Are you considering adding a Blue Heeler to your family?
These highly intelligent dogs can be a great addition to any family, but not everyone is suited to have one. If you live in an apartment or a house without a yard, you might be wondering whether these dogs can actually be inside dogs.
You need to know their exercise needs and any potential behavioral issues before deciding to add one of these four-legged friends to your family.
Blue Heelers do not make good indoor dogs unless you have a lot of time to devote to exercising them in both mind and body. Adults need at least one hour of vigorous exercise a day. If you must keep them in an apartment, consider sending them to a doggy daycare during the day.
If you are curious about how to keep your Blue Heeler indoors the right way, this guide will help you figure out the best arrangement for your pup.
How to Keep Blue Heelers Indoors the Right Way
Blue Heelers are bred to be highly active working dogs made for herding. This means that they have lots of energy and can be quite rambunctious if they don’t have an outlet for it.
A Heeler who doesn’t get the exercise they need can often find new outlets for their energy – and you may not be pleased with what they choose!
Many dogs will begin to bark excessively which can be bad news for your neighbors if you live in an apartment. Destructive chewing can be equally frustrating for owners who want to keep their shoes and furniture intact. While Blue Heelers can be kept indoors, you have to approach it the right way if you want to avoid remodeling your home.
If you want to keep your dog indoors the right way, you need to make sure they have plenty of time to exercise. This might mean taking a long jog around your apartment complex, taking a daily trip to the dog park, or several walks a day.
If you have enough space in your home, you can even engage them in activities like fetch or tug. All of these outlets can contribute to a better frame of mind for your Blue Heeler. A tired dog is less likely to search for new ways to entertain themselves.
Another way to get your dog some exercise is to enroll them in a class at the local pet shop. Many of these stores offer classes in agility, a sport that many Blue Heelers really excel in. It puts their brain and their body to work which results in a tired and happy pup!
In addition to physical exercise, your Blue Heeler also needs to put their mind to work. Some owners have to leave their dog indoors all day out of necessity.
They may have to go to the office or spend the day tending to errands and appointments. When this is the case, you should leave your Heeler something to do in your absence.
Most of these dogs will love puzzle toys that are packed with tasty treats. For example, many owners like to take a Kong ball, stuff it full of peanut butter, and put it in the freezer overnight. When you pull it out in the morning, your pup will have hours of fun trying to get the frozen peanut butter out.
Blue Heelers do not relish the alone time that many owners give them during the day. If you do not have time to tend to their exercise needs and must spend hours away from them each day, consider bringing in some professional help.
You might hire a dog walker to give them their exercise and break up the monotony midday. Another alternative is to take your pup to a local doggy daycare where they can run and play all day while you are hard at work.
Read Next: 10 Goofy Blue Heeler Quirks – Dog Behaviors Explained
Blue Heeler Exercise Needs
Unfortunately, many new dog owners find out the hard way that a quick walk around the block is not going to be sufficient for your Blue Heeler.
They are bred to be active dogs and will need quite a commitment when it comes to their exercise. You should aim to give them at least an hour of intense physical and mental exercise each day.
Puppies will actually need less exercise than adults. This is because their bodies are not fully formed yet. Add five minutes for each month that your puppy has aged.
For example, a puppy who is one month old should have two five-minute walks each day. A two-month-old dog needs two ten-minute walks each day. Once they reach adulthood, healthy dogs can often go for two hours without complaint.
Adults who need more exercise may benefit from carrying a pack while walking. You can add light weights such as water bottles to the pack. The extra weight helps to wear them out faster and gives them a specific job to do.
Read Next: 20 Unique Jobs for your Blue Heeler
Blue Heeler Training
Many people find that training their Blue Heeler can be a frustrating process. These dogs are highly intelligent but can be quite stubborn.
The best thing to do to train your dog for the behavior you want to see is to use positive reinforcement. This means that you need to reward them when they are doing good things instead of punishing them for doing the wrong thing.
Blue Heelers are very eager to please their owners. They often bond strongly to one person and will do whatever it takes to make them happy.
As a result, they are motivated to make you happy rather than through fear. This is why positive reinforcement is the way to go when trying to instill new habits in your Heeler.
Redirection is another key tip to help you train your Heeler. If your dog is nipping or chewing on items that don’t belong to them, redirection can help give them an appropriate outlet.
Instead of punishing them, simply give them something more appropriate to chew on. Substitute your shoe for a fun puzzle toy. When their teeth graze your skin, offer them a tug rope to chew on instead.
Another area where many people have difficulty with their Blue Heeler is during bedtime. What kind of sleeping arrangements do these dogs need?
Because they tend to bond closely to one person, they often do better when sleeping near you. Consider moving their crate to the space beside your bed so that they can see you throughout the night.
If you have a puppy, remember that you will need to take them out more often. This often means getting up in the middle of the night.
However, your dog may simply whine a lot in the beginning as they adjust to being kept in a crate at night. Do your best to ignore this behavior unless you truly believe that they need to go outside.
Are Blue Heelers Hard to Potty Train?
Blue Heelers are no harder to potty train than other dogs. They are very intelligent and will get the hint about what they are supposed to do quickly if you are consistent with your training.
When they do go to the bathroom in the appropriate spot, always be sure to have treats ready. You should lavishly praise them for their good behavior and offer up a very tasty treat.
One of the best methods for teaching your dog to go to the bathroom outside is to take them out every twenty minutes. This can be a huge commitment on your part, so make sure to clear enough time out of your schedule to do this. Every time your dog goes outside, be sure to give them a cue such as the word “outside” or “potty time.”
They may not go every time you take them out, and that is okay. Just be sure to be prepared to reward them quickly whenever they do go.
You should also make sure to take them out if you even suspect that they might be ready to go to the bathroom in the house. Other key times to take them out include:
- Before bed
- Immediately upon waking up in the morning
- After naps
- After playtime
- After meals
- After drinking a lot of water
As your puppy gets older, start to extend the amount of time between potty breaks to every thirty minutes or every hour. Eventually, they will be able to let you know when they need to go out with behavior such as going to the door.
Read Next: Why your Blue Heeler Follows you Everywhere
Blue Heelers in Apartments vs. Houses
The truth is that Blue Heelers do not make great apartment dogs unless you are going to be home quite often to exercise them.
They need a lot of activity that they may not be able to get when kept in a small apartment. Having an energetic dog in such a small space can be extremely difficult and can lead to behavioral issues.
A house is a better option for a Blue Heeler, particularly if it comes with a backyard. This gives your dog the freedom to run and play as much as they want with minimal supervision from you.
You can take them outside every couple of hours to play a quick game of fetch. They will have plenty of opportunities to sniff and explore which tires out their minds. A yard is a great thing to have if you have a Blue Heeler.
If you live in an apartment, you simply need to be more diligent about getting your dog the exercise it needs. Take him to the park daily for a long walk or a trip to the dog park.
Remember that keeping him on leash is going to be key as Blue Heelers are known to run off if they spot something that looks fun to herd.
Read Next: Can A Blue Heeler Live in an Apartment?
Can Blue Heelers Be Left Alone in the Home?
Blue Heelers thrive with one-on-one attention from their owners. They bond strongly to one person, often earning them the nickname “Velcro dogs.” A Blue Heeler wants to be with you all the time, and they will follow you from room to room just to be near you. It can be an annoying behavior to some, but it is their way of showing affection.
Given their attachment to you, it is best not to leave your Blue Heeler alone for extended periods of time.
A quick trip to the grocery store or to run an errand is fine if you leave something for your Heeler to do in your absence. For example, you may want to leave them a puzzle toy to keep their brains and teeth occupied.
However, owners who have to spend long hours at the office often struggle with the destructive tendencies of their Blue Heeler.
If you do have a Blue Heeler and need to spend a lot of time away from them, you might want to consider enlisting help. Have a dogsitter come spend time with them in the middle of the day to break up the monotony.
If you know you will be spending a lot of time away, consider signing them up for a doggy daycare where they can interact with others and exercise for a while.
This is a great option if you live in an apartment because it allows them to work out their energy without any additional work on your part. It is often money well spent to keep your house from being destroyed and to keep your Blue Heeler happy.
Read Next: 10 Best Companions for your Blue Heeler
Keeping Your Blue Heeler Happy
While keeping your Blue Heeler indoors may not be the ideal situation, it is certainly possible. You will need to prioritize exercising them and spend lots of time with them during the day. Redirection and positive reinforcement can go a long way toward curbing negative behavior. Consider whether you have the time to devote to a Blue Heeler before you make this your new canine companion.
How long does it take to house train a Blue Heeler?
If you are diligent about taking your dog out and can be consistent with rewards, potty training a Blue Heeler is not difficult. Many can be mostly potty trained by around twenty weeks though they may still have a few accidents here and there. Try taking them out every twenty minutes at first and gradually build up to longer periods. Reward them handsomely with high value rewards when they go to the bathroom in the desired area.
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Getz, PB. “How to Potty Train a Cattle Dog.” WagWalking, Wag!, 19 Feb. 2018, wagwalking.com/training/potty-train-a-cattle-dog.
“Mental Stimulation and Enrichment for Blue Heelers.” Barkercise, 27 Feb. 2021, barkercise.com/mental-stimulation-blue-heeler/.
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