Australian Cattle Dogs are working dogs. They are incredibly smart, full of energy, and require constant stimulation to avoid boredom and destruction. But how can you keep up?
The following jobs can help keep your ACD happy.
Your Australian Cattle Dog will take to any task with boundless enthusiasm. If getting a few ducklings isn’t an option, try herding training or competition. Outside of sports, you can try teaching them new tricks, taking them on exciting new walks, or teaching them to keep track of family members.
If your Australian Cattle Dog suffers from boredom or is generally badly behaved, these jobs might be able to help. Below, we’ll look at 20 different jobs for your ACD, as well as why these dogs need jobs and the consequences of not having one.
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!
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Benefits of Giving Your Cattle Dog a Job
Your Australian Cattle Dog has more energy than he knows what to do with. If left unattended, the Cattle Dog will find its purpose.
Likely, this will come in the form of destruction, mischief, and other undesirable behaviors. However, giving them a task or job can give them a sense of fulfillment.
They will live longer, stay happy, and act out less if they have an outlet. Even if this is something like watching over the children, the Australian Cattle Dog benefits greatly from having a task.
While ACDs are extremely independent, they are also fiercely loyal and want to please you. Giving them the tools to perform well can keep your Cattle Dog happy.
Consequences of a Bored Cattle Dog
On the other hand, there are consequences for not entertaining your Australian Cattle Dog. As we mentioned above, ACDs will find a purpose if you don’t give them one. This very rarely comes out in your favor.
A bored Australian Cattle Dog may become destructive. They may get into the trash, tear your furniture apart, or forget that they are housebroken.
Some ACD owners report that their dogs would rip siding or wallpaper off their walls if left alone too long. They also tend to chew on just about anything if left to their own devices.
The method for combatting this is two-fold. First, you should never leave your Australian Cattle Dog alone for long periods. The lack of stimulation will likely leave your dog looking for something to put its mind to.
The second method is to give them a job. As we said earlier, a job isn’t always a trained task, competition, or ‘work’ in the traditional sense.
Their job can be something simple, something they can manage around the house or in the backyard.
The point is to give them something to focus on and look forward to.
20 Unique Jobs for Your Australian Cattle Dog
Try any of the following 20 jobs to keep your Australian Cattle Dog busy. You might even have to combine a few of these activities to keep your pup occupied.
1. Keeping Track of the Family
Australian Cattle Dogs are natural herders, so of course, this type of task comes easy to them. Even if you know where your family members are, sending your ACD around to routinely ‘find’ them can be a great task to keep them busy. This gives them a sense of purpose and makes them feel like they’re helping!
2. Puzzle Toys
Puzzle toys are just one of the many ways you can keep your Australian Cattle Dog busy. Keep in mind that most puzzle toys aren’t going to keep your dog busy for long.
However, a few different puzzle toys each day and keep them occupied while you are doing other things.
Consider choosing a classic Kong, a whiff mat, or even a treat-dispensing slider toy to keep your ACD on its toes.
While Cattle Dogs are curious, they may not benefit from the type of puzzle toy that dispenses their meals one kibble at a time. They will, most likely, choose destruction.
3. Cleaning Up
Are you tired of picking up dog toys? Turns out that you can train your Australian Cattle Dog to do that, too. Teach your dog to clean up their toys by demonstrating the ‘clean up’ command.
ACDs are extremely intelligent, so if you show them what you want, it won’t be long before your floors are clean again.
4. Toy Hide and Seek
Even when you’re stuck indoors, you can turn playtime with your dog’s toys into a task. First, you’ll need to teach your Australian Cattle dog a name for every toy.
This may take a while, especially if they have a lot of toys. Then, hide their toys all over the house. Give them the command to find them and bring them back.
Even a clever Australian Cattle Dog will kill 15-30 minutes searching.
Read this related article: 10 Best Companions for your Blue Heeler
5. Quiet Time
It’s important to teach your active, independent dog to calm down. Turning quiet time into a game or a job can be a great way to keep your Australian Cattle Dog engaged while teaching them the value of relaxation.
To do this, you can use a treated mat designed for calming your dog.
You can reward them for time spend relaxing and not running around the house, and give them a command to slow down, cuddle, or rest.
6. Chew All the Things!
Cattle Dogs have a chewing habit. They enjoy the act of chewing, and it often keeps them from boredom. In response, you should introduce them to a ton of different chewing toys.
Use antlers, rawhides, Kongs, and other heavy-duty chewing toys with different tastes and textures. Your ACD will enjoy the variety, and these toys will keep them busy for a while.
7. Hide and Seek
Your Australian Cattle Dog will enjoy herding you as well. Try hiding in your home, calling out to your dog, and hiding behind furniture. They’ll love finding you, even after that momentary confusion. It’s a great way to pass an afternoon with your dog.
Backyard Jobs for your Australian Cattle Dog
8. Scent Games
Australian Cattle Dogs aren’t trackers or hunters, so there’s a good chance your dog may not take to this activity. Still, each dog is different, and it’s worth a try.
Scent games can be casual, such as finding a treat under a muffin pan. You can also take it very seriously. The AKC, for example, has Scent Work competitions that test your dog’s sense of smell and ability to track.
9. Extreme Fetch Games
Australian Cattle Dogs enjoy a good game of fetch like most dogs. To keep them occupied, why not take it a step further? Use multiple balls and a basket.
Throw the balls in different directions in your backyard or at the park. Teach your dog to bring them back and deposit them in the basket.
Repeat with frisbees or any other type of fetch toy. Having multiple toys on the field will keep your dog guessing and alert.
Dog Training and Competitions
10. Prey Substitution Training
Prey training isn’t for every dog or every owner. However, if you are interested and your dog seems to excel at chasing down critters, prey substitution training can be a great option.
If your ACD has a strong prey drive, this type of training can help them channel that into a purpose-filled life.
11. Herding Competitions
Of course, if your Cattle Dog is a great herder, it might be worth entering them in herding competitions. After herding training, competitions can be a great way to give them purpose, indulge their instincts, and maybe even earn a medal or two!
12. Obedience Training for your Australian Cattle Dog
There are a few dog breeds as intelligent and eager as the Australian Cattle Dog. Obedience Training and ongoing Obedience exercises can keep them occupied and make them feel as though they are constantly pleasing you. The result is a happy pup that won’t turn to destruction.
13. Agility Work
Due to the Australian Cattle Dog’s speed, agility work is one of the best fields for them. Since they must be fast to outrun cattle and other animals, they excel at finding their way through an obstacle course.
Their short bursts of speed and attention to detail make the ACD the perfect competitor in the agility world.
Tricks and Other Performances
14. New Tricks
No matter how old your dog is, it’s never too late to learn new tricks. There are hundreds of tricks you can teach your dog.
A smart breed like the ACD can master all of them with surprising accuracy, so be ready to have an entire catalog of commands on hand.
Flyball is a performance sport that might stimulate your Australian Cattle Dog in all the right ways. In this sport, your dog performs jumps and goes over and under obstacles in time to catch a ball.
Since Cattle Dogs are attentive to the animals they herd, they can keep a keen focus on the ball and move through the obstacles quickly.
Plus, any activity that indulges these instincts makes your dog happy – so why not try it?
Read Next: Can A Blue Heeler Live in an Apartment?
16. Neighborhood Watch
Australian Cattle Dogs are not guarding dogs by nature, but they won’t turn down a chance to patrol. When taking them for walks around the neighborhood, tell them it’s their job to keep an eye out.
Let them stop and sniff, investigate critters and other objects within reason. This works on a playful level with specific dogs. If your dog begins to get aggressive, it’s time to change gears.
17. Short Races
During herding exercises, Australian Cattle Dogs are great at performing short bursts of extreme speed. They must outrun the cattle and get around them, after all.
To nurture this instinct, you can set up short races. Have your dog race you, your kids, or even your other dogs. They love the competitive spirit – just watch that they don’t attempt to herd their opponent!
When it comes to the outdoors, your Australian Cattle Dog can be your stalwart companion. These dogs love to be out doing just about anything with you, and backpacking can be a great way to burn off that extra energy.
Have them carry their little packs with their food, treats, and essentials. Even long backpacking journeys are great bonding experiences for your pup.
Even taking your Australian Cattle Dog with you on day hikes can be extremely beneficial for them. It helps them burn energy and meets their exercise needs.
But having a companion on the trail is a great experience, and your dog will enjoy hanging out with you as you exercise together.
20. Find New Routes
Getting bored of the same old walks?
Your Cattle Dog will enjoy changing it up. The new smells, sights, and experiences will keep them mentally and physically stimulated.
Take a different path through your neighborhood or take them to a different park for a long walk. Your dog will make it his job to stop and smell every bit of the new route.
Your Australian Cattle Dog needs near-constant mental and physical stimulation. With it, he can become bored, destructive, and depressed.
Try a variety of jobs to keep him busy. Combining a handful of these ideas can be a great way to keep your Cattle Dog busy, and a busy Cattle Dog is a happy one.
How Do I Keep My Australian Cattle Dog Busy?
There are a variety of ways to keep your Australian Cattle Dog busy. Try puzzle toys, obedience training, and even herding training. Cattle Dogs excel at herding activities. Hiking and longer walks can help as well, but Cattle Dogs need mental stimulation as well.
How Do You Stimulate an Australian Cattle Dog?
To stimulate your Australian Cattle Dog, try discovering new tricks together. Teach them new commands and help them learn what you want from them. Interactive toys are a great hands-off way to stimulate your Cattle Dog. Giving them a ‘job’ helps, too.
How Do You Calm Down a Cattle Dog?
Calming down your Cattle Dog isn’t easy. Try herding classes, longer walks, and time at the dog park. Provide plenty of toys. You can even give them a task to complete or a complicated game to play to keep their minds working.
Can Australian Cattle Dogs Be Left Alone?
Australian Cattle Dogs shouldn’t be left alone for long periods. They are prone to separation anxiety and become destructive or depressed when left alone for too long.
Some owners prefer to leave for no longer than two hours at a time unless they can take their Cattle Dogs with them.
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