Australian Shepherds are adored by many for their multi-colored eyes and perky ears. This herding dog is quick, agile, and extremely intelligent, which makes them an extremely loyal family companion. However, before adopting an Australian Shepherd puppy, it is important to know that training them takes a lot of time, effort, and patience.
Australian Shepherd History
Unlike the breed name, the Australian Shepherd dog actually originated in the Old West of the United States, not Australia. The unique end result of the breed was reached through much crossing and inter-breeding. Some of the breeds thought to be used to produce the Australian Shepherd include the Australian Cattle Dog, Scottish Collie, Kelpie, English Shepherd, Bouvier des Flandres, and Welsh Sheepdog. It wasn’t until the late 1950’s that this breed was truly standardized.
The shepherd dog is first and foremost a working dog that is meant to herd. This means that the breed has high energy, intelligence, and agility. These traits are critical to keep in mind when you’re training your Australian Shepherd.
Australian Shepherd Activity Levels
Being a working dog, your Aussie is constantly “plugged in” from the moment you take him home. He’ll continue demonstrating this alert, energetic behavior for his entire life. Many new Australian Shepherd owners aren’t aware that physical activity isn’t enough. On the contrary, too much physical activity can lead your dog to a permanent high, leaving your Australian Shepherd puppy hyper and overly vocal.
Since your new dog is a herder, herding activities will leave him both mentally and physically satisfied. If you have a big family, teach your pup to round them up first thing in the morning, and several times throughout the day. Make it his job to wake them up and usher them to the breakfast table. While walking, have your kids walk in a line and then spread out on purpose to give your dog the job of grouping them back together.
Ensure that he waits for your command to herd. This is crucial because you want to be in control of your pup’s instincts. If you don’t have family members, train your dog to pick up his toys and put them in his toy box. On walks, ask your Aussie to find the car, or a glove you “accidentally” dropped. Have him work for his food by hiding it inside a dog toy. It’s vital to keep your dog both physically and mentally stimulated throughout the day to keep him occupied and not bored.
House Training an Australian Shepherd
Australian Shepherds can typically be potty trained very easily. The key to potty training your puppy is consistency. One of the easiest ways to housebreak an Australian Shepherd is by crate training. This caters to the dog’s natural denning instincts. Ensure that the crate is big enough for him to stand, lie down, and turn around, but small enough that it does not allow an area for him to relieve himself.
Young puppies should be taken out every three hours, immediately after they are let out of their crate, after a nap, and after they have eaten. Remember that consistency is key to housebreaking an Aussie. Take him out during the same times every day, and do it often.
Disciplining an Australian Shepherd
Since they are intelligent working stock dogs, Australian Shepherds take direction well and listen to their owners. Your pup needs to see you as a leader when he is still young, otherwise he may take advantage of you as an adult. A dog that knows his place within the family pack is happier and much more secure.
It is also critical to be consistent with your discipline. Being intelligent dogs, Aussies will push the envelope to see what trouble they can get away with. When training your Australian Shepherd, keeping them physically and mentally active is key. Also, consistency with your discipline during training is equally important. Start to train your puppy early; he will become a happy and healthy member of your family for years to come.