Are Australian Shepherds Easy Or Hard To Train? (And Training Tips)

Australian shepherds are widely known for being playful, energetic, loyal,

and eager to please.
All of these factors make them relatively easy to train.
They are considered to be a highly intelligent breed which may be due in part to their history of being herding dogs.
Australian shepherds make wonderful family pets because they are so loyal – they are known for being protective of their families and for being great around children.

Are Australian Shepherds Easy To Train?

In general, Australian shepherds are easy to train because they are highly intelligent. Most Australian shepherds are very eager to please their owners, which is one of the reasons that they will pick up training so quickly – they just want to make you happy!

Australian shepherds may be timid around new people, so you may have to spend some time on training them how to act with other people. The key is to socialize them early and often – introduce them to new people as soon as you can, and this should ease their anxiety and nervousness around new people.

When it comes to learning tricks, Australian shepherds are very quick learners. As mentioned above, they are eager to please their owners. That eagerness to please combined with being food-driven (like all dogs!) means that they tend to pick up tricks very quickly.

Are Australian Shepherds Easy To Potty Train?

Typically, Australian shepherds are very easy to potty train, and they learn to go to the bathroom outdoors really quickly.

This goes right back to their high intelligence and eagerness to please.
Other dogs may be more difficult to potty train because they are naturally more stubborn, but Australian shepherds are usually not seen to be a stubborn breed.

The best way to potty train your Australian shepherd is to crate train them. They will not want to go to the bathroom in the crate because they will see their crate as their den or safe space.

Make sure to take your puppy out frequently and praise them when they go to the bathroom outside. Have some treats in your pocket for every time they do their business in the right place!

Are Australian Shepherds Good For First Time Owners?

Though Australian shepherds are intelligent and loyal, they may not be a great choice for first-time owners.
Australian shepherds can also be bossy due to their herding instincts. They may require training to break them out of the habits of nipping at your heels or nipping at young children and trying to herd them.
This sometimes requires an experienced dog owner who will not be nervous about dealing with a dog who nips.

It is also best to be an experienced dog owner if you are going to own an Australian shepherd because you need to be aware of the realities of owning a very active dog. New dog owners may think that a brisk walk every day is enough exercise for their Australian shepherd, but in reality, they need a lot of exercise, socialization, and mental stimulation.

Many Australian shepherds can quickly become a menace to your home if they are not properly stimulated. Because they are so intelligent and active, they may search for their own entertainment when they are bored – which can include chewing furniture, eating shoes, or just generally wreaking havoc on the interior of your home.

This is not to say that if you are a first-time owner that you can absolutely not get an Australian shepherd, but it will be extra important to do a lot of research and seek assistance from a dog trainer.
It is a good idea for new dog owners to take their puppies to a puppy training class, which provides great information for the owner as well as socialization opportunities for the puppy.

How To Train Your Australian Shepherd

There are many aspects of training your Australian shepherd, from socializing them to behave with other dogs, to potty training them, to teaching them to not herd you and your family.

Socializing Your Australian Shepherd With People

In general, Australian shepherds are very loyal and loving with their families but may be nervous or standoffish with other people and unfamiliar dogs. It is important to begin socializing your Australian shepherd as early as you can.

If you get your Australian shepherd as a puppy, make sure to begin bringing them around dogs and people as soon as their vaccinations are complete and the vet says that they can begin socializing.
Allow unfamiliar people to come to your house to visit the puppy and play with them. Reward your puppy for interacting positively with other people.

It is also important that you let your puppy get used to other people slowly. If a new person enters your home, don’t grab your puppy and force them to be held or cuddled by the new person.
Puppies are, in general, very curious, and your puppy will likely go to this new person of their own accord and sniff them and then will be happy to be pet and played with.

If you get your Australian shepherd as an adult, all of these same rules apply. Puppies, in general, will be less likely to be shy with new people, but an older dog may be a little more standoffish or skittish, especially if previous owners did not socialize them.

It is especially important that you let your adult Australian shepherd take the lead when interacting with new people. If they are forced to be near a new person, they may become anxious and cower or even try to bite.

If you have new people over in order to socialize your Australian shepherd, have them sit calmly and wait for the dog to come to them. This new person can even have some treats or a toy for the dog, which will encourage the dog to socialize.

Socializing Your Australian Shepherd With Other Dogs

Getting your Australian shepherd used to other dogs is a similar process to getting them used to other people.

In general, Australian shepherds don’t seem to be too nervous around new dogs, but every dog is a little different. Some things that will help your puppy become comfortable with other dogs:
Expose your Australian shepherd puppy to other dogs as soon as their vaccinations are complete. If you have friends with dogs, bring your puppy to visit them

Try taking your dog on walks on trails where you know there are a lot of people walking their dogs
Take your Australian shepherd for walks in different neighborhoods
Allow your Australian shepherd to play at a dog park

Take your dog on errands with you if the place allows for dogs. For example, some farmer’s markets will allow your dog to be with you while you shop – this is a great opportunity to get used to other dogs and people.

Potty Training Your Australian Shepherd

If you are potty training your Australian shepherd puppy, make sure that you establish a routine.
Puppies lack muscle tone that allows for them to hold their bathroom needs for long periods of time.
These steps will help to establish a bathroom routine for your puppy:

Take your Australian shepherd puppy outside frequently. It is important that they know that they can go outside often. Take your puppy outside at least every two hours and especially right after your puppy eats or drinks.

Pick a bathroom spot in the yard. Every time you take your puppy outside, take them to the spot that you have picked. While they are using the bathroom, use a particular word or phrase. They will begin to associate the phrase (such as go pee!) with the action.

Reward your puppy each time they use the bathroom outdoors. Pet them and give them a treat to reward them for doing the correct thing.

Make sure that your puppy is on a regular feeding schedule. Puppies are like babies – having on a schedule makes them much easier to manage. Feeding them at consistent times means that they will likely need to use the bathroom around the same times.

Training Your Australian Shepherd To Not Nip At Your Heels

Australian shepherds are bred to be working dogs, and they have an instinct to herd. This may mean that they may try to nip at your heels when you are walking them or if you are playing with them.
This behavior should be discouraged because a nip could be really scary for people who are afraid of dogs or for small children. It is also just bad manners for your dog to nip at you, even if they are just trying to herd you and keep you safe.

If you are finding that your Australian shepherd is nipping at your heels:
Stop walking as soon as you feel them nip at your heels. Your dog is trying to herd you as if you were a sheep, and moving more will encourage your dog to continue this behavior.

Wait until your dog stops nipping. Try not to shuffle around or jump away from your dog. If you just wait, your dog should give up the behavior after a few seconds.

Praise your dog for stopping the behavior. Once your dog gives up and is calm, you can reward them.

Training Your Australian Shepherd Not To Bite When Playing

All dogs, especially puppies, may bite when playing. That is how they would play with other dogs.
It is important to teach your puppy that biting is not a desirable behavior by:

Saying “no” when they begin to bite. If your puppy begins to bite, tell them “no” in a firm voice.
Avoid yelling at your puppy. Yelling at your puppy may actually just excite them more and tell them that you are encouraging their game.

Stop playing with them if they are biting. If your puppy starts to bite you while you are playing with them, stop engaging in the game. You can try turning away from your puppy and tucking your hands in your armpits to show them that you are no longer playing.

Redirect them to bite on a toy. It is a good idea to have a chew toy on hand when you are playing with your puppy. If they begin to bite your hands, give them the toy to chew on instead. This will help to teach them that chewing is okay but that they can only chew on the toy.

Training Your Australian Shepherd Not To Bark Excessively

All dogs will bark. It is a way for them to communicate. However, excessive barking can become frustrating and even stressful.

It is reasonable for your dog to bark if someone comes to the door because they want to protect you and your family. But you can hopefully get to a point where your dog will stop barking when you tell them to. Some tips for training your dog not to bark excessively:

Remember not to yell at your dog to be quiet. Yelling at your dog may rile them up more. When you yell in response to barking, your dog may think that you are joining in on the barking.
Remove the motivation to bark. If your dog barks at people walking by your home, keep the curtains closed or limit your dog’s access to that part of the house.

Ignore your dog’s barking. Oftentimes, your dog will bark to get your attention. Of course, if they are barking because they need to be fed or put outside, you should attend to their needs. But if those needs have been taken care of, do your best to ignore the barking. Once your dog does not get a reaction, it will likely calm down. Once they stop barking, you can praise them with a treat.

Make sure to tire your dog out. Australian shepherds are especially energetic and playful. By making sure that your dog is being exercised enough and expending their energy, you limit the energy that they will spend on barking at things. A tired, well-exercised dog is a dog that is less likely to bark at every passerby or for attention.

If you still have trouble managing your dog’s barking after trying all these techniques, contact a dog trainer who can help you. It may be worth it in the long run to get some professional assistance.

Training Your Australian Shepherd

If you haven’t trained your Australian shepherd properly, then this is the perfect time to start. Whatever bad behavior your shepherd has, whether it’s barking at night or other bad behaviors, using the right training program is the key to having an obedient and happy pup.

The training program I love and highly recommend is Brain Training For Dogs.

With Brain Training For Dogs, you’ll save yourself a ton of time and effort. Instead of banging your head against the wall trying to figure out why your dog won’t listen, you’ll follow a path that has been tried, tested, and most importantly, that’s given proven results. Not to mention the fact, you’ll be able to fit the course around your schedule, not fit your schedule around a trainer or obedience class.

So instead of worrying about whether they’re going to be well-behaved or not, you’ll only have to worry about how much fun you’ll have with them!

And in most cases, it’s still going to be:

  • Cheaper than hiring a professional.
  • Cheaper than replacing everything they might break.
  • And definitely cheaper than a lawsuit against you, if they decide to bite someone.

Just imagine how great it will feel to finally be able to trust your Aussie completely and never worry whether they’ll be naughty or not. Instead, you’ll have the peace of mind that you have a well-behaved pup, and the boundaries you set for them will always be there, EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT. 

And the best part is it also has a 60-day money-back guarantee! So there’s no reason not to give Brain Training For Dogs a try!

So if you’re tired of your dog’s bad behavior or how they react around other people and pooches, then give it a try! You’ll be amazed by the results!

(You can also check out a full review here to learn exactly what the course has to offer!)

What To Avoid Doing When Training Your Australian Shepherd

When training your Australian shepherd, there are some things you must avoid:

Don’t Yell At Your Dog

Yelling at your dog may encourage their undesired behavior. It will likely have the opposite effect if you yell at your dog to discourage them from doing something. For example, if you yell at your dog not to bite you, they may think that you are encouraging their biting game.

Don’t Hit Your Dog

You should never hit your dog under any circumstances. Hitting your dog can lead to them feeling unsafe and threatened. You want to make sure that your dog trusts you and that they feel safe with you. If your dog feels threatened, they may try to run away or even bite you, which can lead to a dangerous situation.

Don’t Push Your Dog’s Nose In Their Mess

Pushing your dog’s nose in their mess when they have an accident in the house will not teach them to have an accident in the house. Puppies do not understand what this action means, and it will only teach them to be nervous about going to the bathroom. Puppies are like babies, and they are bound to have accidents. Remember to reward your puppy for doing their business outside.

Don’t Make A Big Deal About Coming Or Going

 It is a great feeling when our dogs are happy to greet us, but it is important not to make too big a deal out of coming home or going out.
This can lead to your dog becoming nervous when they see you leaving the house and becoming overly excited when you come home or whenever they hear the door open.
When you get home, and your dog is very excited, be sure not to greet them until they calm down.

Final Thoughts

In general, Australian shepherds are easy to train because of their highly intelligent nature. They are also eager to please their owners, so they want to learn new things quickly in order to make you happy.

Australian shepherds can be bossy due to their herding instincts, so they may not always make a suitable pet for a first-time dog owner.

They are also very high-energy and need a ton of exercise and mental stimulation, so it is important to ensure that you have the time and energy to devote to your Australian shepherd.

When training your Australian shepherd, remember that consistency and positive reinforcement are the keys to success. Always praise positive behaviors and ignore undesired behaviors such as nipping, biting, and barking.

As long as you put in the time and effort, your Australian shepherd will make a wonderful addition to your family!