Super-intelligent, task-oriented, friendly, and at times a bit dominant, the Australian shepherd temperament is one of work mixed with with plenty of affection. Dogs of this breed are whip-smart, and are at their best when they have a job to do. Because of their history as livestock dogs, one of the keenest Australian shepherd personality traits is its work ethic. (In other words: the herding instinct is strong with this one, as Yoda would say.) With a lack of frequent stimulation of both mind and body, these dogs will become destructive and bark nonstop, and their herding instincts will make them try to "control" moving objects like people, animals, and bicyclists. The key to balancing Australian shepherd behavior, vets and breed experts say, is socialization in a variety of environments and situations.
"When do Australian shepherds calm down?" owners often ask. Australian shepherd puppy behavior is often that of hyperactivity during the dog's first couple of years of life. Usually after about 24 months, the Australian shepherd dog temperament is less active. Again, the key to maintaining the young Australian shepherd disposition is socialization: take your Aussie puppy to dog parks and to malls or stores that allow animals, and have the pup interact with a variety of people.
One of the most prized Australian shepherd characteristics is the breed's ease of training. These dogs are extremely willing to learn, and can understand tasks and commands with very few repetitions. Obedience training--well into an Aussie's adult years, according to experts--is a great way to channel the breed's busy mind and body.
Another excellent aspect of the Australian shepherd temperament: it's protective. These dogs are alert and curious, so they're great watchdogs, and will usually sound a loud (and frequent!) vocal alarm if they detect a potential threat.