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Australian Shepherd Training

The Australian Shepherd is an intelligent, agile, and highly energetic working dog. Bred in their native California as a herding dog, the instinct to work and to perform difficult tasks is strongly present in their genetic makeup. Australian Shepherds suit active, energetic owners who will take a firm hand with them; they're not recommended for novice owners, as without experience and a strong working knowledge of dog psychology and communication they can be an impossible handful.

australian shepherd lying down

Australian Shepherd Training

Put an end to your Australian Shepherd's Aggression, Barking, Biting and other problems.

Some Facts About the Australian Shepherd

Here are some things that I'd want to be aware of if I were considering adopting an Australian Shepherd:

  • These working dogs are happiest when they have a job to do. A Shepherd with no demands on his time will use his excess energy to get into mischief - destructive behavior, obsessive barking, anxiety and neurotic behavior, and aggression towards other dogs, including fear-biting and lunging, are all characteristic behaviors of a Shepherd who doesn't have enough to do.
  • It bears repeating that these dogs are ACTIVE. They can - and will - happily sprint for miles on end. Aussies need lots of vigorous exercise on a daily basis, as well as lots of playful energetic romps.
  • Intelligent minds need to be kept active. All Aussies need ongoing, challenging training - take your Aussie to agility training, obedience work, herding classes, or flyball.
  • Typically of a working breed, Aussies are snappy, aggressive, and/or excessively shy and timid around strange people and dogs if not socialized THOROUGHLY and from a YOUNG AGE. Their natural caution and wariness, which serves so well in a shepherd dog, is not appropriate for a family pet, and you'll need to really work to counteract this tendency.
  • Shepherds are intensely affectionate with the members of their human families, and form strong bonds with their owners. They can be prone to separation anxiety, which is a horrible condition for any dog to suffer; it's pretty hard on the owners, too. To prevent this from occurring, you must not leave your Shepherd alone for anything more than a few hours. You cannot keep him outside, away from his family; he can't be left in the yard by himself when you go to work. This is NOT an 'outside dog'.

Living With An Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherds are not for the novice owner - they're demanding dogs. Tough working dogs, they're hardwired to herd things by poking, barking, nudging, and nipping, and this can intrude on normal family life.

Aussies are independent-minded dogs that are accustomed to making decisions without benefit of human instruction. This behavior is based on their origins as a working breed, where the Shepherd would range over vast distances and herd livestock without needing to be told how to do it.

Meet and Greet

It's very important that your dog meets plenty of other puppies, dogs, and humans as soon as he's vaccinated. This will teach him valuable lessons in communication and in how to discriminate between friend and foe. The socialization period in dogs starts at about age 10 weeks, and goes through to 16 weeks - although it's important that you continue to socialize him after this time.

You will need to start training your Shepherd at an early age in order to make it clear what your expectations are, as well as encouraging generally healthy development. We highly recommend Secrets to Dog Training as the most comprehensive step-by-step training guide.

Agility School

Agility training and obedience classes are both excellent choices where your Shepherd is concerned. Obedience training is useful in curbing the breed's natural tendency to herd and chase, as well as ingraining the basic commands from a young age. Thorough training is essential to maintain a good quality of life for a Shepherd.

Agility training is energetic work, and is an excellent way of strengthening the bond of communication and trust between your dog and you as well as getting in some much-needed mileage.

Before Adopting An Australian Shepherd

An energetic, athletic, intelligent, and independent dog like the Australian Shepherd represents an immense commitment in terms of time and effort. It's necessary that you prepare thoroughly for this addition to your family: do your research on dog communication and psychology, look up training groups in your area, and read everything you can about the breed. The rewards are correspondingly gratifying, of course, and if you bring your dog up to be busy, well socialized, and thoroughly trained, the Shepherd is a true pleasure to have around.

 

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How to stop your Australian Shepherd Chasing people, bicycles and cars, plus other great training tips.
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