Positive Reinforcement Dog Training
Aussies Have Attitude To Spare And Need To Be Taught That You Are Top Dog
If you have an older Aussie
who is attempting a coup and seems to be trying to move
up your family pack heirarchy you can also assert your authority
in non-physical ways. Providing guidance for your Australian Shepherd
and laying the groundwork for obedience is essential to avoid
(or deal with) this situation.
Levi tried this when he was about two years old. He was actually
getting to be quite aggressive toward me. He recognized my wife
as the leader of the pack (you married guys know what I'm talking
about) ;-) and Levi thought he could knock me out of second place!
Even though Levi was getting aggressive to the point of growling
and snapping I knew this was not his fault and that it was due
to something we were doing wrong. This situation, however, was
getting out of hand and was upsetting our happy home and something
had to be done. Teaching your Australian Shepherd that you are
the top dog may require evaluating the situation from the point
of view of your Aussie. How do they understand the world and where
they fit in?
have attitude to spare
The first thing we realized was that Levi became territorial
over our bed. We had a king sized bed and there was plenty of
room for him to curl up on the corner. If I came into the bedroom
after Levi had already claimed his spot (my spot) he would start
getting nasty. Soon he tried to prevent me from even getting into
the bedroom at all!
I've known some people who have encountered this kind of behavior
with their dog and simply gotten rid of them. That is often not
necessary. A little knowledge about dogs and the dynamics of dog
pack heirarchy will solve the problem. I'd rather see people take
the time to understand their Australian Shepherd. This is definitely
preferable to the alternative.
Admittedly we had made some mistakes, but we recognized this
was our doing. Levi was getting too big for his britches and needed
to be firmly made aware of his real place in our little family
pack. We used a few simple tricks to regain authority.
Quell An Aussie Uprising With Simple Training Methods
The first thing we did was
take total control of the bedroom. Levi lost his privileges
and was restricted to his own bed. We even closed the door to
the room where his bed was so that I wouldn't "encounter"
him during a trip to the bathroom at night.
Here's an Australian Shepherd
Training Tip. If your Aussie starts laying in high
traffic areas or blocking doorways she might be trying to
dominate the space by forcing you to move around. Make your
dog move. Not by telling her to move or you will have to
tell her every time. Just shuffle (you don't want to step
on your dog, of course), until she gets out of the way.
(So long as you can do this safely without getting bitten.)
This will train her that you are the top dog and she has
to remain alert to staying out of your way, instead of the
other way around.
In the dog heirarchy the "top dog" sleeps where he
wants and others have to move around him. This is why Levi was
so adamant that I not disturb him when he was on our bed. He saw
this as a challenge to his perceived authority.
So once we had regained control of the bed again we could slowly
introduce Levi to the concept that getting on the bed was a privilege
that was under our total control. Permission to stay was totally
dependent on his behavior and his recognition that we controlled
this territory. Period!
We began by calling him up. Then after a little while, telling
him to get down and praising his compliance. We would go for longer
periods of allowing him up on the bed, watching for any signs
of aggression. Once in a while I would shift positions and would
touch Levi. If he gave me a dirty look (or dared to growl) he
was instantly ordered off of the bed and lost his privileges
for the rest of the day.
Aussies are very smart. Levi figured out the new rules with this
training and was transformed within a week. Not only did he not
growl or snap when I came into the bedroom but as soon as I entered
the room he would automatically hop down from the bed and wait
until I was settled and comfortable. He would then peek up and
look to me for permission and would only then hop back up to find
his own spot.
Some More Australian Shepherd Training Tricks
I should mention that at
the same time we did a couple of other things to assert
our authority. They were also very simple and seemingly small
but they contributed to a dramatic effect.
When we gave Levi his food, rather than leaving food out in his
bowl we gave him meals at certain times. We had him sit first,
then we placed the bowl down. This is the important part - before
he could eat he had to wait for our okay.
This let Levi know that his food came from us and didn't just
magically appear. In canine social structures the top dogs control
the food. Only after permission is given by the leader will the
next in line eat and so on down the ranks. Before this Levi would
just get food at his bowl or start eating as soon as the bowl
was put down. Because he didn't have to look to anyone further
up the rank for permission he thought he was the top dog.
Similarly, when we let him go outside we would first have him
sit. Then we would open the door and have him remain sitting until
we gave permission for him to go out. Levi became a model Australian
Shepherd. Training was the key.
These simple training methods worked a miracle. In only a week
this training transformed Levi from an aggressive, even menacing,
challenger to my authority to a friendly and contented dog. I
was amazed at the difference. Levi actually seemed happy that
the war was over and he gladly settled into his new rank in our
pack. After all he could still lord it over the cats! :-)
Stay tuned, we'll be adding more information about Australian
Shepherd training tips and tricks.
We'll take a look at compulsive training vs. inductive training,
as well as puppy training, obedience training and advanced training.
Everything for a well trained, and happy, Australian Shepherd.
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