The Australian shepherd is a highly intelligent and very energetic breed of dog. If you don’t train them and give them something positive to do, they’ll still manage to keep themselves busy, but you may not like the results, which can include chewing and digging. Start training your Aussie puppy when she’s young so that she understands what you expect from her. Training time also will help you bond with your pet and increase her desire to please you.
Socialize your puppy as soon as you bring her home. While it’s important for her to adjust to her new home, she also must get used to the sights and sounds of other people, places and animals. An Australian shepherd puppy that is socialized poorly is likely to be fearful and shy, and she may end up with serious behavior problems, such as fear biting. Many areas have puppy socialization classes that give new pet owners a chance to bring their dogs together to introduce them to new things.
Housebreak your puppy as early as possible. An Australian shepherd puppy naturally will want to keep its living space clean, so if you keep her in a crate part of the time she will learn quickly not to relieve herself in the house. Don’t leave your pup in the crate all the time; take her outside every two or three hours during the day, then give her playtime when she comes back inside. Also take her out right after she eats, to help her get the hang of housebreaking. Reward your puppy with praise or treats when she relieves herself in the appropriate area.
Teach your puppy basic obedience at an early age, so that you have some control over her from the start. The best way to do this is to join a puppy training class, something that often is combined with a puppy socialization class. Aussies can be very headstrong and an untrained puppy can develop into a bad-mannered adult.
Start your Aussie in a dog sport while she still is a puppy. Australian shepherds excel at sports, such as agility, rally, advanced obedience and herding. These activities help to give your dog a purpose, something that’s important for this breed, and a way to burn off excess energy. You and your dog can compete together in any or all of these events, and Aussies often win ribbons and trophies in dog sports. It helps to work with a local dog-training club that’s involved in the sport you choose, especially for agility, which requires that you have various kinds of obstacles available, and herding, which requires something to herd.
- Expose your puppy to as many things as you can think of while she is young, such as people in hats and women with blowing skirts. Even a well-trained and socialized dog may be frightened of moving clothing or of people who look different from those she’s used to.
- Australian Shepherds have a strong herding instinct and will run after moving objects, such as cars, children and bicycles. Keep your dog safe by keeping her in a fenced yard so that she can’t run after everything that goes by.