Australian Shepherds are very intelligent dogs that thrive when thoroughly trained. They are breed to be herding dogs so they are born with keen minds. To train an Australian Shepherd you should focus on rewarding good behavior and reinforcing training with repetition and consistency. With some time and effort, your Australian Shepherd will be a wonderfully trained companion for years to come.
Step 1: Socialize your dog
Socialize your dog at an early age. For Australian Shepherd puppies, its best to start socializing them when they are 7 weeks old. Between the ages of 7 weeks and 4 months old a dog goes through a prime socialization period. If you don’t partake in socializing your puppy between these times, it does not mean you cannot socialize your puppy. It will just be a bit harder to get your dog used to new people and places. Puppy’s that are socialized early are better able to interact with a wide variety of people and interact in a widespread range of situations. Take your dog to as many places as possible so they can interact with as many different people as possible. Showing your dog that strangers and new places are fun and exciting experiences instead of scary ones is an important part to raising a well-rounded dog.
Some things you can do to socialize your dog include taking it to your friends or family members house, going for walks in a neighborhood other than your own, going for car rides, trying out dog parks and taking it on errands with you to places that allow pets. There is a brewery where I live that is pet friendly, maybe there is something similar around your area too. Whatever you decide to do to socialize your dog, have fun spending lots of time hanging out with your furry friend!
Step 2: Exercise reward-based training ethics
Australian Shepherds succeed with reward-based training, also called positive-reinforcement training that promotes good behavior. Instead of punishing unwanted behavior, this type of training encourages the dog to complete preferred behavior by giving it praise or rewards when it does what you have asked it to do.
With reward based-training, you give your dog praise or a treat for completing tasks that you want it to do. For example, sitting when asked, coming when called, not jumping up on people when told no and going to the bathroom outside in a timely matter. You can purchase new treats from your local pet supply store or use your pup’s favorite treats that you have at home already.
Consider clicker training your dog
Clicker training is a type of training that uses a sound to indicate to your dog when a command has been completed. This is a form of interaction that works well with Australian Shepherds that will go through extensive training.
With clicker training, you will give a verbal command first. The moment the dog completes the task, you will click the clicker and then give your dog a treat. This sound occurring at the exact moment of completion clearly communicates to your dog that they did what you were asking them to do. This training can be more successful than simply giving treats as a reward for any number of previous actions.
Step 3: Start training your dog to perform basic commands, such as sit and lay down.
This very basic beginning training can be the most difficult part because you need to establish communication with your dog about what you want it to do. It does help that Australian Shepherds are so smart, they can catch on pretty quickly. After your dog does the feat and you have said the word, give your dog a treat. Every time you notice your dog beginning to sit, give it a compliment or a treat after you say the word “sit”.
With repetition, your dog will learn to link the word you say with its action and it will know that it gets a treat if it does what you have asked it to. Australian Shepherds are highly motivated by treats. They will work to your advantage when training them. You can also use treats to lure your dog into preforming the desired behavior. For example, you can hold a treat and raise it in an arc above your dog’s head to get him to sit down. As he sits, identify the behavior by saying “sit.”
Do short training sessions often.
Australian Shepherds do best when you provide them with consistent exercise. Do not force them to do long drawn out training sessions. Do a training session with your dog every day but only for 15-20 minutes. Short, focused training sessions allow the dog to get constant training but doesn’t set you and your dog up for failure. A long teaching drill can cause your dog to lose interest and focus, which will end up being frustrating for you both.
After the training session is over, take a few minutes to play with your dog. This will end the training session on a good note and therefore will make your dog more willing and excited to do the sessions in the future.
Keep your commands consistent.
When trying to train your Australian Shepherd you need to focus on clear communication. Pick a specific word for each command you want to teach and always use the same word. It also helps to say the word the same way each time you are saying it. If you begin to get frustrated, your dog will be able to tell with the tone of your voice as you are speaking commands. Using different words for the same command can be confusing for your dog. For example don’t say “go to the bathroom” one time and “go potty” the next. Using consistent commands will allow your dog to learn what you are trying to communicate with it and will teach it to answer to you more reliably.
You can work on a wide variety of commands at one time. Because Australian Shepherds are so eager to learn and skilled at learning new things they thrive with more and more commands being taught to them. Teach your dog to stay. Teach it to lay down and to come. Teach your dog fun things like how to shake and roll over. The more things you teach your Australian Shepherd the more challenged he will be. Have fun with it!
When teaching new commands remember to continually reinforce your dog’s old commands. This will help keep your Australian Shepherd better trained.
Step 4: Break down advanced skills into parts.
If you are wanting to teach your Australian Shepherd complicated skills, you will need to teach it one piece at a time. Show your dog how to do each command separately, giving treats or praise when they complete it, and then gradually fir the skills together.
For Instance, if you want to train your Australian Shepherd how to run thru a pet obstacle course, you will have to break down each step separately. First your dog will have to learn how to run up the ramp, then jump over the hurdles, go through tunnels and so on until it can do each part separately. Once your dog has each part mastered you can begin to put them together. Australian shepherds are very smart and physical dogs, so many of them will flourish at complicated skills that take time to learn.
If you are not having success training your Australian Shepherd, you can talk to your veterinarian or friends or family to find a professional trainer in your area.
Sources Used: How to do anything Pets. 29 March 2019