Training The Australian Shepherd

New York Australian Shepherd Training

As a certified dog trainer, I work with all breeds of dogs. It’s nice, though, to occasionally be able to work with my chosen breed. I have been breeding, living with and training Australian Shepherds in Westchester & Putnam County New York for over 10 years. The specific knowledge I have gained about the hard-wired behavior of these dogs allows me to be more prepared for the idiosyncrasies I will likely encounter when working with them. So, let’s talk about the quirks of Australian Shepherd training.

Australian Shepherd Behaviors

Aussies are a sensitive and intelligent breed. They were bred to work on farms and ranches and to alert their people to anything unusual in the environment. Anything an Aussie determines is out of place or not typical will trigger their barking response. In a typical home this may manifest in what seems like pointless barking and triggering at the smallest activity. Australian Shepherds also learn new behaviors with as little as one rehearsal so once they bark at a rabbit on the front lawn it is likely a new conditioned response. Excessive barking is a typical complaint we hear when we book a new Aussie training client.

Australian Shepherd Training Challenges

Another very common challenge with Australian Shepherds is their tendency to dislike people they don’t know well. Suspicion of those your dog does not know well can very quickly turn into reactivity and even biting. Again, this suspicion is part of who they are as a breed. Good socialization protocols when they are young can mitigate this tendency but won’t eliminate it. Effective Australian Shepherd training includes positive conditioning, impulse control and confidence building is key to manage this natural tendency. Continued positive exposure to new people is a lifelong process, although we typically see Aussies chill out around the age of four.

Along with reactivity to new people, Aussies can easily become reactive to other dogs while on leash. This can quickly devolve into owners refraining from walking their dogs altogether for fear of their reaction to others. None of us want our dog to become a shut-in, after all we got a dog so we can enjoy the world together! Like other forms of reactivity, leash reactivity needs a combination of positive conditioning, impulse control and confidence building. The more your dog has a calm and happy experience the easier it is to desensitize them to the triggers in their world and the more you can enjoy it together!

Why We Love Aussies

These are the biggest challenges we find our clients have with their Aussies, but there are other wonderful qualities of the breed! Aussies are incredibly devoted companions. When they have clear boundaries and structure, they become very attuned to your needs and requests. They are super athletic and participate well in a variety of dog sports. Most Aussies love water and excel at activities like paddle boarding and boating. Aussies are also very snuggly for their size. If you don’t want a companion at your side on the couch or even on the toilet then an Australian Shepherd is probably not your breed! Let’s not forget the Aussie ‘eye’. The way an Australian Shepherd looks into your soul is perhaps the thing I like about them the most.

Australian Shepherd Training In Westchester & Putnam County New York

Overall, the Australian Shepherd is a lovely breed for the active family. Because of their breed-specific tendencies we always recommend you find an Aussie trainer with herding dog experience like us so your dog can be all they can be. Ready to get started on training? Reach out to us today for the best Australian Shepherd training in Westchester & Putnam County!

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