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Australian Cattle Dog behavior issues

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Australian Cattle Dog Behavior Issues

When people complain about Australian Cattle Dog behavior issues, they are referring to the natural characteristics of the breed.

You can prevent majority of the behavioral problems in the Australian Cattle Dog by simply keeping the dog busy.

Australian Cattle Dogs are a highly clever, active, and strong breed. They flourish when assigned a task and made a part of all family activities.

Australian immigrants developed the breed to manage large herds of cattle on sprawling ranches, and they are still used as herding dogs today.

Not a pet for everyone

Beware, first-time pet owners and apartment dwellers: the Australian Cattle Dog requires a great deal of attention.

Australian Cattle Dogs require mental and physical activities to stay happy, healthy and avoid boredom-induced, harmful behavior.

The Australian Cattle Dog may be the breed for you if you can provide a large yard and handle the high energy of the breed. 

Below are five characteristics of the Australian Cattle Dog that will help to explain their behavior: 

The Australian Cattle Dog was developed for the following purposes:

  • To chase livestock 
  • Control livestock  
  • Nip at the heels of cattle to keep them with the rest of the herd
  • To be cautious of threats 
  • To be protective 

We must consider the Australian Cattle Dog’s history to understand its behavior. They were developed in Australia’s tough cattle country. They were bred to assist drovers in moving and protecting herds, some of which were highly uncooperative.

From the perspective of the early breeder, it was customary to breed the best to the best. However, how do you determine who is the best? That is simple.

They were the ones who could get the runaway to turn around and return to the herd, and they were the ones who could get the job done. When danger arrived, they were the ones that stayed firm at all costs.

Behavior issues of the Australian Cattle Dog 

1. Turns destructive when bored

All dogs require mental stimulation and enrichment and this is more the case with high energy and intelligent breeds, such as the Australian Cattle Dog.

The Australian Cattle Dog is an energetic and intelligent dog. If you fail to keep them active and stimulated, boredom and frustration will ensue.

Boredom is a significant factor in the Australian Cattle Dog’s behavior problems. This can appear as obnoxious barking, destructive chewing, digging, fleeing for adventure, or even hostile behavior.

An Australian Cattle Dog demands daily exercise because of its strong energy and working background. 

An Australian Cattle Dog requires mental stimulation and enrichment along with daily physical activity. It is exceedingly tough to exhaust the Australian Cattle Dog through physical exercise. Mental activity can be just as exhausting for a dog.

2. Tendency to nip 

Nipping is prevalent in many breeds, and dealing with the behavior can be highly exhausting.

The breed’s history shows that the blue heeler was initially bred as a herding breed. It would spend its entire life herding animals across the most inhospitable terrain.

To correctly herd, the dog had to nip the cattle’s feet, which is why the Australian Cattle Dog tends to have a high nipping tendency. However, it is possible to train them out of this behavior.

The Australian Cattle Dog’s natural nature is to nip animals, children, pets, and automobiles. The dog has a high tendency for biting, even during play. This nature must be channeled correctly right from puppyhood through socialization training; otherwise, it can develop into harmful behavior.

3. They herd children 

Because Australian Cattle Dog’s are herding dogs and often believe children to be part of their “flock,” you’ll need to teach your Blue Heeler that chasing and nipping at children to herd them is not acceptable. Once they have absorbed this lesson, Blue Heelers make excellent partners for families with children.

Keeping herding behavior under control 

While herding serves a functional purpose for working dogs tasked with moving cattle, the same drive can kick in inside the home. Dogs will show their herding instincts in any way possible, including with other pets, children, and even with you. Because these innate tendencies are triggered by movement, herding is usually not conscious misbehavior on the part of your dog.

Herding is triggered by activity

Australian Cattle Dogs are not confused as to whether children are sheep or not. And it’s pretty unlikely that your pant legs resemble cow hooves. When they notice activity, the Australian Cattle Dogs perform what comes naturally. Of course, you cannot resolve the issue by never moving in the vicinity of your dog. However, keep an eye on how others are reacting to the problem. For instance, if your children flee from the dog when the dog nips their feet, this will serve to reinforce the habit.

Avoid allowing your dog to engage in inappropriate herding behavior as much as possible when teaching fundamental obedience. When moving things are close, teaching training behaviors such as “Watch Me” and “Leave It” will assist you in redirecting your dog’s focus.

Self control training

Additionally, self-control training is beneficial. For instance, fetch, and tug-of-war are both excellent dog games to play. However, before you toss the ball or offer the tug toy, request that your dog do a calm behavior such as lying down or sitting. This rewards proper behavior and encourages others to do the same. Additionally, it teaches your dog to maintain its composure when confronted with situations that arouse the hunting impulse.

Physical and mental exercise

Another critical component is to exercise your dog’s mind and body. Herding breeds were bred to work non-stop throughout the day. They are quite intelligent and will entertain themselves if you do not provide them with activities. Ascertain that your dog receives enough amount of physical activity. Finally, consider brain-stimulating games such as hide and seek or other puzzle-solving exercises for your dog.

4. Barking

Australian Cattle Dogs are frequently overzealous in their alarm, barking at the slightest sight or sound. This breed should never be left unattended outside in a yard. To compound problems, certain Australian Cattle Dogs have strong, high-pitched barks that might cause your teeth to chatter.

5. Anxious around strangers 

Australian Cattle Dogs are usually shy towards strangers; however, their reserved nature can turn into suspicion if they are not properly socialized. Young Australian Cattle Dogs must be pleasantly exposed to friendly individuals to learn to detect “good guy” behavior. They will then be able to distinguish when someone truly behaves oddly. Without proper socialization, they may develop an unfavorable attitude towards everyone, making living with them extremely tough.

6. Aggression towards other animals

ُThe Australian Cattle Dog has a strong tendency to pursue and seize fleeing cats and other animals. The breed has a high level of prey drive. Squirrels, cats, and other small creatures captivate the Australian Cattle Dog. 

If the Australian Cattle Dog is raised alongside other pets, like cats, from puppyhood, they can be expected to coexist peacefully with them. He is prone to view those not his household members as a fair game.

7. Temperamentally strong

Australian Cattle Dogs are adaptable and intelligent working dogs. They do, however, have a mind of their own. They can be manipulative, and many are obstinate and dominating (they want to be the boss) and will require you to demonstrate that you can get them to do things.

8. Prone to separation anxiety

While Australian Cattle Dogs are renowned for their attachment to their owners, this close connection makes them prone to separation anxiety. Australian Cattle Dogs should never be left alone or in a restricted space for an extended amount of time. 

If you have a full time day job consider having a dog sitter, friend, or family member visit the dog while you are at work. Consider returning home for your lunch break as well.


The Australian Cattle Dog is a hard working dog with a lot of energy. Don’t expect a couch potato; the Australian Cattle Dog prefers to stay active and busy most of the time. You should channel the Australian Cattle Dog’s energy, or your pet will become bored and resort to self-entertainment, usually by doing something you consider bad, like digging in the trash or uprooting your flower garden.

However, if you decide to go for an Australian Cattle Dog, you will be bringing home a pet who is devoted to their family and protective of them. The dog frequently develops a strong attachment to one person while forming weaker ties with others. The Australian Cattle Dog is often referred to as a “Velcro” dog due to his unwavering attachment; the breed thrives on constant physical interaction with its chosen person.

Check out Australian Cattle Dog: Discover what’s good and bad to learn more about the Australian Cattle Dog.