Olivia_Hoover | Editor | E-mail
If you are training a red-shoe or blue-shoe — Australian Cattle Dog color types — it’s important to know the history of this working breed. These high energy dogs require a lot of exercise, so they need active owners. While the ACD is very trainable, he does need a strong leader. Otherwise, he will train you, and not the other way around.
There is almost no such thing as too much exercise for a red defender. credit: cynoclub/iStock/Getty Images
Australian Cattle Dog
The name of the breed explains it. Down-to-earth Australian Cattle Dogs were developed to work all day herding cattle. A cattle drive may last for weeks through harsh and rugged terrain. Punching machines are tough, independent and highly intelligent canines that learn quickly. The typical ACD is territorial but loyal to his person. The Australian Cattle Dog Rescue website says the breed is well suited to “active people who view training and working with a canine companion as a way of life.” If this is more of a time and energy investment than you can give a dog, consider a less demanding breed.
While early socialization and puppy kindergarten lessons are important for all dogs, they are especially essential for dominant breeds such as the Australian Cattle Dog. Some ACDs are aggressive with strangers, so acclimating the puppy to different people and early situations can help avoid such aggression later on. However, you should take it slowly and not overwhelm the Australian Cattle Dog. Not only will this type of dog be liked by everyone, but it can also be trained to tolerate everyone. As puppies, ACD is more oral than other young canines. If he bites you, give him something suitable to chew on, not your hand or another part of your body.
Australian Cattle Dog
Basic training for an ACD is similar to that for any other dog. He must learn the basic commands – sit, stay, down and heel. How he learns may differ from the average dog. ACD will go to the ends of the earth for a strong leader. As long as you’re consistent, the ACD is easy to train and takes the knowledge away. That power does not mean that you are in any way physically or emotionally dominating the dog. Instead, use positive reinforcement, such as praise or a treat, when he does what is expected. Methods such as clicker training are often effective with ACD. Because he is a herding dog, it is in his nature to knock at the livestock to keep them moving. He can pass this behavior on to children in the house or other pets. Nip naps in the bud. There must be a sharp vocal reprimand.
Lots of exercise
Plenty of exercise is necessary to not only address all the defender’s pent-up energy but to keep him out of trouble. Separation anxiety is common in the breed, so if you must leave one alone for long periods, offer him crate training as a puppy. Otherwise, you can return home to total destruction. In addition to physical activity, ACD needs mental stimulation. He can master and excel at any dog sport, so see which one works best for both of you.
Herding comes naturally to ACDs. If you don’t have cattle, find a club or trainer with available cattle. You can find trainers through the American Kennel Club, which holds certified herding events. If you’re not familiar with herding, you have a lot — maybe even more — to learn from your ACD. Before training begins, it is critical that the ACD knows all of the basic commands and obeys them promptly. You must make sure that your ACD views the herd as individuals, rather than a group, so it knows to work one animal at a time. Herding takes a team: you and your ACD. He takes direction from you, so you must know enough to give him the right clues.