So, you’re looking to get a new dog, and you’re considering getting yourself an Australian Shepherd! Or, alternatively, you already have an Australian Shepherd and have some questions.
Either way, you know one thing to be the truth: Aussies are an excellent choice of pet for any home, with any sized family, for a number of reasons!
They are active, friendly, easy-going dogs that love to play with children and other pets. This makes them an excellent family dog. If your mind is not made up, it’s probably because you have a particular question on your mind: do Australian Shepherds bark a lot?
Do Australian Shepherds Bark a Lot?
Although not the shrillest and most incessant barkers, Australian Shepherds are considered a rather vocal breed, this means that they tend to bark more than the average dog. There are a number of reasons for this.
A lot of why Australian Shepherds tend to bark has to do with how they were bred. Aussies were bred to be dogs that helped herd cattle and do other work. This pedigree as a work dog means that your Australian Shepherd will feel the need to not only bark at animals but also alert you if they perceive anything to be wrong around you.
Although this can be a useful quirk in some situations, more often than not, it is quite annoying, especially if you are simply trying to relax at home.
If you think your Australian Shepherd is barking far too much, or you are looking into getting an Australian Shepherd for you and your family, but you’re afraid it is going to be too loud, don’t worry! There are ways to get this barking under control.
If your question is if it is normal for an Australian Shepherd to bark a lot, the simple answer would be yes. They are a naturally loud and vocal breed. This shouldn’t dissuade you from looking into getting one of these fantastic canine friends for your home, however, as this is quite a solvable problem!
How Much Do Australian Shepherds Bark?
So, now you know that Australian Shepherds are a “vocal breed.” This means, as mentioned above, that, in simplest terms, they bark a lot. However, “a lot” can mean many different things.
Aussies are loud and vocal because they are bred to be. This makes it so that while some Australian Shepherds are not being taken care of entirely properly, or don’t feel the presence of a pack leader (which should be you), then they might begin barking.
This is mostly a consequence of the Aussie being a capable and intelligent dog. How much your specific dog barks probably has a lot to do with the particular circumstances you’ve placed it in, the environment it experiences on a daily basis, its prior training, and other factors.
So, Australian Shepherds bark more than your average dog. However, how much they actually bark is entirely dependent on other factors. Read on to find out what kinds of things might be making your Australian Shepherd feel like it’s got something to say!
Why Does Your Australian Shepherd Bark So Much?
Your Australian Shepherd could be barking for any number of reasons.
The Aussie is an intelligent and active dog. This, combined with its breeding as a working dog, makes it quite vocal in many situations, as mentioned earlier.
Scared Of Danger (Being Protective)
Firstly, your Aussie might bark at anything it considers may be dangerous to you, itself, your family, or your home. This can include strangers, cars, other animals, the weather, or any number of things that might stress out or scare your Australian Shepherd. This is an extremely common reason for barking for all dogs but is only more prevalent in Australian Shepherds given their behavior and background.
This protectiveness can also manifest as your Aussie being territorial. This is a bit more aggressive behavior, usually presented towards you and your family. If your Aussie is barking and growling when you approach its bed, toys, or food, perhaps it is being overly protective of those things as well.
They’re Bored Or Isolated
Another reason that your Australian Shepherd may be barking a lot is that it is bored and isolated.
Remember, the Australian Shepherd is an extremely active dog. This means that it is crucial for the Aussie to get enough exercise and to be outdoors for at least a part of the day, weather permitting.
If your Aussie is lounging around the house a little too much, not doing anything besides the occasional playtime here and there, eating, and sleeping, it is bound to get bored. It does not want to live a small dog’s indoor life! If your Aussie is barking a ton, perhaps it just needs to burn some energy and run around outside for a bit.
Alternatively, your Australian Shepherd could be barking more than you’d expect because of isolation.
Being such an intelligent and active breed of dog, the Australian Shepherd thrives off of socialization. Whether this is with you, your family, strangers, your family pets, or strangers’ pets, it doesn’t quite matter. The fact is, if you are able to socialize with your Australian Shepherd, it will feel a lot less isolated and lonely.
This isolated feeling will cause your dog a good deal of stress, which it can only express to you by barking. The longer it feels isolated and the less social contact it has, the more your Australian Shepherd will bark.
They Haven’t Been Trained Properly
Another reason your Aussie could be barking a lot more than you’d expect is because of improper training. It is difficult in many cases to make the right decision while training a dog, so this is a fairly common reason dogs, especially intelligent ones, bark a lot.
If you historically have given your Australian Shepherd attention, food, treats, a toy, or anything else it might want in response to barking, it may cause more barking in the future. Your dog is a lot smarter than you might think! If it knows it will get what it wants because it has barked and gotten it before, it will most definitely bark again.
If your dog is barking a lot, it could be because it’s been trained to bark when it wants something. You can give it what it wants to stop barking in the short term, but this will only make the problem worse in the future.
Whatever the reason for your Australian Shepherd’s barking, it is most definitely trying to do one thing. Aussies use their bark as communication. So, now that you’re listening, and maybe you know what your Aussie is trying to say, how do you get it to stop barking quite as much?
How to Stop Your Australian Shepherd Barking
There are a number of different training techniques and other ways you can get your Australian Shepherd to stop barking. First and foremost, before you start this process, you’re going to need a few things.
Here are a few things you need to make sure of before you start attempting to train your Australian Shepherd to bark a little bit less.
Before You Start
Firstly, you should be armed with treats! The key to training any dog, a delicious treat will go a long way when positively reinforcing good habits with your Aussie. Make sure you pick something healthy, as when you’re training a dog, you’ll need to give them a lot of treats.
It is also important that you know your dog likes this treat so they can respond well to the training and be a happy camper while they do it!
Secondly, come armed with the knowledge that your Australian Shepherd knows the most basic training skills. Things like sit, stay, come, down, and other basic commands do a few things.
Firstly, they allow you to control your Aussie if it gets out of control. Since the Australian Shepherd is an excitable and active dog, it is important to make sure it stays grounded and on task while you are in training mode.
Secondly, they allow you to establish dominance as the pack leader, just in case your Australian Shepherd becomes disagreeable. This is important because the Aussie has some leadership qualities in itself. It was bred to lead cattle, after all. If left to its own devices, an Aussie can be quite assertive and somewhat territorial.
Lastly, you will need a lot of time and patience. Remember, training a dog, especially one as intelligent, active, and excitable as an Australian Shepherd, takes a ton of commitment. If you do not spend the proper time and patience on your canine friend, you won’t see the results you want.
However, if you do, your Australian Shepherd is one of the smartest, most fun, most friendly breeds of dog you can possibly get. Time well spent!
Diagnosing The Problem
Now that you are ready to train your dog, and you know what might be causing the barking, try and figure out what is causing your Aussie to bark so much!
You can first do this by correcting some dog care methods and seeing if those are the issue. Make sure that your Aussie is getting enough exercise every day. Your pooch should be running around outside, weather permitting, for at least 1-2 hours every day. This is extremely important for not only its physical health but its mental health as well.
Also, make sure that your Australian Shepherd is getting the proper love, affection, and socialization in the house as well. Have each member of your family spend a little time with the dog, or make sure it is spending at least some time with the other pets in the house.
This will allow it to socialize and avoid feelings of isolation that come up when an Aussie is left alone for too long.
If your Australian Shepherd is barking at cars or strangers a lot, perhaps simply closing your blinds could be a good short-term solution. As far as long-term solutions go, you can try socializing your Aussie with strangers or bringing it for rides in your car to familiarize it.
However, when your Aussie sees things out the window, it is hard to stop it from barking as it probably isn’t processing what those things are very well. It is better to have a way to stop it from barking for times like this, so make sure to scroll down and figure out how to train your Aussie to stop barking!
Training: Positive Reinforcement
Okay, so let’s talk about how to actually make your Australian Shepherd stop barking so dang much! Try following these steps to see if they work well over a few days or weeks. Remember, this isn’t a one-and-done deal. You’ll need to spend time and be quite patient with your pooch.
The first step may seem counterintuitive, but keep reading. The next time your dog starts one of its famous barking fits, just let it go. It might be annoying, but let the dog bark until it runs out of steam. Keep watching your dog, obviously, as it may react differently based on why it’s barking.
This is great because it can start to eliminate the behavior of your dog barking in order to get what it wants. It also gives you more time to figure out the source of the barking.
Pay attention to what your dog is barking at so much. Is it barking at something outside? Is it barking at you? Does it seem angry, scared, or lonely? All of these are important indicators for how you need to train your dog going forward. Knowing what it wants is half the battle!
Next, wait for your dog to stop barking. Although it might not seem like it, this will definitely happen eventually. No dog can bark forever, not even yours.
Once this time comes, whether it is a few minutes or a few hours, proceed to show your Aussie a ton of love, affection, and treats too! This will positively reinforce in the mind of your Australian Shepherd that good things happen when it does not bark, rather than when it does!
Repeat this process for a few days to a week. It is important not to rush and to let the dog finish barking so it can associate the praise and treats with the lack of barking properly. Once you’re confident the association is starting to form, it is time to move on to the next step.
Introduce a command word. A command word is what it sounds like, a word you say to your dog when you want them to do something. Examples include sit, stay, come, lay down, and other extremely common words or phrases that people use to train their dogs.
Something like “quiet,” “shush,” or “shhh” could work, but it can be anything that you’re comfortable with and that other members of your family will remember.
When the dog stops barking (not when it is still barking), firmly say the command word. Then give it treats and love! Make sure you are not yelling or screaming the command word at your dog. A simple, assertive, and firm use of the word will be far more effective and won’t excite, anger, or scare your Australian Shepherd more than they already were when they started barking.
After a few days to a week of associating the command word with the ceasing of the loud barking and also with the praise and treats, attempt to use it while the dog is barking, if the dog stops and expects treats or praise, still give it to them, but slowly wind down how much you are giving until you give none.
If the dog does not stop, move back a step in the process and repeat for a few more days. Remember, every dog, and especially every Australian Shepherd is different. Be patient and kind with yours if you want them trained properly!
If this method seems to be ineffective after a couple of weeks, perhaps it is time to add another method or move on to another method totally.
Training: “Speak” and “Quiet”
Here is another method you can use to try and train your Australian Shepherd out of barking too loud for too long.
Try using this method second, as it assumes you’ve already practiced the “quiet” or “shush” command with your Aussie. It also assumes it knows the “speak” trick, which is about barking on command. This is a fairly simple trick to teach and is similar to things like “sit” and “paw.”
First, put a leash on your dog. This will allow you to better control your dog during the training and also make it understand who is in control of the situation.
Next, give it the “speak” command. Once it barks, instantly give it the “quiet” command. Then, shower it with praise and give it a treat. Repeat this process a number of times until your dog seems to expect that the treat is coming.
Do this training every day for thirty minutes to an hour. In the meantime, follow a similar step to above, and when your dog starts barking, wait for it to stop. After it stops, give it a treat and some affection to further reinforce good behavior.
Slowly start taking longer and longer to give your Aussie the treat it wants after it stops barking, both in training and when it is barking organically. Keep doing this until you no longer have to supply treats to the pooch. Eventually, your dog will only bark when told (unless it really needs to protect you or warn you!)
Both of these training methods work very well and can work either separately from one another or in conjunction with each other. If they are not working right away, don’t give up! They are both based on the idea of the repeated activity and positive reinforcement, so they will take a while to work.
What’s great about them despite the time, effort, and patience they take is that once they are successful, your Australian Shepherd is more than likely better behaved for good.
It will take a long time, and there will be some setbacks when your Aussie is set off by a running squirrel here or a loud car engine there. However, over time, you should see steady and constant improvement with your Aussie’s unwelcome barking behavior.
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!)
So, yes, Australian Shepherds bark a lot. They are an active, excitable, and verbal breed of dog that is also quite intelligent and caring about their territory and family. These are excellent traits to have in a dog that also happen to make your Australian Shepherd want to verbalize its feelings to you.
Remember, diagnosing the reason your Aussie is barking is half the battle. This will allow you to eliminate the stressor that is causing your pup to bark so much. After that, you can go into the more conventional training methods.
Try to use the positive reinforcement method and the “speak” and “quiet” methods outlined above. Try them each one at a time, and then together if you want to ramp up the training.
Make sure to train your pup for at least thirty minutes to an hour every day. This will make sure that your pup is consistently getting the positive reinforcement it needs to permanently and effectively change its behavior.
Finally, make sure that you are treating your Aussie well while you are training it. Give it plenty of treats and love, as it is as hard for your pup as it is for you to go through this training. Patience and calmness are key. As a side note: make sure to remain positive and in a good mood while you train. Your dog will feed off of your attitude.
So what are you waiting for? Don’t you want to stop that incessant barking? Grab a handful of your Aussie’s favorite treats and get started! You’ll have a social, happy, smart, and loving dog that stays quiet and calm before you know it!