Australian Cattle Dog: Training Tips and Breed Information

The Australian Cattle Dog is a busy, strong-minded herding dog, who needs daily physical and mental exercise. As his name implies, this dog breed was developed in Australia to move cattle long distances and he maintains that rugged work ethic to this day.

How to train an Australian Cattle Dog

Begin training in puppyhood and continue through the life of your dog. Even the Australian Cattle Dogs who live as pets maintain a strong herding drive. His desire to chase animals and moving objects is strong. To help cattle dogs succeed, focus training on:

  • manners training
  • supervision
  • careful management (keep away from other pets and small children, especially unsupervised by using dog gates or a dog room)

Early and appropriate socialization is a must. Socialization is a key developmental period in a puppy’s life from 5 to 16 weeks. Positive and negative experiences that Australian Cattle Dog puppies have during this time can have an influence on their temperament and behavior for the rest of their lives.

During this period, introduce your Australian Cattle Dog to friendly people, dogs and other animals. This dog breed has a reputation for being very mouthy and nippy especially if someone rushes past them on foot, on a bicycle or skateboard. This behavior comes naturally, so include in your early socialization careful training and exposure to a wide variety of situations and stimuli to desensitize Cattle Dog puppies from these case/herding triggers.

Keep training consistent and positive throughout their lives. Just because the Australian Cattle Dog can have a reputation as a hard or challenging dog breed to train doesn’t mean that they need any kind of harsh training. Australian Cattle Dogs thrive with clear, consistent positive reinforcement training approaches. These dogs are deeply bonded to their people and do best when they have a strong working relationship with their family. They love to learn and thrive in homes where they are being taught new things.

How big does an Australian Cattle Dog get?

Australian Cattle Dogs are also known as Blue, Red or Queensland Heelers. These muscular and compact medium-sized dogs weigh between 35 to 50 pounds and are 17 to 20 inches tall if you measure at the shoulder.

Are Australian Cattle Dogs good with children and other pets?

These dogs are often not a good match for small animals as they may attempt to chase and herd. Australian Cattle Dogs may also be tempted to herd young children. Early training can teach them how to safely engage with kids. Like all dogs, the Australian Cattle Dogs should always be supervised around babies and children. 

The best jobs for Australian Cattle Dogs

These dogs need daily rigorous mental and physical exercise and enrichment to be happy and healthy. Smart and active, they will not be satisfied hanging out on the couch or being home alone all day. Australian Cattle Dogs have a big personality in a relatively small package. They were bred to work cattle, who are much larger than they are and maintain the strong working drive they were bred for.

Even if you don’t have cattle to herd (which most of us don’t!), find an alternately engaging job, such as running together, practicing new tricks, playing fetch or helping with tasks around the house. An excellent way to engage and spend time together with your Australian Cattle Dog is to compete in dog sports like:

Australian Cattle Dogs excel in active homes where they can use their bodies and mind. Daily enrichment is a must for these dogs who become bored, depressed and difficult to live with if they aren’t provided with enough mental and physical exercise. They will easily become destructive to entertain themselves.

Need help with your Australian Cattle Dog?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with your Australian Cattle Dog, don’t hesitate getting professional support. An experienced dog trainer who uses positive-reinforcement training techniques can find ways to provide appropriate work/enrichment for your dog. A trainer can also work through any behavioral issues. Find other Australian Cattle Dog fans at the Australian Cattle Dog Club of America.

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