Personality traits of the Australian Shepherd vary from dog to dog. Some can be outgoing and friendly, while others are shy and reserved. Regardless of the individual dog's personality, a few things remain constant. Aussies are highly intelligent, loyal, and thrive on human companionship. Aussies are at their best when they are engaged in interaction with a person, whether it be walking, running, or fetching; and are the perfect companion for an active family.
Australian Shepherds need a lot of physical activity. They are a working breed, so they thrive on learning new tasks and engaging in those tasks as often as possible. Families who are active outdoors will benefit from the company of an Aussie. They are incredibly agile and enjoy games like fetch and catching a frisbee. Apartment dwellers should be cautioned against adopting an Australian Shepherd. Though they are medium in size, they require a lot of exercise and stimulation, and if they don't get it, can become destructive or develop separation anxiety.
One of the most intelligent breeds, Australian Shepherds can be trained to do just about any task put before them. A firm hand is not needed to train this breed; positive reinforcement works just fine. They are a people-pleasing breed and quickly learn behaviors that are consistently rewarded with praise, or a small treat. Aussies excel in simple obedience training, and once they have mastered the basics should be enrolled in an advanced course, or more appropriately, agility training.
Training should begin early with Aussies, as their herding instinct can take over and cause havoc. Without setting proper boundaries with this breed, they can try to herd other pets or even children. They should also be socialized as early as possible, as they have a tendency to be standoffish or even aggressive to strangers.
Australian Shepherds crave human companionship and love being included in all family activity. The flip side to this is that they can easily develop separation anxiety or barking behaviors. Early training, plenty of exercise and mental activity can keep these problems from developing.
Their herding nature can cause Aussies to be chasers or nippers. They will chase birds, rabbits, cats, bikes, and even cars. Australian Shepherds should be closely supervised if not on a leash, or in a fenced yard, to avoid potentially dangerous situations.