Australian Shepherds are herding dogs, which means they thrive on high-energy activities. They are bred to work alongside human owners, a relationship that is still active up to this day. Pent-up energy is likely the reason for misbehavior. If your Aussie is out of control, it might need new activities to unleash the excess energy.
If you want a pet that can keep up to an active lifestyle, one of the best options is Australian Shepherds. This breed is specifically bred to herd livestock, making it one of the most active breeds in the canine world. However, with improper training or routine, the Australian Shepherd breed can be destructive and out of control.
Why Is Your Australian Shepherd Out Of Control?
A dog’s behavior is affected by a lot of factors. However, its growing environment is one of the biggest factors to consider. All dog breeds have their preferences for a living environment. If your dog is exhibiting aggressive behaviors, the reason might be one of the following scenarios.
Lack Of Work / Exercise
Australian Shepherds were initially bred to be working dogs during the Gold Rush in the 1840s. That’s the main reason why these pups are full of energy and easily trainable. Aussies are happy when they’re working and moving around. It’s necessary to give them work, so they can move around and spend their energy in a non-destructive way.
Lack of work or exercise, thereof, can sometimes cause aggressive behavior from your pet.
Frequent Changes In Routine
Regardless of the breed, dogs usually depend a lot on routines. They love it when they know what is going to happen at a certain time of the day. Most breeds will complain if you don’t feed them in time, and that’s normal.
Dogs are simply just routine-loving creatures who also love a bit of adventure sometimes. If you’re changing routines frequently, they might not be able to keep up and adapt to these changes. Your dog will likely release these frustrations through destructive behaviors.
Boredom Or Lack Of Activities
The reverse can also be true: lack of routine is boring. Its effect is prevalent on working dogs like the Australian Shepherd and other herding dogs. When bored, the dog will try to find a way to entertain itself and create its own “fun.” Unfortunately, this fun might come in the form of chewed toys, messy couches, chasing smaller pets, and even prancing on humans for attention.
No Social Interaction
Another reason why an Aussie might spring out of control is the lack of proper social interaction. Aussies are not only working dogs; they are also protector dogs and are usually wary and cautious on other pets and humans. Without proper socialization, this breed might get aggressive with new people or new pets. Hence, early socialization training is very important.
Improper Training Practices
Australian Shepherds are clever dogs. It is one of the breeds that are easy to train and even used as service dogs. However, owners must also focus on their pet’s training, especially if you don’t have any experience in handling one. They can perform tons of dog tricks, but they can also conclude bad behaviors to be rewarding if there is no proper training.
Leashed Or Caged For Extended Period
Regardless of the breed, no dogs will be happy to spend a long time on the leash or in a small cage. But this is more apparent on working dogs like the Australian Shepherd. As active working dogs, they tend to favor larger spaces to live on.
Although leashing a pet for a short amount of time might be helpful in some instances, a longer time alone can cause bad or destructive behavior.
Hidden Injury Or Illness
Before changing your daily routine or training practices, the first course of action is to take the dog to the vet. Especially if your dog just became aggressive all of a sudden and not within a long period. The aggressiveness might come from a defense mechanism, which is heightened whenever the dog feels pained or ill. This unusual aggression might be a sign of the dog’s failing health.
Rewarding Bad Habits
And lastly, there’s a chance that the dog was rewarded for bad behavior. Just like positive behavior reinforcement, a dog can pick up behaviors that will give it more reward. For example, if you cheered when your dog chased a stray cat, the dog will likely see it as a rewarding behavior. After that, your dog will likely chase another cat for the expectation to be rewarded.
How To Calm A Hyper Australian Shepherd?
Calming a hyper dog might be difficult, especially on bigger breeds like the Australian Shepherd. They can go into full “play mode,” which might hurt you while handling them. Although this might just seem like a playful rough activity to your dog, you can get injured you don’t know what you’re doing. Here are some tips that might help you calm your out-of-control Australian Shepherd.
Know The Reason Of Hyperactivity
You can’t cure something without knowing what’s causing it to react that way. This is also applicable to your pets. As a pet owner, you must figure out what they’re doing, the reason why they’re doing this behavior, and a safe way to completely stop it or minimize it from happening. A behavioral problem might be difficult to address without knowing what causes this aggression.
Start Doing More Stimulating Activities
Dogs do not only need physical activities to feel satisfied and avoid aggressive behaviors. They also need mental stimulation as well. Give them easy yet satisfying work that will exercise both their muscles and their noggins. Additionally, avoid locking them up in a room for a long period. Once dogs are bored, they will start to act aggressively.
Add More Exercise Or Work
As a rule of thumb, dogs will proper exercises will have less aggressive behavior. But what if your Australian Shepherd still exhibits aggressive behaviors from time to time, even if work or exercise? Chances are, these activities might not be enough to spend all your dog’s energy and call it a day.
Australian Shepherd has long stamina due to their herding nature. You might need to replace or add more activities to their routine. But do take note that over-exhaustion can also result in bad behaviors as well. It’s all about maintaining a good balance between resting and working.
Leave Appropriate Toys
If you’re not at home throughout the day, or you need to do a quick errand, you might need to leave something for your fur baby to chew on. You can leave a chew toy to alleviate the quick boredom your dog might feel during your short absence. When playing with your dog, you might also want to consider toys for fetch.
Spend More Time With Your Dog
At the end of the day, your dogs might likely do all of these aggressive behaviors because it misses your company. Aggressive tendencies might happen if you leave your dog for an extended period without any companion. Dogs are social creatures. They thrive better if they have company.
Spend additional time with your pet. Use high-energy activities like fetch for exercise and training. If you can, try to make them socialize with other dogs as well. You can get another dog for your partner, so it will not feel alone.
Avoid Running Away Or Yelling
As a herding dog, Australian shepherds tend to react aggressively when they see something running away from them. Due to their herding instinct, their first reaction is to get you back to the herd. It can also happen when you yell at them, whether it’s intentional or not.
In a short explanation, your dog might only be trying to herd you. Avoid running away if your dog is in its hyper state, as it will just prompt it to be more aggressive.
Aussies Settle Down With Age
Young Australian shepherds are more hyperactive than their older counterparts. Pups under two years might likely manifest aggressive behavior toward other people or pets. Hence, it’s important to emphasize the need for proper socialization while they’re young.
When trained properly, dogs will likely calm down and minimize their aggressive tendencies after two years. Establishing a good and healthy routine will also help in decreasing the chances of aggressive behaviors.
And last but not least, be patient when with your fur baby. Australian shepherds are loyal and protective dogs that can be a handful to deal with sometimes. However, their instinct and reactions are deeply rooted in their biology, together with their high energy.
Changing a dog’s behavior will not happen successfully overnight. As the dog parent, you need to show a bit of patience and dedication in training your dog. Before giving up with your Aussie, you might want to assess its training and see if you’re doing something wrong to its development as well.
How To Discipline An Australian Shepherd?
Australian Shepherds are one of the best breeds in the world due to their cleverness and trainability. But due to this apparent intelligence, they can become assertive and aggressive when not properly trained. Gaining your canine’s trust is an important step in disciplining your Aussie and reducing its aggressive tendencies.
Check Your Behavior Around Your Dog
Just like any other form of change, you might consider looking at your behavior first. Are you neglecting your dog by not spending more time? When is the last time that you play with your Australian Shepherd? Have you been an aggressive owner or have done something in the past that can cause your pet to distrust you?
Australian Shepherds are smart and sensitive beings. They can easily pick up their owner’s mood and act upon it. If you’re always angry or aggressive around them, they can start acting aggressively as a defense mechanism around you. Start building bonds with your dog more to better understand their temperament.
Ignore Bad Behaviors
Although it seems like a counterintuitive approach, it’s better to ignore your dog when they’re aggressive. Dogs would often prefer repeating a certain behavior if they’re rewarded for it. Your dog will immediately learn what behaviors are rewarded, as long as you’re consistent in ignoring their bad behavior.
Dogs can pick up certain bad behaviors depending on their conditions growing up. If your Australian Shepherd is a rescue dog, you might only be able to know these behaviors after some time. In this case, just be patient and ignore these bad behaviors.
Reinforce Good Behaviors
Positive reinforcement is better than teaching your dogs with punishment. If you focus on the good things, your dog will likely focus on it as well, avoiding any behavior that will not be rewarding on worth it. Praising your dog for good behavior will help it associate that behavior with potential rewards.
Just like ignoring bad behaviors, you need to be consistent in focusing on your dog’s good behaviors. An inconsistent training will not only confuse your dog, but it will also make its reaction unpredictable. If done properly, you can also try to teach your dog some basic commands.
Undergo Obedience Training
Defensive dogs would often react in an aggressive form or manner. This aggression is rooted in the fear or phobia it acquired after a past event. When your Australian Shepherd is active defensive, you might want to make sure that it feels safe around you. This reaction is common in dogs that are abused by their previous owners.
Obedience training can help a lot in this type of situation. It will help your dog get acquainted with you and will learn to trust you. Besides, obedience training is also a great way to exercise your dog and stimulate its mental capabilities. Australian Shepherds love to work their noggins now and then.
Give A Proper Routine
And last but not least, a dog will likely not act aggressively if it follows a healthy and stimulating routine. Following a routine can comfort a dog, making them happy, contented, and most of all, calm. Not to mention that certain activities can also make them use their pent-up energy.
If you’re planning to change your routine, make sure to implement it as slowly as possible. Make small changes over time, and let your pup adapt to the changes. Even small changes can throw the dog’s life balance when done poorly.
Want To Train Your Australian Shepherd With Peace Of Mind?
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 Australian Shepherd 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 Are Some Common Australian Shepherd Behavior Problems?
Each dog can manifest different aggressive behaviors. There are some dogs that might only have one aggressive behavior, but they will do these traits on extreme levels. Some dogs would even have multiple aggressive behaviors manifesting. You might want to get wary about your dog’s behavior and act upon it as soon as possible.
- Chewing Things – destroying its toys or other objects in the house.
- Barking – this trait is very common, especially on dogs that feel bored or don’t have enough exercise. Possibly, this is just one of the ways that your pet catching your attention.
- Aggressive Biting – dogs often manifest this behavior if they feel threatened, frustrated, stressed, or restrained on a leash for a long time.
- Chasing Children / People – this behavior might be due to the lack of socialization during the dog’s early days.
- Aggressive To Other Pets – most medium to large breeds is often aggressive to dogs, especially guard dogs. However, if your pet is not socially trained properly, it might end up acting aggressively to unfamiliar people or pets.
The faster these behavioral problems are addressed, the larger chance it would be for your dog to abandon these traits. If you’re not sure what to do, you can visit your local vet for help in tackling these issues. Unfortunately, there are times when you might need to give up your dog because your lifestyle does not fit the breed’s characteristics.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Australian Shepherds Difficult?
Each dog breed can be “difficult” for an owner with a lifestyle that doesn’t fit the dog’s characteristics. Australian Shepherds need to be always working and doing physical and mental activities. It needs a lot of exercise, playtime, proper training, and early socialization activities to thrive and conquer its aggressive tendencies. Before getting this type of breed for a pet, assess your current living situation and pet needs.
Just like any other dog breed, the Australian Shepherd would be a delight to take care of if your lifestyle fits its needs. It can be aggressive if it is not properly given enough exercise, diet, and other things that a dog needs. Bad behaviors might also be caused by other factors, such as lack of proper training and socialization.
It can also be due to defensive aggressiveness from previous abuse. But once these issues are all ironed out, Australian Shepherds would serve as loyal, protective, and happy to be around. Ensure that your Aussie would have a good routine and proper jobs to focus its energy into.