Do Australian Cattle Dogs Need a Job?
The Australian Cattle Dog, or ACD/Blue Heeler, was bred for a singular purpose: herding. This breed was born when the herding dogs of the UK were bred with the Dingos of the Australian Outback – all to create the perfect herder for Australia’s unique conditions.
The Australian Cattle Dog is a working breed. While they can be affectionate, loving, loyal, and by your side 24/7, they also have a sort of ‘manic’ energy about them. They are always excited, bounding from task to task with unparalleled energy.
This is great for an active person with all the time in the world to spend with their dog. However, things get a little more challenging for the ACD when their human works, spend time away from home, or is busy.
Therefore, jobs are a great idea for the Australian Cattle Dog. Their instincts, brought to the breed through generations of careful breeding, are single-minded.
When they have a purpose or a task, they won’t be deterred. As the Australian Cattle Dog Club of America states, ACDs were “bred to be kicked by a cow and not be deterred from their intended task”.
Even a well-trained ACD will be stubborn and driven. Your job as an owner is to give them that purpose and avoid giving them room to interpret their own.
A job doesn’t have to be a large, trained task. Some ‘inside’ ACDs will appreciate domestic tasks and take these to be their ‘jobs’. While all dogs can benefit from training, giving your ACD a job doesn’t mean training is required – it can be nearly anything!
Do Blue Heelers need a lot of mental stimulation
The Australian Cattle Dog, also known as the Blue or Red Heeler, is a high-energy herding breed that is highly intelligent. They are ranked 10th for working and obedience intelligence. This top 10 ranking means their minds need to be kept active and stimulated. To learn just how smart a Blue Heeler is see here.
The activities that dogs tend to enjoy the most and provide the best enrichment are the ones that cater to their natural instinctive behaviors. For an Australian Cattle Dog, this is their instinctive herding drive. They also enjoy problem-solving tasks.
Being highly active also means they require plenty of daily exercise to burn off pent-up energy and prevent boredom. Failure to provide for their exercise needs, both physical and mental, can result in behavior problems developing. This can include destructive behavior, nuisance barking, or digging. It may also result in a dog that is hyper all the time. For tips to calm a hyper Blue Heeler see here.
For a full guide and suggestions for the Blue Heeler exercise see here.
Lack of sufficient mental stimulation can also result in a Blue Heeler that follows you everywhere. This is known as velcro dog syndrome. For more on dealing with a velcro Blue Heeler see here.
If your Blue Heeler is left home alone it is crucial to provide lots of ways to entertain and provide enrichment for them. Failure to do so may mean you come home to an unpleasant sight. For more on leaving a Blue Heeler home alone see here.