About the Breed

About the Breed 2018-12-23T22:48:46+00:00

Strong Dogs (Heelers)
R- E- Q- U- I- R- E
Strong Leaders (Are You?)

“The HUMAN behind the DOG determines the DOGS behavior.”

Please read this, especially if you are new to the breed, or if you just want to see if your own ACD has read the “rule book”. While no two dogs are exactly the same, there are some common traits you can expect from dogs of the same breed. Knowing these traits can help you choose the right breed for you, and also help you be a better owner for the dog(s) that you currently have.

Australian Cattle Dogs, Blue Heelers, Red Heelers or Queensland Heelers are all known as Australian Cattle Dogs. Austalian Cattle Dog’s are high energy and intently focused dogs. The ACD is a perfectionist, and will want to be active and busy most, if not all, of the time. When they are young they have two speeds, 100 miles per hour and comatose. This energy has to be directed somewhere or you will quickly end up with a problem dog. A bored ACD will find ways to entertain himself, usually doing something you won’t like, such as re-decorating your house, re-arranging your yard, chewing, digging, barking, chasing, etc.

Since they are intently focused, it means that whatever they are doing they take very seriously. Everything they do is immensely important, from their point of view, and they always do it to the best of their ability. If they’re doing good things, then this is wonderful. But, if they’re doing something bad, you can count on it being horrible. ACDs have been bred to herd and to do so with force when needed, by biting. Their strong mouth is the ACD’s bread and butter, so to speak. Without their own cattle, most will find other things to herd, your cats, toys, your kids, neighbors, the lawn mower, vacuum cleaner, etc. These choices that they make can range from cute to annoying to outright dangerous. Biting at the ankle or hind leg is instinctive and this will come out whenever they chase or herd something. While this is sometimes cute it also means they have a strong tendency to nip and bite PEOPLE, even just in play. This has to be strongly curtailed from day one or you may end up with a problem dog. You will need to find acceptable outlets for this herding behavior to keep your dog out of serious trouble. Encouraging your dog to herd certain toys (like the Boomer Ball or Jolly Ball) will help. Some of our dogs like to herd an old basketball or even the food dishes. Teaching your dog to play fetch so that he/she can chase a toy repeatedly, which uses the same instincts, is also a good solution. Part of this desire to herd comes from a strong prey drive, which is the drive to catch and kill small game. Expect your ACD to be fascinated by squirrels, cats, and other small animals. Most are fine with other species if they are raised with them, but some can also become cat chasers or aggressive towards the smaller animals otherwise. Teaching your dog to obey YOU and NOT chase that tempting squirrel can save your dog’s life when he/she decides to dart across a busy road in pursuit of what he sees as a possible herding opportunity. The LEAVE IT command, is an important part of their training. Another important command is the DOWN command, and that command should be obeyed immediately, anytime and anywhere. Your dog should earn the right to not drag a leash by having 100% recall and obeying the above commands.

The instinct to bite also means that ACD’s are very oral, meaning that is they use their mouths constantly. They “taste test” nearly everything and they love to chew. Many will try to gently chew on people as a sign of affection. Some will chew anything in sight, if this is not directed toward acceptable chew toys. Directing your ACD puppy’s “mouthiness” is an important part of his socialization and training. ACD puppies need to learn the bite inhibition with their siblings and/or other ACD’s. Be very careful of taking away a puppy from the litter before 8-10 weeks old, for they need that time to learn “how to be a cattle dog” with their siblings. I’m sorry to say that people just can’t teach them as well as their own species. It is our suggestion and some states even have laws that pups not leave their litter before 8 weeks old. If a breeder is letting their pups go before 8 weeks, beware as this may not be the best for your pup.

While many ACDs are friendly with everyone they meet, most are also protective of their house and family. Some are suspicious of everyone new, especially on their home turf. This has to be controlled as well, or you may end up with a dog who does not welcome guests into your home, or who bites solicitors at your door which does have some serious legal ramifications. The best solution is careful socialization while the dog is a puppy. Introduce your puppy to as many new things and people as possible while he is still very young. Teach him that new people are a positive thing. Teach him that YOU decide who is safe and who is not. This will help to stop an aggressive problem before it starts. This does not mean that your puppy will no longer be protective, just that he/she will be more accepting of new people and not automatically suspicious. He/she will look to YOU for guidance as to whom to trust and when to be protective.

ACDs have a high pain tolerance and unswerving faith in their own indestructibility. Couple this with their intense focus and high energy and you have a dog who is likely to injure himself not infrequently. Many problems can be prevented with solid obedience training so you can call him/her away from or stop him/her from doing something dangerous. But sometimes, no matter how hard you try, he will just bang himself up. Don’t panic, ACDs are almost as tough as they think they are and they heal frighteningly well. It is good to be prepared for this when it happens, otherwise it can be pretty nerve-wracking. The same instincts that make ACD’s superb herders also leave them highly at risk around automobiles. Every instinct tells them to chase large moving things, and cars certainly fit the bill. And the attitude which allows them to face down a charging bull will lead them to try and face down a moving vehicle, with disastrous results. It is critical for his own safety that your dog be taught how to behave around automobiles and that you take into account his instinctive herding behavior.

The most important thing to know about an ACD is that YOU will be the center of their universe. ACD’s bond so closely with their humans that it can be scary. Some pick one person in the household who is their special person and virtually attach themselves at the hip, while some bond closely to everyone in the household. Either way the attachment is intense and their loyalty is hard to match. We hear people describe their dogs as “Velcro dogs”, because they attach to you so firmly, and “Furry tumors with adoring eyes”. Expect your ACD to follow you everywhere you go and expect him to want to be a part of everything you do. Proximity, physical contact, interaction such as obedience work, herding, and just plain play, are the lifeblood of ACD existence. Keeping your ACD away from you is just about the harshest punishment you can inflict. This is definitely not a dog who can live in the back yard and get occasional attention. They need to have your presence on a regular basis.

You can use this bond to further your training with your dog very easily. ACD’s are forward thinkers and like to see what they can get away with, but ultimately they live and breathe to make their people happy. One book describes them as “Obedient yet bold” which is a superb characterization. Expect your ACD to constantly test the rules, probe for the limits, and to test your sense of humor about what is, and what is not acceptable. But also expect your ACD to truly care if you are happy, to truly want to please you, and to truly be interested in your welfare at all times.

Not enough exercise, mental as well as physical, is a common cause of behavior problems in this breed. As one breeder puts it, “An intelligent dog like a cattle dog puppy is always on a quest for knowledge. Use that to your advantage, teach them good things, because if you don’t, left to their own devices they will learn bad things. And trust me, Hell hath no fury like a bored cattle dog puppy.” (Monica Shifflet)

Humans and dogs get along well with each other because we both are social animals. We both want many of the same things and make strong social bonds, however it is critical to remember that your puppy is not a person. He does have some crucial differences in what he needs from you and how he communicates with you. By taking these differences into account you can use your knowledge to build a healthy and happy relationship with your puppy.

Many people do not realize it but dogs treat people as if we were other dogs. They use the same methods of communication and expect the same sorts of relationships as if we were just funny two-legged dogs. This means that in your dog’s eyes your household is his “pack”, much like a wolf pack. Packs have structure. Each dog knows his place in the pack, whether he is top dog, somewhere in the middle, or bottom dog. Most dogs are quite happy to hold any position in the pack as long as it is clear cut. Ambiguity in the pack hierarchy is stressful for the dog and he will attempt to remove the stress by clearing up this ambiguity, usually by testing to see if he can dominate other members of the pack/household. This is definitely NOT viciousness, even if it involves some aggression, it is just an attempt to get things settled.

Contrary to popular opinion it is not necessary to beat your dog, terrorize him, or in any way abuse him to make sure that you are alpha in the household. (By the way, top dog is called the “alpha dog” in animal behaviorist lingo). There are non-forceful methods to cement your position with your dog which work very well. People often ask if it is truly necessary to be alpha with their dogs, can’t they just be friends? Here is how one ACD expert answers that question.
“Darned straight, we must. While I adore my 1300 lb horse, there’s no way I’m letting him be in charge of our relationship. Because he and I BOTH know that I’m in charge, he can relax and quit worrying about mountain lions and the equally dreaded blowing plastic bags. If it’s scary, I’ll let him know. “Alphaness” is much more than terrorizing your dog (or horse) into submission. It’s leadership, authority, fairness, consistency. The alpha is interesting, always has fun games to play, good stuff to eat (or sniff) and is altogether a much cooler critter to be around than just anybody. Alpha takes care of the pack, and can be trusted to do the right thing. Alpha will decide whether the mailman lives or dies (personally, I let him live!), and can be depended upon to retrieve toys that get smooshed under the bed. Those “rule books” we laugh about are a dog’s lifeline. They NEED that kind of structure, to have clear, black & white explanations. A good alpha has ‘attitude’ and posture, and only very little action. They establish their leadership just by being leaders.” (Mary Healey) Being an alpha AND friend is the best bet, and easily accomplished.

So, how can you go about having your puppy see you as the leader?

1. Food is a wonderful tool to use to establish your position in the pack hierarchy. The alpha gets first choice in all food and decides if others get to eat or not. You can use this to your advantage is several ways. For one, eat your own dinner just before you feed the puppy. This teaches your puppy that he ranks below all the humans because they eat first.

As soon as your puppy knows some basic obedience commands, use them! Have your puppy sit before you give him his food. By making your puppy be obedient for food you are sending strong signals that you are the leader.

Hand feed your puppy often. If you sit on the floor and dole out his kibble by hand this is another very strong indicator that you rank him. Similarly, handing out tidbits from your own food is a powerful tool to use. This shows your dog that you have special food and that occasionally, if he’s very good, you will share.

While your puppy is eating give him a basic obedience command, such as “Sit”. If he obeys then praise, treat, and let him go back to eating. If he ignores you then pick up his food and put it away for 5 minutes or so. Only obedient dogs get food is the message. Note, this is only fair to use when you are absolutely certain that your puppy knows the command “Sit” otherwise he’ll just be confused.

Teach your puppy that you can reach into his food bowl while he’s eating. Start by being nearby while he eats and move up to offering treats. When he’s comfortable with this start putting the treats directly in the bowl while he eats and eventually graduate to reaching in, handling the food, and not leaving a treat. This accomplishes two things: your puppy learns that you control the food, even when he’s already eating it, and that you are also the source of special treats. You are showing your puppy that your alpha-ness is a benevolent thing. You are demanding but also fair and hand out treats. This is a very important exercise for children as many are bitten when they get too near the puppy’s food bowl. With this training the puppy can learn that children are allowed to not only be near his food, they can reach directly into his bowl.

2. Leash your puppy to your belt while you are at home. This accomplishes several things. For one, you always know where the puppy is and supervision becomes much easier. Keeping your puppy out of trouble will make both of your lives easier. But this also teaches your puppy that you are the center of his world and that being with you is the preferred place. Everywhere you go the puppy goes with you. It will also encourage you to talk to your puppy, as discussed elsewhere in this document, if for no other reason as you jolly him along while you walk around the house.

3. Alpha leads and so should you. If your puppy forges ahead of you then he is attempting to lead. The easiest solution, assuming the puppy is on leash, is to simply turn and walk the other way. This teaches the puppy that you, not he, set the direction you’ll both be going, and he needs to watch you to see which way you go.

Similarly always be first through doorways. Make your puppy wait while you go through any doorway. This is a big one for many dogs; many see order through doorways as a clear sign of rank in the pack. If I call my dogs to come into the house or get into the car they always go in the pack order. If the more submissive dog gets to the door or car first then he/she waits for the dominant dog before proceeding.

To teach this simply tell your puppy to “Wait” at the doorway and use the leash to enforce this (gently, no jerking just prevent the puppy from forging ahead. You can teach the “wait” by using the leash to prevent the puppy from going ahead while saying “Wait” and putting an open hand in front of the puppy. The open hand will often stop the puppy in his tracks, at least momentarily, so you may not even need to use the leash.)

4. Work on establishing regular eye contact with your puppy. Dogs use eye contact as a key part of their communication and you can use this to your advantage. Whenever you notice your puppy looking at you stop and praise him. Give him a pet or a treat as a reward for looking at you. Quickly you will find that he focuses on you regularly, making it easy for you to get his attention. This teaches your puppy that you are the center of his world and that paying attention to you is always a good thing. You can also use eye contact, once it is a regular thing, to further your own communication with your puppy. When you are scolding your puppy look straight into his eyes and be angry. Your puppy will see that in your eyes with no difficulty. Similarly, looking into your puppy’s eyes with love will communicate your love, strengthening the connection between you.

5. Talk to your puppy. Many people feel silly talking to dogs but it really helps your relationship. Dogs do not start off knowing that they should listen to people but by talking to your puppy regularly he will learn to listen to your voice. Sprinkle the occasional pet or treat in with your talking to add extra incentive for the puppy to listen. What you say to your puppy can be as simple as “We’re going downstairs now” or “I’m going to fold the laundry now”. It doesn’t have to be anything special at all, what is important is that you are keeping a line of communication going. This teaches your dog to pay attention to your voice which is very helpful when you want your puppy to obey a command. You’ll also find that your puppy will learn many phrases which you use regularly. Dog can develop quite large vocabularies and this will speed the process along.

6. Once your puppy knows some basic commands, use them constantly. Ask for a sit before you pet or play with him. Have him do a down before you give him a toy. Make him drop toys on command on a regular basis. This sort of thing goes a long way toward convincing your puppy who’s in charge. And the better your puppy becomes at listening to you the more confident you’ll become of your role as alpha.

7. “Get outta the way!” When your puppy is in your way make him move. Rather than going around him, a submissive behavior, make him get out of your way, a dominant behavior. You can do this with just a gentle push with your leg, coupled with a word for a command. 8. Teach your puppy to drop things on command and then use this command regularly. You can teach a “Drop it” (many trainers say “Leave it”, either is okay) command very easily. When the puppy has a toy in his mouth offer him a tasty treat in exchange. Most will immediately drop the toy to get the treat. If you give the command as you hold out the treat your puppy will quickly learn what “Drop it” means. Expand this command to having your puppy drop food. This is an even stronger expression of dominance as food is very important (see #1 above) and can also save your puppy’s life if he picks up something dangerous or poisonous.

Use this command regularly to have your puppy drop toys or give up pieces of food. If he drops the toy/food he gets treats, praise, and the toy/food is returned. If he refuses then take it away and put it up where he can’t get it.

9. Practice basic submission exercises. Two which are very useful are the “Settle command” and tummy rubs. Tummy rubs are pleasant for most dogs and so be sure to make them a part of your normal handling. You can also stand behind your dog, lift up his front paws so his is standing on his hind legs, and with your other hand rub his tummy. This is a very submissive position for your puppy but the tummy rub makes it pleasant as well.

For the “Settle” exercise, place your pup gently on his side with his head on the floor. Using the words “Easy” or “Settle” in a firm tone, require the pup to lie still for a few seconds and release him with your release word (“Ok” is common, I’ve also heard “Finished!”, “All done”, personally I use “At ease!”) Do not release him when he is struggling. Wait until you gain control and then release.

Most puppies will put up at least some resistance when you introduce this exercise. Use your voice and hands effectively. Praise your dog quietly and stroke him slowly when he is cooperating. At the first sign of resistance, correct him in a firm tone of voice and/or physically place him again into a full prone position with his head on the floor. Follow with immediate quiet praise and slow stroking. This is particularly important with a pup that is very excitable or mouthy. Over-handling or rapid hand movements will be counter-productive. Quiet hands will lead to a quiet dog!

Gradually increase the duration of the exercise until your pup will lie still for several minutes without resistance. Three or four brief sessions per day, especially during the early stages, will produce the best results. Initially, you will want to conduct your sessions in a low distraction environment.

10. From an early age handle your puppy all over. It is the alpha’s privilege to touch his underlings however he wishes. If the puppy complains then give him a light scolding and continue, or even just ignore the puppy’s complaints and continue. If your puppy reacts positively to your handling, or even just ignores it, be lavish with the praise and hand out treats. You can teach this by doing no more than a second or two of handling followed by praise and treats. If the handling is short enough your puppy will not have a chance to complain before the praise and treats start, teaching him that handling is fun. You’ll find that your puppy will quickly be happy to stay still for longer and longer handling sessions.

You can also use petting your puppy to work this. While petting your puppy in a way you already know he enjoys, use your other hand to handle the puppy in someplace more sensitive such as the paws or around the genitalia. Your puppy will soon be happy to allow you to touch him anywhere and your veterinarian will thank you many times over.

11. Once your puppy is used to being handled try giving him a massage. With the puppy lying down gently manipulate the muscle along his back, chest, neck, and legs. This is a very dominant exercise for you, and hence very submissive for the puppy, but it’s also very pleasurable for both. It will help to build a strong bond between you while simultaneously cementing your position as alpha.

ACDs are bred to bite in their work and this instinct will show itself early on. Teaching ACD pups not to nip humans is a critical part of early training. There are several different methods recommended; the key is consistency. Pick a method and work with it. You may not get an immediate response but hang in there. If after a week or two you still don’t see any change then consider switching methods, but more likely the problem is in your consistency or delivery.

It’s key to remember that ACDs have been bred to respond to force with force; “if a cow kicks you then come back biting harder” could easily be the ACD motto. Purely physical punishments don’t tend to work well with ACDs because of this. You need to make sure that you are communicating with your dog, communicating that biting is NOT all right.

Here are a couple of methods:
One, act like the puppy’s mother would when he bites her. Grab the puppy’s muzzle and pin him to the floor by it for a few seconds, like a momma dog, verbally scold your puppy. Be really ticked off. Being pinned to the floor by his muzzle is clear dogspeak for “you’ve been very bad”. Hold the puppy down for a few seconds, until he gives in, and then let him back up. As soon as the correction is over you have to immediately turn off your annoyance. From the puppy’s point of view the incident is now completely over. If he bites again then do it again. Make sure that your scolding is truly convincing. ACDs are virtual mind readers and if you can’t be convincingly angry then your puppy won’t get the message.

Two, act like another puppy in the litter. Puppies bite each other in play all the time and they quickly learn how hard they can bite before their playmates get upset. Whenever your puppy clamps down on you yelp in pain. Again, you have to be truly convincing or your puppy will think you’re just making play noises and take that as encouragement. The yelp can be an angry yelp directed right at the puppy to up the ante. You’ll know your puppy understands if he briefly submits, ie drops his ears, lowers his head and tail, perhaps even lowers his whole body slightly. This submission will be over almost immediately and you have to turn off your annoyance just as quickly.

Don’t forget to yelp when your puppy bites clothes. From the puppy’s point of view human’s clothing should be an especially sensitive part of their bodies, ie biting clothes seems to REALLY hurt people. Your puppy will quickly decide that biting clothes is a bad idea.

Once your puppy is no longer biting hard, change your criteria and yelp whenever he bites gently. When he’s down to just gently mouthing you switch to yelping whenever he initiates the mouthing behavior. Using these steps you can train your puppy that 1. people have really sensitive skin, and 2. they should never use their mouths on people unless the people initiate the behavior.

I personally prefer the “Yelp” method because you can practice it a LOT very easily. Just play with the puppy and put your hands in his mouth as part of the game. When he bites, yelp, accept his brief submission and then go back to the game. My preferences aside, both methods work very well.

In both of the above methods there are ways to up the ante and make the correction for biting more severe. With the “mother dog” approach you can add in a scruff shake (grab the puppy by the scruff of the neck and give a quick shake, again a behavior the puppy’s mother would use.)

With either method social isolation is a powerful way to make the correction more potent. When a puppy bites either his mother or his playmates too hard too often they will refuse to interact with him for awhile so again we’re communicating with the puppy by using a “punishment” which another dog would use. Immediately isolate the puppy away from you for a brief period. 5 minutes is ample. I find that isolation where the puppy can see you and hear you but not actually get to you (behind a baby gate is great) works really well. Make sure you completely ignore the puppy for the entire time. Your puppy will find this EXTREMELY frustrating and take it as a serious punishment. Above all, be consistent. No matter how cute it looks for that 10 lb. puppy to be hanging on to your pants cuff you have to treat it as a serious infraction. If the puppy thinks that you’ll see his behavior as cute, even just 1 time in 20, he’ll keep doing it despite punishments.

Toys with a central cavity or hole, things like Kongs (available at most pet stores) or bones, can be made VERY interesting by smearing a little peanut butter or cheese inside. This can keep a puppy busy for hours as he tries to get at the good stuff just out of reach inside. Even freezing soft food inside makes for an all day play toy.

When you cannot supervise your puppy then confine him someplace where he has acceptable chew toys and can’t reach anything unacceptable. Crate training, for when you are out of the house and for at night while you sleep, is essential for preventing destructiveness problems.

Consistency is probably the single most important thing when raising a dog. If you are not consistent the dog will see this ambiguity as an excuse to get away with otherwise punished behaviors. One important tidbit of animal behavior which has come out of behavioristic studies over the years directly relates to consistency.

“The occasionally rewarded behavior is the longest lived behavior.” If you always reward a dog for something he will tend to show that behavior regularly. If you then stop rewarding the behavior the dog will usually stop showing it before long. If you always punish for a behavior then the dog will stop showing that behavior quite quickly. But if you punish for a behavior sometimes and reward for it others, the dog will continue to show the behavior over and over and over. In fact, if you sometimes punish and sometimes reward for a behavior, even if you later switch to only punishing it will take an extra long time for the dog to stop whatever it is. This is a basic principle of animal behavior which works for any animal tested, including humans.

To put this in concrete terms let’s look at the behavior of begging at the dinner table. Many people find this annoying 90% of the time but occasionally the dog comes across as cute and receives a tidbit of food. This is a classic example of the occasionally rewarded behavior. Even though the dog is usually ignored or even punished for begging at the table, because begging works once in a great while he will keep trying it forever. The ONLY way to get rid of the begging behavior is to make sure that it never, never, EVER results in the dog getting food. Does your ACD chew on plastic? Here is part of the reason and to teach “leave it”. Plastic is made with a small amount of fish oil to release it from the mold. To dogs, this is nose candy! Cell phones, TV remotes, eyeglass frames, milk jugs, wastebaskets…they’re all fair game!

So, consistency is key to teaching your dog good behavior. “Bad” behaviors must never be rewarded, they should always be either ignored or punished, whichever is appropriate. No matter how cute the “bad” behavior is you must not let the dog know that you find it so otherwise that behavior becomes a standard part of his repertoire.

ACDs were bred for a hard physical job and they have very high pain tolerances. They firmly believe that if something challenges them physically the correct response is to come back biting. While this is a helpful attitude when working grumpy cattle it does present problems when you want to scold your dog for being bad. Physical punishments just are not the right way to go. For starters, you’ll have to use a lot of force to actually upset your ACD, enough force that you risk doing him substantial damage. Secondly, he is unlikely to respond to this by being contrite but instead may see it as a reason to challenge you. By far the best bet is emotional blackmail. Emotional punishments are much more effective with an ACD.

Probably the harshest punishment from an ACD’s point of view is to put him behind a baby gate in the next room. He can see you, hear you, but not be near you. The only physical punishment I ever use is bitter apple sprayed in the mouth, and this is only for aggressiveness with other dogs. Choke-chain, pinch collar, my ACD really doesn’t care. But a bad taste in his mouth makes him pathetic, contrite, and very well behaved. Note, when I say I do not use physical punishments with my dog I mean that I do not jerk him around with a pinch collar and that I certainly never hit him. This does not mean I never correct him physically, just that any physical methods are based in dog communication. Any physical methods I use are not done to cause pain but to provoke an appropriate emotional response. By using methods based on understanding dog behavior you can issue what your dog sees as a pretty severe punishment without causing any pain at all.

If he is being truly bad, that is completely ignoring me or doing something which is dangerous to himself, I use very strong corrections to let him know that I am angry and I am definitely the BOSS! First of these is grabbing him by the scruff of the neck and giving him a good shake. Second is grabbing him by the scruff on either side of his neck and cheeks and lifting his front feet off the ground. I then stare directly into his eyes at close range and tell him in no uncertain terms just how annoyed I am.

All of these punishments are reserved for severe infractions and all are very quick (it has probably been 5 years since any of my dogs did anything which warranted an alpha roll, or even a lift by the cheeks). None of these should last more than 5-10 seconds and even that is getting long. And as soon as the punishment is over the incident is forgotten; from the dog’s point of view the subject is forgotten after 10 seconds or so. Not that he doesn’t try to be extra good for the next three or four hours, but holding a grudge will do no one any good.

You may have some difficulty with jealousy over human attention. Setting firm rules about what is and what is not acceptable behavior should solve this problem pretty quickly. Just make sure that you are fair and give the established dog at least as much, if not more, attention than the new dog. This will help the established dog adjust to the newcomer.

There are several reasons not to chain out a dog, even for brief intervals, and several good alternatives.

1) Dogs on chains can be teased by kids or attacked by unleashed dogs. They really are at the mercy of whatever comes along.

2) The frustration of being tied up can lead to aggressive behavior. (By frustration, I mean not being able to get to that squirrel, kid walking by, other dog, etc.) I’m not saying this *always* happens, but it is a frequent consequence. With a breed that was originally bred to heel (read as bite), this is something to be considered seriously – especially because you have children around. You have a great buddy for them and want to keep it that way.

3) You have to try to anticipate every place the dog could get hung up and injured and shorten the chain or remove the object. Dogs can be very creative this way, and ACDs are very agile and athletic jumpers. I won’t subject you to the horror stories, but they happen.

4) If dogs are left for any extended period of time, the weather can change (so they need access to shelter) and they can easily knock water bowls out of reach. It helps if there’s a neighbor willing to keep an eye out and rescue them.

5)How does tethering or chaining dogs pose a danger to humans?
Dogs tethered for long periods can become highly aggressive. Dogs feel naturally protective of their territory; when confronted with a perceived threat, they respond according to their fight-or-flight instinct. A chained dog, unable to take flight, often feels forced to fight, attacking any unfamiliar animal or person who unwittingly wanders into his or her territory.
Numerous attacks on people by tethered dogs have been documented. For example, a study published in the September 15, 2000, issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association reported that 17% of dogs involved in fatal attacks on humans between 1979 and 1998 were restrained on their owners’ property at the time of the attack. Tragically, the victims of such attacks are often children who are unaware of the chained dog’s presence until it is too late. Furthermore, a tethered dog who finally does get loose from his chains may remain aggressive, and is likely to chase and attack unsuspecting passersby and pets.

6. Why is tethering dangerous to dogs?
In addition to the psychological damage wrought by continuous chaining, dogs forced to live on a chain make easy targets for other animals, humans, and biting insects. A chained animal may suffer harassment and teasing from insensitive humans, stinging bites from insects, and, in the worst cases, attacks by other animals. Chained dogs are also easy targets for thieves looking to steal animals for sale to research institutions or to be used as training fodder for organized animal fights. Finally, dogs’ tethers can become entangled with other objects, which can choke or strangle the dogs to death.

7. Are these dogs dangerous to other animals?
In some instances, yes. Any other animal that comes into their area of confinement is in jeopardy. Cats, rabbits, smaller dogs, and others may enter the area when the tethered dog is asleep and then be fiercely attacked when the dog awakens.

Now for the alternatives.
A crate or X-pen (a 4×4′ wire pen that can have a top put on for the acrobats among us), works very well and allows you to leave the dog in the house while you’re gone. These can run you from about $50 to $100, depending on how strong/heavy/fancy they are. Most dogs LOVE their crates- especially if that’s a place where they are given food and toys. It becomes their private den. Some like the wire ones even better if something is draped over it to cover the top and sides (although puppies usually think the drape is another toy!) We crate our guys when we need to vacuum or when we have people working on the house, etc.


If you every have ANY question about behavior, please do not hesitate to email me or call.