You want a perfect pet for your family and an Australian Shepherd ranks high on your list. But you are not sure if Australian Shepherd is a good choice for families with kids.
Australian Shepherds can be excellent family dogs but they are not appropriate pets for families with small kids. Australian Shepard is a herding dog so it’s in his nature to herd. Since small kids remind this dog of livestock, he may start to herd them by nipping at their heels. Don’t forget that Australian Shepherds are working dogs, so they need some job to do and not to be stuck with small children who are poking them.
Do Australian Shepherds Get Along With Young Kids?
My good friend Josh gave a beautiful 1-year-old Australian Shepard as a birthday present to his 5-year old daughter Lisa. Lisa was watching some TV show with Aussies and she wanted to have that kind of dog.
The thing is Josh didn’t make any research before purchasing. To make things more complicated, Josh’s wife Ann was pregnant. Nobody really thought about do Australian Shepards fit into a family with kids?
Australian Shepards are not the best option if you have a busy household with small kids. Herding and nipping are natural instincts for Aussie. Even though you can teach your Aussie not to nip your child, it takes a lot of energy and time to do that. Most people with kids, don’t have time for this.
Another issue is that Australian Shepherds have a high prey drive so screaming kids who are running around all the time will really get them going. Kids could even increase dogs, already high level of energy.
Some owners suggest that it’s better to get an Aussie puppy rather than a fully adult dog. Adult dogs can be unpredictable. If you take a puppy, you will be raising your kids and puppy together. It’s more likely that Aussie will tolerate kids if he grows up with them.
On the other hand, having an Aussie puppy requires a lot of training and socialization… your hands will be full! If you have a toddler and a puppy, imagine how busy you will be.
For a successful relationship between Aussie and kids you have to set a lot of rules and boundaries, and not only for the dog. Kids also have to respect certain rules.
Young kids shouldn’t be allowed to put their small faces into the Aussie face. That could be quite irritating for a dog.
Also, young kids shouldn’t pet Aussie without being supervised by adults. In certain cases, you may face dogs that are scared of kids. In that case, if you don’t let your child pet your dog without you being present, show the dog that he can trust you that you keep him safe.
Of course, kids shouldn’t disturb Aussie while he is eating or sleeping.
How To Introduce A Baby To My Australian Shepherds?
I have read one article in which the author expresses concerns about her Aussie’s reaction to a newborn. This lady has a 3-year-old Aussie and she will soon have to introduce her pet to her baby.
First of all, we have to assume that your dog is a socialized and well-behaved one. Moreover, he needs to respect you first. If he doesn’t respect you, how will he respect your baby?
Your Australian Sheperd must see your baby as an extension of the respect he has for you as his pack leader. Your dog knows that you are the boss who is keeping him safe, providing food…
By making your baby an extension of that relationship, you help your Aussie to feel more comfortable with your baby.
Second of all, you will need to teach your dog how to behave with a baby, to show him where the baby fits in your family.
Now you think about mother dogs and what they require – space and don’t come close. The mother dog doesn’t like anyone to come near her pups and she requires a space.
You should request the same thing. Don’t let your Aussie break into the personal space of the baby for at least a month or even two. What does that mean? It means that they can be in the same room, but the dog should be 8-10 Ft away from the baby.
After this period of 4-8 weeks, you should let your Aussie sniff the baby( baby feet for example). Let him do that for a couple of seconds only and move him away.
You are showing him that you are in charge here, that this is your baby and he needs to respect that. On the other hand, dogs say ”hello” by sniffing so he gets the opportunity to greet the baby.
If your Aussie becomes too excited around the baby, you need to slow him down. He needs to associate the baby with calmness. He can approach the baby only if he is calm.
You need to build the relationship between Aussie and the baby very slowly. People live in a community in which is pretty normal to show their babies, to let other people touch them but dogs are not like that.
They keep their pups away from others. That’s why you need to go step by step. Allow you Aussie to sniff your baby but not to touch, next time he can touch the baby but not for too long, and so on.
The point is that your Aussie has to see the baby as part of the alpha unit. You are the alpha and your kids and the rest of the family are part of the alpha unit.
The problem with Aussies is that they are more responsive to just one person in the household. That means Aussie will listen to you but it’s a big question if he will listen to your spouse or child.
No matter how cute your dog is, how gentle he might be, you should never treat him as a human as he is not that. If let him jump around the baby without setting any rules you risk many things.
First of all, your dog might accidentally injure the baby. The dog that was allowed to treat the human baby as his own, might act too ”protective” ( possessive) when other people come to the house.
Australian Shepherds are not the best option for a family with babies and young kids. These are herding dogs with high prey drive and a lot of energy. They need a real job to do otherwise they may become destructive.
Aussies require a lot of physical activity and mental stimulation. The Aussie’s owner has to invest an incredible amount of time and energy in his training.
Since small kids resemble livestock, Aussies can start herding and nipping then. Although there is a chance to teach them to get along well with kids if you raise them together, still is better to get some other breed like Lab or Golden Retriever.