Australian shepherds are one of the most beautiful and loyal dog breeds in the world. There is an unlimited amount of potential when it comes to training them to do specific tasks.
So what kind of job should I give my Australian Shepherd to do?
The biggest key for Aussies is to keep them busy with little activities or jobs that get them moving.
Here are a few great jobs you can train your Aussie to perform:
- Clean up their own toys
- Fetching multiple toys at once and bringing them all back and dropping them
- Barn Hunt
- Trick Titles
These are just some ideas you can come up with your own original ones as well. A member of our family taught his Australian Shepherd to get a beer for him, but closing the fridge door is still a bit of an issue lol.
A job is just something that will keep your Aussie busy and give them a sense of meaning or purpose. Once they learn this skill they will love to repeat it over and over. You have seen tons of dogs that can chase toys all day this is the same affect. The main premise is to reward them for that task and be happy for them performing that.
Below we will go into more detail on these jobs and get you going on some easier ones that you can start right away today. If you have any questions feel free to send us a message from our contact page or email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Activities For Australian Shepherds
You may have a 9 to 5 job and want to spend good quality time with your Australian Shepherd once you are out of work on the weekend. Well getting them trained and keeping them moving is great quality time for them.
Here we will go over the tasks mentioned above and getting them trained to perform these activities.
Cleaning Up Their Own Toys
1. First you will need a decent sized container or basket with a big mouth on it. A clothes basket will work great for this task then place the container into an easy access place for your Aussie.
The container needs to be low enough so your dog can walk over and simply drop the item in the basket or box. Also decide on a command you will like to use at this time like “Clean Up Toys” or “Toy Pickup Time” whatever it may be just try to keep it short 2-3 words.
2. Now place the dogs toys all over the floor scattered apart from each other and get those healthy treats ready.
3. Start with their favorite toy and call them over with the toy towards the container.
4. When they reach the container slowly place a treat in the container to get them to drop the toy in the basket. As they do that repeat your command so for example say “Clean Up” as they are dropping.
5. Keep doing this until all the toys are in the container leaving a treat in there for when they drop it. Continue saying the command as they are dropping as well. Continue doing this until they are doing consistently.
6. Now start having them drop without the treat and only giving them a treat after they drop it on the command. Then start giving them a treat for ever 2 or 3 toys until they are picking up all the toys before a treat is given.
* Some key points: some dogs will get this right away while others it could take weeks or a month until they get the first part down consistently. Just be patient with them especially in the beginning.
**Also try to do this with them throughout the day a couple days straight in the beginning. After that you should be able to work on the training aspect whenever you have time a few times a week or whenever.
Fetching Multiple Balls
This is just something we do to get our dog a lot of exercise in the least amount of time otherwise known as wearing them down. The goal here is to have them fetch each ball and have them bring it back sit at your feet then go get the other one. Until completed then start over from scratch.
This task will also work more naturally on an Australian Shepherd since they have a herding mentality. Another indoor alternative is to do the same thing with 4-8 balls and just spread them out and let he or she round them up.
Agility training is a great job for Aussies to complete and compete in. It is in their nature to do this. One thing I must advise is to wait until they are a year old to be safe since they will be doing some jumping with agility training. We will just briefly go over some drills you can dive deeper on our Beginners Agility Training guide.
Agility training you can do at home is most back yards or take them some where, but it doesn’t have to be expensive you can make most of the items you need on your own or at a hardware store or you can by complete kits as well.
You will want to start them out on a leash so you can get them to where they need to be and lots of healthy treats. We will just go over two main agility drills you can do at home with some some you probably already have on hand.
This is easy to do at home you can use almost anything such as a log, jump rope or a thick rope (like a horse lead rope which is what we use). Anything that is 2-4 feet wide and not too tall they can’t jump over it. You can also build one with PVC pipes or get a kit online.
- Works best with two people if possible so you can have one person on both side of jump
- If only one person have him on one side with you on other
- Lead him over the jump.
- Make sure leash is long enough for you to jump over then have him follow
- Entice him with treat
- Then repeat until you can remove the leash and have just the treat
Another popular agility drill is the tire jump. Although we just use a hula hoop you can have somebody just hold a dollar store hula hoop if you want to get started today and yes it is that simple. Or you can build a PVC pip frame and just have it as a break away. We use baling twine to tie ours up since we have horses but any rope can be used.
- Have treats ready bring same thing with leash go through the hoop yourself or have your kid go through.
- Have your dog follow enticing with treat
- Start hoop very low to ground then raise over time
- Once it gets high enough and have done enough repetitions remove the leash
- Entice with just a treat
When you are done training for these setup multiple agility items together so they can jump through multiples they will absolutely love this.
Nosework can be so much fun for you and your dog and you can honestly start at any age. There are a couple different easy ways to get started then you can raise the difficult level as much as you want.
DIY Scent Training
- Get some plastic cups at least 3 of them
- Put a treat under one
- Show to your dog
- Mix them up while he sits there
- Have him guess the right one
- Reward with the treat when they do
- Hide whatever you want them to find with a treat inside
- Hide several boxes while they wait in another room
- Lead them around at first to find the treat
- Then repeat until they are doing this on their own
This is basically training your dog to be a detective on a farm. We have a farm so this works great for our Aussies although our barn cat is king (queen) of the barn hunt these days. So you are essentially training them to find what you need them to find whether it be rats, mice, or maybe a possum or something.
Supplies you will need is just your barn supplies like hay bales, shelves, or places that animals can hide. Setup either fake or deceased animals (I know but it is easiest for the scent) then go from there.
You can use live rats, but we personally do not and you reward them after they find them.
- Setup a maze of bales and tubes if available
- Hide the fake, live or deceased animal without your Aussie around
- Set them free to look for it
- Once they find it reward them with a treat
Yes it is that simple
Rally doesn’t mean anything to me as far as titles on a pedigree – but it is a nice place to start a green Aussie that isn’t ring-ready enough to be in Novice obedience. Show experience, on-lead, can talk to your dog, etc – it’s kind of a confidence booster for a youngster.
Your Australian Shepherd is a natural herder, but that doesn’t mean they know what they are doing it is more of an instinct you need to help guide.
Things you need to perform this task are a small herd of animals like puppies, chickens, pigmy goats, etc. Lots of healthy treats and an adjustable leash. A smaller enclosure or corral type of structure will work best. We just used the inside of our barn and that worked great.
- Start out small with something like chickens (lavender orps work great) as they are usually calmer.
- Get them in the pen and put in the middle with a big pile of feed.
- Bring your Aussie in on the leash and have them sit on the outside of the round pen
- Give him some time to settle down with the animals he is going to herd
- Now walk him around the animals in a clock wise direction.
- Give the commands “away” and “come by” so he knows which side they need to be on
- As he gets it right give him a treat when he doesn’t keep trying
- Do this at least a couple times a day until they get it more right then wrong
- When they finally understand the commands without forcing it with the leash time to take the leash off
- Use the commands until he gets it right you may need to put the leash back on just be patient
After you have completed this work up to bigger animals. The way we made it easiest was moving our corral around with the chickens in it (somewhat free range) then putting a bit of feed in the middle when we came out to train. This way the chickens were there and ready.
These are just tricks your dog can perform that work from Novice to advanced we will just list out some of the basic ones you can do and work on. Take your pick and get started today.
- Sits politely for petting
- Walks through crowd
- Sits down and stays in place
- Coming when called
- Balance beam walk
- Barks on cue
- Gets in and sits in box
- High five
- Paws up (sits pretty)
- Spin in circle
- Runs through tunnel
Obedience training can get very detailed especially if you are looking to show so we will start with the basics to get you on the right path and all dogs should honestly know these.
Sit – get your dog to sit and stay. Pretty easy command and use treats to get them to do so.
Heel – these is something you want to do anyway with walking your dog with or without a leash so they stay with you instead of ahead or behind you.
Down – this is great to get your dog to settle down in a hurry and not stress
Stay – this will teach your dog self control especially when you need them to stay in place like if you are walking across the road and you don’t want them too.
Leave it – another great command to teach any dog. Whether it is some dropped food or some dangerous animal like a snake this can be a great thing to teach your dog.
These are just some jobs to keep your Aussie busy. Don’t get overwhelmed with any of these just take one and work on it until they and you have mastered it. Then add in another one. The great thing about these is that you can work them into your schedule and most don’t take that much time to do.
It is more about consistently putting in a small effort over and over to get your dog trained.