Australian Shepherds are intelligent, energetic dogs of an active nature, and possessing great stamina.
As a result, the Aussie is one of the best herding dog breeds in the world. They are not only good at herding sheep, but also at guarding them.
This is due to their alert and attentive nature, and their ability to watch out for danger. These dogs enjoy working, and they view it as fun.
They love the outdoors and do not tire easily, even when working for many hours. If they don’t get enough exercise and things to do, they will only get bored.
Australian Shepherds are truly outstanding in their duties as sheepdogs and watchdogs.
But what about hunting?
Are Australian Shepherds good hunting dogs?
This article discusses everything there is to know on this subject.
It will also conclude whether Aussies can track, and how to train them in the field of hunting.
Are Australian Shepherds Good Hunting Dogs?
Yes, Australian Shepherds are good hunting dogs because of their high prey drive instincts.
Such instincts often incline them to chase smaller animals, including smaller dogs, cats, and squirrels.
In a wild setting, these dogs can chase rabbits, hare, and various other animals.
In fact, a lot of these dogs will chase anything that moves, viewing it as ‘prey’.
However, not every Aussies will be naturally a great hunter from the start and know how to catch or retrieve prey.
Just as with other dog breeds, even ones bred specifically for hunting, Australian Shepherds will need training.
Aussies are highly intelligent and obedient, so they learn easily and grasp things quickly.
This obedience and eagerness to please their owner also makes Australian Shepherds great at following commands given to them.
This is great in the hunting setting, as they aren’t stubborn dogs, and will willingly listen to instructions.
Hunting can also be an activity which will provide them plenty of exercise and enjoyment.
They have great stamina and energy, so they can keep going for hours without trying.
These dogs like following tasks and staying busy, so hunting is an outdoor activity which can give them something new to do.
In addition, hunting will stimulate their mind, keeping any boredom at bay.
How To Train An Australian Shepherd To Hunt?
Teach Them Basic Commands
From a young age, Australian Shepherds will have to learn to follow basic commands to be any good at hunting.
This includes to ‘sit’, ‘heel’, or ‘lie down’.
The reason for this is because in the hunting setting, following instructions is invaluable.
An Australian Shepherd that doesn’t know how to follow commands might get out of control.
He might chase everything in sight, make a lot of noise, or even get lost.
Teach Them How To Hunt Game And Drop It On Command
Once your Australian Shepherd knows basic commands and is eager to obey them, you can move on to further training.
However, this training will only count for small game that a dog can attack and hunt easily.
For the first step, you will need a rag or any piece of material tied to a rope. Drag the rope across the yard in front of your Aussie to awaken his prey drive instinct.
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Run away with it as he tries to catch it. Once he succeeds, reward him for it.
Ensure your dog allows you take the rag from him.
Otherwise, the real hunted animal could get damaged if he starts to mangle it and refuse to let go.
If your Aussie won’t relent and wrestles with you, you may need to teach him to drop it on command.
You may first use a toy for teaching your Australian Shepherd to drop something on command.
When your dog is playing with the toy, present a treat to him. Likely he will drop the toy immediately, and when he does so, give him the treat.
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Now introduce the command ‘Drop’, when you want him to drop the toy. You may try this without a treat to see if your dog obeys.
When your Aussie knows how to drop on command, you can try it with a previously hunted game such as a rabbit.
Alternatively, you can use a toy that looks like an animal and is scented with real game for the training.
You may tie it to a rope and drag it around for your dog to catch and attack.
Once he has caught the hunted game or scented toy, ask him to drop it and reward him for it.
Australian Shepherds have a naturally high prey drive for small game like rabbits, and are great at catching them.
Teach Them To Retrieve Hunted Prey
Australian Shepherds can be taught to retrieve hunted prey that you have already killed.
Usually, a lot of Aussies perform better at this than at hunting animals. These dogs can bring back prey such as ducks or waterfowl from the water with ease.
This is because most Aussies are very good and capable swimmers, and really like the water.
You can begin this training first by using a toy such as a ball to assess if he will bring it back to you.
If he doesn’t, you can call your Aussie’s name so that he comes to you.
Your dog may give you the ball to throw it again, and if he does so, reward him for it. If not, you can teach him the command to drop items.
Next you can try throwing a fake or toy duck scented with a real one to familiarize your dog with the scent.
Call him to you whenever he has the duck in his mouth and reward him for letting go of it.
As soon as you think, he is ready, you can take your Australian Shepherd to a water source.
Here you can practice to see if he will swim out to bring back the scented fake duck.
You may also transport the duck farther out into the lake via a boat to see if your Aussie will bring it back.
Can Australian Shepherds Track Deer?
Just as with every other animal, Australian Shepherds can track animals such as deer.
In fact, they can excel in this, because of their great scenting ability. Aussies have great noses and can therefore pick up scents easily.
To teach your dog to track deer, begin by letting your dog sniff some treats, and then hide them a short distance away.
You could hide them in some grass or leaves. Allow him to track down these treats with his nose until he finds them.
If he succeeds, try this a few times until he has got the hang of it.
When it comes to tracking real prey, your Australian Shepherd must be familiar with the scent of it.
You could get a piece of an old rag and scent it with a previously hunted deer. Allow your Aussies to sniff it first so he can recognize the scent of deer.
Then you will have to hide the scented rag to see if your Australian Shepherd can find it.
You may hide it a short distance away, and increase that distance later on.
Ensure to praise your Australian Shepherd when he finds the rag and give him a treat for it.
Now you can add a command such as ‘Go Seek’, ‘Search’, or ‘Track’, after you have hidden the rag.
Repeat this a couple times until your Australian Shepherd has mastered tracking the scented rag.
Now you can move onto the real scenario. You can use a rag freshly scented to let your Australian Shepherd smell, and then command him to track.
The same process can be used for tracking all other game such as rabbits or birds when out hunting.
6 Characteristics Of A Good Hunting Dog
An obedient dog makes a good hunting dog, as they are able to clearly follow instructions and commands.
Good Energy And Stamina
A dog must be energetic and have good stamina in a hunting scenario. Hunts can often last a very long time.
Such characteristics will ensure your dog won’t tire out while walking long distances.
Your dog will additionally need energy and stamina when carrying out jobs such as tracking, hunting, or retrieving.
A good hunting dog will need to show bravery and courage when it comes to hunting.
Otherwise, he may get scared of gunshots or some larger animals like deer.
Good Sense Of Smell
A hunting dog must have a good nose when it comes to tracking animals.
High Work Drive
A dog that is used for hunting must be willing and eager to carry out their job.
A disinterested dog that doesn’t want to be there will not perform too good.
A hunting dog must be cooperative and respond to what is going on around him.
He must be watchful, quick to sense activity, and take interest in different sounds and sights.
Are Australian Shepherds Good hunting dogs?
Australian Shepherds are good hunting dogs, because they have a high prey drive and intelligence.
They are also energetic, have great endurance, and are eager to please and to work.
In addition, these dogs are courageous, alert and attentive. They can easily pick up sounds and spot things moving in the distance.
Their obedience makes them trainable in the field of hunting, as they will be willing to learn.
Australian Shepherds can be trained to hunt prey, to track prey, and to retrieve ducks and waterfowl from the water.
However, they are the best when it comes to tracking animals, such as rabbits or deer.
Their reliable noses are invaluable and help them scent trails left by animals and follow after with ease.