By David DelCollo, Attorney
Engaging your Australian Shepherd in a good training regimen is not only a great way for the both of you to spend quality time together, but it will ultimately enhance the lives of both you and your dog. Most Aussies yearn for the opportunity to learn and to please their
owners, so why not use this time to provide him or her with some fun and valuable training. While Aussies were bred primarily to herd sheep and take directions from a shepherd in charge of the flock, they are extremely intelligent animals in all areas of daily life. This intelligence, however, does not necessarily translate into being “easy to train.” In other words, while all Aussies have the ability to learn very quickly, not all of them will deliver this learning on command and this is primarily because one of the dominant traits of an Australian Shepherd is that they are very independent thinkers. It is this “independent thinking,” however, that made them such amazing herding dogs because it allowed them to use their problem-solving ability to contain and transport thousands of straying animals across vast lands. So while you may train a dog to perform a specific act in order to accomplish a certain result, an Aussie has the ability to achieve the result in many different ways. Keeping these factors in mind is very important in achieving the most efficient and effective training of your Aussie.
Here are Four Great Tips to Remember When Training Your Aussie:
ONE: Mental Stimulation is JUST as important as Physical Stimulation
Some Aussie owners will get frustrated after they have spent a great deal of time with their Aussie, only to find that the dog has engaged in incessant barking or that after running the dog for an extended period of time, it seems to have more energy than it did before. This is because too much physical activity with a lack of mental stimulation can actually lead to heightened energy levels, as well as causing your Aussie to become overly vocal.
TIP: Try to engage your Aussie in activities that are both physical and mental. If you are going to throw a ball with your Aussie, try to find a creative thing for her to do with the ball, such as putting it into a box or hiding the ball and trying to get your Aussie to find it.
TWO: Be Spontaneous with your Aussie
Due to the high intelligence of your Aussie, it is common for the Aussie to become bored doing the same activity every day. Aussie’s have an amazing sense of time as well, so will get very used to doing an activity the same time every day, however, where possible you should try to vary their routine.
TIP: Spread out your activities with your Aussie throughout different times each day. Try not to get into a routine of doing the same activity, the same time, every day. Keep your Aussie on her toes and she will be happy and surprised rather than bored of the routine.
THREE: There is a Time to Play and a Time to Rest
There are few people that would be able to keep up with an Aussie, they can exert
extremely high-levels of energy for hours on end. It is important that your Aussie recognizes when an activity starts and when an activity is over, or you may find your Aussie flying through your home with reckless abandon.
TIP: Use an “All Done” command with your Aussie, signifying that “work-time” is over and it is time to rest. You may want to provide your Aussie with a treat, or even better, a bone to chew on which will calm her down indirectly.
FOUR: A Leashed Aussie is a Safe Aussie
Aussies have a very keen sense of the movement in their environment around them. As herders, movement would cause an Aussie to redirect or charge-up a flock, which is a good thing. However, off the range, certain movement may cause your Aussie to do things that are unacceptable or even dangerous, such as chasing a child or chasing a car. An Aussie owner must be aware of this ingrained behavior and proactively redirect their dog to more suited behaviors.
TIP: Use an extended leash in order to work on recall commands with your Aussie. Do not ever leave your Aussie off leash in areas that could have surrounding danger, for an Aussie will be sure to go there.