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Australian shepherds, even though very smart, can be considerably stubborn when it comes to their training. Not only is this frustrating but it also affects the bond you have with your aussie.
Which begs the question..
Why Are Australian Shepherds Hard To Train:
Australian shepherds can be hard to train if they have too much pent up energy or aren’t challenged enough. When they have too much energy the last thing they want to do is sit still and listen. Also, if their training isn’t kept interesting they’ll get bored and stop listening.
In this post you’ll discover:
- 8 reasons why australian shepherds are hard to train
- Whether male or female australian shepherds are harder to train
- The 4 biggest mistakes that make training an aussie more difficult (Mistake #1 is something you absolutely want to avoid!)
- And much more
Let’s jump right in.
Table of Contents
8 Real Reasons Why Australian Shepherds Are Hard To Train
1) Almost Too Smart
While intelligence is super helpful when training any dog, some aussies are so smart that they get bored very easily with basic training.
If they aren’t challenged mentally with their training, aussies are known for becoming stubborn and disobedient.
For example, if they’re being trained to sit and stay, but they already know how to do these tricks, if they continue to be trained on these behaviors they’ll lose interest quickly.
Which in many cases makes them stubborn and uninterested in listening to your commands.
So while intelligence can be great for helping your aussie learn tricks quickly, it also means they can become bored quickly and need more varied or complex tricks to learn.
And if you’re not prepared to do this for your australian shepherd, or don’t know they need it, they can become very hard to train.
Related Reading: 9 Simple Steps To Create The Obedient Dog Of Your Dreams
2) Need Plenty Of Physical Activity
Australian Shepherds were bred to work and be active, so they need plenty of physical activity in order to stay happy and healthy.
If they don’t get enough exercise, they can become restless and destructive.
They may also start displaying problem behaviors like chewing on things they’re not supposed to, jumping on people or begging for food.
In order to keep your aussie shepherd from becoming disobedient, it’s important to make sure they get plenty of exercise every day.
This could mean taking them on long walks or runs, playing fetch in the backyard or enrolling them in a dog sport like agility training.
Just be sure that they always have an opportunity to burn off their extra energy, or else they’ll likely take it out on your belongings – and your patience.
Exercise is crucial for australian shepherds, so be prepared to give them plenty of it if you want to keep them from being hard to train.
Related Reading: 12 Best Harnesses For Australian Shepherds
3) Need Plenty Of Mental Stimulation
Just like they need plenty of physical activity, australian shepherds also need plenty of mental stimulation.
This means giving them things to do that will keep their minds challenged and engaged.
If they don’t have enough to do, they can become bored, destructive and difficult to train.
One way to provide mental stimulation for your aussie is to give them interactive toys that they have to figure out in order to get the treat inside.
Another way is to enroll them in obedience classes or agility training, which will give them a chance to learn new things and challenge their minds.
You can also simply teach them tricks at home – the more complex, the better.
Without plenty of mental stimulation it can make training an australian shepherd very difficult as they’ll look for their own ways to stimulate their mind.
Related Reading: 13 Best Mind Stimulating Dog Toys: Features & Benefits
4) Didn’t Learn The Basics
A big reason why australian shepherds can be hard to train is because many people try to teach them too much at once.
This can be very overwhelming for both you and your aussie, and often leads to them getting discouraged and refusing to listen.
In order to successfully train your pup, it’s important that you take things slow and teach them the basics first.
This means teaching them how to sit, stay, come when called and walk nicely on a leash.
Once they have these basic commands down pat, then you can start working on more advanced tricks or behaviors.
Remember – walk before you run! Trying to teach your australian shepherd too many things at once is a surefire way to make training them difficult.
5) Unintentionally Learned Wrong Behavior
Another common reason why australian shepherds can be hard to train is because they’ve unintentionally learned bad behaviors.
This often happens when owners are inconsistent with their commands or rewards, or when they accidentally reinforce bad behavior without meaning to.
For example, if you give your aussie praise every time they jump up on you, they’re going to start to jump up on you more often in order to get that affection/attention.
Or, if you let them off the leash in the park without making them come when called first, they’ll learn that they don’t have to listen to you when they’re off the leash.
To avoid unintentionally teaching your aussie bad behaviors, be consistent with your commands and rewards, and make sure you’re only rewarding them for the behaviors you want to see.
It can be hard to train australian shepherds if they’ve already learned bad habits, so it’s important to be mindful of this from the start.
6) They Think They’re The Alpha
Australian shepherds can be hard to train if they think they’re the alpha in the relationship.
This means that they can become stubborn and refuse to listen if they think they’re in charge.
In order to train your aussie effectively, it’s important that you establish yourself as the ‘alpha dog’ in the relationship.
This can be done by being consistent with your commands, making sure they know who’s boss, and using a fair yet firm voice when training them.
(This definitely doesn’t mean being violent or abusive which we’ll get into in the next reason)
If you let them walk all over you, they’re going to become difficult to train and will likely start testing your authority even more.
7) Using Old/Dated Training Techniques
Another reason why australian shepherds can be hard to train is because some owners still use old, outdated training techniques.
These outdated methods often include things like shock collars, choke chains and physically punishing when they don’t listen.
Not only are these methods cruel, unnecessary and ineffective – they can also be dangerous.
These training techniques get your pup to listen out of fear rather than respect.
This affects their loyalty to you and ultimately hurts your relationship/bond.
While it can be frustrating when your aussie doesn’t listen to you, the best training method today (backed by research) is positive reinforcement training.
This type of training uses rewards (like treats, petting or lots of verbal praise) to encourage desired behaviors, rather than punishment.
It can feel like this way of training is harder because it may take longer initially to get your aussie to listen, but in the long run it creates a much more obedient doggo.
8) Too Many Teachers
One final reason why australian shepherds can be hard to train is because they often have too many teachers.
This happens when multiple family members or friends try to train the dog at the same time, using different methods and commands.
For example, if two people are trying to teach them to ‘sit’ while using different tones of voices or different command words like ‘sit’, ‘sit nice’ or ‘sit pretty’ it’s only going to confuse them.
Which will make them less likely to listen to either person.
This can also lead to arguments between family members or friends, as they all try to compete for control over the pup.
In order to successfully train your aussie, it’s important that there’s one clear leader and one consistent method of training.
This means that the majority of the training should be done by one person, with occasional reinforcement from other members of the family.
Are Male Or Female Australian Shepherds Harder To Train?
There’s no definitive answer to this question, as every dog is different.
Some people find that male australian shepherds are harder to train because they can be more stubborn and independent.
Others find that female australian shepherds are harder to train because they can be more sensitive and emotional.
However, if I were to make a broad generalization, males tend to be harder to train than females.
The reason for this is because males take longer to mature than females.
Which means males won’t lose their short, puppy attention span until later in their life when compared to females.
And of course the harder it is to get and hold your australian shepherds attention the more challenging it will be to train them.
4 Biggest Mistakes People Make When Training An Australian Shepherd
1) Rewarding Unwanted Behavior
One of the biggest mistakes people make when raising an australian shepherd is unintentionally rewarding unwanted behavior.
Mostly because they’re unaware that their reactions when responding to bad behavior, more often than not, is giving their aussie what they want.
Many times your pup isn’t too concerned about whether they’re getting negative or positive attention.
They just want attention from you.
So if you react angrily or with frustration when they do something wrong, they’re still getting what they wanted – your attention.
It’s important to be aware of this so that you can avoid rewarding unwanted behavior.
How you can do this is by ignoring them completely when they’re misbehaving and only giving them your attention when they do something good.
This will help them to learn that only certain behaviors (the ones you want to see) are the ones that get rewarded.
2) Too Much Isolation
Socialization is important for all dogs, but especially working dogs.
They’re naturally more protective of their family and territory.
If they’re too isolated when they’re young, it only makes teaching them proper behavior around unfamiliar dogs and people that much more difficult.
It also doesn’t allow them the opportunity to learn how to listen to you in situations where distractions are present.
If the only environment they’ve been trained in is in your home, as soon as they’re in another environment, odds are, they won’t listen.
Which will make training your australian shepherd to listen in any situation much harder as they get older.
This is probably the most common mistake people make when training any dog, not just australian shepherds.
And that’s being inconsistent with your training, commands and expectations.
The words you use when training and the tone you use are super important and shouldn’t be changed if you want to make training your aussie as easy as possible.
For example, if you always tell them to “come” when you want them to come to you and then one day you say “come here”, they might get confused.
It’s important that you remain consistent with the words and commands, as well as the tonality you use so that your aussie knows exactly what it is that you want from them.
4) Getting Physical
It’s easy to get frustrated when your aussie doesn’t listen to your commands or decides they’re going to refuse to listen.
But using force isn’t the right way to make them listen.
In fact, it can often have the opposite effect and make your australian shepherd even harder to train by making them scared of you or worse – aggressive.
The best way to get your aussie to listen is by using positive reinforcement and rewards.
This means rewarding them with something they love (like a good scratch behind the ears) when they do what you ask them to.
It might take some time for them to catch on, but eventually they will if you’re consistent and patient.
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