Guide Australian Cattle Dog Behavior & Training Tips

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Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog. Officially, however, he's the Australian Cattle Dog; the "heeler" moniker comes from the fact that the dogs were bred to herd cattle by nipping at their heels.

The Australian Cattle Dog is a high-energy working dog. He is not a couch potato — we repeat: he is not a couch potato. He wants to be active and busy most of the time. His energy must be directed, or he'll become bored and will resort to entertaining himself, usually by doing something you consider naughty, like digging in the trash or digging up your flower garden.

The Australian Cattle Dog is also highly devoted to his owner and family. He usually attaches himself closely to one person and bonds less closely with others. He's often called a "Velcro" dog because he attaches so firmly; he likes to be in close physical contact with his chosen person all the time. Because the Australian Cattle Dog was bred to herd, and herd with force, by biting, he is a mouthy dog. His instinct is to nip cattle, children, pets, cars, anything that moves. He has a strong tendency to bite , even in play.

This tendency must be properly directed with socialization and training when he's a puppy, or it can turn into dangerous behavior. Another part of the breed's instinct is his strong prey drive. He's fascinated by squirrels, cats, and other small animals. If the Australian Cattle Dog is raised from puppyhood with other pets, including cats, he can be trusted to live peacefully with them in his home. He's likely to consider those outside his household to be fair game, though. The Australian Cattle Dog is generally friendly, but he is protective of his family and home turf, and he tends to be wary of strangers.

There is a toughness about the Australian Cattle Dog — he had to be tough to handle the high temperatures, rough terrain, and long distances involved in his job on ranches — that makes him both highly tolerant of pain and intensely focused. He'll keep working even when he's injured.

Axel, 1 Year Old Blue Heeler, Jumping, Mouthing, Pulling

Owners must pay careful attention to this breed to make sure he stops working or competing if he gets hurt. The Australian Cattle Dog was bred by 19th-century Australian settlers to herd cattle on large ranches.

Breed Profile

This breed was instrumental in helping ranchers expand the Australian beef industry by quietly but aggressively herding the sometimes uncontrollable, almost wild cattle with nips and bites. Today's Australian Cattle Dog is the result of many breedings and cross-breedings. Ranchers sought a hardy dog who could handle the harsh climate and working conditions in Australia. Dogs initially brought from England weren't up to the job, so they were bred to the native Dingo.

Australian Cattle Dog

Countless breedings by many different ranchers finally resulted in what's believed to be the ancestors of the present-day Australian Cattle Dog. Blue-colored dogs proved to be the most popular among ranch owners and drovers, and they became known as Blue Heelers. They were especially popular in cattle runs in Queensland, where they were given the name Queensland Heelers or Queensland Blue Heelers. In , Robert Kaleski took up breeding Blue Heelers, and he started showing them in Kaleski drew up a standard, basing the Cattle Dog on the Dingo, believing that this was the type naturally suited to the Australian outback.

Today's Australian Cattle Dog does look much like the Dingo, except for color. The breed was first known as the Australian Heeler, then later as the Australian Cattle Dog, which is the name now accepted as official throughout Australia and elsewhere. However, some people still call them Blue Heelers or Queensland Heelers.

He became eligible for show in the Working Group as of September The breed was transferred to the Herding Group in January Males stand 18 to 20 inches tall, and females stand 17 to 19 inches tall. Weight ranges from 30 to 50 pounds. The Australian Cattle Dog is an extremely active dog who needs constant mental and physical activity. If he's bored or lonely, he can be destructive. He's apt to chew and tear up items he shouldn't. If you choose to live with an Australian Cattle Dog, be prepared to keep him busy — and tired.

If he's tired, he's less likely to get himself into trouble. The Australian Cattle Dog is protective of what he considers his territory, and he'll defend it. He's also reserved not necessarily unfriendly with strangers. But he's devoted to his owner and family. Once he bonds, he likes to go wherever his owner goes; in fact, punishment to the Australian Cattle Dog is physical separation from those he loves. He's smart, but at times he can be willful and stubborn. Consistent, positive training helps control his independent streak. Temperament is affected by a number of factors, including heredity, training, and socialization.

Puppies with nice temperaments are curious and playful, willing to approach people and be held by them. Choose the middle-of-the-road puppy, not the one who's beating up his littermates or the one who's hiding in the corner.

How to Train Your Australian Cattle Dog to Herd

Always meet at least one of the parents — usually the mother is the one who's available — to ensure that they have nice temperaments that you're comfortable with. Meeting siblings or other relatives of the parents is also helpful for evaluating what a puppy will be like when he grows up. Like every dog, the Australian Cattle Dog needs early socialization — exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they're young.

Socialization helps ensure that your Australian Cattle Dog puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog. Enrolling him in a puppy kindergarten class is a great start. Inviting visitors over regularly, and taking him to busy parks, stores that allow dogs, and on leisurely strolls to meet neighbors will also help him polish his social skills. Australian Cattle Dogs are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they're prone to certain health conditions. Not all Australian Cattle Dogs will get any or all of these diseases, but it's important to be aware of them if you're considering this breed.

If you're buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you health clearances for both your puppy's parents. Health clearances prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition. In Australian Cattle Dogs, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals OFA for hip dysplasia with a score of fair or better , elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand's disease; from Auburn University for thrombopathia; and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation CERF certifying that eyes are normal. You can confirm health clearances by checking the OFA web site offa.

The hardworking Australian Cattle dog is best suited to an environment where he gets plenty of physical and mental stimulation.

He's not well suited to living in an apartment or being left alone for long periods of time. He's destructive when bored, and he tends to chew — a lot. He needs a home with a securely fenced yard, or a country farm or ranch. If you are considering an Australian Cattle Dog, make sure you can provide him a proper outlet for his natural energy and bright mind. Because he was bred to herd and chase , that's exactly what he will do: herd and chase just about anything, including cars.

If you're not a sheep or cattle farmer, consider canine sports. This dog loves the activity and challenges associated with sports. The Australian Cattle Dog needs early socialization and training. Like any dog, he can become timid if he's not properly socialized when young. Early socialization helps ensure that your Australian Cattle Dog grows up to be a well-rounded dog. His propensity to mouth, chew, nip, and bite must be handled carefully. He must be taught not to put his mouth on people, only on appropriate chew items, such as sturdy toys.

Recommended daily amount: 1. NOTE: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don't all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog.

The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you'll need to shake into your dog's bowl. Keep your Australian Cattle Dog in good shape by measuring his food and feeding him twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time.

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If you're unsure whether he's overweight , give him the eye test and the hands-on test. First, look down at him. Exercising everyday and spending time with their owner makes for a content puppy. You may also like: Great Dane. Your email address will not be published. Animal Behavior College is an animal career training school that offers dog training, veterinary assistant, dog grooming and cat training certifications.

Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. Contact us at Master all of the basic dog commands during those first few months before even thinking about letting the dog near your livestock.

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Being mentally prepared to train your Australian Cattle Dog really is half the battle. Some things that will help along the way are:. This means that not only are you going to reward good behavior, you're going to have to dish out negative consequences for disobedience. Any discipline should be controlled and must never harm the dog. However, when your pup will be dealing with creatures that can top a ton, obedience is a matter of life and death!

Below are some of the highest revered methods to take your pooch from basic puppy to professional work dog. As you're going through the steps, if your dog isn't quite getting the point, you may have to postpone training for a few weeks so their maturity level can catch up to the task at hand. He has been an amazing dog.. He is amazing!!!! But he doesnt have a job.. Hello Chelynee, A great place to start with Wylie is to simply have training session every day that last as long as a typical walk would, minutes each, and teach him obedience skills such as: "Sit", "Down", "Stay", "Come", ect As well as tricks such as: "Shake", fetching certain objects like your shoes, holding a treat on his nose, rolling over, playing dead, speaking, and so forth.

There are limitless things that you can teach him.


The goal is to continually build on what he has already learned, improve his mastery of the commands that he already knows, and continually teaching him new things that will challenge his brain. Since Australian Shepherds are an intelligent herding breed they need mental as well as physical stimulation daily. By teaching him tricks and incorporating training into other forms of exercise such as Canine Freestyle dancing, "Fetch" that is structured, and walks where you take training breaks to work on his obedience around distractions, you can also stimulate him mentally.

Other fun activities to do with him that will stimulate him are: Agility, including homemade obstacle courses, Obedience competitions, and giving him household chores, like bringing you your shoes, water bottle, or something that you point to, and teaching him to clean up his toys by putting them into a basket, or even turn off the lights for you. Whatever you choose, choose something that you will both enjoy and make sure that it continues to involve learning for him. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden. Dog Walking.

Dog Sitting. Dog Boarding.