Are Australian Shepherds Good With Kids?

Are Australian Shepherds Good With Kids?
Photo by Jessica Jochheim from Pexels

When considering a dog for your family, one of your first considerations as a parent is how well it will handle your children.  The biggest question around this idea is when people look into getting an Australian Shepherd.  Are they good with kids?

Aussies are good-natured dogs that love everyone in their families.  But there is one prime issue for parents to consider when deciphering whether to get an Australian Shepherd or not.  The biggest concern is around their deep instinct to herd.  But each dog will have its own variation on temperament and desire to herd.

Yes ; No

Depending on whom you talk to, some people will say yes and others will adamantly claim no.  In general, they’re good for older children but not smaller ones.  They often see them as sheep that need herding.  So, they’ll chase them and nip at their ankles in an effort to do this.

But, if you’re willing to commit to training and socializing the dog, they can be great playmates for children; so long as you get the dog while it’s a puppy.  If you have small children and get a dog that’s older, you might run into some problems.

The Urge to Herd

Because Australian Shepherds are avid herders, the instinct is strong from a young age and they will, quite literally, herd anything that moves.  At some point in the beginning of the relationship, an Australian Shepherd will try to dominate the kids.  They’ll even try to herd other dogs, small animals and adults, if their drive to herd is intense enough. 

Even if your children are older, Aussies will still try to herd small neighborhood children or kids playing at the park, which can present huge problems.  Although Aussies aren’t aggressive by nature, young children will not be able to understand what’s happening. 

Supervised Socialization ; Training

This is why it’s imperative to have supervised socialization of the dog with small children right from the start.  If doing this on your own isn’t enough, you will have to take the Aussie to a dog trainer with your children.  It will guide their abilities in a positive way without scaring the crap out of kids. 

This will not only get the dog to respect your kids but it will also get the Aussie accustomed to other children.  Without it, the dog will never learn to control itself and will only gain more confidence in its herding over time.  If left unchecked, it can be downright horrifying for children.

Australian Shepherds Are Excellent Dogs

All that said, many people adore their Aussies and attest to the dog’s affection, guardianship and intelligence.  These are smart, quick and agile dogs.  They are very loving toward their families and offer an extra set of keen eyes. 

Even though an Australian Shepherd might want to herd children, it doesn’t mean they love them any less.  They will protect their home and humans, including children, with all they have.