Are Australian Shepherds good with other dogs?
As long as an Australian Shepherd is well socialized they usually are very social and get along great with most other dogs. In general, Australian Shepherds are affectionate, highly social, and have a good-natured temperament. Every dog is an individual, so some Australian Shepherds aren’t good with other dogs and in some cases, they may even show aggression.
Some Australian Shepherds can have a protective nature due to their instinctive drive from being bred to herd cattle and serve as livestock guardians. However, they are not usually an aggressive breed.
Many Australian Shepherd owners consider getting a second Aussie or dog of another breed to be a companion for their Aussie. Most Australian Shepherds do need companionship and prefer to have company, especially if they are left home alone often. For more on getting a second dog for your Aussie see here.
What determines how well Australian Shepherds interact with other dogs?
There are a few different factors that will determine whether an individual Australian Shepherd is good in the company of other dogs. These include –
How well socialized they are.
Socialization is crucial in how any dog interacts with another individual or group of dogs. It is recommended to socialize your Australian Shepherd from a young age. It is still possible to socialize an older Australian Shepherd, but it may just take a little more time, patience, and consistency to achieve this goal.
The temperament of the other dog.
Obviously, if another dog in the situation is showing dominant or aggressive behavior towards an Australian Shepherd they will react in accordance to that.
The energy level of other dogs.
The Australian Shepherd is an extremely active and intelligent working breed. Sometimes a lower-energy dog can find an Australian Shepherd to be boisterous and a bit too much. It is a good idea to teach your Aussie how to be calm when needed. For more on calming and Australian Shepherd see here.
Their strong herding drive and protective nature.
Australian Shepherds were bred to herd cattle and be guardians of the herd. As a result, they have a very strong herding drive and can be very protective of other dogs. This can lead to them wanting to herd and control other dogs or be protective of other dogs especially if they are from the same home.
Some other dogs can find this herding behavior annoying and sometimes react. With supervision and consistent training, this issue can be corrected.
Are Australian Shepherds good with small dogs?
Usually, a well-socialized and trained Australian Shepherd is fine with small dogs. They are likely to be gentle and friendly with a dog that is smaller and may even be protective of them. Some small dogs may find an Australian Shepherd a little too boisterous and may be intimidated. Often it is best to supervise them with a small dog at first to ensure they are not being too over the top.
How to socialize your Australian Shepherd with other dogs
To ensure your Australian Shepherd is good when interacting with other dogs is to socialize them well, ideally from a puppy. For a puppy, the ages of 8 to 16 weeks is a crucial time to meet as many new people and animals as possible and experience lots of different situations and environments.
Even if you have an Australian Shepherd that wasn’t socialized as a puppy they can still learn how to be friendly and social with other dogs. It just may take some time and practice.
The key to socialization for both a puppy and an older dog is baby steps and consistency. Don’t expose them to too much at once and avoid overwhelming them. Build their confidence gradually over time.
It is important to make positive associations with new experiences. Reward them for engaging with the new experience, person, or animal. This can be by giving a treat, verbal praise, and pats.
Tips for socializing your Australian Shepherd
Socializing your Aussie is a relatively simple process that just requires practice and consistency. Here are some tips that you may find helpful.
Take things slowly
The approach to introducing your Australian Shepherd to new people, animals, or situations needs to be taken slowly. If your Aussie is showing concern over a situation they will likely stop where they are and just look. The worst thing to do in this situation is trying to force them to get closer when they are not ready. The best thing you can do is nothing.
Allow your Australian Shepherd the time to process the situation and decide if they want to proceed. Turning away and retreating from the situation is fine. It is better to avoid a negative experience. You can always try again later or on another day. As nothing bad happened in this situation, the next time you try it they may be less concerned and be more comfortable getting closer.
Introduce them to new dogs right
When first teaching your Australian Shepherd to be good with other dogs it is important to get the introduction right. On the first meeting with a new dog, they don’t have to get close or sniff each other’s bottoms. Just being in the same area as the other dog without any bad experiences is beneficial. If this goes well your Australian Shepherd may decide to get closer and smell the other dog, but it is not compulsory.
When two dogs greet each other they should be side on and nose to tail. This way they can sniff each other bottom. If two dogs approach each other head-on there is likely suspicion and uncertainty about each other. This situation could turn bad quickly so it is best to keep them separate.
Be aware of your demeanor and energy
Remember to be calm and confident when introducing new experiences to them. Australian Shepherds are very sensitive to your energy and excellent at reading your emotions. Remain relaxed and calm when introducing them to other dogs. If you are holding the leash tight they will be able to feel the tension.
If the owner is showing uncertainty and lacks confidence when approaching another dog, the Australian Shepherd may sense they need to protect them or there is something to be suspicious about.
Take them for daily walks
Australian Shepherds are a high-energy breed. They require a good volume of daily exercise. For a full guide to Australian Shepherd exercise see here. The daily walk is a great way to provide some of their exercise needs.
The walk is also a great way to provide social enrichment and opportunities to meet other dogs along the way.
Reward good behavior and positive experiences
Reward your Australian Shepherd for a good interaction with other dogs. This can be giving them a treat, verbal praise, or pats.
Provide opportunities for them to socialize
As with anything, practice makes perfect. Provide as much opportunity for your Australian Shepherd to meet as many new dogs as possible. Get together with people you know with dogs, join a training class, or go to the dog park. Doggie daycare can also be an excellent opportunity to socialize with other dogs.
Bottom line – Australian Shepherds and other dogs
The Australian Shepherd is a very friendly, good-natured, and social breed. They like to have company and companionship. Most Australian Shepherds are very good with other dogs as long as they have been socialized and trained.
Some Australian Shepherds may not be good with other dogs and in some cases, they may even show aggression. This may be due to past experience. With training and socialization, they can learn to interact well with other dogs.