Border collies and Australian Cattle Dogs are bred to herd cattle. Other breeds can be trained for cattle herding but the Australian Cattle Dog and Border collie are the most prevalent.
They are naturally smart and their intelligence increases every time they learn something new. Cattle dogs should be trained at a young age in order to learn to obey your commands and voice instructions from the start.
Training a cattle dog is hard work. You need patience, understanding, consistency and tenacity in order to produce a well trained cattle dog.
Australian Cattle Dog
The Australian Cattle Dog was originally developed for driving cattle over long distances and rough terrain. The breed is known to be brave, tenacious, smart, physical and loving. They are considered great family pets and wonderful with children.
Sometimes this breed tends to nip at heels in order to herd people. They will do this especially with loud, younger children. They can also be aggressive with other dogs, especially if there is a dog who challenges their natural authority. The Australian Cattle Dog responds very well to training and picks up new strategies easily.
A medium-sized dog with a short-coat, the Australian Cattle dog is usually either brown or black haired with a white base coat. They are also known as Red or Blue Heelers because the color combination of their coat gives them the appearance of being blue or red. The “Heeler” name refers to their habit of nipping at the heels of the cattle as they herd.
Australian Cattle dogs respond well to structure, especially within the confines of training. They are protective dogs who develop strong bonds with their owners or families.
Health wise, they are prone to deafness and progressive blindness but they are much more prone to accidents given their line of work. They are a healthy breed with a lifespan of up to 14 years. These dogs need a lot of exercise both for their bodies and for their minds.
The Border collie is a Scottish bred dog. It was introduced as a livestock herder. The Border collie is notorious for being excellent cattle and sheep herders. They can be very high strung dogs. If they are not given enough physical exercise they can become distressed. They love people and are excellent friends.
Border collies are often considered the smartest dog of all breeds. In addition to being high energy, they are acrobatic and physical. Border collies have excellent hearing and are known to be able to hear a signal or whistle all the way across a field while herding.
They are not generally suited to households with small children or a lot of other pets. They are bred for herding and will instinctively exercise that breeding on people and other animals. They do best in adult households that can give them a lot of time and exercise.
Border Collies are medium-sized dogs. Black and white coats are most common but they do come in other colors including black/tan/white or sable and white, red or chocolate and white. They do not shed excessively. Their eye color can be brown, amber or blue. Sometimes they also have 2 eyes with different colors.
Border Collies can live as long as seventeen years. Cancer is a leading cause of death and cerebral vascular afflictions are also a problem. Also common to the breed is hip dysplasia and epilepsy.
Cattle dog training is best accomplished by choosing a puppy from working parents. Watch the mother at work to see if she is competent. Odds are that if the mother is a good herder her offspring will be as well.
The best approach is to train the puppy from a young age and have them watch experienced cattle herding dogs. The puppy will learn the sounds of the commands and start to pick up the job more quickly.
The first step in cattle dog training is to teach your dog to listen. S/He should be able to come on command as well as sit and understand “down”.
It is a good idea to introduce the dog to penned cattle first. That way the dog won’t chase the herd away. You can also catch the dog easier if s/he gets distracted.
Watch your dog as it begins to learn the job. Each animal will need to hone different aspects of their natural instinct. Cater your training to what each individual cattle dog needs.
When it comes time to herd animals in the field, make sure to be very specific about direction. The dog must know for certain what is expected of them.
Make sure to give a lot of positive reinforcement and praise the animal when they do a good job. They respond positively to praise.