Intelligent, alert and brave, the Belgian Sheepdog is an ideal companion for an active family. They were bred to herd livestock, so they like to constantly be moving or entertained, whether it's playing with children, going on long walks, or chasing a frisbee. Their vigilance makes them excellent watchdogs, and they can be trusted to keep a watchful eye on the kids when playing outside. They can be trained to do just about any task, and will do every task put before them with efficiency and grace.
Belgian Sheepdogs are not ideal for couch potatoes, as they need a lot of physical activity to remain happy and healthy. Apartments are not ideal, because daily walks won't cut it for the Belgian Sheepdog. They need to run, jump and play every single day. If they don't get enough activity, they can quickly become destructive.
This breed is perfect for families with big, fenced-in yards and kids to play with. Belgians will want to be included in all outdoor family activities including walking, running, playing catch or frisbee, and swimming. They love interacting with people and shouldn't be left alone too long during the day.
Though sometimes willful and stubborn, Belgians are highly trainable and thrive on advanced obedience, trick and agility training. They can read small movements and even changes in facial expression, and are famous for being so “in tune” with their trainers that they can literally stay one step ahead of the person giving commands. For this reason, Belgian Sheepdogs are often competitors (and champions) in agility and herding competitions.
Though easily trainable, Belgians are not for the first-time dog owner. They are highly intelligent and manipulative, and can easily walk all over someone who does not know how to remain consistent with training. Positive reinforcement is the best method to train a Belgian Sheepdog, as discipline can lead to avoidance behavior and stubbornness.
The herding nature of Belgian Sheepdogs makes them prone to chasing. Bikes, cars, kids, or other animals can cause this dog to take off running. Fenced yards and leashes can keep them from running off into the sunset and possibly getting hurt. Small animals should not be brought into a Belgian's home or yard, as their instinct may be to chase and hurt the animal.
This inborn herding nature also makes Belgian Sheepdogs protective of their home and family and makes them wary of strangers. It is important that they be socialized as early as possible to learn the difference between a welcome guest and an unwelcome guest, or aggression can develop.
Chewing, barking and separation anxiety can sometimes develop in this breed, but that can be attributed to lack of exercise and boredom. Committing to a Belgian Sheepdog means committing to an active lifestyle.