Dogs are considered as one of the most loyal animals and have a long history of depicting it truly. They are descendants of wolves and are the first species of this hierarchy to be domesticated and trained. Blue heeler or cattle dog is one of the herding dogs’ breed found on Australian land. For this origination, it is also called Australian cattle dog (ACD). The other name of them is Queensland heeler, as one of their breed lines is found in Queensland, the second largest state of Australia. It’s been done to differentiate as and they resemble one of Australia’s popular wild dogs, the Dingo. As for the morphology, they are medium-sized of 17 to 20 inches with the weight of almost 15 to 22 kg. They are double-coated with the first white layer and the second sheet of blue or black, which gives off either blue or red color.
WHY ARE THEY CALLED BLUE HEELERS?
The interesting question arises that why this Australian breed is called blue heeler. For the word “blue” there is a very quick explanation. As mentioned above the two coats of fur shows two colors, red or blue. So they can be called red heeler or blue heeler respectively. For the word “heeler”, let’s talk about some history. This breed was used to droving the cattle from one town to another. It is well-known for nipping running children, so the stockmen used them for nipping the unwilling cattle back to track. Because of this practice, this breed is named blue heeler.
Droving is the practice done by Australian dairy farmers to make livestock walk through long distances. Taking care of the cattle and then droving them off are two major tasks. A stockman can’t do both functions so he indulges an agent to manage to take the animals to the animal and collect money. Here comes the role of the trained blue heeler from whom the drover takes place. It does not help the cattle to stay in line but also protects from stealing of money collected from the buyer.
Intelligent working breed:
Australian cattle dog is a very active and energetic breed and picks up things real quick. Their agility makes them very easy to maintain and groom. They become the best friends of their owners and protect them at every point. Muscle strength and attachment are the reasons they are used for droving. They give a hard time only when they are shedding their fur. They need more brushing during this time. Otherwise one can encounter genetic problems like deafness or blindness.
Why Blue Heelers Are Not Calm?
This is the most frequently asked question by this breed’s owner. It is a very natural and obvious question too as nobody would like his pet all violent and aggressive. Like human babies, animals can’t tell the reason for all the noise and fierceness. For blue heelers, it’s not their fault to be not calm. As we have looked upon their history, they were used to bred the livestock over long roads and nipping their heels. It’s in their genes to possess this much energy and have a biting nature.
Reason of being energetic:
Bring all vigorous and lively is part of the heritage of this breed. As they used to cover long distances with the livestock, they are built up with this much stamina.
Reason of biting:
Handling livestock is a very difficult task and the tougher thing is to keep them in line. Blue heelers used to nip the animal’s heels when they got out of their line of way. So this nipping behavior runs in their blood, they do the same for the strangers around their owners.
Age Of Blue Heelers To Acquire Self Control:
A middle-sized blue heeler typically gets to the size of an adult dog in a period of 12 to 18 months. To be mentally matured and sensible requires more time than this. Even though the brain’s ability to sense the surrounding is achieved around the 15th month but still this doesn’t mean that they will learn to calm down. It takes 4-6 years for them to naturally have self-control and it can be made quicker with proper training and exercise. It is a challenging task but not impossible.
Dogs sometimes act like puppies around unknown environments. When they see strange faces or even some things go south than the usual, they react and they react aggressively. To show this they bark or even bite off the people they don’t know. So from a small age, they require much time for training on how to act up around strangers.
Possessiveness for owner:
Faithfulness is the greatest virtue of a dog but sometimes it turns into the wilderness. For the love and protection of the owner, dogs turn into attacking creatures around unknown people. They take time to sense which person is safe for their own and which is not. Gradually they get known to the people frequent visitors and stop acting around.
Hyper Nature Of Blue Heelers:
Blue heelers with their history of walking miles with livestock on Australian lands suggest that they are not like the usual dogs. They are far more energetic and fit like an athlete. Their built-in stamina makes them a little hyper-active when their energy gets caged up. So it’s in the hands of the keeper to control this behavior of their dog at the right time and work on it. Only an enthusiast who is ready to invest time in their dog can get it in the line. This breed of dogs is not suited for lazy people who can’t get out of their bed to take their pet for a walk.
Burning extra energy off:
As discussed that blue heelers are much energetic and stopping them from letting go of this power might not be a good idea. It would turn them all frantic and crazy. Involvement in physical activities allows them to burn the spark and thus calm them down immediately.
Every pet dog must have an outdoor space to play around. It is important especially for this breed to have a place outside the house where it can play freely and use up all the stored up energy. If you think parks or pavements are not safe then at least provide them with the enclosed garden or yard of your house to play.
Ways To Calm Down Your Blue Heeler:
Australian cattle dogs are the most enthusiastic breeds and sometimes their activeness and liveliness become overwhelming. Not only for blue heelers, but it’s also a very essential and chief task for any kind of dog to train and calming them down. It would be helpful and beneficial for both the trainer and the pet to learn things as early as possible. In this way, new norms and habits form and get inculcated in their daily routine.
Gradually indulge your growing Australian dog in exercising and activities. It is important in the growing stage but doesn’t start with a hectic routine till 9 months of age. Start with a 15-minute walk and little jumping and running. It is because their bones are still fragile and not in a growing stage. A long duration of exercise with no gaps might damage the growing tissues and result in abnormal developments.
Walks in parks:
Take your pooch to the dog park where there are fenced and a large space to play around. It will not only provide time and space to play and run around but also a chance to interact with other dogs and socialize with them. Both can have fun together stimulating their mental abilities and physical strengths.
Plenty of toys:
It’s like in blue heelers that they get bored every easily. They always need some sort of new entertainment around to indulge themselves. Make sure that your dog has plenty of toys to play with. Try with the puzzle toys as they not only keep the dog occupied for a long time but also enhance their cognitive skills. It also improves their thinking and memory powers and thus would be helpful for the owner to train them as an obedient ones. Furthermore, toys also help to be an object to chew on allowing their biting instinct on them without harming nearby persons.
Mental stimulation games:
Besides physical activities, the involvement of the cattle dogs in multiple types of games can be effective in calming them down. You should not think about the misconception that only physical work tire up pets but mental activities also use up their energy. Mostly the destructive behaviors in dogs are due to boredom. Games like the shell game, the which hand game distracts and stimulates the dog’s mind and kills their negative attitude.
As this breed of dogs is active by nature, high-calorie food aids in the production of more energy. It might turn into a battle between you and your hyperactive dog. To restrict this type of nature, a proper diet plan is very essential. Cut out all extra calorie food and give carrots and beans instead. Don’t give off free feed. Make a proper timetable for their food and add calories, proteins, and fat in required quantities.
Interaction with the outer world is necessary but if your routine doesn’t allow you to do so then there is nothing to be worried about. Plus this doesn’t imply that you can’t pet your dog in an ideal way. You can still indulge him in household activities like playing games will entertain him out. An interesting activity to engage the dog is the mirror. Watching its reflection will keep him busy for a long time. If you will keep him around four walls then the output would be violent.
As we have got to know before that adult dogs are very possessive towards their owner and show aggressive behavior around strangers. It is because they haven’t learned how to interact with unknown faces in the early stages of life. It is very important to make your dog meet colleagues and relatives. Invite over your friends with their pet dogs and also take it to the dog part so that all of them can interact with each other. It would be a matter of time that your dog will become sociable and the problem of strange actions get solved up.
Blocking outside stimuli:
As passing dogs and people excite the pet, they start barking and get all energized. The high prey drive of blue heelers makes them spend the whole day staring outside and bark at the pedestrians. To calm them down in this situation, cover the windows with curtains to block outside stimuli. If they can put curtains aside then re-arrange the furniture in that way so that their access to windows gets blocked.
Herding is defined as putting all the individual animals into a form of a group and moving them from one place to another altogether. This act can be proved helpful in the process of calming the dog. It is instinctual for the blue heeler to live in the form of a group. In herding classes, they provide time and structured stimulations to strengthen the bond of your dog with you.
Sometimes it’s possible that your adult dog has already adopted the bad habits and has reached an uncontrollable point. You should not become hopeless if your dog is not responding like you want him to be. This is the right time where you should think about hiring a professional behaviorist. He will help you to get away from all the aggressive problems of the dog and with proper training, the same ferocious dog will turn into an obedient pet.
Training Of The Blue Heelers:
Training is not an ignorable task and the vital most job to be done as a keeper. As with the history of bossing around the cattle over long distances, blue heelers are very easy to train because of their sharp minds and brisk nature. If training gets started at an early age, it will help make your dog a healthy, obedient, and loyal family pet. If you have got a puppy then start training it right away.
Blue heelers like to take commands and strive for your attention. Training starts with giving orders like ‘sit’ and ‘wait’ in a repetitive manner. Retelling is very important as it builds up their mind to do a certain task and finally becomes an unforgettable norm for them. Another virtue to discipline them is showing dominance and strictness. If they misbehave then raise your voice or ignore it totally so they can interpret that they have done something bad or wrong.
Rewarding with more food or playtime will get blue heelers to train effectively. With time they will learn to do the same things again and again as they would know that after doing these activities a gift would be waiting for them. Make sure to not treat them when they misbehave or go opposite to your command. This will make them understand to not do that thing again as they won’t be gifted.