Australian Cattle Dog Training Tips

Australian cattle dog training is extremely important, because a high-energy herding dog without training can destroy your house and yard, and can even start nipping.

Exercise, Exercise, Exercise

Australian cattle dogs need exercise. They are bred to herd cattle and can't spend all day cooped up in the house. Young cattle dogs need at least 40 minutes of full-blown running each day, in addition to walks and games.

Teach your cattle dog to fetch a ball or a stuffed toy for extra exercise. Use two identical toys and get your dog very excited about the toy before throwing it. If he doesn't bring it back, end the game. If he does, pull out the other one, make it very exciting and throw it. These toys should only come out when you want to play. Don't leave them lying around so they become less exciting.

For additional mental exercise, use creative feeding as you leave for work. Instead of feeding him from a bowl, toss the food across the yard or floor so he will have to hunt for it. You can also wet it, stuff it in a Kong toy and freeze it, or put it in a toy that spits out kibble when he rolls it.

Early Socialization

Cattle dogs can become suspicious with strange people and dogs if not properly socialized. Make sure to introduce him to people and dogs of all ages. Don't force your dog to meet anyone who makes him uncomfortable. When introducing him to someone new, stop and talk to them cheerfully. If your puppy comes out and sniffs, reward him. Once he is approaching with confidence, allow the stranger to give treats.

When introducing to a new dog, keep him on leash. Cattle dogs can be very aggressive in play, so you want to teach him what's appropriate. If he is getting too rough, pull him back on the leash and give him a brief timeout. Do this each time so he understands what behavior is not allowed.

Make sure to introduce him to dogs older than 3, because they will also correct him when he's too rough. Allow them to do this. That's how he learns.

Chewing and Digging

If given too much freedom and not enough exercise, your cattle dog can become a chewing and digging machine. Make sure to restrict access to the house and yard until he understands what he is allowed to chew. Don't punish. Tell him to "Leave it" and redirect to another toy.

Never chase a dog when he has an object you don't want him to have. This is the best puppy game ever! Instead, grab a toy and run around with it, acting like it was the most exciting thing in the world. When your dog drops the object and comes for yours, reward with a game.

Don't allow your puppy in the yard unsupervised, either. For cattle dogs, it's best to make a place in the yard that can become a digging pit. Bury a few of his toys in it where he can see them. Every time he goes outside the designated area to dig, yell "Leave it" and lead to the digging pit. Praise for digging in the right place.

Digging can provide another outlet for exercise if taught when and where to do it. The more exercise options you provide in your Australian cattle dog training regimen, the better behaved he will be.