Bringing Home Your Blue Heeler

blue heeler

Many people have heard of the blue heeler, but did you know that this is not its official name? According to the American Kennel Club, the Australian Cattle Dog was originally known as a blue heeler or an Australian heeler, but the name is not official. It’s ACD in the official capacity. However, many people still refer to this lovely and fun dog as a blue heeler and if that’s how you know the dog, then that’s how we will refer to this breed; by its unofficial name. This is a cattle dog; as indicated by its officially recognized name. This is a brave and courageous breed with agility, strength and a great deal of patience. It’s been herding cattle longer than we’ve been alive, and it’s good at what it does. But just because you don’t have cattle at home doesn’t mean you can’t have one of these gorgeous dogs as a pet. If you really want one, however, you should know what to expect and how you can raise this dog to ensure it fits in with your family and that it’s happy. An unhappy dog makes for an unhappy family.

You Need Lots of Space

While no one said you can’t officially have a blue heeler in an apartment complex, the AKC does mention – several times – that this is a breed that prefers a lot of open space in which to run around. So if you don’t have that at home, you might want to make sure you do have that nearby and plan on spending a lot of time there. Again, your dog needs to be happy or you will find that it’s not a dog that does well in your home. This is a dog that loves to run free and exercise, so be prepared to either let this dog outside in your fenced in yard several times a day to play and exhaust itself or to go on long walks to dog parks where he can do the same on a regular basis.

Training

Obedience is key with the blue heeler. If you do not have cattle, you will need to provide this breed with a job to keep it happy. According to the AKC, obedience is something this dog does well with, and it’s something that will make it happy. Your job is to make sure this breed knows you are the leader of his or her ‘pack’ (or family, as we like to call it in the people world). Without this assertion or dominance, your dog will believe he or she is the leader of the pack and will make it a point to call the shots. The last thing your family needs is a dog that does not respect its owners as the ‘boss’ and does what it wants, when it wants. This can cause stress and tension in a household. Think of it this way, if it helps; dogs are like kids. If you show them who is in charge and who makes the rules, you provide them with plenty of positive reinforcement and issue proper discipline when the rules are broken, you will no issue establishing leadership. However, let a child or dog walk all over you and you are in for serious trouble that’s hard to break the longer it is allowed to continue.

Temperament and Grooming

The American Kennel Club describes the blue heeler as initially wary of strangers, though proper socialization from an early age can help with this. However, this is also a dog that is very close to its family. It bonds quickly and easily with the people who live in its house and that is a large part of the reason this makes for such a wonderful pet for so many families. On a good note, it has a short coat that requires very little grooming. Occasional baths are necessary and brushing the dog is something you’ll want to do on occasion as well. Many dog owners forget that brushing their dogs can help deal with the issue of shedding – especially during the times your dog sheds the most. Remember it like this; you can ignore the brushing thing and end up cleaning up dog hair from all over your home or you can brush the dog occasionally and find far fewer dog hairs on everything you own on a consistent basis. The choice is up to you (brush the dog).

Training

This is a breed that likes and thrives on hard work. For this reason, training and obedience are a great idea and they’re both very simple to take care of. An intelligent breed that learns quickly and efficiently, proper training and obedience should be no issue with the blue heeler. Your best bet is to begin training the moment you receive this dog. Even if you choose to adopt an older dog – who is likely already trained – you will want to practice obedience and training skills right away. This helps the dog understand that 1 – you are the leader, and 2 – you have expectations. Dogs like to know what’s expected of them, and you might just be surprised how easy it is to get your dog on track with your thinking and your expectations.

What to Expect

These are dogs that live a long time. You will need to first ask yourself if you and your family are all ready for a dog in the home. Do you have the means to care for a dog? Do you have the time and patience to care for a dog? Do you understand, under no uncertain terms, that a dog is a lifetime commitment and not just a once-in-a-while project? Do you understand that dogs are living creatures with feelings and lives of their own, and deciding after a few weeks that it’s not “working” for you has a major affect on how that dog will live out the rest of its own life? Dogs are not toys. You will want to ensure you are ready to make a lifetime commitment to this animal before you bring it home. It’s one of the most important rules of raising a dog.

Photo by Getty Images

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