Australian Shepherds are known for their athletic nature and intelligence. In addition, these dogs are extremely adaptable and have very high energy levels. Given these features, can they make good hunting dogs?
The answer is yes; Australian Shepherds can make excellent hunting dogs. If given proper training, Australian Shepherd’s love for the outdoors makes them reliable hunters.
What Makes Aussies Good At Hunting?
Australian Shepherds, also known as Aussies, are known for being affectionate. However, these dogs have an independent nature. They are herding dogs and so they enjoy being outdoors. These dogs are extremely active and have a lot of energy. Their superior agility and adaptability, along with their high intelligence, make them ideal to train for hunting.
Even though they are bred for herding and not hunting, Australian Shepherds can be trained to hunt well. As herding dogs, they can chase after animals and corner them into spaces. They are also alert and bold, with good senses. This makes their tracking abilities top-notch.
Aussies are also very hard-working. They enjoy doing tasks and being active. Australian Shepherds were bred to carry out various tasks on ranches or farms. In addition, they worked in nature and open spaces. This, along with their almost limitless energy, makes them suitable for training.
Additionally, Australian Shepherds have a strong prey drive which means they are adept at tracking and chasing animals. They are brave and alert. These features are essential for a dog to be a good hunter. Their instincts tell them they must retrieve the prey they hunt. For these reasons, their breeding can be changed through training to make them into ideal hunting dogs.
One of their distinctive features is their characteristic bark. This can help their accompanying hunter to identify their location while hunting. This feature will help while in hunting territory so that you can easily find your Aussie while active.
Training your Aussie to hunt will not only be beneficial in terms of catching prey, but it will also be good for your dog. Australian Shepherd requires at least one hour of exercise per day. They will also be able to apply their outdoor skills and intelligence. Hunting will make your Aussie far healthier and be able to put their abilities to good use.
How Long Will It Take To Train My Australian Shepherd For Hunting?
Training your Aussie to hunt can take around six to eight months. It depends on the amount of time you spend training your furry friend and the specific capabilities of your dog. Regular practice is key. With continuing efforts and orderly practice, your dog will be able to pick up hunting skills in no time.
When Should I Start Training My Dog To Hunt?
Before you train your dog to hunt, they need simple obedience training. An Australian Shepherd puppy will typically start this training at 8 weeks old. Once they have mastered the basic commands, you can begin training them to hunt.
Without the abilities learned from basic instructions, your dog will not be able to handle the excitement of hunting. Learning tasks like sit, stay, and come are all required before hunting training.
Typically, a dog will have this training under its belt by around 6 to 8 months of age. So, in general, anywhere under two years of age is a good time to begin training your dog to hunt.
How Do I Train My Australian Shepherd To Hunt?
Training any dog to hunt is not easy. There are a large number of tasks that they will need to learn. However, Aussies are very willing to earn and can pick up training easily. Their intelligence makes them good at recalling training and understanding commands. With some time and effort, you will be able to train your Australian Shepherd to track, hunt, and not damage their kill effectively.
First, you need to identify what game you wish your dog to hunt. Australian Shepherds are medium size dogs. As herding dogs, they are used to being low on the ground rather than at high altitudes. Therefore, small animals like rabbits are ideal prey for Australian Shepherds. You can use rabbit feet or skin to train them. This will help them get familiar with the scent of the animal.
Australian Shepherds, like most dogs, respond very well to positive reinforcement. You can use treats and praise to encourage your pooch and train them well. So, keep their favorite snacks at hand and get ready to shower them with encouragement.
Be patient with your dog and see what works well for them. Perseverance is key when training any dog. Many methods can be used to train a dog to hunt. However, 3 methods tend to work well with Australian Shepherds. These methods have been approved by dog trainers and experts and used to train their Aussies.
The Tracking Method
The tracking method takes some time but is quite simple. It involves training your dog to track scents first indoors and then outdoors. Throughout this process, be patient with your Australian Shepherd and keep giving encouragement and praise. Reward your dog when tasks are performed correctly. The tracking method takes some time but is quite simple.
- Place some treats around a chosen room. They should be in the viewing range of your dog. The idea is that your Aussie will use their sight and smell to find the treats. You can hide the treats in places where it is harder to find as time goes on.
- Begin hiding the treats in places where your Aussie will not be able to see them. This will train them to track with their nose. The treats should still be quite close. You can place them in areas that are more difficult to find as your dog gets better at tracking. You can even put them inside a different room.
- Give your dog rabbit feet or skin. Let them play with the objects and familiarize themself with the scent.
- Hide the treats and the rabbit feet or skin in the same spot. Keeping them together will help your Australian Shepherd associate the smell of the treats to that of a rabbit. Keep training your dog with this method until they have mastered it. Eventually, hide the rabbit feet or skin alone.
- Begin using the same method in an outdoor setting. Keep the area small. A yard or any other enclosed space will work. This makes the dog accustomed to the scent even with the disturbances that are around outdoors.
- Use the same methods in larger areas. Up the scale until the field your dog can track in is large. The idea is that your Aussie should be able to find the rabbit scent in an area of 100 acres and more.
The Brace Method
The brace method is when you use an experienced dog or “brace” as a guide to training your Aussie. The younger dog will learn through imitation as the brace will be their hunting companion. Eventually, they will learn all the commands and hunt without help.
- Introduce your Australian Shepherd to a dog who is an experienced hunter. This brace should be well trained and able to track, smell, chase, and retrieve their prey. You may wish to have the other dog’s owner with you while training as well.
- Take your Aussie to the experienced dog’s usual hunting grounds. This will make your dog acquainted with the hunting terrain.
- Allow your dog to follow around the brace. If your dog is trained to keep close to you, you can remove their leash. If not, you may want to keep them on their leash for a while. Follow the dogs as they go on the hunt. Be alert so that the dogs do not fight or get injured. Give your dog commands that the brace already knows how to follow. They will soon learn how to follow orders. Give them treats and encouragement when they perform tasks correctly.
- Take the two dogs on hunts around twice a week. Depending on how long it takes your dog to learn how to hunt independently, do this for 2 months or more. Your Aussie will learn from practice and watching the brace. The experienced dog will share skills with your dog over time.
- When your dog has learned how to hunt together with the experienced dog, teaching them independence, begin taking your dog on hunts alone. Stay in the familiar hunting grounds for a while. Your dog will eventually be able to hunt independently.
The Freedom Method
The freedom method directly introduces your dog to hunting grounds. It would require your dog to be well trained. If your dog already enjoys the outdoors and knows to keep close, this is a good method to use.
- Take your Australian Shepherd to a large hunting ground. The space should have a lot of game and have the kind of prey you wish to hunt. It can be an open field or the woods.
- Use a rope to tie up a previously hunted animal. Drag this in front of your dog. Make sure it gets your dog’s attention, and let your Aussie take in the scent.
- Drag the rope around and let your Aussie follow the scent. Reward the dog when they catch up to you. Give commands or encourage your Aussie to bark when they catch the prey. This would make it easy for you to locate your dog once a kill has been made.
- Begin hiding the prey out of sight of your dog. Train your dog to track using their sense of smell.
- Take your dog off their leash once they have become accustomed to the process. Give praise and treats when the dog can successfully find the prey using its scent.
- Use commands such as “speak” for a while when your dog finds its prey. Eventually, your dog will learn to do it without a command. Repeat this process until your dog has become accustomed to hunting and guiding you to the prey after location.
Australian Shepherds can make good retrievers. You can translate their ability to play fetch to make them retrieve their prey after a hunt. Your Aussie will be able to retrieve small prey like birds or rabbits.
They are also better at working on the ground. Hunting and retrieving from the water may not be possible as herding breeds are not meant to work in water. This will, however, not be a big issue as Australian shepherds can still swim, but too much strenuous activity in the water may not be suitable.
You will also have to train your Aussie to be delicate with the prey so that they do not damage it. For example, train the dog to hold the prey softly when bringing it back to you.
Should I Train My Australian Shepherd To Hunt?
Australian Shepherds make amazing hunters. You should definitely teach them how to hunt if that is what you desire. It will not only be good for your dog’s health, but it will teach them valuable and useful skills. In addition, your dog’s love of the outdoors and need for exercise will be catered to while you can get a good hunt.
Can Herding Dogs Be Hunting Dogs?
Yes, herding dog’s abilities can be translated to hunting. You can easily train your herding dog how to hunt. Very active dogs, love the outdoors, can perform many tasks, and are obedient will make good hunting dogs.
Is It Too Late To Train My Australian Shepherd How To Hunt?
Generally, a dog should begin to be trained how to hunt before the age of 2. However, this is not a strict limit. Dogs can be trained as early as 6 months and as late as 4 years of age.
Can Australian Shepherds Hunt Ducks?
Australian Shepherds can hunt ducks to some extent. This is because these dogs do not work well in water for long periods. However, some non-strenuous activity in the water can be performed and so they can hunt ducks sometimes.
Can Australian Shepherds Track Deer?
Yes, Australian Shepherds have excellent senses of smell and tracking abilities. They will be able to track deer after some training.