It’s no secret that Australian Shepherds are highly intelligent, but does that mean they are easy to train?
This article will answer just that and provide additional tips, advice, and valuable training rules that every owner should know.
Are Australian Shepherds Easy To Train?
Australian shepherds are easy to train with positive reinforcement and consistency. Aussie puppies can be strong-minded and test your authority, but this shouldn’t get in the way of overall progress.
So while the answer is generally a yes (they’re easy to train), it’s worth remembering that raising and training any puppy, regardless of the breed, never goes to plan 100% of the time.
As long as the correct approach to training is taken, and certain training rules are always followed, your Aussie puppy shouldn’t give you many issues.
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Why Australian Shepherd Puppies Are So Trainable
Ok so Aussie pups have gotten the green light in terms of their trainability, but why?
The reason Australian Shepherds are so trainable is due to the fact they have been used for working purposes for quite some time. Just like all working dogs, it becomes part of their DNA to follow commands and appease their owners.
Their amazing work ethic, energy levels, and athleticism paved the way for country-wide adoption for use on farms…
Consequently, this leads to Aussies refining their skills, continuously improving generation after generation.
On top of their working abilities, Aussies are also great companions and develop strong bonds with their owners. This makes them even more receptive and attentive to you, what you say, and what you do.
This all goes towards a highly trainable breed.
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Why Australian Shepherds MUST Be Trained
A working life is the only kind of life an Australian Shepherd knows. Hopefully, this was emphasized enough in the previous section.
Working or being put to work is how Australian Shepherds feel satisfied, stimulated, and very content. This is super important to understand early on.
Without sufficient exercise and mental stimulation, the following issues are likely:
- Bad behavior
- Destructive behavior
- General anxiety
- Temperament changes
- Increased stubbornness
- Higher chance of aloofness and aggression
This doesn’t mean you need to move homes and buy a ranch with cattle!
But it does mean you need to step in and find alternatives…
Actively training your Aussie, encouraging him to solve problems, play nose-work games, use interactive puzzle toys and socialize with new people and new dogs is the non-farmers way of putting to work your dog.
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5 Golden Rules For Training an Australian Shepherd Puppy
Let’s run through some of the most important “rules” or even philosophies for training an Australian Shepherd puppy.
1. Positive Reinforcement Is Everything
It has been proven and confirmed for a long time, that positive-reinforcement based training is by far the most effective way to train a dog. Especially the naturally intelligent ones…
Making positive associations with the correct actions to commands (rewarding your Aussie pup when he gets something right) is the easiest way to teach him any kind of lesson.
By giving him a tasty treat and praise when he successfully drops his ball after you give the command “drop”, he will very quickly associate “drop” with the action that earned the reward. It’s simple and powerful.
With time and plenty of practice, you can stray away from treats to ensure he doesn’t become dependent on them.
And positive reinforcement isn’t only reserved for command training, the same principle and tactics can be applied to any situation you want to teach your Aussie a lesson.
2. Be a Good Leader And Stick To Standards
Your puppy is watching your every move…One of the biggest things I don’t see emphasized enough is that your puppy absorbs your entire lifestyle, habits, and behavior.
Being a good leader at all times means that you should set good standards, boundaries, and habits to live by, that your puppy will constantly learn from.
At the end of the day, your puppy’s behavior (good or bad) will be a reflection of his environment and how he was raised.
To emphasize this point, let’s talk about the couch. If you’re going to allow your Aussie to get up on the couch all the time, then let him up.
But if there’s going to be a time when you don’t want him up on the couch, he should never go on it, to begin with. Set standards and stick by them… your puppy is watching and learning from your every move and decision. Keep everything black and white for your puppy.
The couch example also raises the importance of not accidentally rewarding or reinforcing the behavior you don’t want. The only flaw of positive reinforcement is that it can be accidentally used in the wrong way…
3. Training Never Stops…
A good mindset to assume is that training is an ongoing process that isn’t just 30 minutes of command practice every afternoon.
Training will be a constant task on your part and there will be countless training opportunities throughout the entire day.
When your pup goes to chew something he shouldn’t that’s a training opportunity and so too is when your pup tries pulling you out of the front door the moment you open it… another great opportunity to show your puppy how he should have behaved.
Similar to above, training should be seen almost as a way of life… Constantly showing your puppy how he should have behaved whenever he got it wrong.
If this is the approach you take, by the time he’s 3 or 4, his behavior will be faultless probably for the remainder of his life.
4. Patience Is Key: Mistakes Will Happen
Although Australian Shepherd puppies are highly trainable, there will still be challenges along the way. Mistakes will be made, and your patience will be tested. That’s normal.
It’s crucial to remain calm and collective in moments when you want to rip your hair out!
Remember that your Aussie is constantly picking up on your energy and as the first rule states, positive reinforcement is the only way he will learn. So even if you are angry with him for peeing on the floor, nothing beneficial is learned from that unless you go through the motions, pick him up, show him his potty spot, and end on a positive with praise and a treat.
Puppies don’t know what right and wrong behavior is, and it takes a while for them to understand.
Keep calm and your puppy will be able to learn from his mistakes. Show your frustrations, and he’ll likely become anxious and incapable of learning valuable lessons.
5. General Interaction And Bonding Time Is Huge
The overall time spent building your relationship has a bigger impact on a puppy’s behavior than most realize.
Having a closer bond will improve your puppy’s eagerness and willingness to listen to you in all situations. And this can be achieved simply by interacting with him more…
From playing with him, being the one to feed him, giving him belly rubs, talking to him, and training him, it all counts towards a better relationship, obedience, and behavior.
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When To Start Training Your Australian Shepherd Puppy?
Many Aussie puppy owners ask “when should training start?” This is a great question and one that’s very common, so let’s cover it in detail.
Basic Command Training
Basic command training including things instructions “sit, stay, down, come here, drop, and paw” can commence in as little as 1-2 weeks after your puppy has been at your home.
The reason it’s not suggested to start command training on day one is that they will still be figuring out their new environment without their siblings and mothers, which takes a lot of their mental … 7-14 days is more than enough before basic command training can start.
House training, most notably crate training, and potty training should start right away from day one.
Before your puppy even enters your home, his designated potty spot should be set up in the yard, and you should be ready to take him there whenever necessary.
Additionally, his crate will also need to be used from day one, so that’s when training should commence for that too.
When it comes to crate training, the goal is to make it an inviting, cozy, and secure place for your puppy, not a scary one.
Throw his toys in there, provide a soft blanket, an old rag from the breeder would be AMAZING (smell of his mother). You can also feed him in his crate and sit with him by it. All of this can happen right away considering the fact he will be sleeping inside his crate at night.
If the owner is prepared and ready to prioritize their Aussie puppy, then training should be easier than most anticipate… Although hiccups are to be expected.
It’s also essential to remember that a large portion of the success of training, actually comes from your puppy’s overall environment, how you act around him and the standards he follows in his daily life. It’s not all about the training regimes alone.
“Train or be trained!” As my Aussie-owner-friend so frequently tells me. lol
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