1. Have you ever owned an Australian Shepherd before? If not then it is very important to read everything you can about the breed. (See list of great books at the bottom of this page) If at all possible spend some quality time with someone who has an Aussie companion before deciding to buy one.
2. Do you plan to have your new puppy live inside your home with you? Aussies are extremely loyal and loving companions but if left outside without ongoing interaction with their owners become very naughty dogs. To put it mildly they cause all kinds of trouble trying to get your attention. They can be very obnoxious barkers, dig holes, climb and jump fences (YES I HAVE ONE WHO CAN CLIMB A FENCE LIKE PEOPLE DO LADDERS (needless to say I have to keep a very close eye on him when he is out playing in our kennels during the day).
Aussies thrive on being near their owners and if they are allowed to live inside with you make great family members. (With training of course). I feel confident that a majority of Aussies who end up in rescue are dogs that were left outside most of their lives without the attention that is so important to this breed. I can not stress how key this is to successful Aussie ownership. These dogs are very in tune with their owners and love to be near you. Several of mine will follow me from room to room and lie quietly and just watch what ever I am doing. They just want to be in the same room that I am in so they can be near me. This is very common in this breed my dogs are not the exception to the rule on this. If having a dog follow you around sounds annoying please do not consider an Aussie for your next pet.
3. How do you plan to train your new puppy should you buy an Australian Shepherd? Good consistent fair training is vital to any pet ownership and espically with Australian Shepherds. I strongly suggest to anyone considering an Aussie puppy make plans before they bring their new puppy home about training or puppy classes. Aussie puppies need lots of socialization with strangers if you want them to be accepting of people they do not know. Without lots of socialization they become very protective of their owners with strangers. They are reserved with strangers by nature so it is so important that you work on this right away. They are extremely smart, the smartest breed I have ever come in contact with. They can outsmart their owners more often than not! Obedience training is imperative if you want to be the pack leader with your dog and want him to listen to you. Aussies learn very quickly and thrive on the attention and praise you give them with each new command that you teach them. Left without training they rule the roost so to speak and cause all sorts of problems.
4. Number 3 leads us to a very big question...........HOW much time do you have to devote to a new companion? A new puppy takes a great deal of time and attention.
I know at our house I am the one who gets to do most of the training, feeding, walking, cleaning up after, baths, vet visits, herding, dog shows and just about anything else that has to do with our dogs, it is on my shoulders. I do have help espically now that I have been sick for several years. My family has taken a more active role in the care of our Aussies. Who will be the primary caregiver at your home should you get a new puppy? Who will get up in the middle of the night to walk the puppy until it is old enough to "hold it" till morning? A new puppy has to go out to potty very often for the first few months. It kind of compares to having an infant in your home for a short period of time. Someone also has to be responsible for keeping things out of the pups reach that could be harmful if swallowed, take him/her to the vet for shots and wormings, go to puppy classes, take the puppy to visit people so he/she gets proper socialization, feed him/her 2x a day and keep fresh water available. Someone has to keep up with monthly heartworm medication and frontline treatments for fleas and ticks. Bath the puppy and keep him/her groomed and nails clipped.
It really does take a lot of time and attention but if you have the time it is most rewarding! What you get in return is the most devoted loyal companion you could ever imagine!
5. Do you have small children and if so what are your plans to teach them about how to treat a new puppy? Some people act like this is a crazy question but it is not! Aussies are extremely smart and love children espically if they are raised with them. You must be willing to watch your children very carefully around any dog. Children usually do not understand that throwing things, hitting, yelling at or pulling a dog’s hair as something that is unacceptable to the dog. They are just doing what kids do. Aussies see this as aggression and since many children are about their same size they are at eye level with the dog. This is so important to control and be very cautious about. It is very possible that the dog would see this as a necessary situation in which he/she needed to defend itself. Many times the dog will interpret this as they are being attacked. It is the fight or flight feeling and if your lucky the dog will run. Please make plans to teach your children responsible ways in which to treat any dog.