The Blue Heeler is a common name for an Australian cattle dog. They were bred to herd and watch over, not only groups of animals, like sheep and cattle, but could even watch over a group of children. This is a large breed of dog that are very intelligent, loving, and fiercely loyal dogs. They are very protective of their owners, which although is a good quality, it can pose problems if the right training isn’t done early on. This breed requires a lot of things that other breeds do not, due to their lineage and instincts. They are really meant to be working dogs as a part of their history dictates. They are used to long hours outdoors, working in the fields and being close to their owner. If you do not plan to work your Blue Heeler, you need to make sure you meet their energy outlet needs, and activity level requirements. Here are seven other tips for taking care of your Blue Heeler puppy.
1. Needs a healthy start
When you bring your puppy home, it’s important that you give him the best start in life you can. This means seeing to it that you take him to get all of his puppy vaccinations and has regular vet visits to make sure he is on target for growth and development. Feed your puppy a healthy diet rich in protein. When it comes time to switch foods from a puppy food to adult dog food, it is best to make the transition at about 6 months old in order to prevent too rapid of bone growth, which can cause joint problems later in life. As far as the type of food to switch to, talk to your vet and see what he recommends for your Blue Heeler.
2. Socialize, socialize, socialize
This is a breed that needs to be thoroughly socialized in order to raise a happy, accepting and well-behaved dog. Because this breed is so loyal and protective of his owner and family, this means they are generally very wary of strangers. Making sure your puppy gets plenty of play time with other dogs, and spends time around other people, including children, is essential. Time at the dog park is time well-spent with this breed. Start right away, taking them to, and around situations and people you want your dog to be around as an adult, so that he gets accustomed to them as soon as possible. The more you socialize this breed, the more laid back, well-behaved, and easier to handle he will be.
3. Training sessions start early
You will want to start training your pup right away when you bring him home, and training should always be positive reinforcement t. This breed is so intelligent, that he will know if you are not serious about keeping him in line. He will try to get away with what he can and needs to know you are in charge and the pack leader. Keep your Blue Heeler in control with five basic commands, “Sit, stay, come, lay, and leave it.” These are five commands that will help you out of many situations and he should know them and obey them consistently. Positive reinforcement training
4. Train him to drop it!
These are very agile dogs and tend to participate in agility competitions often. You want your Blue Heeler to be agile in his command following and actions, one way to increase this is to work on such training skills, such as, teaching him to fetch. Fetching is something this breed loves to do, however, instead of having him bring back the ball or stick and playing tug-of-war with it, train him to drop it. This increases his level of agility skills, as well as his thinking and obedience skills.
5. Exercise is essential!
Because this breed is used to spending countless hours outside working in the fields and herding, they have high levels of energy and are used to hard work and getting their energy out by working. If you have a Blue Heeler, it is important to know that these are not meant to be lounging dogs, or even dogs who get minimal amounts of exercise. They need a lot of exercise to keep their bodies and minds active and healthy. If you do not plan to use your Blue Heeler as working dog, you need to plan to get him some form of vigorous exercise multiple times a day. He needs to be able to run and play, go for a jog, a hike, long walks, anything that helps him to expend his energy. A large fenced in yard can be one way to let him get outdoors and roam, run and play while still keeping him contained and in your care.
6. Nip the nipping in the bud
This is a nipping breed. The Blue Heelers use nipping as a way to move a herd along and get them to follow their lead. They will nip the sheep or cattle in the heel to encourage the movement, which means that this behavior may be an issue for your Blue Heeler. It is instinctual, and should be dealt with as soon as it starts. If your puppy starts to exhibit this behavior, nip in the bud before it gets to be too hard of a habit to break.
7. Give them boundaries
This is a breed that needs boundaries because they are often known to push their boundaries. They need firm handling and consistency. For instance, if you don’t want your pup in the kitchen, but prefer him to wait outside the threshold of the doorway, then make him sit outside the kitchen every time. You cannot allow him in once, then make him sit outside the next or he will not listen and will know he can get away with things. One thing about Blue Heelers is that they recognize inconsistencies and once they break a rule and get away with it, they will try again and again.
The more you know about the Blue Heeler breed and understand them, the better and easier it will be to train them to be happy and well-behaved adult dogs. Giving your puppy good care from the beginning also encourages a longer, healthier and happier life.