Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

Training New Pup Not To Come Down Stairs Until Called

by Ranee, Ricky & Joker
(Irwin, PA, USA)


Hi – I'm Ranee, mom to Rick (9) and soon to be mom/partner to "Joker." (We are adopting a 5-month-old Aussie this week.)

We live in an apartment above the pet boutique and grooming shop where I work. While there is a door between our apartment and the steps going down to the first floor of the business where clients enter and leave, one of our first training tasks must be training Joker that he is not permitted to come down the stairs unless given the OK to do so. I'm pretty sure that there will be times when the apartment door is accidentally left open and the downstairs door/entrance to the building is only 25 feet from a MAJOR highway! A notice will be prominently posted and our receptionist is willing to act as backup, but some clients simply will not remember to insure the outside door is shut when they enter or leave. Training him not to exit the outside door is not sufficient as some client dogs are dog aggressive and could hurt Joker or incite a fight. (Besides... I'd rather he not be doing his own shopping in the pet boutique when I'm not with him... I can just see an Aussie left to his own devices with hundreds of treats and toys to choose from. LOL)

I should also add that although I've worked with dogs in one capacity or another most of my life and am competent in basic obedience training both on and off leash as well as behavior modification with troubled dogs, Joker will be the first Aussie I've ever owned. (I always liked the breed – but always said I didn't have one because I like to believe I'm smarter than my dog. ;-) I made the decision to adopt Joker as both a companion and playmate for my very active (and fairly dog saavy) son, and also because I've always wanted to progress further in my training skills and get involved in agility, therapy dog work and/or S&R. We will be joining a training club within the next couple months.

So... you guys know this breed best – can anyone give me some guidance on how to best insure Joker's safety – given his natural instincts – by training him to stay in the apartment unless called down?

Thanks in advance!
Ranee & Ricky

Comments for Training New Pup Not To Come Down Stairs Until Called

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not to come downstairs
by: Debbie

I use a baby gate. I dont use my second floor and dont want my aussie up their either so I have a baby gate across the top of the steps so she cant go on that floor. You need to put a gate so yours cant go downstairs.

Re: gate
by: Anonymous

Thanks for the tip. I had thought about that--and then wondered if that might not simply present a challenge to Joker...something for him to figure out how to overcome. (No pun intended.) How driven is yours and did simply installing the gate work or has he taken it as a challenge?

Baby gates help but not necessary
by: Mel

I think that putting up a baby gate can turn into a crutch and any driven Aussie will find a way to get over it if you do not lay down some boundaries. My 8 month Aussie female is trained that she is not to be in the kitchen except when I feed her. Be calm and don't make a big deal about it. Simply walk down the stairs, if she follows you turn around and force her back up. You don't need to yell or say anything. Once she's back at the top of the stairs I use a firm touch on the neck to let her know that she is not to follow again. Have her lay down. Turn around and go back down the stairs. If she follows repeat the process. Be consistent and your Aussie will figure out very quickly that you have set boundaries.

Also, in that kind of environment be sure that your Aussie is very socialized. Aussies can get very territorial of their homes and families if not socialized correctly. You wouldn't want your Aussie to become a liability to your company.

Best of luck to you!

Joker's first day
by: Anonymous

Thanks for the comments everyone. Now that he's actually here and I've a chance to begin to evaluate him, we've got more than one issue that needs to be dealt with pretty quickly. I'm not even sure where to start.

Joker is, true to his breed, VERY prey and herding driven, has absolutely NO idea that humans have to lead the pack and... well... he's just manic. As I got more of the story from the previous owner, this poor guy has been crated something like 15 hours a day at least. It wasn't that the people didn't care about him, but rather that they worked full-time and probably didn't research the breed before buying him on impulse. ("Ooohhh... that pretty red spotted pup in the pet-store! Daddy, can we have him?" Then, feeling guilty that he spent so much time in the crate and didn't even have a yard to run off his energy or sufficient mental stimulation, it would seem they pretty much let him get away with everything: snatching human food, jumping up and nipping faces for attention, jumping up on furniture and then guarding it from humans, mouthing, pulling on the lead... you get the picture. He's a mess for sure... but he's also beautiful and funnier than 10 clowns in a clown car.

To make matters worse, I'm sure he's confused and wondering who these new people are who keep blocking him from destructive behaviors and not liking it one bit.

Had he remained in the same home, I'm afraid he may soon have passed the point of no return before he hit adulthood.

Now that he's here, I have my first really basic question. I've done a lot of research into the breed and I'm a bit confused with some of what I've read. I keep hearing that the best tactic to dealing with unwanted behaviors is to ignore it. I use brief, growlish noises to distract and then redirect to something positive. My first question is how to deter his habit of juming up on my son and nipping at his face? I know Aussies are mouthy by design, and I don't want to use aversive types of corrections, but I'd really like to hear your ideas. Right now, we turn away and ignore him till he sits quietly but as often as not, it doesn't seem to so much good. As soon as we move, those eyes light up and he getsa craving for calf of neck pain. H we simply need to continue on our course and trust that he'll get it?

I'm a bit old school with training, I'm afraid. A judicious NO makes a difference if you're praising good behavior more than you sling insults and insecurities. Some of what I've been told is that any other correction except exclusevely ignoring the unwanted behavior will only increase the behavior because it's all pretty much designed to

BTW, his overall temperament is relatively dominant. Not fearful ? though I can hear in his voice tonight that he's confused and upset being back in a crate for the night. (I have no choice.)

Other issues... he's already outtinking me. (Oh no... no Aussie or Border is coming into voice gmail

active dog
by: Debbie

All I can say is aussies are so smart that if you work with your new dog it will get it. They love to be praised. Mine will be 10 months old and she is so sweet. I have never crated her because I never had too. I can leave her and she is good as gold. Give the dog a chance and work with it..If you noises dont work try a squirt bottle with water...as a last resort. All I have to do is raise my voice and she knows. Give the dog a chance...you will love it.

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