Australian Cattle Dogs come from Australia, unlike the Australian Shepard that actually was developed in the United States. They share many similar traits however and it is in the learning to understand the Australian Cattle Dog and its behavior that is the secret to having a wonderful dog to share your home with. This breed is not for the beginner dog owner for they take a really firm hand in training them.
Australian Cattle dogs were developed from the wild dingo in Australia for the purpose of herding cattle. They were bred to herd cattle by rounding them up nipping at the cattle’s feet. As a pup, the first thing you will need to work on is their natural tendency to follow you around nipping at your heels. While this can be a tad annoying, it is what this breed was born to do, their natural behavior and will take great amounts of patience to break them of this. Every time your pup nips your heel, gently grab it around its muzzle to close their mouth and tell them in a firm voice “NO!”
If the problem persists, and you can not seem to break the nipping heal habit, for the Australian Cattle dog is also known for being a very stubborn and willful breed, you may have to take a more drastic approach. Try flipping the dog over so its belly is facing up and straddle the dog, looking face to face with it. Use both hands to firmly grab the skin on both sides of its face and again firmly tell it no. This does not hurt the dog but rather is a process of establishing dominance over it. Do these things consistently and it should break the habit and teach them it is not okay to nip at the heels of humans.
This breed is protective by nature and can become overly aggressive as they can become possessive about anything they view as theirs. This can be the family car, the living room couch, or anyone trying to enter the house or property. It can even be that they become protective while on a leash to protect their owner from anything they may view as a threat. For these reasons, I can not stress enough how important it is to socialize them as a pup. Take the pup with you everywhere you go, allowing people to pet on it whenever possible. Have people coming and going from your house and make sure to handle the pup a lot in a variety of ways to properly socialize them. Once over protective, many wind up in shelters as it is a very hard habit to break. They also tend to be a nervous breed that can get stressed out easily and many do not like change, it will take them time to calm down after a big change such as moving.
Australian Cattle Dogs are a very high energy animal and really need a lot of exercise to wear off some excess energy. They do not fair well on a chain at all as they will get very bored and start to go stir crazy. They are a breed that needs to be constantly worked, they thrive on work to do, and they do become easily bored where misbehavior will tend to show when bored. It is important to exercise them daily and either gives them some obedient training, agility training, teaching tricks or just play time with them daily. It makes for a much more well behaved and happy animal.
For this breed, it is important to establish that you are the alpha from the beginning and to be extremely consistent in training. While they learn quickly, they can be very stubborn and not always willing to cooperate. They are highly intelligent and when combined with being stubborn, this means you need to always deal with them in a firm manner. However if you establish that your alpha, and you are up to the challenge of the Australian Cattle Dog, you will have a wonderful, loyal member of the family that will offer it’s companionship and protection. They are a remarkable breed to work with and own, if all their needs are met. They are also full of character so be prepared for them scrunching up their muzzle to display their teeth in a show of they do not like what you are saying.