Maryann Tobin

Australian Sheppard’s are fiercely loyal to their owners. That can be a good trait or a bad one depending on the circumstances. With an increase in abandoned dogs, many dog owners are making room for strays. But if one of the dogs you already own in an Aussie, adding another member to your family may not be as easy as it would be with another breed.

Some say you don’t own your dog – your dog owns you. Australian Sheppard’s may have been the inspiration for that phrase.

During our active work in animal rescue on our farm, we learned of a woman who wanted to get rid of her 4 year old Aussie because she got a new puppy and her Aussie started showing aggression. All a knowledgeable dog person can say to this woman is, ‘you don’t deserve to own a dog as devoted as an Australian Sheppard.'

When adding another dog to a home with an Aussie, jealously is likely to rear its ugly head in one way or another. It may manifest in destructive behavior or unusual aggression. He or she may growl or snip at you or the new dog, even if they have never growled or snipped before. This is the dog’s way of showing the ‘intruder dog’ that you are his property. It is also the only way he knows how to express his belief that your new dog is more important to you than he is.

No matter how it comes out, you must remember that changes in his behavior stem from his deep devotion to you. Therefore, it is important to show your dog that you will always be as loyal to him as he is to you.

If you get a new dog, be sure to spend at least as much quality time with your Aussie as you did before. Try to take him on walks that include only you and him. Extra brushing or bathing will also give him reassurance that he is still the center of your world.

Regardless of how your Aussie reacts to a new family member, do not think for a moment that unusual behavior means anything other than his deep loyalty and love for you. An Australian Sheppard’s number one job will always be serving you with his entire heart and soul.