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Your Guide to Training an Australian Shepherd

Marian K
Australian shepherds are intelligent and energetic dogs that love to keep busy. This characteristic makes them easy to train, as they perceive even learning a new trick as an activity.
While the origins of this breed are unclear, what is known is that they developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the western part of North America. They were bred for herding livestock and as an all-purpose farm dog.
Australian shepherds are big dogs that are about 23 to 24 inches at the shoulder. They are energetic, love activity, and need to be frequently exercised. It is also very important to train your Australian shepherd, for both the dog as well as your family members to be happy.
The primary and most important point your dog needs to understand, is that you are the leader of the pack. This understanding is a must, or all your efforts will be futile. This understanding will form the basis of all future training. There are a few ways to establish your position.
One way to do it is to give him a command to eat after putting the food into his bowl. If you leave food out in his bowl and put it down and disappear, your dog may fail to understand the source of the food.
However, if you make him first sit and then place the bowl down, he will understand that you control the food. The fact is that, in dog society, the pack leader controls the food. It is only with his permission and consent that the next in hierarchy eats, and so on down the ranks.
Once he has to seek your permission, he will understand that you are the leader. Similarly, one should first make him sit before letting him go outside. Once you open the door, have him sit there till you give him a command to go outside.
Another way in which your Aussie may try to establish authority is by laying in areas like passages which are constantly used, or blocking doorways. By doing this, your dog is trying to dominate the space by forcing you to move around.
In order to discourage this behavior, one should make their dog moveā€•be shuffling towards him until he gets up and moves away. If you tell him to move, you will have to do it every time.
The most important of all is potty training. Your vet will tell you when is the best time to begin. Remember that beginning too early is futile, for your puppy may be too small to understand or retain the teaching.
Though not a difficult task, when you do start, it will require patience and constant vigilance. Your pet must be taken out three to four times a day at fixed time intervals to the area where he can relieve himself. These trips should take place following meals and naps.
During this time, your puppy is sure to go a few times inside the house, before he masters the art of controlling himself. When this happens, you must not scold him and rub his nose in it. This will instead teach him that the act of going only is what is wrong. He will not understand that you are actually punishing him for going in the wrong place.
This misunderstanding will lead your puppy to sneak off and hide and do his business inside the house, leaving you to carry out a hunt to find the mess. What a good owner does is to continue to take the pup out as and when he needs to go (after the mishaps), and heap him with praise every time he does his business in the right place.
While training, it is best to focus on one command at a time, till they properly grasp it, or they may get confused. While training your dog to obey an order, indicate to him what you expect him to do, and constantly repeat the word you want him to respond to.
For example, while teaching him to sit, gently push down his rear while repeating the word 'sit', and reward him with a treat when he does comply.
The ideal way to teach an Australian shepherd anything is to employ the reward system, rather than punishment. When the dog obeys a command, you can reward him with positive affirmation (good boy), or a treat or playtime with a favorite toy. This type of training strengthens the bond between dog and master.