Originally bred in the United States as a dedicated herding dog, the Australian Shepherd has a brilliant mind and a strong desire to work. With proper Australian Shepherd training, he is more than capable of performing both simple and complex tasks.
In this article, we will discuss the right techniques to use when disciplining your Australian Shepherd. You will also learn tips on how to inhibit his herding instinct and pointers for crate training.
Finding the Right Match
Are Australian Shepherds good for beginners? No, these herding dogs are more suited for owners with many years of experience caring for and handling the breed. Australian Shepherds are not ideal pets for novices. Here are the top reasons why:
Demands Lots of Attention
The Australian Shepherd dog breed approaches life with so much enthusiasm. He is a high-spirited pooch that can become unruly if proper boundaries are not set.
If you are a beginner, the Australian Shepherd’s friskiness might be too much for you to control. Moreover, you may not be well equipped to deal with this behaviour appropriately.
Requires a Great Deal of Training
As a working dog, the Australian Shepherd’s mind and body are always in need of stimulation. The breed needs at least one to two hours of exercise every day. Long walks alone will not suffice in tiring him out physically and mentally.
The Australian Shepherd will be dissatisfied if all he does at home is sit around and stay idle. And remember, boredom in dogs, especially the energetic ones, will lead to behaviour problems.
The best way to keep the Australian Shepherd from becoming destructive is to train him constantly. This can be too complicated for novice dog owners as they will need to teach him complex commands to keep him well behaved.
Prone to Defiance
Are Australian Shepherds easy to train? Not exactly. Although they are highly intelligent and eager-to-please, they are challenging to train. One of the biggest hurdles when training the Australian Shepherd dog breed is its domineering nature.
The Australian Shepherd will show defiance and become rebellious if he senses that you can push around. He requires a confident and authoritative leader who can handle his brazen attitude with calmness.
Considering all of these, you may want to choose a simpler breed of dogs if you are a beginner since training the Australian Shepherd requires expertise and advanced knowledge.
However, if you are determined to have him as your family companion, this Australian Shepherd training guide will lay out the groundwork to help you make significant progress in training.
How Do You Discipline an Australian Shepherd?
The Australian Shepherd is a herding dog with high energy. This can often turn into a problem since his vivacity can lead him to misbehave and become unruly. Thus, teaching discipline to the Australian Shepherd at an early age is very important.
However, keep in mind that discipline does not mean inflicting harsh punishments on your puppy. There are many ways to teach him how to behave without using cruel training methods. We have listed down 4 tips on how to discipline your Australian Shepherd effectively:
1. Reward Good Behaviours
The best way to train your Australian Shepherd to carry out desired behaviour is through positive reinforcement. Since this devoted dog loves to please his owner, shower him with praises for every good thing that he has done.
Or toss a few tasty treats on his way. Doing so will make him more likely to repeat the agreeable behaviour because he knows it makes you happy.
2. Use Humane Punishments
You need to balance positive reinforcement with gentle corrective methods. Never hit or shout at your Australian Shepherd puppy if he’s done something wrong. Rough treatment leads him to develop fear or aggression towards you.
To correct your pup’s behaviour, tell him “no” in a firm and low tone. Then proceed to ignore him. If you were playing when the incident happened, take away all of his toys.
Do not give your Australian Shepherd pup any attention until he stops misbehaving. This will stop him from continuing the unwanted behaviour without hurting or scaring him.
3. Timing Is Important
Another important thing to remember is to correct your Australian Shepherd puppy’s behaviour immediately after committing the undesirable behaviour.
Do not admonish him if you did not catch him in the act. Otherwise, he will be left confused as to why you are scolding him.
4. Practise Consistency
Consistently rewarding good behaviour and discouraging bad behaviour at the right time is the most crucial part of Australian Shepherd training. Avoid letting him slide even once, as it can hinder the progress that both of you have worked on.
Make sure that all family members are on the same page when training your dog. They should also be using the same dog training techniques. If not, it will only make it harder for your pup to understand how you expect him to behave.
Now that we have discussed the appropriate puppy training techniques to discipline your Australian Shepherd puppy, it’s time to put them into action. Let’s talk about how to curb your dog’s herding behaviours and steps to take for crate training.
How to Prevent Australian Shepherd from Herding People
Herding behaviours such as chasing and nipping are common in herding breeds like the Australian Shepherd. It is natural for him to herd, but this should be directed to proper outlets.
If your Australian Shepherd puppy’s herding instinct is directed to you or your family members, here are a few tips you can use to train your puppy to inhibit this behaviour:
Teach your dog basic obedience commands.
Do not overlook the importance of basic commands. It is a big help in reining in the Australian Shepherd puppy’s herding instinct. Enrol him in obedience classes. Teach your pup to sit, stay, or lie down to keep him from nipping at your heels.
Consistent and repetitive training is necessary even until he grows into an adult to curb this behaviour.
Keep your Australian Shepherd busy and active.
Boredom and lack of exercise can heighten your dog’s need to herd. By engaging him in various activities and tiring him out, he will be less inclined to exhibit herding behaviours.
When do Australian Shepherds calm down? They need at least 2 hours of exercise or more for them to be in a relaxed state. With this in mind, go out with your dog for a run or jog. Play mind-challenging games including hide-and-seek, dog puzzles, and find the treats.
Once your Australian Shepherd puppy is mentally and physically exhausted, he would prefer to relax and recuperate his energy.
Incorporate activities that cater to his herding instinct.
Dog sports are great activities for the Australian Shepherd’s herding behaviour. For instance, Treibball allows him to practise his herding skills on large fitness balls. There’s also fly ball, which lets him chase after tennis balls.
Other great dog sports for the breed are agility training, Frisbee, obstacle course, and disc dog. Training your Australian Shepherd to herd animals such as chickens is another option.
Teach your Australian Shepherd to help at home.
Australian Shepherds are intelligent dogs that love to work. So train your dog how to complete small tasks around the house. Train your dog to retrieve certain items like the newspaper, clean up his toys, or wake up family members.
If he is preoccupied with doing household chores, he is less likely to herd you or other people.
Seek help from a professional dog trainer.
Have you tried out everything, even reading training books, but there’s no progress in your Australian Shepherd training? Consult a professional dog trainer to lend you a hand. They will determine the things that you may have overlooked when addressing the problem.
A professional dog trainer will also recommend other methods that you can try to curb your Australian Shepherd’s herding behaviour. Remember that it is critical to follow the professional dog trainer’s instructions even in their absence to achieve good results.
What Should You Do When Crate Training an Australian Shepherd Puppy?
Dogs are den animals. They seek solace whenever they feel anxious. For this reason, crate-training your Australian Shepherd puppy is a good idea.
Moreover, it is not only beneficial for your pooch but also you. Crate training creates a safe space for him and, at the same time, teaches him to be independent.
What Do You Need for Crate Training?
You need to prepare a few things before you start crate-training your Australian Shepherd puppy. The items listed below are essential in making this process less intimidating for your pooch:
Pick an adjustable crate. This will make it easier for you to modify the crate according to your dog’s size. It should be spacious enough for him to lie down. However, the crate shouldn’t be too large. Or else it will allow your dog to use the other side as his bathroom.
Decorate your Australian Shepherd puppy’s crate and make it a cosy place for him. Provide your pooch with a soft bed and blankets. Consider buying at least 2 or 3 of them so that there’s an immediate replacement if the others need to be washed.
3. Water Dispenser
Fresh water should always be present in your dog’s crate, especially when he is left for more than an hour. It is a good idea to choose a small hamster water dispenser. Do not get your dog large drinking bowls as it can spill more water and create a bigger mess inside the crate.
4. Toys and Treats
Make the crate a more inviting space for your Australian Shepherd puppy by placing his favourite toys inside. Pick ones that are of the right size for your dog. Note that small toys are potential choking hazards.
Do not forget to buy some treats too. It is one of the most effective tools to make him love staying in his crate.
Time to Begin Crate Training!
Are you done sprucing up your Australian Shepherd puppy’s crate? Let’s move on to the steps that you should follow when crate-training your pooch:
Step 1: Place the crate in an area where your pup can frequently interact with the family. It can be in the living room or kitchen. This will keep him from feeling lonely. This will also allow you to monitor what he is up to easily.
Step 2: Toss in some treats inside the crate. This will encourage your Australian Shepherd to explore his den. It may take a few minutes or even days for pups to walk all the way inside the crate. So if your puppy is stalling, don’t force him and be patient.
Step 3: Once your Aussie Shepherd is more accustomed to his crate, feed him more frequently inside. Close the door whilst he eats to get him used to the sound of the crate door shutting close.
After your puppy finishes his meal, reward him with a treat before you take him out of the crate.
Step 4: Gradually prolong the periods of confining your puppy inside the crate. Start with 5 minutes and then increase the time intervals as you progress. Make sure to alternate between you being in the room and being out of sight.
Your Australian Shepherd puppy may whine and become restless around this step. However, do not let him out of the crate, as it will encourage him to repeat this behaviour. Instead, reward your pup with treats and praise every time you check on him to calm him down.
Step 5: If your Aussie puppy is fine with being left alone for half an hour, you may begin to leave him for longer periods. Note that puppies under 6 months old should not be crated for more than 3–4 hours. This is because young puppies cannot control their bladder and are not yet fully toilet-trained.