Bred to herd animals, the Australian Cattle Dog is famous for its high intelligence and its “go go go personality”. Many people mistake it for Australian Shepherd, but the Blue Heeler is a different dog breed.
They come in two colors, blue and red speckle. The term heeler is a reference to the way these dogs nip at the heels of animals when herding.
Training a herding dog is not an easy task. These puppies have a herding instinct you have to at least reduce, if not eliminate. So, how to do it? How to train an Australian Cattle dog?
If you want a good family pet, the Australian Heeler is a great option. But you have to put a lot of effort into training and socialization. Luckily, this dog is tremendously intelligent and hard-working.
Is It Easy To Train An Australian Cattle Dog?
The first thing we have to mention is that training an Australian Cattle Dog is a challenge that requires a lot of effort. But more importantly, you have to have an active lifestyle. These puppies do not make good pets for families with a sedentary lifestyle.
When it comes to training, they bond strongly with their dog owner. On the other hand, they are wary of strangers.
Because of their high intelligence and problem-solving skills, they are quite easy to train in terms of understanding the task at hand. But their stubbornness and high energy are a bit more challenging task. These dogs will understand the job you want, but if you do not keep them mentally stimulated, they will get bored and resort to destructive behavior.
Their stubbornness needs a firm, yet gentle hand.
Australian Cattle Dog Personality Traits
Before we get to how to train an Australian Cattle Dog, we have to talk about the personality traits of the herding breed. Loyal, yet independent, this affectionate dog is a good match for an owner who shares its intelligence and high energy.
This puppy is loyal, pleasant, and affectionate with you, but not so with strangers. They are not quick to accept strangers.
Cattle dogs have incredible endurance. They are great companions for athletic people and sporting people. They need to be socialized early because of their herding instinct and nature.
By nature, they are efficient and dutiful. But here is the challenge, when they think someone is out of line, they will nip at the heels. Here are some common personality traits:
- Extremely alert and intelligent
- Watchful and courageous
- Highly trustworthy and reliable
- They have a tenacious sense of duty
- Loyal to their owner
- Wary of strangers
- Can be a bit stubborn
Challenges When Training An Australian Cattle Dog
Because of their high intelligence and ability to solve problems, Australian Cattle Dogs are highly trainable. But there are still some challenges. We will break them down into different paragraphs.
They Get Bored Easily
Because of their high intelligence, these dogs can get bored easily. And that applies even more to toys. The best thing to combat that is to rotate toys. Heeler dogs need to be kept busy with mental stimulation and exercises.
They Do Not Like Treats
Most dogs are food-driven and treat-driven. But that is not as true for a Blue Heeler. How to train an Australian Cattle dog when he hates treats? Well, you can try hand feeding and do tricks like following a treat.
In most cases, dog food will work better than treats. And this is even better for your puppy. Since they can get their dinner or lunch during training.
The big challenge with Australian Heeler is its heeling nature and instinct. The best way to combat that is to ignore them when they bite. It is hard, most people will snap. But you just need to say “no” instantly. And do it every time this puppy tries to nip.
High Prey Drive
At its core, herding is an alteration of the instinct to chase and kill. That is why herding dogs have a high prey drive.
These puppies want to chase and catch smaller animals. Sometimes, they might be driven to chase larger animals.
One of the biggest challenges with cattle dogs is their high energy. If they do not burn their energy, they will be overly excited. So, be ready to deal with a highly energetic and active dog.
You need to teach them to direct their energy to constructive things.
How To Train An Australian Cattle Dog?
So, how to properly train a cattle dog? One might tell you it is similar to training any other dog. But there are some different challenges and tricks you can use.
Yes, the rewards-based system like positive reinforcement works the best. You also need to be consistent with commands and provide plenty of exercises.
Remember, training isn’t optional with an Australian Cattle Dog. They can be reserved with new people and overbearing with other animals. Here are some ways to teach your new puppy to be calm and obedient around you.
When it comes to basic obedience training, you need to start early on. When your Blue Heeler puppy is young, it is not as stubborn. That is the time when you have to teach proper manners.
Keep Training Varied
These dogs can keep going all day long. But they will get bored easily. That is why you should keep training sessions fun, varied, and challenging.
Keep a good variety of toys at hand. And rotate and change them constantly. This will keep your puppy challenged and interested.
Use Their Energy To Your Advantage
Because these puppies are highly energetic and athletic, they can perform wonderfully in dog sports like agility.
This will help you burn their energy, but also teach new things.
Put Your Dog To Work
Herding dogs need to work. They are part of the working dog breeds, so make sure to give them a task. If you give your pet a task to do, it will be happy. Use their neediness to work to your advantage.
Teach Your Dog To Respect You
Respect training is an Australian Cattle Dog training method that will teach your puppy to stop what he is doing when you tell him no. You can achieve that by interacting in specific ways that encourage respect. Basically, make yourself the leader and alpha personality.
Once your dog is done with basic obedience training, you can move to more complex methods like scent work.
These intelligent dogs excel in brain-stimulating scent games. It is the best mental stimulation you can provide.
Exercise And Training Needs
How much training and exercise does your heeler puppy needs? Well, remember, first and foremost, your pet is a working dog. That means ample exercise and entertainment.
Otherwise, they can resort to bad behavior habits. Generally speaking, they need between 60 and 90 minutes of physical exercise and mental stimulation per day.
Tips For Success
Let’s finish off with some tricks and tips to ensure you are successful in training your cattle puppy.
- Play fun activities like Frisbee and fetch
- Jogging and running will help you burn their energy
- Scent games will encourage your puppy to work