as possible, free of constraints, while a game of catch with a ball or a Frisbee gives a sense of structure that these dogs sometimes crave. Even if they are only just included in whatever the family they are living with is doing, they are happy. This means time spent outdoors fishing, or camping, walking, or even time spent in the backyard. At their very core these are working dogs, so they want to be doing something as much as they can. And the rewards from this interaction can be substantial.

In order to ensure that a Sheepdog puppy is raised properly, it is best to start early, especially considering the special considerations that needs to be taken towards this breed – namely in that they are workaholics by nature, enjoying nothing more than doing as much as they can. Luckily they are also incredibly intelligent and eager to learn, traits that will work well for integrating them properly into their new home. Having its own space, a kennel or a crate, and the inclusion of a blanket or toys – all already prepared before the new puppy is brought home – will help to give it a sense of belonging and a sense of its own space. This will also help with behavioral issues to some degree. It will help to keep them away from other areas of the house, and the toys will help to keep them occupied. Still, none of this can replace proper training, which must be undertaken as soon as possible, with the best results coming from beginning almost the minute they come in the door. These naturally instinctive herding dogs must be taught not to take dominance, and to acknowledge you as the premier presence in the household.

As is only natural for dogs used to chasing after livestock across vast stretches of land, Aussies have an incredible store of natural energy and drive. Being highly motivated and intelligent, they excel at most any task that they are put to, and as a testament to these qualities they are used in many roles beyond that of herding or domestic pet. They are used in search-and-rescue, as guide dogs for those with special needs, as show dogs or even drug dogs. By any estimation of worth they are valued and sought after pets. From working situations, to their role in suburban homes, Australian Sheepdogs make ideal companions for any situation.

Sam Longstrum is a lover and enthusiast of all dogs.  For more great information about Australian Sheepdogs, please visit www.AustralianShepherdInfo.com.

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