Before you contact me or another breeder of Aussies of any size please really read and understand this page. If you don't read anything else read this page over and over.
Aussies are not labs. You know that awesome lab down the road that wags his tail and loves everyone. The dog who would go home with anyone who scratched his ears. The dog who thinks everyone he meets is his new best friend. The dog that they can take everywhere with them and he just wags his tail without a care in the world and everyone loves him and trusts him. NEWS FLASH. He's the opposite of an aussie!
As a breeder I have spent years protecting the true personality of this breed. This breed is probably not for you. Just stating the obvious. You probably have seen an aussie that was really well trained, really well socialized and had amazing colours and you want one just like it because it seemed to have the personality of that lab I mentioned above. Guess what, your not going to get one like that. It's the Disney Syndrome. Its not reality. It's not a true aussie.
Aussies are supposed to be reserved with strangers. This is a good aussie trait. Yup you heard me right, it's what we want, it's what we expect, it's what we breed for!
This is a herding breed. This is not a city breed, it's not a lap dog breed, this is not a love everyone breed. I'm sorry but it just isn't. This is a working dog that was bred to be able to be on a farm. On that farm this dog has a job, he is supposed to look out over his flock of cattle. He is supposed to keep them safe. That means if a strange animal approaches he isn't that animals best friend like the lab, being an aussie means he should bark, he should growl and he should warn you that the intruder is there and warn the intruder he doesn't belong and should watch his step. That's an aussie and a true aussies expected personality.
He should not love everyone he meets. He should be suspicious of everyone he meets. Everyone could be a cattle robber who is going to offer a cookie only to tie up the dog and steel the cattle. When a stranger approaches he should stand out of reach and bark, he should not approach the stranger until the owner has said it is ok and then he should approach with only the mildest of curiosity and then walk away and have no interest in the stranger. The stranger should have no value in the dogs world atall. If he feels there is a threat he should place himself between his owner and the threat. If the owner says the threat is not real he should back off and go back to not caring at all about the stranger, he still should not be interested in the stranger, except to acknowledge they are there. If the stranger approaches the dog the dog should back away and go lay down elsewhere. If the dog allows itself to be close enough to be caught, the stranger could turn out to be that cattle robber. So don't ever be friendly enough to be captured. They should never be aggressive unless it is a last resort of protection.
Reserve is a funny term that people misunderstand, cautious or uncaring is probably a better term. They should not be nervous or shy.
Having a cautious or reserved dog can be hard. People do not understand this behaviour. They think it is a bad behaviour. People expect the aussie to love everyone and that is just not normal for an aussie.
If you have met some of our dogs at shows you have seen a very extreme personality that is NOT NORMAL. You are seeing dogs that are over socialized and have met thousands of people under very controlled situations. You are seeing dogs who are trained by professionals for hours and hours. They have learned to be more outgoing and friendly than the breed is supposed to be. It is a learned behaviour, they will not produce trained puppies, their puppies will be born with the genetics to be reserved and cautious. If you want to lessen the behaviours in your dog, you too must put in hoursand hours of work with professional trainers to get the same desired behaviours out of your dog. If you don't, then your dog has a much higher chance of growing up to be reserved and cautious. It's what he was bred to be.
Now some of this reserve and cautious behaviour will not be evident right away, that is the really frustrating part. At 8 weeks old your puppy is going to love everyone, of course he will because he's a baby and his personality has not formed yet. By the time your puppy is a year old you will see the change, sometimes as early as 8 months in females, sometimes not until 18-24 months in males. It will happen. It is typically stronger in females. They have the instinct to be reserved and cautious much more than males do, which is why we say males typically make better family pets.
Sometimes the reserve turns on almost over night and is a drastic change in behaviour. Your dog was great at the dog park yesterday and today she wants to eat everything in her path. Sort of like Jaws. This can be scary because as a human we have become lazy and take the friendly puppy personality for granted and expect this is what we will always have, we are shocked and don't like the new personality that has erupted. Sorry but your baby is turning into a REAL aussie. This is what you have bought. Think of it like a butterfly, your puppy lived like a caterpillar for a long time and now it's ready to shed that identity and become the real beauty underneath and spread those true aussie wings ( which just happen to be reserve and cautious behaviours). The reason she is acting like Jaws is because she see's these dogs as a threat to her "pack" she no longer wants to be friends. There are a lot of them and they are moving really fast, she has no control over them, you are confused (by her behaviour) and have no control over those dogs either, so her only course of action to keep everyone safe is outward aggression towards them. This is much more typical of the personality change we see in a mature female aussie and much less in the males. It is also more pronounced in some blood lines and less in others but it is there.
Sometimes the signs are more subtle and easier to work with, small signs of backing away from people, being more aloof and staying in other rooms when people come to visit, small growls at other dogs but they don't escalate. Just sticking closer to you and venturing out less. These are the signs we see more typically in males.
So you may pick up a puppy and go home thinking I'm full of myself and have no idea what I'm talking about because my dogs are friendly and the puppies are all friendly. Sometimes you'll get lucky, you'll get that 1 in 100 that is more lab like and loves everyone without any work on your part, count your blessings. Occasionally your waiting for the change and you don't get it. That's very rare but it happens. More often than not we become very complacent and enjoy the puppies care free personality and when the true aussie blossoms we are totally unprepared and feel we need to fix it.
This may sound strange but it's a good culture shock for you. Aussie reserve does not need to be fixed any more than being gay needs to be fixed. As a toddler that gay child probably dressed the way you wanted, played with the toys you gave them and did what you expected because they were not mature enough to be themselves yet, however as they matured things changed and no matter what you say or do that gay child will always be gay, you can't "fix" it and make them straight. When your aussie matures and can think for itself there isn't anything you can "fix" and you shouldn't try, that natural instinct to be reserved and cautious will be there, it's what you bought. All you can and should do is support it and understand it and accept it. If your dog is not comfortable at dog parks, don't go. Easy solution. Do not spend wasted time trying to force your dog to be comfortable doing things he does not want to do. You can try hiring professional behaviour specialists and I'm happy to pass out their name and number, but they will likely only be able to teach you how to handle the dogs new true personality and not be able to change it.
If you want a dog who is going to love going to the dog park and love every person he meets for ever and ever then don't get an aussie. Do yourself a favor and get a different breed. Labs are wonderful love everyone dogs and make great community pets.
Aussies make great family pets, they ADORE their family and will die for their family, mess with their family and they will open a can of whoop ass on you and will bite without hesitation. If you are not their family they will walk over your bleeding body without a care in the world and lift a leg to pee on you while your down for being in their way and on their property. That is a true aussie and that is what we breed for!
Yes some blood lines are less aussie like with less reserve in their blood lines. Yes you can lessen a lot of the reserve with proper training and a LOT of socializing.
But to really understand Socializing please take the time to ready this page more than once SOCIALIZING Socializing is work, it is hard work, it doesn't come easy. Going to your parents house isn't socializing. That's just day to day life. :) Read up on how to properly socialize your aussie. If you want NO chance of any aussie reserve at all, then you really want NO aussie at all.