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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone,

First time poster. I’ve been browsing around a bit though - happy I found a place to talk dog.

Anyways, long story short my girlfriend and I are talking very seriously about adopting a rescue. We live in Boston, MA. While we’re keeping our options open in terms of breed and age, we both really want a Australian cattle dog (aka blue heeler?) from 1-3 years of age Preferably housebroken. Her brother has an ACD and we just about fell in love with it after spending multiple holidays, long weekends, etc with the dog. We’re both very active people (physically) and do not think providing enough physical activity will be an issue. We’re both at a point in our careers where we can be somewhat flexible with our schedules to make sure the dog is properly socialized, exercised and stimulated.

I should mention that we both come from “dog families,” (for what it’s worth) but have never owned a dog ourselves. We both grew up with Labrador retrievers.

My questions mostly lie within having a dog in a pretty urban environment. We live on the second floor of a townhouse in South Boston. For those who do not Southie, its very residential but also very “tight.” Not many yards. We do not have a yard (a big issue for me, my GF does not seem to think this is an issue), but rather a fenced-in patio area that we share with the 1st floor tenant (another young, cool couple, not worried about them). We are about a quarter mile from a large dog park (awesome), a beach that dogs are allowed on form Oct-May, and many other parks/green spaces, all within a 10-20 min walk.

I’m looking for any advice, tips, experiences for dog ownership in an more urban environment - can anyone share? Again, my biggest issue is not having easy access to an outdoor environment. I’ve gotten mixed reviews on this. Some folks think this is a real bugaboo, other camps seem to think that as long as we are proactive about getting the dog out and about then we’ll be fine.

Of course, if there’s anyone on here from Boston and can offer advice - even better!

Thanks!
 

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Animal Rescue League of Boston has an outdoor dog park (with agility equipment) that the public is allowed to use too :) Not sure if it's limited to certain days/times, though. And there is a sign posted saying if staff asks you to leave you must. But it's there! Maybe check it out.
 

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We have LOTS of ACD around here in North Dakota. All of the owners own a huge farm and a few horses, I've yet to see anyone with an ACD that doesn't have a farm or at least acres of land around where I live.

I don't doubt that you guys can definitely provide the ACD with proper exercise, but remember that this dog breed needs to have a job to do. Coming from someone who lived in the countries all her life, no I would not recommend an ACD in Boston. BUT if you find the perfect mellow older female ACD in a rescue then it may work. All dogs are different and it's just up to you to see their temperaments.
 

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If you end up with a rescue ACD, I think you should be prepared to potentially deal with some nipping/chasing behaviour. I absolutely love ACDs, but I have met a lot of them that were quite mouthy. I've also seen that they can be quite protective of their people, so good socialization is key.
My fiance and I have an Aussie, and I think they are a little more mellow than ACDs, and even he can just just keep going and going long after he and I are tired!
 

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@bear99 -

First, welcome! :)

Second, it sounds to me like you have a really well thought out plan. I think you're smart to want a dog in the 1-3 year age range. A puppy in your living situation would be HARD and not much fun. A housebroken dog, not so bad. Just remember, even if it's a blizzard or torrential downpours, you need to put Fido on a leash and take him out to do his business. As long as you're realistic about this, I think you're fine.

Third, it sounds like both you and your gf are on board which is VERY important.

When you say you're physically active, what type of things do you like to do?

Mental stimulation is also very important for these dogs, so I recommend looking into some puzzle toys, trick training, etc. These may be helpful during the winter.

Best of luck and please keep us posted! :)
 

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I forgot to mention, I'm about 40 minutes south of Boston with many friends in Boston so I can picture your living situation.

If you like to hike, there's TONS of great hiking in MA and NH that I enjoy with my pup :)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Everyone, thanks for the replies.
@Aspen726 - we’re very much into the outdoors. We both like to run, bike, hike and just be outdoors. I’m really into mountain biking and would love to have a trail dog to join me on some of my jaunts…this obviously takes mucho training though so we’ll see. We have family in western MA, VT and south-central NH. We’re mountain people!

I am interested in agility and trick training, so will most likely investigate those options if/when we do pull the trigger.
@Devie - thank you. You’ve definitely validated my major concerns. I did some more reading after I posted and I think you’re right, that Boston may not be the best place for an ACD. Again, we’re not pigeon-holing ourselves to ACDs either. It will depend on our shelter-visits too I think.

I’ve pretty much decided that the decision is going to ride mostly on dog temperament. A spazzy male is not for us. A laid-back mid-aged female seems right up our alley.

That being said, can any offer advice for how we should be visiting shelters and actually interacting with dogs for the first time? I realize that a dogs mannerisms can be night and day between a packed shelter vs. our home. I remember reading somewhere that when visiting a shelter you’re supposed to essentially ignore the dog and really let it do its own thing to try and gauge its personaility. Any truth to this or other advice?

Thanks again...!
 

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Exercise alone is not going to do it for a heeler - like others said, they will need a job. You know all those horror stories you hear about border collies? They also apply to heelers, though as an added bonus heelers will nip first versus stare. It's possible to do it in an urban apartment environment since you'll be relying more on the mental exercise to tire them out. That being said, it's not easy - especially for first time dog owners.

Also as a heads-up, they are what I like to call heeler-stupid. these dogs were bred to push around hundreds of animals 25x their weight, and there is a certain amount of reckless endangerment that comes along with it. My boy has jumped down a story building multiple times. He'll jump over a 6 foot fence instead of taking three steps to the side to go through the gate. Caution and self-preservation just isn't part of their vocabulary.

Do you mind me asking what you like about her brother's ACD? The activity level? The never-stop work ethic? The jerk-with-a-heart-of-gold attitude? (trust me, these guys are big lovable jerks)
 

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@bear99 - I actually recommend working through a rescue over a shelter because they can match a dog to you based off of your wants/ needs. The dogs live in foster homes so the rescues tend to understand some of their quirks and traits and you're more likely to get a compatible pup.
 

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I was going to recommend a rescue too, since your needs and desires are specific and their adoption process will be much more in depth. Too many people end up bringing their dog back to the shelter when it turns out they have unexpected behavior issues or aren't fit for their specific lifestyle. Most rescues get their dogs from shelters and then have someone foster them. We found our dog through a rescue. We filled out an application about our family, lifestyle, desires in a pet, etcetera and they were able to help lead us to our sweet girl who has fit right in. It was also really nice being able to talk to her foster momma!
 

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Well now I feel kind of stupid...I thought RESCUES and SHELTERS were synonymous.Thanks for clearing that up...I'm glad you guys picked up on that...

I think we would prefer a more in depth approach to dog adoption then, and will most likely go with a rescue.
@FailedSlacker - her brother's ACD (named Stone) was just a lovable guy. Very active and he definitely had some nipping issues but overall he was a very friendly dog, and got along with everyone and everything with the exception of very small children. I had a blast playing with him. So...I'm going to go with the "big-lovable-jerk" attitude is probably what sold me.

Regarding that "they'll need a job" what does this mean exactly? Playing fetch? Providing puzzle toys, chewables? Agility training? Trick training? All the above?
 

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All of the above job-wise. Ratchet does multiple sports to keep him tolerable. Puzzle toys worked up until the point he figured out the fastest way to solve them was to throw them against the wall until they break.

Also, sounds like Stone may have been a outlier - most ACDs aren't friendly with everyone. They are more of a one or two person dog.

Some people, they just won't like, and practically nothing will change that.
Some people, they will work for, but only if they get something that they want.
Finally, they have their people (usually just one or two) who they will jump off of a garage roof for.
 

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I have a mix, I believe. Well technically breed is unknown since he was a stray but he looks/acts much like a mini 25ish lb ACD. I also know quite a few more that are definitely purebred. I'd like a purebred one day.

They are not the easiest breed. That said I think it's doable to have one in a city. The ones I know are less.... antsy? than a BC or Aussie. They are very on or are off. They often deceptively come across as lower drive and energy because of it, in my experience. But most ACDs I know are fairly drivey and high energy. My boy is very very high energy as are some of our ACD friends. The high drive ones are very intense dog. Muscly, very strong and powerful for their size. They can be a lot of dog.

Aggression is not uncommon. Both dog to dog and they also tend to be protective. They tend to meet conflict head on vs diffuse it. I'd expect an ACD to try to end a fight- they're not going to give up. Very stoic in regards to pain. I have watched a tiny 5-6 month old ACD puppy try to protect it's owner from an attacking large mixed breed dog. The ACD pup would have lost that fight but she still stepped up. That is admirable but also can get you in trouble sometimes.

My guy is a mix like I said and is only 15 inches tall. He has climbed a 7-8' wall. He can jump 4-5' from a standstill. Magnify that a bit for a real ACD. ;)

My guy bites like crazy. He often leaves bruises just being overly enthusiastic. We have worked very hard on this but it's an ongoing issue.

He is very trainable and thrives with training. I think he's more ADD than a real ACD but generally they are intense dogs to train. They can be hard headed, not blindly biddable like some breeds. My favorite will do anything for a Frisbee and he will go from looking almost comatose to being full on in a second.

Most are in my experience one people dogs and selective with other dogs. They may be friendly with people but it's typically more subdued and reserved once they're past the pup stage.

They are very common and popular in some areas so there are many in rescue.
 

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Its a bit of a ride for you, but look into Lighthouse Animal Shelter in New Bedford. That's where I adopted both of our pups and they were great. They get most of their dogs from down south and will work to get you the perfect dog. They don't even process your adoption payment until after you've had the dog for a few week and you tell them your sure about the pup
 

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All of the above job-wise. Ratchet does multiple sports to keep him tolerable. Puzzle toys worked up until the point he figured out the fastest way to solve them was to throw them against the wall until they break.
THIS. I have a Kelpie mix and an Aussie. Both tend to beeline for the "hit it until it feeds me" approach because it is fastest.

ACDs in general I find to be calmer of mind and less "neurotic" than Aussies or BCs. I live in an area with absolutely TONS of ACDs. I find them to be pretty cordial to most people but definitely one person dogs. They may like others, but they love their people! I don't think lacking a yard is an issue as long as you can provide a lot of exercise via dog parks, running, etc. Issues arise if you have a dog like my Aussie who is intensely hyper, cannot tolerate other dogs, have no yard, and like me have no desire to take up long-distance running. But even this can be usually worked around if the desire is there.

Like @Laurelin has already said: Herders are jumpers. Both of mine could easily jump a 4' fence if they wanted to without much effort. Ezra is fine with other dogs but picky about who he plays with. Kibbeth is badly fear-aggressive. Both of mine also can be mouthy and Kibby still nips when excited. These are just the ways of herders.
 
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