New to ACD...need advice

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Barked: Sun Dec 11, '11 11:09am PST 
I'm getting my first Aus Cattle Dog next week; she's 3 years old. I've always had labradors but when I saw this dog I fell in love with her. I walked into the Tracker Supply store yesterday and this dog was there for an event with the Humane Society. I've done my research so I know that they're high energy, etc. but can anyone give me any type of advice, tips, etc? I have a cat that's old and very shy; how do these dogs act around cats? Do they try and herd them? Thanks.

Barked: Wed Dec 21, '11 7:23am PST 
Oh my, a 3 year old ACD that was not raised with cats can be a disaster for you, did the shelter cat test the dog? The herding instinct is really just a modified prey drive, in other words they crossed a lot of dogs with high prey drive and then bred for smarts and biddability in the beginning. ACD's are great dogs, I love them but be ready for a combination of an eager to please-stubborn quandry. You should start looking for 'jobs' for the dog right away, one of mine is a ball fetcher, one of mine is a ball, stick, anything fetcher and frisbee superstar. We are just starting scent work with out attention deficit 1 year old that does not fetch because without a job ACD's are not pleasant dogs to have around. We do a lot of training to keep their minds busy, each of my dogs can sit,lie down, lie down in the middle of a run toward you, roll over, army crawl, sit up, wave, give me 5, touch your hand with their nose on command, play dead, and more that I am sure I am missing. We work on these commands frequently because they love to learn and follow directions and feel like they are working for you. We play fetch for at least an hour outside (2 daylight and weather permitting) we go on an extended off leash hike or dog park each weekend day, we play hours and hours of indoor couch fetch each day. They truly have absolutely no end to their energy, a 10 minute rest will recharge their batteries for another 4 hours of work. One note, a fat ACD is one that has learned to have an off switch but then they are not healthy, if yours is in that catagory slowly work up the activity to get that weight off and you will have a happy pup.

Life's too short- to be bored
Barked: Fri Dec 23, '11 1:37am PST 
Chase has been around my two cats since she was 8 weeks, and at 6 mos she still is learning to curb her instinct to chase them when they run from her. She at least knows that they are dominant over her in the household hierarchy and she has never shown aggression--quite to opposite, she often times to get them to play with her, and she doesn't understand why they respond with hissing and a claw swipe. Because Chase was so young when we got her, I trusted my cats to help teach her boundaries. They have, but Chase still has that impulse to chase them when they run away. This is where I have to remind her of boundaries.

It's important, when you introduce any new member of the family-cat, dog, human--that the cat is allowed a safe place in the house where she can retreat and be left alone--a complete, protected sanctuary. Dog gates come in handy from this. For our house, that's my bedroom and the garage. Chase absolutely cannot go into either of these places without me being there with her, while the cats have free access to them 24/7. Also, Chase is not allowed on any furniture, with the one exception of the beds but only with my permission--this allows the cats to get up onto higher places to escape being pestered by an overly interested puppy.

I hope you plan to crate train your ACD, if he's not already. This will allow your cat to be safe while you are out or otherwise cannot supervise their interspecies interactions. Please study up on crate training, as there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. Improper crate training can lead to behavior problems, including some that may be directed at other pets.

Going back to teaching boundaries: it is very important that you bond with your new ACD and build his trust. When a dog trusts you, he'll defer to the boundaries you set for him. This trust can be achieved by a combination of the following:

1. Plan out a routine--when he is fed, when he is taken out to potty, when he is exercised, when he is put to bed, etc-- and stick to it, so your new dog can quickly learn what to expect from you.
2. Regular exercise, especially activities that demand your ACD to defer to your leadership, like playing fetch (you control the game by controlling the ball) or taking a new route every couple of days when walking (he'll learn to trust you in an ever-changing environment).
3. Take Cesar Milan's advice, and learn to be a calm, assertive pack leader. This means, you cannot let your new dog manipulate your emotions--you may get frustrated, angry or irritated with your dog at times, by you cannot act on those emotions. Always stay calm yet assertive--it may take practice. When you go to correct undesirable behavior, make sure your response is consistent and clear. I like the "tsshh!" with the quick, firm two-finger touch as it snaps the dog quickly out of whatever mindset they are in and makes them pay attention to you.
4. Work on simple commands, like "stop," "look at me," "come," "leave it," and "wait." Too many people rely on "NO!" as this sort of universal command for all undesirable behavior. That won't work with an ACD. ACDs expect you to tell them what you want them to do. If all you do is yell "NO!" at them, they will first be confused as to what you want, and then they'll start ignoring you. The ACD's desire to do what you ask is the prefect opportunity to *redirect* their behavior into behavior you want--like being obedient. So when Chase is chasing one of the cats, I will yell "no" to signal to her to stop what she's doing, but the I follow it with what I want her to do instead, like "come here" or "go to your bed." That way "no" isn't just meaningless noise--it's a signal to her that I'm about to tell her what I want her to do.

So that's my advice--a two-fold plan of allowing your cat to have a sanctuary where she can get away from the new dog and be safe, and to build up your ACD's trust in you through routine, exercise, calm and consistent leadership and basic obedience training. Yeah, sounds like a lot of work, but you'll get a happy dog and a peaceful house in return. Good luck!

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Barked: Mon Jan 16, '12 4:10pm PST 
I have 2 heelers-2 years and 6 months of age-both from rescues. We also have a cat. Don't fall in love with a pretty face. Pay attention to the dogs temperament as all dogs are different. Take your time and find the dog right for you. I searched endless hours to get the type heeler I wanted. Ask lots of questions and if you can't get answers find another dog that you are sure of. We got our 6 month old last week and she pays absolutely no attention to our cat but we found that out before adopting. You don't want a heeler with really high drive unless you are willing to devote the time needed.