What Do Australian Shepherds Like To Do?

by Kelly
(Albuquerque, NM)

Hi, everyone. My wife and I just got our first dog, a 14-month-old mini Aussie named Chili.

For the first year of his life, he lived outside with probably 25 other dogs, very limited human interaction, never went inside, never walked on a leash. We've adopted him and he's very timid. Doesn't like new people, doesn't like much of anything that we can tell.

We've gotten to the point where he'll come up to us on his own to be petted (which is huge), but he still won't walk on a leash. He'll drag it around, but if there's a person on the end, he freezes and won't move.

All the trainers say positive reinforcement is the way to go - give him a treat or a toy he loves, or play his favorite game, but we haven't found anything he likes to reward him with, though he can occasionally be lured with peanut butter. He's also getting almost no exercise, since we can't take him for walks or to the park.

What do your Aussies (and especially minis) like? He's too scared for us to chase him, though he'll occasionally follow us around if we trot. He's starting to sort of play with toys, but only a tiny bit.

We're really hoping to find something to keep him occupied so he doesn't get bored, something to get him exercise, and something we can reward him with. Thanks!


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Fun for mini -aussie
by: Patricia

Things that he has to work at to get treats out of like a Kong or a Tux might work. You can smear peanut butter on the inside of a Kong and it keeps them occupied for quite a while. Where did your guy come from?

Pixi the wild pup!
by: Sierra

Our dog was in a similar setting but younger when we brought her home. If a dog is moving inside, everything is new. His contact with humans was from afar and with feedings. Things like windows tv and human voice non stop are a lot to take in. He has to begin to view you as his pack now. I would follow guidelines that set you up as pack leader. When he understands his place in the pack , he will be able to follow your lead.
Our Aussie was kept close by when we were home and in a crate when we weren't. It was important for her safety.
She loves things that are exciting to the prey drive- squeaky and moving. She destroys them quickly. She has the ability to demolish most toys so we filled her crate w kongs filled w treats and other exciting indestructible toys. She had no idea what a toy was- chased lizards and carried sticks around in her former life.
First order was to teach her her name and come which we did with her food- instead of giving a bowl she took most a piece at a time when we called her out of our hand- big thing for her.
She's two now and runs agility and trains with us at 4-H. Work hard now and you will have success!

Uncondtional love & assurance
by: Judith Garrett

Mine loves to go for a ride in the car and a stop at the Dairy Queen ... I always get a large in a cup. Sounds like a lot of attention is going to be needed in the love dept....even sitting in your lap while watching tv or reading. Good luck they are a wonderful dog and can be a handful.

mini aussies
by: Anonymous

We have had a mini aussie for 9 years now and think she is the greatest and smartest dog we ever had! They are a high energy dog and love to fetch balls. Ours loves her squeaky tennis balls! She also loves peanut butter in a kong, carrots and green beans. Other favorites would be chicken and a little cheese. She is very food driven! Find what his favorites are and use these for training. You will soon have a friend forever!

So cute
by: Marla

Chill is SO cute. And I love her name.
I'm certainly no expert but I believe that Chill will come around. She's still young. Give her time to get to know and trust you. Once she trusts you she'll probably want to please you. It's going to take some time because they're so intelligent (she'll be sizing you up for quite a while). Keep putting the leash on her and letting her get use to it. When you do eventually pick your end of the leash up, let it go quickly and build up to holding it longer and longer.

Our girl is food motivated so I haven't had your issue but here are some thoughts:
Since you said Chill somewhat likes peanut butter keep using that but maybe try to get the kind that is all natural (without added sugars, salt, etc). I started out giving ours Jif b/c I didn't think about the extra stuff but now give her Trader Joe's natural peanut butter. It's just ground peanuts (I keep it in the refrigerator to keep it from separating and to keep it fresh longer).
Some other things to try are thickly sliced deli meat or hot dogs cut in tiny cubes (I soak both deli meat and hot dogs cubes in water to remove some of the salt). I'm probably a freak about the added salt but it's who I am. :-/
I also make croutons for our girl. Just cube sliced bread and toast it in a low oven (I think our toaster oven's lowest degree setting is 180 degrees) until they're crunchy. It'll take probably 20 minutes or so depending on what kind of bread you use and how thickly it's sliced. Our girl likes the crunchiness and since they're dried out it's a good treat to throw her from a short distance without it getting so dirt covered if it falls on the ground. Or even plain Cheerios.
Banana chips are another training treat ours sometimes gets. They can be high in sugar so keep that in mind.

Have you thought about one of the feeding toys for her regular meals? Just Google "interactive dog feeding toy". It'll keep her mentally and physically active while she's eating. You can even make your own by drilling holes, slightly larger than her kibble, in the sides of a plastic jar with a screw lid (like a peanut butter jar). Or put a small amount of her food in a cereal box, close it up and let her find the food (be prepared to clean up pieces of box though). Until you're sure she won't eat the jar or box just watch her closely while she's doing something like this.

Since she's use to other dogs, if you could get her to a dog park (even if you have to pick her up and carry her in your arms) she'd probably love it. You'll have to have a plan for getting her out of the park when it's time to go but she might get so drained that she'd be easy to collect. Sometimes tiring them out before training help to release some of the physical energy so they can focus on the mental task (the training).

Do you have somewhere that she could swim? Ours LOVES to swim so sometimes that's her reward.

Have you and your wife tried playing catch with a toy of hers? Start out with the two of you close together. It might get her interested.

I hope you find something that works for you while you're getting to know her and she's getting to know you. They are special dogs. I'd be willing to bet that you're going to be surprised with her progress in a relatively, short period of time.

Bring out his nature
by: Anonymous

See if you can stimulate his natural instinct and build trust by throwing a ball or frisbee, catch his interest and attention.

My aussie gets bored fast with normal stuff like leashes sits downs etc but really comes alive if a game is in play.

Stimulate him and bring out his best

What a Aussie likes
by: Anonymous

Our Aussie is shy and has never out grown it he has been to training with no luck. He does like the family and all the pets. He loves playing ball, going for rides in the car,or to just laying around being cuddled. He is very protective of us and the yard. It took us about a year to get him to open up to us. He is now over two years old and he will still not go around other people even family members that stop by a lot in fact he will bite them. The breeder was not going to sale him because of his shyness but he came to my right off the bat she still would give us the papers because of that but we love him and he is very smart. Good luck don't give up.

by: Tom

get on the floor where she doesn't feel intimidated by a tall person,put treats in your shirt pockets and have her find them don't make it hard the first couple of times, then make it a little tougher. Human bonding is necessary for a Mini coming from that kind of environment, all the love you can give her and all the treats. My mini likes to play ball (squeaky ones) tug of war, with old toys, give her something just for her, find out if she likes water. There are a host of things to try to get her out of her shell. Good luck because they are a very smart breed and bore easily. Need to keep her occupied. Enjoy your Mini and have fun

More thoughts
by: Anonymous

If you have an agility course nearby, you might try that. Take a one-on-one class the first time, alerting the trainer/teacher about
Chill's background and concerns. Agility was a wonderful bonding experience for our mini. In fact, when family members that she had never met (and, therefore, did not trust) came, we had them direct our girl through a short weave and jump course we have at home - rewarding with treats. The treats were incidental to the understanding that seemed to take place between dog and person.

One thing we learned about our mini Aussie was to not force things that she feared. Don't make her face the fearful thing, thinking she'll get used to it bit by bit. Instead, we learned to lead ours away from those things. It seems counterintuitive, but as she moves away the scary thing becomes a little less scary; so, it's not so bad next time. It's a slow process, but it worked for us. The bonus was that it also helped establish us as the alpha-protector.

Chill is a very lucky girl to have people like you! Good luck.

by: Anonymous

Our two mini-Aussies are very food oriented. One of their favorite chores is to search for their evening meal in the daily "kibble hunt". We put the dogs in the yard and hide individual pieces of kibble on furniture, under furniture, in corners, under toys, etc. Each dog gets to search a specific area so we can control the amount of kibble each gets. For instance, one dog searches the master bedroom with a closed door while the other dog searches the family room. They get so excited when it's time for the hunt. You can feel their energy as they wait to be released from a stay. They've learned the names of the rooms, so listen carefully for their cues..."Molly. All done. Look in Mommy's room"; "Murphy. All done. Look in the office". Off they race to their appointed room. They love it!

by: Gayle

Sign up for a beginner obedience class to cement a bond with your new pup! You will both love it.

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