The Australian Cattle Dog, or ACD, is a unique and exciting breed of dog. While they were originally bred to herd livestock, they make a great companion.
Cattle Dogs are known for their intelligence, agility, and spirit. A less desirable quality is that they can sometimes exhibit aggressive behavior. One of the traits that early breeders bred for was protectiveness. Being protective of the flock is a great characteristic of a herding dog. Many Australian Cattle Dogs generalize this protectiveness into guarding all of their owner’s possessions. This can be good, as well. The problem arises when this natural desire to protect is found in an animal that hasn’t been socialized.
Tips To Take Care Your Australian Cattle Dog
Socialization is the most important factor in preventing and sometimes stopping, aggression. Aggression is generally a side effect of fear. Fear is nearly always caused by a lack of experience. Think of it as fear of the unknown.
One of the best ways to socialize a puppy is by exposing it to new experiences. One of the best ways to do that is doggy daycare. Daycare exposes the puppy to multiple new experiences each time that its there. As the puppy learns that it has nothing to fear from new experiences, its confidence grows. Confident animals don’t need to be aggressive.
What if you have a mature Australian Cattle Dog that’s aggressive? This can be a little tougher to deal with. In older pets, aggression is generally fear-related too. What makes it tougher to deal with in older dogs is that they’re bigger and stronger than puppies.
Socialization is still the solution for older animals. Taking them to a busy daycare facility isn’t always a practical idea though. For older ACDs begin with a daily walk. The walk can be a time when dominant/sub-dominant roles can be clearly defined between master and pet. Remember that firmness, not overt dominance is the key here.
When your ACD is comfortable walking on a leash, begin to structure the walk to be in areas with light to moderate foot traffic. The idea is for your Heeler to realize that encountering another person or canine while on a walk is no reason to be afraid.
When your ACD can handle light interaction with passers-by, begin going to more congested areas. The idea is to gradually develop your Australian Cattle Dogs’ confidence to the point where it doesn’t feel easily threatened.
One thing to avoid is those collars that are designed to dig into the dog’s neck when the leash is pulled on. This causes a fight or flight reaction. If you accept the idea that fear causes aggression, creating something else to be feared doesn’t make sense.
Another cause of aggression can be found in Heelers that haven’t been neutered. Neutering your pet can lessen aggression and other unsavory behaviors like urine marking. It can also reduce the chance of other health problems as well as the number of unwanted animals that are killed each year.
For many enthusiasts, the Australian Cattle Dog is the ultimate in an intelligent, athletic, and protective pet. Learning to stop aggressive behavior will improve the lives of both you and your pet.