Probably one of the most important thing to teach your dog is to walk gently with the leash. There will definitely be a lot of situations when you want to take a walk in public places, for example beach, park, or even city center. And if your Australian Shepherd will not be properly socialized and trained to walk with leash – you may have a lot of stressful and uncomfortable situations.
How to train an Australian Shepherd to heel? To train an Australian Shepherd to heel while walking on a leash it is similar like any other command or rule of behavior. It requires consistent work using reward-based system. Start trainings at home and later apply in public places or in an environment where there is more temptation for your dog. If your dog acts the way you want him to – give him award.
Usually Australian Shepherd puppies get used to a new accessory quite easily, especially if teaching methods are related with rewards like food. For example, getting your Australian Shepherd used to muzzle does not bring much difficulty. However, when we talk about dog getting used to the leash – it is not that easy. Simply because a rare dog easily accepts the restriction of freedom. But there are several simple general principles that will make this task easier.
Introducing Aussie Puppy to The Leash
Australian Shepherds from nature are very active dogs. They love freedom and active ways of spending time. However, even if you live far away from city centre, still there will be situations when you might need to use the leash. Let it be visits to the vet for example. So if you got yourself a young puppy, it is better to introduce him to the leash as early as you got him home.
Start using the leash at home for a short period of time, let your Aussie walk with him in the familiar space. Be sure to divert his attention from attempts to chew the leash. The best way to do this is by using a game or treats, but don‘t use the leash as a game object. It is the best to follow such duration of the lesson: attach the leash for a few minutes first, then extend this period. The leash should be removed when the puppy has calmed down. If you do this at a time when the dog is very afraid or struggling with the leash, you can only instill a negative reaction. After the first attempt, fasten the leash at least once a day.
Young Aussie should be treated like a small child – persevere and gently repeat the same steps to reinforce the lesson.
Eventually, the puppy will stop protesting against the attached leash. Now it‘s time to teach the dog to walk with him. Try to walk him around the room while playing with him. As you lead from room to room, feed him a little of his favorite food. When you notice that your Australian Shepherd got used to walking on a leash, gradually reduce the amount of treats and games by making the leash a routine.
There are several irreplaceable rules that need to be strictly followed. Do not pull the puppy hard on the leash against his will – this will only increase the panic and fear of the leash. Do not cause pain to the puppy when it is attached. Control the Aussie by gently tapping behind the leash, as if advising him on the direction of movement.
The First Walk Outside With Australian Shepherd Puppy
Be prepared for the fact that outside the home Australian Shepherd puppy may behave completely differently. Under new circumstances, the puppy may panic again, can get scared and maybe refuse to move. Try to calm the puppy, talk to him, cuddle him a little bit. Don‘t forget to take his favorite delicacy when he acts well.
Don‘t make the typical mistake from the very first walk outside: remember that you are the owner and dog is the one who should follow rules. Do not allow the puppy to drag you. This is important, cause you won‘t feel how fast your Australian Shepherd puppy will become a powerful dog, weighing about 60 pounds. And the pulling of such a dog will be quite strong!
If the puppy tries to pull the leash very energetically, gently pull it to yourself. Your efforts should be enough to obey the dog, but not too much. The goal is not to punish, but to correct the dog‘s behavior. If the puppy has not obeyed for the first time, pull the leash harder and slow down or stop and the puppy will follow your example. And always remember not to scare the puppy!
How to Train an Adult Australian Shepherd to Walk On a Leash And Be More Socialized
First of all, you need to clarify reasons, why your Aussie keep pulling all the time. One of the most common reasons is that dog is not properly trained to walk with a leash. Dogs naturally moves faster than humans, so he needs help to adapt. In addition, the dog lives in the world of smells – they are always trying to get to know the environment with the help of nose. If we stop so that we can take a closer look at some object, our dog needs to sniff it.
Another reason why Australian Shepherd pulls a leash is fear. If a dog is improperly or insufficiently socialized, there is a chance that certain aspects of the environment will scare him. In this case, the dog pulls the leash as much as possible, trying to escape from the intimidating environment or from a frightening object, which can be anyone – other dogs, cars, passers-by and so on. If your Aussie wants to sniff something and pulls you from one object to another, then the fearful dog is not interested in the environment, he just pulls as far as possible. The dog may look warm, ignoring your voice and commands.
The third reason why an Australian shepherd pulls a leash is an excess of energy. This behavior is typical of young energetic dogs who feel a great need to release the energy that swells inside.
The fourth reason that often complements any of the above is that owner is pulling the leash. And the dog gets used to moving while the leash is tight.
How to Solve The Problem?
Once the reasons are known, a strategy needs to be devised. First of all, find a quiet environment that your Aussie could pay attention only to you. This is called connection building, between you and your dog. You can start training indoors or outdoors, where no one bothers and distracts you or your dog. Prepare in advance for a reward – his favorite food or toy.
Every time your Aussie pays attention to you, encourage him with a food or drop the toy. It is very important to do this at the exact moment the dog is paying attention to you. After a while, the dog will realize that something good is happening just when he looks at you. It will take more than a month to encourage the dog to develop a strong habit. Sooner or later dog realizes that you are his main source of joy and this can be associated with command „come to me“. If you are using other command, make sure that the words is always the same.
Say the command and encourage the dog to pay attention. This way the dog will learn that this is the word that needs to be responded to. Later, gradually move the workouts to a more intense environment with more temptation for the dog.
Once your Aussie knows it‘s worth paying attention to, other methods of encouragement can be tried. If the dog pulls the leash to smell something – stop. Calmly wait for the dog to stop pulling and pay attention to you – praise the dog and at the same time run towards the object of interest to the dog. This way the dog will realize that it is not worth pulling because the owner will then „break down“ for some reason.
What to Do If Australian Shepherd Looks Timid Walking With a Leash?
If your Australian Shepherd is pulling the leash out of fear, it is better to consult with a specialist how to proceed. Improper behavior could scare the dog even more. Person, that specializes in the field of socialization could prepare an individual plan for your dog to get him more socialized.
If your Aussie is too energetic, look for ways to properly direct and manage his energy. This mainly happens if he stays home alone for too long and don‘t get enough daily exercises. In this case, simple games can help you. For example olfactory games, trick training, interactive toys or other activities that are not very challenging and do not put a lot of physical strain to the owner, but help the dog discharge excess energy through sniffing or mental activity.
Reasons Most Owners Fail
A common mistake that owners make: unwind to pull the leash! If the dog is interested in something and wants to sniff it – do not pull him away. Of course, unless the situation threatens and the dog really needs to be pulled for safety. Do not always pull the leash if the dog is interested in passers-by. Would be better to make an effort and create a connection between dog so he responds to the command in such situations. If your Australian Shepherd is overly irritated and stretches without reacting to anything – just stop. Dogs communicate in body language, so it will be much easier for the dog to understand that you don‘t want to go if you stop than if you pull the leash but still move forward.
Show That You Are The Owner!
As we already know Australian Shepherds, they are by nature willing to lead. However, when it comes not to a job, but a relationship with his owner, don‘t give in to his leadership. When walking a dog, take it next to you or behind you, but not in front. For a dog, walking first means that he is in control at that time. A good example of this could be behavior of wolves. When a group of wolves moves from one place to another, all other gang members follow the leader and no one encourages them to do so. If you do not act like a commander, the dog will not obey you.
Use the leash as short as possible for the walk. Never try to speed up your walk to catch up with the dog or overcome him – it is the dog that has to adapt to you.
After each correction don‘t forget to relax. When your Aussie acts gently and walks obediently next to you for a while, you can let him do his business, sniff and explore the area.
Probably no one would want to feel that shame or additional problems during a walk at the park when your dog pulls you wherever he wants. That is why leash training is probably one of the most important things you can do for your Australian Shepherd and yourself. Make sure to start trainings as soon as you get your Aussie. But even if you got yourself an older Australian Shepherd and he is not enough socialized – start trainings described above in less visited places and be patient!
How long should i walk my Australian Shepherd? Australian Shepherds need at least 30 – 60 minutes of daily walk. It is better to diversify walks with exercises, such as frisbee, ball throwing or running around an obstacles at the dog park.