Possible dog for a novice owner?

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The world is my- food bowl!
Barked: Thu Mar 25, '10 9:40am PST 
Hiya! I am thinking about getting another dog in the next year or two, and I am really in love with the look of the Australian Cattle Dog! However, I must say I've had bad experiences handling the ones that come into my vet hospital (workplace). Most all of the ones we see are very overprotective of the owners, and all but one need to be muzzled before they're examined. Are these bad experiences just a lack of socialization and training of the dogs? I would love to own one in the future, but I'm afraid they might not be the best for a novice owner like myself. Are these traits more stereotype than truth?

Thank you for any feedback!dancing
Magma & Syke

Red vs. Blue
Barked: Fri Mar 26, '10 10:34am PST 
Unfortunately Charlie every "sterotype" has a grain of truth somewhere I do believe.
I have two right now, that are very young my female is just 10 weeks my male a little younger than her, but I have had a lot of experience with the breed. I owned working line actively herding Aussies prior to ACDs. I also did research for over a year before deciding to take one on. What I encourage you to do is make friends with others who have heelers, and watch the way they work…all of them are wired at least somewhat similarly.

To address your bad experience. I too worked at a vet hospital. Mine was an emergency hospital while I was pursuing my degree. What I found was not specific to ACDs, but to all herding breeds. There is a different “feel” when you are working with a herding breed than when you are working with a companion breed meant to accept all strangers without hesitation. This “feel” can lead to a bad experience. Herding breeds HAVE to be sensitive, they are always watching, especially ACDs I wouldn’t have it any other way. A rancher wouldn’t want a dog that wasn’t vigilant around his cattle to put it bluntly he would be going through many dogs a year.

As far as muzzling, eh…it depends on the lines you go…but a well trained and socialized dog should not need to wear a muzzle. That being said, if you get an ACD with a LOT of drive some people say they can be “too” busy to learn…and honestly I would rather them muzzle my dog and not get bitten. What you have to understand and accept is that they do not trust everyone. They are meant to work alone with their handler and at times they were looked upon to protect that handler, and thus hesitation has been bred into them. So this problem can occur, I’m not saying it can’t be trained out of them…mine go the vet often and have done fine. With both my pups they go even to just be handled and get used to the experience so that I DON”T have to deal with those issues down the road.

Novice owners…it can work. But you have to be willing to make a change to your lifestyle. What I’ve always told people when they ask me about my dogs is that I don’t have a dog that fits with my lifestyle, I have a lifestyle that fits with my dog. I literally do, I work as an engineer, both my dogs will come to work with me, on lunch breaks its Frisbee time, on weekends I am either at a trial, or training formally in someway. So yes, a novice owner can do it, but it will require a lot of research, and as with any dog it will require commitment. So good luck, I’m not an expert by any means, hopefully there will be someone who has dealt more with ACDs specifically, but that’s my jist on it…hopefully it helps you in someway

I fetch if I- want to.....
Barked: Fri Mar 26, '10 11:53am PST 
I just came by my first Australian Cattle Dog a few weeks ago. I've known people with ACDs and their dogs before. One of the best known was the late YZ, pet of Roxanne Sitarz, who was a canine blood donor dog in South Florida for many years. YZ was a sweet, friendly, docile dog who went to work every day with his owner and who liked everyone.

Prior to being adopted by my ACD, I have had a large rough collie male for two years and HE loves everyone and everything. He likes his vet and is stoic about procedures,....which helps since he's around 100 pounds and not fat, either.

The ACD was left on my porch...a 7 month old throwaway. He's been to the vet a few times and was neutered last week and loves the people at the animal hospital. I'd like to say that I'm responsible for his social skills but I'm not. I think he's just naturally good natured and any socialization he got in early life was courtesy of his former master.

So, yes, they can be darlings or devils. We have been blessed here at our wildlife habitat with wonderful dogs. If you get one and are able, take your dog to puppy kindergarten and any sessions permitting a pup to be around other pups and people. Oh, and good luck!


Barked: Sun Mar 28, '10 5:53am PST 
This is a long response, sorry.
My 2 are ACD mixes so I don't have a true personality profile of the breed out of my 2 but I deal with a lot of purebred ACD's each day as I work. I have to go in their yards a lot.
First I will tell you that with Holly we got her at one year and are pretty sure was not treated very nice in her first year of life besides the story to the shelter from the previous owners that she and her sister were left almost exclusively in a kennel out back ALL the time. Even with all that she is the sweetest natured dog on the planet I am sure. She is very nervous when first meeting other dogs but with people she is very easy going. My point for her is I am sure she was not 'text book' socialized and is still a complete angel and so so smart. She is very tolerant of my 1 year old nephew ( my sister who originally was very nervous about her son with a heeler wants to nominate her in some 'best dog' contest) Never does she show any fear or aggression toward any humans really (till I pick up a piece of newspapaper or a towel, to kill flies, then you can tell she has been treated badly by someone with those items because she cowers and hides as soon as I raise it)
Now Kai, I have had her since she was 6 weeks old and we have been consistantly socializing her and she has never been physically mistreated in her life and she is one of the most distrustful dog I have ever seen. While anyone in our family of 4 can do anything at all with her from taking food from her mouth to in depth grooming with no fear, I don't know if she will ever be trustworthy with strangers. She takes a very long time to warm up to people and is very vocal with all new things and looks so mean when confronting new situations. My point being that the dogs makeup is a big factor and you may be pleasantly surprised or you may have a job on your hands to socialize the dog. Most of the ACD's I deal with each day are very protective of their family and yard but they are smart about it. I really have very little fear but respect aplenty when I am facing an ACD in a yard because they are very smart and quick to ascertain a threat, if I speak nicely to them and go about my business (I locate utilities) they will usually calm down quickly but keep themselves between me and the front door the entire time. I really have only had one ACD that was insane with me, not a bad ratio as I deal with 40 or so a day. Now the prospect of bringing an ACD in your home, while they are strong, independant driven dogs...they are velcro dogs with their owners. They need that constant bond both of mine will always be found no more than 5 feet from someone in our family ever. Partly because they want to be there in case you need them for anything they are working dogs they need you to give them jobs every day. Part of it is because they bond so closely to their 'partners' . They require some close interaction for many hours a day. Mine also accompany me to work often if someone else in the house will not be home with them for more than 4 hours, if not they are needyfreaks when we do get home. They are intense, insanely focused, quick to chase small animals (and possibly do them damage) jaws of steel, many times over protective, incredibly high energy dogs. And I would not trade mine for any other dog on the planet. We also modify our lives around our dogs needs they are not dogs that will adapt to your life. Mine are very well behaved inside dogs but that is because they are 'paid' to do that with enough intense excersise and mental stimultion with training every single day.
Whew sorry for the length but it is a subject near and dear to my heart.

Edited by author Sun Mar 28, '10 6:06am PST

Dakota- 2000-2009

In the arms of- the angel
Barked: Tue May 4, '10 2:19pm PST 
They do tend to be "harder" dogs..not ones I would reccomend for a wishy washy person or a first time dog owner...the result is usually what you have experienced in the vet's office.silenced

They require a fair, but firm hand and ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY need obidience and CLEAR CLEAR boundries..they arent "known" as being a strong breed like a rottie, a GSD or a pittie..but lets face it...they were bred to take on 2000 pound bulls..they are tough tough critters.

they are also bred to think on their feet, "heel" anything that moves and be generally tencious and stubborn..or they wouldnt be used for moving cattle.

My Dakota was socilaized early on..he was friendly enough, but always observant and watchful of anyone he didnt know...while dealing with his cancer, the vets had to at times have him lay flat on his back while they took xrays or sonograms. they would always comment on how easy going he was about this...that most dogs need to be sedated and muzzled..but Dakota never did. THAT is a good, well mannered blue heeler and what every heeler owner should strive for.

they are a breed unto themselves..they simply take alot of dedication. smile
Oz Moto

Velcro has- nothing on me.
Barked: Tue May 25, '10 7:30am PST 
From my experience with my ACD, and from what I have read, they are naturally very suspicious of strangers.
I socialized mine from an early age, he went everywhere with me for the first 7 months after I got him. And I mean EVERYWHERE, he was glued to me 24/7 and exposed to numerous other dogs, people, cats, etc.
Now he is a year old, and while he has never bitten anyone, he is very standoffish to anyone that is not a direct family member. If you are a stranger, he will always position himself between you and me, and never take his eyes off of you.
In the breed standard for ACD's it states " Will have a suspicious glint in the eyes, but must tolerate being handled" That sums it up, if you train them right and socialize the heck out of them they will TOLERATE strangers in front of you. Just don't expect them to be happy Labs that love everyone.

Edited by author Tue May 25, '10 7:32am PST


More than ONE, I- will herd!
Barked: Wed Jun 2, '10 5:54am PST 
Oy! BOL!!!
With Freck's what I have experienced is a very strong willed, extremely devoted and intelligent dog that is always 'on'.
She learns very quickly, does like to herd everything and I seem to be 'her person', I move, she moves. She needs clear commands and they have to be reinforced sometimes. Example, I want her to lie down, but she is focused on the fact that the cat is on me, sometimes this takes a few commands and it is challenging.
That said...last week, one of my cats got out and Freck's noticed it and long story short she herded her back in before she ever reached the fence. She knew the cat didn't belong outside, it was crazy to watch her herd the cat and move her closer to the door with each move.

Barked: Wed Oct 27, '10 1:09pm PST 
My first ACD is deffenitly the most protective. But mostly when strangers come to are home. But she deffenitly gets attached to certain people and when she gets to know somebody she could go months without seeing them and when she finnally does she runs right over to them and sits in their laps. You just got to be careful around strangers because these dogs are One-Person dogs and if someone tries to get between you two she will deffenitly let them know thats not exceptable.

My ACD is- tougher then- your [breed]
Barked: Sat Apr 9, '11 9:29am PST 
I love cattle dogs, they are my breed. I have had almost 10 yrs experience with the breed & no two dogs are alike. Izze is very typical, she has to be muzzled at the vets.

This is not a dog for the faint hearted, for a first time owner I actually recommend rescuing an adult cattle dog, because their temperament is already EST & you don't have to worry about teenage angst lol lol.

Barked: Sun Jul 29, '12 11:12pm PST 
We sre fostering the lovely Lucy right now, she is a doll, highly inteligent, but becaue of that and the nature of her being a working class dog they must have lots to do or they will get bored and find bad things to do! We run Lucy twice a day she has lots of playtime when out of her kennel, make her sit before she receives a toy, etc....But all that being said she is probably going from a foster dog to a permanent part of our family! She is adorable! The only problem we are having to overcome is Ellie our 8 year old lab mix does not like her whatsoever,,,,,if we can overcome this , well then shes ours!