It’s almost our Blue Heeler, Banjo’s, bedtime and no matter how much daily activity we provide, he’ll act like a human toddler and throw a tantrum when he’s told to go to his bed. Today, like most days, he was hard at work as my all-star running companion, the local leaping ball catch champion, rope tug-a-war expert, and countless hours wrestling his Blue Heeler sister, Bindi. It makes me wonder, is there an age when Cattle Dogs calm down? Let’s take a look at typical energy levels at different ages.
Australian Cattle Dogs (ACD) typically become calmer when they are about a year and a half old. Prior to that age, daily structured training paired with challenging physical and mental activities will help direct their energy for a calmer puppy. After 18 months, a Cattle Dogs’ high energy will continue to require daily rigorous activities to reduce potentially destructive habits and avoid any behavioral issues.
Will Your Cattle Dog Calm Down with Age?
Don’t worry, your Cattle Dog, or Heeler, will calm down as they age! Especially when you provide daily physical and mental exercise, you’ll have a happy, fun, and loyal companion.
What are the ages and stages to expect with your Cattle Dog? ACDs have an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years, which can roughly be divided up into four stages: puppy, adolescent, adulthood, and senior.
- Puppy: This stage lasts from birth through twelve and eighteen months old. Puppies are born blind and deaf. Around two weeks old, puppies start to see and hear. As their senses develop, they learn more about their surroundings and owners. It is recommended that puppies remain with their litter until at least eight weeks old.
- Adolescent: Usually around six months of age, puppies enter their adolescence, when hormone production increases. At this age, females will go into heat and males will begin marking their territory, both showing signs of entering the reproductive phase, unless they are spayed or neutered. This phase can last until the dogs are two to three years of age.
- Adulthood: The adult stage begins between 18 months and three years old. While in this stage, adult Cattle dogs become easier to handle and more patient learning challenging tasks.
- Senior: The senior years begin around seven years old. During this stage, the muzzle and ear will turn grey. Teeth will require more attention, more frequent cleanings and extractions may be necessary. As a senior, Cattle Dogs will slow down and require less demanding activities.
It’s recommended to have structured training for at least two years. But training shouldn’t end there! ACDs will benefit from ongoing learning to help expend their energy and yield a happier, calmer companion. Keep in mind, due to a longer life span than similar-sized breeds, Cattle Dogs are often believed to mature later in life.
Are Cattle dogs High Energy?
Absolutely, Cattle Dogs are very high-energy working dogs. ACDs require lots of attention and exercise.
What Activities Can Help Calm a Cattle Dog?
Since Cattle Dogs are so high energy, it can be challenging to find ways to satisfy their activity needs. ACDs excel at any typical canine activity, especially agility, obedience, fly ball, and frisbee. With a balance of activities each day, your heeler will relax and enjoy spending quiet time by your side. Here are some activity options that have worked for our Cattle Dogs.
- Long walks on the street, a hiking trail, or pretty much anywher you can give them a few miles to stretch their legs will work. ACDs were bred to herd cattle over long distances and still require similar exertion.
- A local dog park can offer some much need socialization as well as provide room to run. If your ACD is similar to our pups, you may want to watch out for smaller or younger dogs. Small dogs or puppies seem to flip our ACDs herding switch to “on”, for a not-so-welcome game of heeler chase.
- Have a stocked toy bin handy! Some of the best toys offer puzzles for mental stimulation, especially toys stuffed with treats. Teaching them to put the toys back in the bin not only challenges them but keeps your place clean.
- Agility training can focus an ACD’s energy into positive tasks. Here’s a previous post with additional informaiton on agility training.
- If you’re lucky enough to live nearby a ranching school, enroll your dog in a sheep or cattle herding class there. The first class usually tests for herding instinct, like a placement test. It’s amazing to see how quickly their instinct kicks in and it’s a great muscle-building exercise!
- Training is a great way to turn their high energy into teachable moments. Here are some of the best methods to train an ACD.
How Do You Keep a Cattle Dog Busy?
We find that varying activities really help to keep our Cattle Dogs engaged and keeps us from getting bored also! Whatever activity you choose, spending time with your heeler will continue to reinforce the bond. Check out this post dedicated to the best ways to keep a Cattle Dog Busy.