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The 7 Most Unusual Habits of an Australian Cattle Dogs

Written by: Arlene D.
Arlene A. Divina, a resident of the Philippines, is a devoted fur mom to two adorable dogs: a Shih Tzu and a Beagle. With a passion for animals and storytelling, Arlene has channeled her love for dogs into her career as a content writer at iHeartDogs. Her writing captures the essence of the bond between humans and their furry companions, offering insights, tips, and heartfelt stories to a wide audience of dog enthusiasts. Read more
| Published on April 14, 2024

Australian Cattle Dogs, also known as Blue Heelers or Queensland Heelers, are a robust and resilient breed renowned for their herding abilities, especially with cattle. Developed in Australia to endure the harsh conditions of the vast outback, these dogs are a crossbreed of domesticated dingoes with herding dogs. Australian Cattle Dogs are highly valued for their intelligence, loyalty, and immense energy levels. They are work-oriented animals with a strong drive to perform and excel in tasks, making them superb companions for active owners or working on farms. Despite their practical and hardworking nature, Australian Cattle Dogs exhibit several unusual habits that are both fascinating and reflective of their unique breed traits and working heritage. These behaviors can sometimes pose challenges but also add to the breed’s charm. This article delves into seven of the most unusual habits of Australian Cattle Dogs, providing insights into their origins and tips for management.

1. Nipping at Heels

A distinctive habit of Australian Cattle Dogs is nipping at the heels of moving objects, whether it be livestock, other pets, or even humans. This behavior stems directly from their herding instincts, where they were bred to move cattle by gently biting at their feet. While effective in herding, this can be problematic in household settings. To manage this, redirection and consistent training are crucial. Engaging them in activities that simulate herding, like playing with herding balls or participating in herding sport competitions, can also satisfy this instinct in a more appropriate setting.

2. “Shadowing” Their Owners

Australian Cattle Dogs often exhibit a behavior known as “shadowing,” where they follow their owners closely around the house or while outside. This trait reflects their loyal nature and their tendency to form a strong bond with their primary caregiver. While it demonstrates devotion, it can sometimes lead to issues like separation anxiety. Encouraging independence through training, providing stimulating toys, and gradually increasing the time they spend alone can help mitigate excessive shadowing.

3. Intense Staring

These dogs are known for their intense and focused staring, particularly when they are herding or when they want something from their owner. This intense gaze can be a bit unnerving, but it is a natural display of their concentration and drive. Teaching commands that break their stare, like “look away” or “relax,” can help manage this habit in situations where it might be inappropriate or uncomfortable.

4. High Energy Levels

Australian Cattle Dogs have remarkably high energy levels, requiring extensive physical and mental stimulation every day. Without adequate exercise, they can become restless and engage in destructive behavior. Owners should ensure they provide plenty of opportunities for vigorous physical activities and engage them in training exercises that challenge their minds. Sports like agility or flyball can be particularly beneficial for burning energy and keeping them mentally sharp.

5. Wariness of Strangers

Due to their protective nature, Australian Cattle Dogs can be naturally wary of strangers, making them excellent watchdogs. However, without proper socialization, this wariness can turn into aggression. Early and consistent exposure to a variety of people, environments, and situations is essential to help them develop a well-rounded temperament. Positive reinforcement when they react calmly around new people can also strengthen appropriate behavior.

6. Obsessive Compulsiveness

Some Australian Cattle Dogs may develop obsessive-compulsive behaviors, such as incessant licking or tail chasing, often as a result of insufficient mental stimulation or anxiety. Providing a routine that includes plenty of physical and mental challenges can prevent these behaviors from developing. Consulting with a veterinarian or a canine behaviorist can also offer strategies to reduce or manage these compulsions effectively.

7. Strong Prey Drive

Reflective of their heritage as hunting dogs as well as herders, Australian Cattle Dogs have a strong prey drive. This can lead them to chase after small animals, which can be dangerous if not controlled. Training them to obey commands reliably, particularly “come” or “leave it,” is crucial in managing this instinct. Secure fencing and keeping them on a leash in unsecured areas will also prevent them from chasing after potential prey.

Australian Cattle Dogs are a highly active and intelligent breed, whose unusual habits are deeply ingrained in their herding and hunting heritage. Understanding and properly managing these behaviors can help ensure that these dogs lead balanced, happy lives. Proper training, adequate exercise, and mental stimulation are key to harnessing their energy and instincts positively, allowing them to thrive as both working dogs and loyal companions.