Cattle dogs are some of the most energetic dogs we have ever heard of. So, when you get an Australian Cattle puppy dog, you might have the impression that all that energy will fade as soon as he reaches adulthood, but will he?
After about a year, your dog is now grown. You have trained him to socialize with other pets, you give him the right diet, and everything else in between.
Just when you think he is calm, you arrive home, only to find out that the corner of your couch has been shredded away. What’s happening? How is my dog not calm yet? Well, you dog may be grown, but that doesn’t mean the hyperactive behavior will stop right away.
So, at what age do cattle dogs calm down?
On average, cattle dogs take as far as 4 to about 6 years before you can see signs of calmness. Still, most dogs mature to full-size when they reach 12 to about 18 months.
However, some breeds may even take about 2 years. Generally, when they reach adulthood, they start to calm down but this doesn’t happen for other breeds. In many cases, they will eventually calm down sooner or later.
How to Keep a Cattle Dog Calm
Compared to other breeds, Cattle dogs are the most energetic breeds you can find. In fact, they are usually so overexcited that they might overwhelm you. And if I may add, keeping a cattle dog calm can be such a challenge. However, spending a lot of time with your dog is way of calming him down.
Here are the steps that you can follow
Step 1: Take your dog for long walks
Taking long walks is one of the most effective way of calming your dog down. Originally, cattle dogs were bred to work all day and have plenty of energy to spare.
So taking your dog on walks will certainly burn that extra energy. The general rule on cattle dogs is that they become calmer when they are exercised.
Since your dog is full of energy, he might easily run off. So, make sure to keep him leashed as you walk because this will prevent that behavior. Also, keeping your dog on the leach will keep him from getting hurt.
Step 2: Take your dog to the park
Cattle dogs traditionally love to run. As such, they require plenty of space. So they are not the ideal dogs if you are living in a small space, such as an apartment.
Consider taking your dog to the park to burn away some of that energy. Besides this, taking your dog to the park gives him a chance to socialize with other dogs.
Step 3: Change your dog’s diet
Here, it is recommended that you should switch your dog to a food that contains less fat as well as protein content. Generally, the more calories you feed your dog means the more energy your dog will have.
So giving your dog food that is low in calories will tackle this hyperactive nature. Consider giving him baby carrots or fresh green beans as an alternative to dog treats that are highly concentrated in calories.
Step 4: Keep your dog inside most of the time
For the most part, Cattle dogs tend to spend his day in the window, and may bark at people as well as other animals passing by due to excitement.
As a result, the dog may push the curtains aside. If this happens, consider rearranging your furniture in order to block access to that particular window. In time, this will reduce his excitement.
Step 5: Buy your dog some toys
Because they are such intelligent breeds, Cattle dogs tend to get bored very quickly. As such, providing him with different toys will hold his interest, and keep him calm.
As a plus, give the dog a puzzle toy that has been stuffed with his favorite treats. This can keep your dog busy for a long time, which means he will be burning a lot of energy in the process.
Step 6: Enroll your dog in a herding class
This may seem counterintuitive, mainly because it is encouraging the herding behavior, but it certainly works.
As we all know, herding is instinctual for cattle dogs. Enrolling in a herding will provide the right stimulation for your dog, while burning away some of that energy. Also, it will be a perfect bonding time for you two.
How to train your Cattle dog to behave
The Australian Cattle Dog (commonly known as the Blue or Red Heeler) was originally bred to drive cattle over long distances.
As such, they have grown to become the most energetic above all dog breeds, even above the Labrador breeds.
Naturally, they always need a job to do, and if they lack animals to herd, these herd people and other pets.
In fact, their efforts to herd may go as far as biting at heels and growling in order to their subjects- Yikes! Training is very important if you want to keep your Australian Cattle Dog under control. This will make sure that they don’t herd other pets or humans.
These well-developed dogs must be properly trained to give up from such behavior. Instead, find other outlets for their energy.
So, how can you keep your dog from herding you?
Here is a look at the ways of stopping your dog from biting or growling at you
Because Australian Cattle Dogs are so protective of and loyal to their owners, they may often wary of strangers and even other dogs.
As such, this might lead to an excessive barking or attacking behavior. This is where socialization comes in. If your dog is exposed to people at a very early age, he will likely learn that strangers are acceptable.
Also, your Australian Cattle Dog should be socialized to other dogs (also at a young age) in order to prevent their high prey-drive or herding behavior from kicking in.
If you don’t raise your dog with other pets, then they will not be suitable in a home whether you have other pets. It’s as simple as that.
To tackle this, subject your dog to early experiences with strangers, which will help deter your Cattle Dog from growling and nipping at strangers later in life. This process should also involve treats and praise.
Also, make sure that children are prohibited from engaging the young Australian Cattle Dog in any type of chasing or nipping game, as this goes against the training. As time goes, your dog may be used to nipping for play, which is bad.
As we mentioned before, provide your Australian Cattle Dog with a variety of safe toys to chew on in order to keep your dog busy. These dogs do not like to be left idle. Instead, they tend to use their mouths to inspect the world around them.
If the puppies are not taught from the first that chewing on or mouthing people is not acceptable, they will chew and mouth on people. So, providing your dog with toys will work.
Once you purchase the toy, you should teach your Australian Cattle Dog to play with that toys, and allow the dog to herd the toys as well.
Here, you can even consider buying large plastic or rubber balls that the dog can push around as herding.
4 Obedience Training
These herding dogs are highly intelligent, which would explain why they are so easy to train. In fact, they are said to learn obedience commands quickly, compared to other breeds.
As such, make sure to use verbal and hand commands in order to control your dog. So, teach your dog simply commands such as “Sit,” “Stay,” and “Leave it.” The toys can also come in handy when teaching your dog the first commands.
If you dog performs accordingly, you should reward and praise him. Any unwanted behaviors such as growling or attempts to nip you should be ignored.
When you are training your dog, do not, in fact, never use negative training methods. Avoid things such as yelling at or hitting your Cattle Dog.
Such methods of training can lead to an aggressive behavior, which is the opposite of what you are going for.
Hence, make sure that you keep yourself calm during the training as this will promote a similar attitude in your dog. If you don’t seems to be distracted or not interested in the training, use treats as a positive reinforcement. This will keep dog interested.
In summary, Australian cattle dogs calm down when they reach maturity. The average age at which these dogs calm down is when they reach at least 4 to 6 years of age.
However, some dogs can be calmed down sooner if you follow the right steps of keeping them exercised, discouraging them from the aggressive behavior and of course giving them something to do in order to keep away the boredom.