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Do Australian Shepherds Pick a Favorite Person?

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A red merle Aussie and its favorite person

Australian Shepherds, or Aussies, are sweet-natured dogs with lively personalities! Moreover, they are known as one of the most affectionate dog breeds in the world. As such, Aussies have a tendency to pick a favorite person. Nevertheless, they are very loyal and protective of their people.

Understanding Australian Shepherd Behavior

Australian Shepherds were originally bred to follow and obey a master. Wherever their master goes they go. They followed their master's command and were eager to please them. In addition, they were ready to give their lives for their master's cattle. 

Though Aussies are predominantly bred for pets today, most of them retain this instinctual behavior. Aussies are known for being very protective of their families and territory and especially eager to please their owners. Sometimes, they may try to herd family members due to the strong herding instincts they retain.

What's more, Aussies are very smart dogs responsive to commands, and quick to learn. They love their families but often act aloof toward strangers. Further, they can be domineering toward unfamiliar dogs. In a two or three-person household, an Aussie will adopt everyone. However, there's still a favorite. This begs the question of how do Aussies choose their favorite person?

Factors that Influence Australian Shepherds' Preference

Australian Shepherds have a preference for bonding strongly with a single person. In terms of their original purpose, this makes sense. In the field, Aussies would work daily alongside their master and develop a deep working relationship with them. As a family dog, an Aussie may pick a favorite person due to a few factors including:
  • Time spent together: Aussies' favorite person is typically someone who they spend the most time with and bonds well with. They will follow this person more often than they do any other person in the household. On the other hand, Australian Shepherds often react poorly to people with whom they've bad associations.
  • Bonding activities: Aussies are high-energy dogs that love exercise, walks, and playtime. As a result, you may become an Aussie's favorite person if you are the one doing more bonding activities with it than others in the house. For instance, in a household with parents and kids, an Aussie may prefer the person who fills its bowl each morning and takes it for a walk every evening.
  • Primary caregiver influence: In some cases, Aussies do pick their primary caregiver as their favorite person. Sometimes, the pet sitter you hire might even be your Aussie’s favorite person.
However, your Aussie doesn't have to be a one-person dog in a multi-person household. To be successful, each person simply has to form an equally strong connection with the dog through bonding activities, such as:
  • Playing
  • Feeding
  • Training
  • Socializing
  • Grooming
  • Massaging
This will stop the Australian Shepherd from sticking to one person. Ideally, this should be done when the Aussie is around the age of 12 weeks. Your Aussie will be less likely to favor one family member over another if no one family member spends more time with him than the others. 

In essence, dog ownership is similar to parenting. Kids prefer both mom and dad when they are equally available. On the other hand, it's common for kids to prefer their mum, as she is often the one who feeds and nurtures them for much of the day. Likewise, Aussies prefer a person who feeds, nurtures, and plays with them more often than others.

Signs that an Australian Shepherd Has a Favorite Person

The following signs show that your Aussie has picked a favorite person:
  • Display of affection: If an Aussie is more affectionate towards one family member than another, it is a sign that he's made that person his favorite. Aussies show affection by jumping on you and licking your face. In addition, they'll wag their tail and be happy to see you, which is one way you can be assured they love and miss you.
  • Following behaviors: Australian Shepherds tend to be overly clingy to their favorite person, following them around. If your family Aussie often follows you from room to room and always wants to be where you are, it is a sign that you are its favorite person.
  • Protective instincts: If an Aussie is more protective of one family member than another, it is a sign it has a favorite person. An Aussie might even try to protect its favorite person from other family members.
In a multi-person home, the job of feeding and exercising an Aussie shouldn't be assigned to one person. Otherwise, that person may become the dog’s favorite. Each person in your household should spend a similar amount of time training, feeding, walking, and playing with the dog. This way, the dog won't develop an exclusive relationship with one person.

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