ACDs need consistent training and firm leadership to keep their noses out of trouble!
When you walk your Australian Cattle Dog, you will almost certainly be asked, "What kind of dog is that?" People are both curious and wary about cattle dogs, often mistaking them for some exotic wolf or dingo. After all, Cattle Dogs can be imposing with their muscular build and watchful temperament. But do not be fooled by the stoic outward demeanor. ACDs love to run and play and crave an active lifestyle followed by huge doses of affection from you for a job well done!
While the personality and needs of every dog are unique, typical ACDs are very smart, high energy dogs best suited to active people who view training and working with a canine companion as a way of life. Leisurely strolls around the neighborhood won't satisfy the average cattle dog. Plenty of room to run is essential, and mental workouts are equally, if not more, important than physical exertion alone.
If you are considering welcoming one of these amazing dogs into your life, consider this truism of ACD enthusiasts: "An exhausted cattle dog is a good cattle dog!"
ACDs were bred to be tough, independent working dogs, valued for their ability to make decisions while wrangling untamed cattle in the Australian outback. If not provided with what they need, they might create their own idea of "what needs doing" and it may very well be not to your liking!
As companion dogs, ACDs certainly don't need sheep and cows to be happy! Families can enjoy all the devotion, loyalty and humor ACDs offer their people if they spend plenty of time engaged in activities like fetch, Frisbee, obedience, and agility. This breed will want to be included in as many family activities as possible, and make great trail, running, and hiking buddies.
Please consider that Cattle Dogs may not always an ideal choice for families with small children. While they will bond closely with the children in their own families, they can be wary of strange children and take on protective attitudes, and wee ones who run around may inspire herding! They can also be impatient with children, even their own human siblings, so families should take extra care to teach kids how to approach a Cattle Dog.
ACDs are well known for their intelligence and desire to work, and prized for their athleticism and decision making skills. What makes them so special can also make them quite challenging since their "smarts" and independent streak also demand that their owners be consistent, strong and positive leaders. When properly motivated, cattle dogs are very fast learners who thrive when training is both fun and challenging. Since ACDs were bred to boss around stubborn cows and not back down, their obedience and performance is best achieved through positive reinforcement training methods instead of outmoded dominance techniques. Clicker and rewards-based training are strongly recommended, as well as the principles behind "Nothing in Life is Free."
And because ACDs tend to live long, they tend to mature late. Diverse and ongoing socialization with different dogs and people as well as training for young ACDs often requires a concerted effort for the first two years of a dog's life. After they have matured, learning new tricks or having added responsibilities can be a lifelong joy for human and pup alike!
While their first love is any kind of activity, the Australian Cattle Dog is equally devoted to family, sometimes choosing one family member as her person and following that person everywhere, a trait that has earned ACDs the nickname "velcro dogs." ACDs cherish spending time with people and should not be left alone for long periods since they might develop separation anxiety which will almost always be exhibited in destructive behavior. An ACD is the quintessential buddy dog, and would love nothing more than to accompany you everywhere, from errands around town to doing the laundry.
The other side of this loyalty is that Australian Cattle Dogs can be fiercely protective of what they perceive to be theirs. Without proper training and socialization, they may try to decide if a person, dog, or object is to be treated in a friendly welcoming manner, or if it should be bossed around as a threat to the homestead. With proper training, however, a cattle dog will be the first to alert the family to anything new, and there are more than a few stories of cattle dogs saving lives, and keeping children from wandering into the street.
A cattle dog can be everything you want out of a canine companion. What you offer in love, training, and socialization you will get back in fun, loyalty, companionship, and devotion ten times over.