Australian Cattle Dogs are some of the most popular dog breeds that have gained recognition due to their high intelligence, versatility, and overall energetic character. However, there is a growing concern for most working pet mums and dads about leaving the Australian cattle dog home alone while at work.
Australian cattle dogs are adored by many pet owners for both of their great working spirit and make good family pets too. The issue with these dogs is that they are so active that they need a lot of exercise, which means you have to be an active type of a person if you want to keep up.
Also, they tend to be very protective of their owners, and will require training as well as early socialization if you want them to get along with strangers as well as other pets around the home.
But, can Australian cattle dogs be left alone?
Australian cattle dogs are more susceptible to separation anxiety pretty much like many other breeds that are cuddly and enjoy their owner’s company. Australian Cattle Dogs is known to be very close to its owners and this generally means that these dogs do not cope well when left alone. As such, Cattle dogs should never be left home alone for long hours.
So, if you have a 9 to 5 job, you may want to leave the dog with a dog sitter, friend, or a family member. Besides loneliness, Australian Cattle dogs also hate to the left in confined spaces. “
Caring for your Australian Cattle Dog
An active dog such as this one needs a very wide space to play. So, before you buy or adopt an Australian cattle dog, you should ensure that your house is surrounded by a fence.
That said, these dogs do not do well in small homes or apartments. In such environments, they may misbehave.
Keeping your dog busy
Your Australian cattle dog likes to be busy. After all, it’s a herding dog- you can’t really blame him. Because of their status, they need both physical and mental exercises.
On average, an Australian cattle dog should weigh between 35 and 45 pounds. If they are too heavy, you should consider increasing their daily activity.
Ideally, you have to play with your dog to help drain away some of that excess energy, but if you don’t feel like playing or if you are busy with something else, that doesn’t mean your dog will follow suit. These bad boys can play all day. The best way you can do this is to buy some toys for your dog.
Toys not only keep your dog busy, but they also keep your dog out of trouble- so it’s a win-win for you here.
What toys can you buy?
Some of the best toys are chew toys, food puzzles, stuffed animals, balls, Frisbees, rope toys, and rawhide bones.
While cattle dog can live a long happy life, they are (like many other dogs) inclined to some health illnesses. These have been listed below:
1) Hip dysplasia
Hip Dysplasia is one of the most common diseases that affects a wide range of dog breeds. This is a deformity that causes arthritis to develop around the dog’s hip joints.
2) Patellar luxation
Patellar Luxation is defined as a dislocation of the kneecap. This is usually caused when the dog hits the ground after a strong jump. However, it is curable through a surgery procedure.
3) Portosystemic shunts
Unlike most diseases, Portosystemic shunts is actually quite rare these days. This disease is caused by a deformity of the blood vessels in the liver.
A dog that has Portosystemic shunts will likely experience growth problems, seizures, or strange behaviors such as circling or head pressing.
With the introduction of a proper diet, your dog can naturally grow out of this disease. If the sickness is intense, your dog may need medication or a surgery.
4) Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
This illness is actually a genetic one. Thanks to reputable breeders, many dogs of nowadays do not experience this disease. Progressive retinal atrophy mainly causes the dog to gradually lose their sight.
Take your cattle dog to the vet
You should make regular visits to a vet who can screen your cattle dog for health problems and provide routine care and checkups.
Before you welcome the dog into your home for the first time, make sure that they have all of their vaccinations.
Since the Australian cattle dog is very active, it must be fed twice a day. Here, you should consider going for a nutritious brand of dog food that provides to medium sized dogs. Avoid brands that contain a lot of fillers, such as corn meal, bran, or even brewer’s rice.
The best way of handling these dogs is to make them work for their food. Not only will this provide them with the right mental stimulation, but it will also keep them busy.
As such, you should hide your dog’s food around the house and make him hunt for it. Alternatively, you can put food or treats inside food puzzle toys and give them a task of figuring out how to take their food from the toys.
Besides feeding them, Australian cattle dogs are known to drink a lot of water. So you should also have a water bowl set out for them and make sure that there fresh water available at all times.
Australian Cattle Dogs are said to have a double coat. Since this type of coat keeps a lot of dirt at bay, you only need to brush the dog once a week.
One important characteristic you must know about the cattle dogs is that they shed twice a year. During the shedding season, you may want to take it up a notch on the brushing. They have to be brushed regularly. Otherwise, these dogs only need baths when the dirt is visible.
How to keep your dog in shape
It is very important to keep your dog in shape. There are 4 main ways that you can keep your dog active.
1) Actively play with your dog
Playing games, especially interactive games, is a very important factor that helps in keeping your energetic dog from getting bored. The idea is that he should get rid of that excess energy without ever needing to herd actual cattle.
Such games not only help your dog in socializing with people and other dogs, but they also increase the bond between you and your dog.
Here’s a list of some of the best interactive games you can play with your dog:
- Hide and seek
- Catch with a Frisbee
2) Take them for long walks and/or runs.
Besides playing games, taking long walks is another great activity that helps in taking some energy at bay.
While some breeds may only need a few walks around the block, Australian cattle dogs need long walks at least once or twice a single day. It might seem a bit excessive, but it helps in make your cattle dog nice and tired while preventing them from getting bored.
And if you love running, consider taking your dog out for a run with you, just as long as you keep him on a leach when you are outside your compound.
Speaking of leaches.
3) Let the dog run off the leash.
You have been told a thousand times to keep your dog on the leach, and with the active character of the cattle dog, it’s almost impossible to even consider taking him off the leach.
While leashed walks are a vital asset in keeping your dog under control, you should give your dog the chance to run off the leash too- at least once in a while.
However, this is only recommended if you are living in a fenced yard, but you can also do it when you visit the park. Either way, you are allowing your dog to play freely while giving them the chance to socialize better.
4) Enroll them into an agility class.
Agility classes are excellent activities that your dog can certainly love. These are structured games, activities, and obstacle courses that are designed for both you and your dog.
These games require active dogs and it allows them to blow of some steam. Australian cattle dogs are the perfect candidates for Agility games.
Where can you find agility classes in your area?
There are a couple of sources you can try. You can find this information online, through your vet or any nearby obedience training school. Another great exercise for your dog is hiking.
Are Australian Cattle Dogs aggressive?
Despite most exaggerative beliefs, Australian Cattle dogs are actually not very aggressive. However, they are known to use their mouth as a tool. Let’s not forget that you can train your dog to be behaved around you, other pets or strangers.
With proper socialization, almost any dog can be taught bite inhibition. The cattle dog will be expected to nip every now and then- especially when he wants to get his point across. So, keep an open mind.
If your Australian Cattle Dog is aggressive towards strangers, you should consider speaking to a behaviorist.
Are Australian Cattle Dogs good family pets?
The Australian Cattle dog has maintained a good reputation as an affectionate and trustworthy dog all year round. But, these dogs can sometimes be a little… unpredictable- especially around kids that they don’t know very well. Besides that, these dogs like to herd kids, during which they tend to nip at the heels.
Australian cattle dogs should never be left alone or in confined spaces, especially for an extended period of time. This is because they are so attached to their owners. When you are not around, your dog will develop separation anxiety.
If you have a day job, consider having a dog sitter, friend, or family member watch your dog for that time. Also, you can visit your dog on your lunch break- if your workplace is close to your home.