Australian Shepherds are very friendly dogs. I think we can all agree on that. Having an Aussie is perfect for bringing happiness to the kids and to the whole family. However, there is controversy about this last point. Are Aussies really that good with kids and babies?
It depends. Australian Shepherds generally get along well with kids and babies. On the other hand, they are also known for trying to herd smaller kids. However, this is not for all cases. How your Aussie will behave towards kids depends on his essence.
Managing your dog to behave well towards your children may be one of your biggest challenges. This usually requires a lot of training. However, in this article, I will help you out answering the main questions you have about this topic.
Australian Shepherds Being Good With Kids
Let’s start with the best part. That is incredible that your Aussie has a good relationship with your babies and kids. They are packed with a lot of benefits for both parts. Here are the highlights of three of them.
Exercise: Both your dog and your kids can stay fit if they get along well. This is the typical image of them running in the backyard. Kids and Aussies playing together will be extremely healthy for both of them. It will exercise their muscles and maintain their fitness.
Happiness: Activities like that will make them happy. First of all, Australian Shepherds are outdoorsy dogs. They love to run and play with their owners. The good thing is that your kids also do! Activities like that are an excellent opportunity to get fresh air and to have fun for both parts.
Trust: Creating good connections will generate more trust between your kids and your dog. You see, when they know each other better, they will not be afraid of approaching.
This can also help your kids if they are scared of dogs. There’s no better treatment for that than living with one of them. Your Australian Shepherd will identify the kids as good people as well.
In addition to it, this behavior will also be a stress reliever for you. You will not need to be worried about possible conflicts between them.
Besides, you also don’t need to train your Australian Shepherd not to threaten your children. To finish with everything, won’t it be a fantastic feeling to see both of them living happily together? Of course, it will!
When Aussies Are Aggressive with Kids…
As I said before, your dog tends to be friendly with kids, but that may not always happen.
There are a lot of reports of Australian Shepherds being aggressive with kids. Of course, that’s a situation you don’t want to happen. But don’t worry, this could be the normal behavior of your Aussie. Even though that’s a big problem, there’s always a way to fix it.
This kind of dog is generally more aggressive with smaller children. The most common reported problem is their wish to control the kids. Australian Shepherds were originally bred to herd animals. For that reason, it is not uncommon to see them mistakenly trying to “herd” smaller kids as well.
There is also a chance of him going a bit farther from that and nip your children. Thankfully, however, this behavior is very rare. The only main problem you can possibly face is his habit of herding. That’s because it is his natural spirit.
Apart from that, Australian Shepherds tend to be incredibly kid-friendly.
Things to Consider Before Training your Dog
If you are having trouble with the relationship between your children and your Aussie, it’s time to change this. The obvious way to do this is training your furry friend not to be aggressive with the kids.
In the next section, I am going to show exactly how you can do this. But before we hop into this, here are some characteristics you should consider about your Aussie:
- Your Australian Shepherd is an active dog.
- He has plenty of energy.
- He is outdoorsy.
- He loves to see you happy.
- Aussies are really intelligent.
Besides, here is what you should know about training him:
- You need to play a lot with him.
- You will use commands.
- This process is fairly easy.
- You need to be patient and regular.
How to Train an Aussie Not to Herd the Kids?
If your Australian Shepherd and your kids don’t get along well, you can fix it. To do this, you will have to train your dog. Aussies generally get used to behaving well towards children quickly. Due to that, this task should not be a problem for you.
Start soon: You should start to train your friend as soon as possible. The ideal age to train dogs is when they are still a puppy. In this stage, they learn things with more ease, similar to humans.
If your Aussie is already grown up, no problem. Just start training him immediately. The younger he is, the easier it will be for him to learn more information.
Anticipate his herding: To prevent him from herding your kids, start by anticipating this action. If he starts to bark at you or to sniff someone’s heel, for example, this may be a sign that he wants to herd. This is the time you should start taking some attitudes.
In these moments, stop what you are doing and maintain an eye on your Aussie. You will be able to identify this preparation more easily over time. When you finally identify it, it’s time to interrupt and show him this is a wrong action.
Teach key commands: Before going further, teach basic commands to your Aussie. You need him to understand commands like “sit,” “stop” or “come here.”
This is the root for him to obey you. Start with simple things and then follow the learning curve.
Exercise with him: This is the step that you can effectively make him stop herding your kids. To start, you can redirect your Australian Shepherd’s attention when he wants to herd your kids.
You can go out with him and play in the park, for example. Exercises like these will distract him and make him forget about herding. This is because playing with you will be much funnier than herding your kids.
The key to success in training your Aussie is consistency. You need to practice with him every day. That way, you are going to turn this into a habit, and your dog will likely stop behaving aggressively.
Call a professional: If you still need help, hire professional dog trainers. They have the expertise with these animals and for sure they will fix your problem quickly.
Calling a specialist is not exclusive when you can’t resolve the problem. If you are low on time, for example, you can hire them as well. Professionals are there to help you no matter the situation.
Your Kids Need to Be Part of the Training Process
If you want to achieve success, ask your children to be active when training your Australian Shepherd. You can’t expect your Aussie to learn the lesson without their presence. Come on, will he learn not to herd your kids by staring only at you? Of course not!
I think the most important thing for a good relationship between dogs and humans is living together. That way they habituate with each other easily. As a consequence, your Australian Shepherd will know your kids are family members as well.
To start, you can ask your kids to play with the dog. In the beginning, it doesn’t have to be a complicated thing like running in the street. They can start in the yard with a simple task. Always make sure to keep an eye on them while they play.
After that, things will evolve. From then on, allow your children to walk the dog alone. If everything goes as intended, keep it going. They will soon reach a point in which they can fully trust each other.
Train Your Children as Well
At the start of the process, the kids need to know how to react to their Aussie as well. Imagine if something goes wrong. They need to be prepared to resolve the problem and call your help. Now I present you with some tips about how to do this.
Teach Your Children the Commands: Your kids need to know the dog’s basic codes to command him as well. If your Aussie gets agitated close to them, they need to calm him down. Even if the dog doesn’t obey the order, at least they need to try.
This will help to make the pet used to their commands as well. If your Australian Shepherd initially wants to herd the kids, it’s because he doesn’t see them as a family.
Practicing using codes will improve this behavior. It will make your Aussie start to identify the children as his owners as well and show respect for them.
Tell Your Children Not to Panic: This is a crucial part as well. People need to keep calm during aggressive dog situations. This is even more crucial when it comes to kids. They generally tend to panic more in these moments.
To prevent that, teach your kids how not to be afraid. If they don’t control their minds, the situation will only be worsened. You should show them how your Aussie is a friendly dog and that he will never try to hurt the kids.
What About Babies?
Before letting your babies play with your Australian Shepherd, make sure they have the right age. Of course, a dog may be dangerous near young children.
Even being supervised, a situation like that can be risky and might have bad consequences.
I know you are responsible, so you will never let babies play with your Aussie. It could work out with other calmer dog breeds, but not with Australian Shepherds. Since they are way too energetic, they will not respect babies’ weaknesses.
The opposite case can also occur. Small kids can be aggressive with dogs as well. For example, if they throw an object at the Aussie, he will probably become furious. The result… well, I think you guessed what can happen.
My Final Thoughts
So, to summarise everything, I think there are moments your Aussie will react well towards children, but in others, he may not. It will all depend on your dog. Like humans, there are calmer Australian Shepherds and there are some with a more aggressive temperament.
Generally, they get along very well with kids. As we all know, Aussies are energetic and only want to be active. This mindset can often affect their living with children.
The tendency is that your Australian Shepherd will be more aggressive towards younger kids. If they are a bit older, he will identify they are “important” people.
The main problem with younger children is that he may try to herd them. His countryside spirit will often tell him they are not real humans and don’t deserve respect. As they grow up, however, this behavior should end.
If you have any problems, train your Aussie. This is a relatively easy and effective process. Not capable of doing it? No problem. Remember, professional dog trainers are always there to help if you need them!
Is an Australian Shepherd easy to train?
Yes! Aussies are well-known to be highly intelligent pets. Due to this, he will learn new things quickly. Obviously, this includes better behavior toward children.
Can my Aussie bite my kids?
It depends. Generally, he will not reach that stage. However, dogs still have sharp teeth and a wild spirit. Because of that, in more stressful cases, he may be a bit more aggressive than usual. That’s why you shouldn’t let small kids play with the dog with no supervision.
How much will it take to train my Aussie?
The time may vary, but it should be similar to teaching him new commands. The learning process is quite easy, and he would need something around 6 months to fully understand what you want.
My name is John Carter and I absolutely love pets, especially cats and dogs. I’ve got a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare and have several years’ experience working in animal shelters and rescues. My passion for animals started at a very young age as I grow up on a farm with several horses, cows, cats, chickens, and dogs on our property.