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Why Does Your Australian Shepherd Follow You Everywhere?

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By Nicole Cosgrove

australian shepherd dog and female owner are walking together

Known for their herding and performance abilities, Australian Shepherds are a versatile breed and an increasingly popular breed of family pet. Your Aussie may follow you everywhere because they were developed to be working dogs. They are loyal and protective of their family and will stick close to you in order to keep you safe. Aussies are also highly intelligent and love to have a job to do. If you’ve ever asked yourself “why does my Australian Shepherd follow me everywhere,” we have the answers!

So, if you always have them by your side, it’s likely because they think you need their help! If you’ve ever wondered why this breed is renowned for their ability to faithfully stick to their owners, read on.

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A Close Partnership with Humans

Australian Shepherds, despite the name, don’t come from Australia. They were first bred in the US by ranchers in the 19th century originally to herd sheep and other livestock. Whilst their lineage is not known for sure it is believed that they descend from a number of different breeds of herding dogs that were imported to California in the preceding centuries, including Collies that arrived from Australia and New Zealand with flocks of sheep.

So why are they called Australian Shepherds and not American Shepherds? At the time the sheep were brought in, their herders, or shepherds, were also brought in from Australia and these Australian farmhands worked with and developed the breed we now know as Australian Shepherds. The ancestors of today’s Aussies were kept for centuries as working dogs and the instincts they developed over all that time are still with the modern breed that we keep as pets today.

These instincts are part of what can make them wonderful to own, and also explains a lot of the reasons why they can’t stop following their owners around.

australian shepherd sitting on his owner's lap
Image Credit: LightField Studios, Shutterstock

Bred for Obedience & Interdependency

To be a successful herding dog, Aussies were trained to pay close attention to the shepherds and herders that kept them. Every day, all day, the Aussies would follow their owners around waiting for instructions. They would listen to the directions they were given to herd the sheep or cattle and once they had completed their task, they would wait to be given their next instruction.

In a sense they are pre-programmed to follow you around, expectantly watching to see what you are going to do next, and patiently waiting and hoping for instruction from you.

Herding the Family

The Australian Shepherd is a unique breed of dog that has been bred for generations to view their family as their flock of sheep. This instinctual behavior makes them the perfect companion for families with children, as they will naturally protect and nurture their young charges. Australian Shepherds are intelligent and active dogs who need plenty of exercise and stimulation, so they are not the best choice for a family who is frequently away from home or who does not have a large yard. But for those families who can provide their Aussie with the attention and exercise they need, they will find that these dogs make loyal, loving, and protective companions.

Female with two dogs focus on the happy Australian Shepherd puppy
Image Credit: Suzanna Bunch, Shutterstock

Do Australian Shepherds Pick a Favorite Person?

Aussies have a preference for forming a strong bond with a single person, and in terms of their heritage this makes sense, they would work daily with one person and develop a deep working relationship with them. However, your pet does not have to be a one-person dog. Aussies can form strong relationships with multiple people, each person simply has to form an equally strong connection which will stop the dog from thinking they have an exclusive relationship with one person.  To be successful each family member has to spend a similar amount of time interacting with the dog, playing, feeding, training, and socializing together. Ideally, this would happen in the formative period for the dog when imprinting is strongest, around the age of 12 weeks.

The more your Australian Shepherd experiences that no one family member is more available to him than the others or offers more favored experiences like walks or treats than the others, the less likely he will favor one family member over another.

They Don’t Care for Strangers

There are many dog breeds that are known for being social and friendly with everyone they meet. Some of the most popular breeds that fall into this category are Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Beagles. These breeds are all known for their outgoing and happy personalities, which make them great companions for people of all ages. These social butterflies love being around people and other dogs, and they’re always up for a game of fetch or a belly rub—even with a total stranger.

Australian Shepherds are not the type of breed that warms up to strangers quickly. They are bred to be independent and suspicious of anything that they deem to be a threat. This can make them come across as being indifferent to people that they don’t know. By comparison, they may seem obsessed with you! However, once they get to know someone, they can be some of the most loyal and loving dogs around. They just need some time to warm up to new people.

Man Carrying a Australian Shepherd Dog Beside a Woman
Image Credit: Cottonbro, Pexels

Are Aussies Jealous?

Jealousy is a common emotion felt by humans and dogs alike. While we may not like to admit it, we’ve all experienced that green-eyed monster at one point or another. But what about our furry friends? Do dogs experience jealousy? As we’ve seen, Australian Shepherds are notoriously loyal dogs. They may become jealous if they feel like they’re being replaced in your affection. If you have an Australian Shepherd, you may want to be aware of their jealous tendencies. Jealousy is often triggered by attention. If you’re spending more time with another person or animal, your Aussie may start to feel neglected.

Dealing With Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is a common problem in dogs, and Australian Shepherds are no exception. There are a number of things you can do to help your dog deal with separation anxiety, including:

  • Making sure your dog has plenty of exercise. A tired dog is a calm dog, and Australian Shepherds need a lot of exercise. Be sure to give your dog at least an hour of vigorous exercise every day.
  • Giving your dog a safe place to stay when you’re gone. This could be a kennel or crate, or simply a room in your house where your dog feels comfortable and safe.
  • Leaving your dog with something to keep him occupied while you’re gone, such as a Kong toy filled with treats or a puzzle toy.

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In conclusion, the Australian Shepherd is a very loyal and loving dog breed. They are great companions and will follow their owners everywhere they go. This breed is not only intelligent and trainable but also loyal and loving. If you are looking for a dog that will be by your side through thick and thin, then the Australian Shepherd is the perfect breed for you.

Their love and loyalty should be reciprocated, so before adding an Australian Shepherd to your family, consider whether you are prepared for the responsibility of their constant companionship.

Featured Image Credit: Anna Pozzi – Zoophotos, Shutterstock

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