Australian Shepherd training tips can be helpful for any individual or family fortunate enough to welcome one of these bright, intelligent, energetic dogs into their lives. In order to properly channel the Aussie's seemingly endless supply of energy, it is important to begin training early and to be as consistent as possible. If you can manage this, the rewards can be tremendous.
As their name suggests, the Australian Shepherd was bred as a working dog, meant to herd on ranches and farms. Their intelligence and agility help them to keep up with wandering animals and keep them in line but it also means that the Aussie is always on the alert. This can make them a challenge to train as you need to find a way to harness that instinct and give your pup an outlet for all of that natural enthusiasm.
The herding instinct of the Australian Shepherd is present from early on; therefore, one of the most important Australian Shepherd training tips is to begin as soon as possible. However, finding an outlet for that energy isn't enough. In addition to physical exercise Aussies need mental exercise. The key then is to find a balance so that your Aussie is getting enough exercise while also being challenged mentally. You can find more information about your Aussie biting and nipping due to herding instinct here.
You can do this relatively easily by finding ways for him to put his herding instinct to good use or otherwise give him a job. Have him collect his toys into one common spot, or herd family members into a group as you walk or even bring them to the kitchen table in the morning. This will give your Aussie a sense of purpose and more importantly will put you in control of that herding instinct so that you can keep it from getting out of control.
Our official ebook Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care.
Make sure to establish yourself as the respected "pack leader" from the very beginning of the pup's life. Like most dogs, Aussie's do much better when they understand their place in the pack and if they see you as the respected leader they will be more inclined to listen and obey, making training much easier for both of you. It doesn't hurt that Aussie's are also very eager to please, so your pup will be naturally inclined to listen to commands and do what you ask.
Being a respected pack leader is not "dominance training". It is all about building a relationship of trust wherein your Aussie looks to you for guidance and is comfortable, confident, and happy to follow your lead knowing you have their best interests at heart. Having your dog follow your direction is not to demean them any more than a parent guiding their child and building a relationship of trust is designed to dominate them.
I think the confusion comes with the term "pack leader". This is then linked to the "alpha leader", and on to using discredited physical dominance techniques like the alpha roll to force a dog into submission. To be clear, never use physical punishment or the alpha roll to train your Aussie. You will ruin your relationship with your dog and instead of respect and love, you will engender distrust and fear.
Along with this role of respected leader, consistency is the key to training an Australian Shepherd. Because they are so intelligent, the more often you repeat a behavior the quicker they will be to pick it up. Consistency is also crucial when it comes to house training whether with a puppy or older Aussie.
Crate training can be very effective with Aussie's provided you also stick to a strict schedule. Make sure you take young pups out to relieve themselves at least three times a day, always at the same times, so that they learn as early as possible what is and isn't acceptable behavior while you provide them with opportunities for success and rewards.
Though these smart and active dogs can be a challenge, if you follow these simple Australian Shepherd training tips you should end up with a well behaved, loyal and loving dog that will bring so much to your life, whether working a ranch or hanging out at home. So, don't let the prospect of training your Aussie worry you; it can be easy and fun provided you go about it the right way!
You can find more information in our Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care ebook here. If you are a visual learner and would prefer to watch videos that show you step-by-step how to train your Aussie, I recommend the video-based dog training program created by a professional dog trainer, who goes by "Doggy Dan". Dan explains dog training concepts from puppy training to obedience training and how to deal with specific behavior issues and shows you how to implement them with his own dog training clients. You can find out more about Dan and his program on his website here.
Short and frequent training sessions are better than longer ones. Be sure to end the training on a positive note and to make it fun for you and your dog. With a little patience and persistence, before you know it you will have a happy, well-behaved Aussie.
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