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Are Australian Shepherds A Vocal Breed?

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A red merle Australian Shepherd

It is no secret that Australian Shepherds, aka Aussies, are one of the most talkative dog breeds. Whether it's just for attention, or because they are excited, dissatisfied, or protective, Aussies are known for being incredibly vocal. As such, they require early socialization and obedience training.

Understanding the vocal nature of Australian Shepherds

Due to their herding background, Aussies have a high tendency to bark. In the field, working Aussies must be vocal with the animals they are herding to keep them safe and in check. The breed is also known for having a loud bark and can bark for numerous reasons including:
  • Alerting their owner of strangers or impending danger
  • Being overexcited
  • Seeking attention
  • Being left alone for several hours
  • Being bored
Other types of vocalizations in Australian Shepherds include whining, howling, and growling. If not kept under control, all of these vocalizations could be problematic with neighbors.

Factors influencing Australian Shepherds' vocal behavior

One typical trait of the Aussie is to express themselves through vocalizations like barking or howling. Nevertheless, you may be left perplexed every now and then as to why your Aussie is so vocal. A number of factors can influence Aussies' vocal nature including:
  • Energy levels: Aussies are energetic dogs with strong herding instincts. As such, they tend to resort to excessive barking if not receive enough exercise. An exhausted Australian Shepherd is a happy Australian Shepherd. So giving your Aussie plenty of opportunities to run and play will make them calmer and quieter companions.
  • Mental stimulation: Aussies are very smart dogs and therefore require constant mental stimulation to avoid boredom. Your Aussie is likely to bark excessively or engage in destructive behavior if their minds are not stimulated through mind games or interactive puzzle toys.
  • Herding instinct: As I mentioned earlier, most Aussies retain very strong herding instincts, albeit being predominantly bred for pets today. In the field, Aussies use their voice to command and interact with livestock. Consequently, they may exhibit this instinct when interacting with people and other animals. As an Aussie owner, it is recommended that you curb this instinct through obedience training.
  • Loud noises: Australian Shepherds possess strong herding instincts and therefore are naturally alert and perceptive to their surroundings. As a result, they can become more reactive to sudden or loud noises. Although this trait makes Aussies excellent herding dogs, it can become problematic when kept as pets. As an owner, you need to understand this behavior and subsequently implement effective management measures. You can lessen your Aussie's sensitivity to loud noises by providing a quiet and calm environment. You can also use counterconditioning techniques such as positive reinforcement to desensitize your dog to loud noises.
  • Anxiety: Aussies are renowned for forming strong attachments to their owners, and as such, tend to develop separation anxiety when often left alone for several hours. An anxious Australian Shepherd may appear aggressive (i.e., bark or growl at someone). If your Aussie starts barking or growling at people unceremoniously, it may be a sign that your dog is anxious. In this case, you may need to take your dog to a dog behaviorist. Alternatively, crate training your Aussie can help deal with separation anxiety. When you’re away, your dog can feel secure and comfortable at home in a cozy crate. For more info, read my previous article on the number of hours Australian Shepherds can be left alone.

Teaching Your Australian Shepherd To Be Quiet On Command

Barking is how dogs express themselves, but an excessively barking dog is never fun. Thankfully, Aussies are smart and biddable, which makes teaching them commands relatively easy. According to Brandon McMillan, an American expert dog trainer, the best way to get your dog to be quiet on command is teach them to bark on command. 

This technique works like a charm, according to Brandon, who says most people think he is crazy when he says this. For starters, you’ll need to arm yourself with a bag of treats. Also, be sure your Aussie is hungry before starting the training.

Secondly, Brandon recommends attaching your dog to a leash and holding that leash in your hand while teaching this technique. In addition to making things easier for you, this will keep your dog in a steady position during training.

Next, you may begin by teaching your Aussie to bark on command. This command is often referred to as the "Speak" command. It isn’t too difficult, especially if your Aussie is an excessive barker. According to Brandon, most dogs pick this command up within an hour or so. All that is required is your knowledge of what triggers your Aussie off, whether that is ringing the doorbell or knocking on the door.

You can have someone ring the doorbell and or knock on the door and when your Aussie starts barking,  Brandon suggests standing between your dog and the door and giving a "Speak" command, while giving a hand signal. Repeat this process several times until your Aussie is barking on command. Note that this is a controlled bark because you've taught your Aussie to bark on command. At this point, you may now give a "Quiet" command. However, be sure to just firmly say it, not yell it. According to Brandon, this will make it easier for your dog to stop barking when you give the "Quiet" command.

You can reward your Aussie with treats when they keep quiet on command. It is important to make your dog understand that you are rewarding the quiet, not the bark. You may use a hand signal or your voice to say "yes" when your dog keeps quiet. Brandon recommends repeating this process several times a day for a week so it will lock it in your dog's memory bank for good.


To sum up, Australian Shepherds are renowned for being quite vocal dogs. However, with proper training, adequate exercise, and mental stimulation, a vocal Aussie can become a quiet and well-mannered dog.


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