Australian Shepherds love to go for a walk. Outdoorsy moments are incredibly not only for them but also for their owners. If you own an Aussie, note that you need to take some safety measures before leaving home to prevent any accidents.
To go outside with your Australian Shepherd, you should walk him on a lead. It allows you to control your dog and stop any crazy attitude. You need to get him used to this tool. To do that, you need to train your pet properly.
If you want to teach these lessons by yourself, I will help you out in this article. I’m going to show you some tips on how you can train your friend to walk on a lead.
The Different Dog Lead Types
Before starting anything, you must choose what type of lead you’re going to use. There are a lot of options. There isn’t a wrong or right choice. It all singularly depends on your Aussie.
Four of the most popular options are:
- Flat leads
- Retractable leads
- Martingale leads
- Dog harness
Flat leads: These are the most popular choice among dog owners. Flat leads are the first type that comes to your mind when you think about dog controlling. Generally, ranging from 4 to 8 feet long, they can easily be plugged into your dog’s collar, allowing you to control him.
Although being the most affordable and known option in the market, they aren’t the safest. Due to their thin widths, the power you apply gets completely pivoted on your dog’s neck, which can hurt him.
The width of your lead is also essential. Puppies require a less thick one. As your dog grows, so does the thickness. Larger sizes demand larger widths to absorb impacts more efficiently. The size of the lead should only be determined by the dog’s size, and not by your hand.
If you choose a thin lead for a large Australian Shepherd, you’re going to get hurt. In addition to it, he is also going to suffer from the pain.
Retractable leads: Retractable leads can also be dangerous and should be avoided. They often do the opposite effect you want when walking your dog: keeping him safe.
This type of lead can extend up to 30 feet. That way, your Aussie can easily escape from the safety zone near you. In this case, it’s almost impossible to control him. The outcomes can be dangerous for everyone.
Another significant danger is the risk of the lead breaking. If you have a relatively powerful dog, he can easily tear up the cord. Once again, the thin width of retractable leads can hurt your furry friend. The effects aren’t as bad as flat leashes, but I still advise you to opt for something superior.
Martingale leads: This product is multi-functional. A martingale lead is pretty much a collar attached to a standard lead. However, you can adjust it better.
Martingale leads are designed for dogs with small heads, but with thick necks. Greyhounds are the perfect fit for this type of lead. On the other hand, I don’t think it is the most adequate option for Australian Shepherds.
If your Aussie has a strong tendency to pull, then maybe consider martingales. They will tight perfectly around his neck. Another advantage of this type of lead is its simple installation. You can quickly put in and take off the cord, transforming the item into a collar again.
Harness dog leads: Finally, we get to my top recommendation for your furry friend. Dog harnesses are the ones that better disperse the power you apply on your Aussie’s body. Their breastplate-ish look makes them easy to be identified.
Harnesses offer a large area of absorption, which prevent your furry friend from being hurt. Controlling him with a harness is generally more straightforward in comparison to the other options I mentioned before.
As with the other choices, you still need to analyze and see if this is the best one for your dog particularly. For example, since the harness puts pressure directly into the dog’s chest, he might actually want to pull harder.
Back-clip harnesses also have a major negative point: your Australian Shepherd might get used to ignoring you. Since he will be in front of you all the time, his attention will be directed away from you. That’s the opposite of the desired outcome.
If you do in-depth research and don’t find any problem, then definitely go for a harness. They are the safest and most comfortable option. For you, it will be easier to control.
Things You Should Know Before Starting to Train Your Australian Shepherd
Training an Australian Shepherd is simple. Aussies only want to see their owners happy. Your dog will give his best to make you smile at him. Thankfully, they are completely capable of doing this.
Australian Shepherd dogs are brilliant. Due to that, they are able to grasp information very quickly. Lead walking is also one of the most simple lessons to teach a dog. Blend these two characteristics together, and you have the perfect scenario for you.
Apart from the lead, you will also need some treats. Make sure to select your dog’s favorite treat to praise him. The best methods of training a dog are based on positive enforcement. If your Aussie behaves adequately, you must give him a reward.
Basic commands are essential and need to be taught before lead training. If your Aussie doesn’t already recognize these instructions, teach him now. Only after then, you can start training him to walk on a lead.
Can you imagine yourself unable to control him to sit or follow you? That would be a big mess!
Throughout the entire training process, never get angry at your furry friend. I guarantee you that he is doing his best to learn the lesson. If he doesn’t react adequately at first, let him take some more time to learn.
Aggressive behavior is completely useless. It will not only make your Australian Shepherd feel sad but also will discourage him and delay the process even more.
Getting Started With These Simple Steps
Now it’s time to start training your dog in practice.
Get him used to the lead: The first thing you should do to train your Australian Shepherd to walk on a lead is to introduce it to him. At first, this item may seem a bit confusing for your furry friend.
You know, he is used to roaming around your house without being controlled. A device that gives you dominance over him and obliges him to follow the path you want is something very exotic. He may feel a mix of confusion, anger, and sadness at first, so accustom him gradually.
At this stage, training must be done at home. Going outdoors is a more advanced step.
Make him come to you: The next step is to make him obey the command to meet you. Until this moment, he was free to go wherever he wanted. But you need to teach him that, sometimes, you will require him to come next to you.
To do this, start by choosing a sign you want to use when calling him. It can either be a gesture or a word.
To make your Aussie recognize the instruction, use it to call him in a quiet moment. If he obeys your command, praise him. Regularly repeat this procedure and have patience. After a few days, he will fully be able to know what to do.
Going outside: After some time of home-based practice, it’s time to evolve. By this moment, your Australian Shepherd should be mature enough to go out.
Be prepared because the outer world offers him new experiences. Interaction with other people and dogs, new odors and the more significant space are examples of things that will affect the mind of your dog.
In your first walk, practice with him everything previously learned. At this point, everything will start to make sense to him. That’s because you are putting the theory into action.
Since everything is new for your Aussie, he may struggle with concentration. Be ready to see him bark and disobey your orders. As he habituates to the new environment, everything will become more manageable for you.
The “Treat Heel” Method
The part of going outside can be better detailed with some training methods. In the following sections, I will explain to you these techniques. Let’s start with the “treat heel” one, which consists of praising your pet when he acts adequately, combating lousy behavior.
Grab some small treats: To prepare for using this technique on the street, pick up a couple of treats that your Aussie likes. As the name suggests, they are one of the most critical aspects of this training method.
Prioritize smaller gifts. This way, you can praise your dog much more often, which will be appreciated by him. In addition to it, smaller treats prevent overfeeding. If you only have big treats, pick the one you can easily break into smaller pieces.
Walking on the street: The first actual procedure of the “treat heel” method takes place outside. Leave home and casually walk your Australian Shepherd. Then, wait until he starts to pull the lead. This is the moment you must act.
Shout the word “Heel” at him. Make sure to maintain balance in your tone, being firm, but not excessively aggressive. After that, pull the lead back, so he understands you didn’t like his attitude, and he should stop. Stand still until he responds.
Praise him: If your dog corrected his attitude, it’s reward time! When he comes to your side again, give him what he deserves. This act will show him that his behavior was right. If he initially doesn’t change his attitude, call him and show the treat, and he should acknowledge.
The “Wrong Direction” Method
This is a very clever technique, and I personally love it! It also needs to be executed outside.
Walk and wait for the infringement: As you would normally do, go out and walk your furry friend. Then, watch him carefully and wait until he misbehaves.
Reprimand him by going the opposite way: When your Australian Shepherd starts to pull the lead aggressively, first, use the “heel” command. After doing that, react by tugging the lead in your direction and giving your back to him.
When you turn and start walking towards the opposite way, your dog will identify that pulling the lead is useless. This attitude doesn’t put him on the path he wanted to go. Therefore, he will stop acting like that.
Praise him: As per usual, finish treating him when he behaves correctly.
Practice Makes Perfect
Perhaps the most important part of training your Australian Shepherd to walk on a lead is consistency. You need to practice with your dog every day. Similarly to humans, the best way for your Australian Shepherd to learn a lesson is by using it.
The dog training theory is excellent for him to understand how the procedure works. This way, he will kind of know what to do in a real situation. However, the highest knowledge is still acquired through experience.
My Final Thoughts
At the end of the day, you shouldn’t worry about problems taking your Australian Shepherd for a walk. You should easily be able to train your Aussie due to his intelligence and wish to see you happy.
Following the instructions correctly, your Aussie will shortly be used to walking on a lead. Always remember: patience is key. It’s crucial to maintain a training routine and never to lose focus!
What to do if my Australian Shepherd barks a lot?
Barking is a common reaction among all dogs when going out for the first time. Just follow the procedures and wait a bit. Soon he will accustom to the situation and reduce the barking rate.
In how much time will my Australian Shepherd get fully trained?
Generally, an Australian Shepherd takes 1-4 weeks to be fully trained to walk on a lead. Obviously, this time will entirely depend on your dog.