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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all, I'm looking for other people's personal experiences with Australian Cattle Dogs. I'm seeing a lot of generalized information that is all the same, but I'm looking for real stories.

Have you owned one? Do you own one? What was your dog's personality? Did you have any issues you had to work through? Were they easy to train? How did you train? What did you do for exercise? Mental stimulation? Did you crate while unsupervised or gate off?

Thanks!
 

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I don't have a pure ACD but my Stella is a mix. She's super energetic/athletic, highly intelligent, very trainable, very social to people and other dogs, and an all around great dog. She's very strong physically and mentally, vocal, and has a moderately high prey drive. She is good with other dogs, but a few times randomly she has targeted and bullied other dogs. But most of the time she stops bully dogs and will physically break up conflicts she sees. She's very gentle and saintly tolerant of our 9 lb Yorkie/Maltese mix

Stella is VERY trainable, and really enjoys learning and doing tricks. However she's a year next week and still has a very weak recall, and almost non-existent "drop it". Impulse control behaviors are very hard to train, or at least for them to stick. She likes to do her own thing and is very distractable. We've worked on being quiet and "settling" when she barks at guests for attention or attention barks me/my mom while we are relaxing. We are still working on a lot of things. However she's decent at loose leash walking, and she used to be a really bad puller. Basic commands like "Sit" "Down" "Heel" (I use that interchangably with a "focus" on walks), and others were very easy to teach her. She also has a decent stay but she won't stay for extended periods with distractions around. I used positive reinforcement training with treats to train her.

For mental stimulation we do tricks and training, peanut butter kongs, bully sticks and other chewies, as well as frisbee. I also send her to daycare regularly and we go to the dog park. She is always crated when she is alone in the house but this might change as she matures and is less of a mischievous "puppy".
 
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I've been around quite a few, and they're not an easy breed. They are super intense and high energy, and not particularly easy to train. I babysat for a couple kids that had one, and while a sweet dog, he was a challenge. He chased livestock nonstop, and herded the kids anytime they ran or got excited. Including getting nippy. He was very obsessive and hated being groomed. And his owners were very good with him, he had consistency and good training. He wasn't a bad dog by any means, but he really just needed a job. Some are fine with just being pets, but most of them need something to do, and I mean more than going on a walk/run or playing with toys. Any of the herding breeds need a lot of mental stimulation.
 

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I love them, but that said I honestly feel they are one of the hardest dogs to own and care for well in the herding group.

A mishandled, poorly trained ACD can be a nightmare. They are often resource guarders, extremely bitey and quite impatient. They aren't the type of dog that is willing to emphathize with or put up with human weaknesses. If you're slow, too bad, they're leaving you behind. You're playing with a toy and they accidentally munch your hand? They won't feel ashamed at all. Stuff happens.

The only dog that ever seriously came after me, on open, public land from pure aggression was an ACD, and he did some serious damage to the leather riding boots I was wearing. If I hadn't been able to jump on a fence out of reach I don't doubt I would have been badly bitten.

There are lovers out there in the breed though--I mean dogs on the level of Labradors with their enjoyment of hanging out with their humans in the outdoors. A barn I worked at when I was a preteen had a red ACD who was the cheeriest pup ever, tongue always lolling and tail always wagging, and never straying far from me when I was working. If I tripped he was right there to see if I was okay.
They are smart but definitely don't have quite the willingness to follow orders that a Border Collie type herder often has. They need to be motivated. If you motivate them they'll use their powers of invincibility (in their minds) to do everything you ask. If they aren't motivated, you'll know. You can't manipulate this dog, ever, in my experience.

I have never owned them before, although I've pet-sat for several weeks and know tons of them now because they are the essential "barn dog" and I'm an equestrian. I love them, and they are very high up on my "to own" list.
 
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My close friends have a mix (according to DNA testing he is 3/4, and he looks pretty much purebred except his ticking is much more sparse) and I've spent a lot of time with him. He is a really cool dog. Very leash reactive, but off leash he really doesn't care at all about other dogs. He is active, and kind of sleeps with one eye open ready to jump up and do something. He's also barky, and will jump up barking out of a dead sleep when he's heard something. He's just kind of intense in his play and his barking/reactions to things.

But he is the most biddable dog I've ever met. He learns new things in 2 repetitions, he has a perfect recall even off of chasing critters (with basically zero work). He is just ready and waiting for you to do something with him or tell him what to do. He's always in tune with his people

He's a lot of dog, and his owners are novices with a 1 year old baby (they've had the dog for 3 years) and they do ok. He's not what they were looking for, and I don't think they would get another just like him, but he fits in well in their family and doesn't have any major behavioral problems or anything. He would like more exercise and more of a job to do, but he deals just fine with their lifestyle. Personally I want to steal him and do agility.

ETA: I would say his only "bad" traits are that he's not really into kids, but not aggressive other than maybe barking. And he will growl if you touch him while he's sleeping. He's just kind of bossy and opinionated in general, even more so with my dogs than with people, but he's never bitten anyone or even acted like he was going to. I think bossiness comes with the territory of ACDs.
 
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I have to add that my friends have an ACD mix (about 10 months not), one that's more than my dog. She's a nasty, fear aggressive little thing. She bit me last month just for coming into their house. She generally hates people and doesn't like to be touched y anyone except her owners and is very dog selective. She's very smart and knows tricks but personality wise she's just awful.
 
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Discussion Starter #8
So my question was prompted because I am starting to have issues with my girl who is an ACD and I am just totally overwhelmed, and I'm trying to learn there is any hope, or if she should be in a home as the only dog and with an owner who can do performance sports with her. I did my research on ACDs and have only owned herding breed dogs, but she is proving to be way over my experience level.

We got her from a rescue and have had her for 5 weeks. She is about 8 months old. She has started to show some bully behavior and over excited play with my other dog. It's to the point now where he won't even go outside with her anymore because she will just pester him incessantly. If he doesn't wrestle with her right away she will nip, bite, pull his tail, and bark at him until he does, which frustrates him to the point of him trying to get her to stop, which she doesn't respect and then a fight ensues. When this happens at 6am in the morning is the worst, as half my neighborhood is sleeping. I now have to let them out separately for potty breaks and to play. On our morning walk/jogs she will try to get him to wrestle with her which he wants nothing to do with - he just wants to walk - and she will not listen to me when I try to get her to stop. I have to actually pick her up as it is the only way I can get her to quit, otherwise, it's a fight. She only does this when we walk in the subdivision; forest hikes she is perfect on (likely because there is MUCH more stimulation in the forest than the boring old neighborhood).

She is also not good with my cats (despite being told she was ok with cats). My one cat puts stands her ground and puts her in her place, but she just views that as a challenge and so won't quit pestering her, and when Asia doesn't respond with play, Ember will bark incessantly. I have to put her in another room to get her to stop. My other cat is terrified of her, and so stays upstairs until she knows Ember is crated for bed. If she happens to come down any other time, Ember will either growl, bark, or try to chase her.

Ember gets as much exercise as I can do in a day, which amounts to a 2mi walk/jog in the morning followed by as much ball throwing and flirt pole playing in the yard as is needed for her to get tuckered out, then when I'm home from work it's another 2-3 mile walk/hike in the forest, then more yard time, and finally at least 20min of training after dinner. She hasn't been easy to train at all. She's very independent and seems to take forever to understand that I'm asking her to do something.

I did contact the rescue that I got her from, and she is telling me that I need to train her with a choke collar and leash attached to me at all times, giving corrections via the leash to stop bad behavior and praise only - no treats - to reinforce good. I hate choke chains and have always trained via clicker. :(
 

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The play behavior sounds pretty typical for lots of puppies that age. My 5 month old does not understand leaving the older dog alone when he doesn't want to play. She's better on walks now because we pulled her away from him every time she tried to play and she figured it out. But yeah, I would say that's something that will definitely decrease with age and with some work (teaching an "enough" cue and then putting her in time out). It's easier if you have an adult dog who will clearly correct the puppy and put an end to it, but not all adults will do that so sometimes it's up to you. It's taken weeks and it's not perfect, but my puppy is starting to understand "enough" means "stop playing or you will go in your crate".

Not sure about the cats, since I don't have any, but again that's pretty typical behavior from a young high energy prey motivated dog. I don't want to say you'll definitely work through it, but if she's just trying to play and not chasing/attacking them I think you'll probably be ok.

It sounds like she need some more impulse control training. I would do a combination of It's Yer Choice, and clear time outs for things you want to stop (incessant playing, annoying the cats). They do get it eventually and she's still very young.
 
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Discussion Starter #11
I thought I'd post an update in here .... After doing a Wisdom Panel DNA test on my first dog, Riley, I decided to one on Ember. She came from an Australian Cattle Dog rescue marked as an ACD, and the rescue thought she was full ACD. Turns out she is actually less of an ACD than we thought.... She's got some in her, but she also has large amounts of German Shepherd as well. Which makes total sense if you saw her in person. She has the snout shape of a GSD. She also had amount of Malamute and Chow Chow. So, my little "ACD" is actually an American Mutt, and is 100% adorable. :)







 

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Beautiful pup!
 
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She is gorgeous! I want one!

A lot of your post sounds just like my cattle dog mix. I've had him a year now but he can be a handful. It took me about 2-3 months to lessen the household management some and there is still some of that going on. The part about yours pestering your other dog till the other dog was not wanting to go outside? Yep, that's happened here too. I ended up having everyone sit at the door and call them out one by one. For a long time Hank had to be tethered while around the papillons.

Y'all will figure it out! I remember being overwhelmed.

To answer the question in the OP (I know I'm behind) my cattle dog mix is great. He has a ton of energy and is quite drivey. We do agility and he is incredibly talented. Impulse control is hard for him. He bites really hard and can perform athletic feats none of my other dogs of similar size could perform. He is only 15" tall and almost got over a 6' privacy fence.

He is people friendly but a bit wary. Very very bossy and controlling with other dogs sometimes. As he ages he is less ok with male dogs. He tends to confront situations vs diffuse. He has very high prey drive. Learns things incredibly quickly- way quicker than any dog I've had. He is very versatile and likes a lot of things- lure course, agility, flyball, barn hunt, nosework.
 

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She's adorable :)

I love the dirty look from the cat in the first picture!
Oh, yes - that's Asia, lol - she's the Queen and rules the house :) This pic is from day 1 with Ember, so Asia is trying to figure out who the H this new dog is, lol
 

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She is gorgeous! I want one!

A lot of your post sounds just like my cattle dog mix. I've had him a year now but he can be a handful. It took me about 2-3 months to lessen the household management some and there is still some of that going on. The part about yours pestering your other dog till the other dog was not wanting to go outside? Yep, that's happened here too. I ended up having everyone sit at the door and call them out one by one. For a long time Hank had to be tethered while around the papillons.

Y'all will figure it out! I remember being overwhelmed.

To answer the question in the OP (I know I'm behind) my cattle dog mix is great. He has a ton of energy and is quite drivey. We do agility and he is incredibly talented. Impulse control is hard for him. He bites really hard and can perform athletic feats none of my other dogs of similar size could perform. He is only 15" tall and almost got over a 6' privacy fence.

He is people friendly but a bit wary. Very very bossy and controlling with other dogs sometimes. As he ages he is less ok with male dogs. He tends to confront situations vs diffuse. He has very high prey drive. Learns things incredibly quickly- way quicker than any dog I've had. He is very versatile and likes a lot of things- lure course, agility, flyball, barn hunt, nosework.
Great feedback, thank you! I'm considering getting Ember into all those as well. Agility and Nosework for sure, and I'm trying to find a FlyBall training facility. Barn hunt sounds fun too!
 

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Thanks, guys :) She has these intense moments where she is SO focused on whatever it happens to be, and the look on her face is just adorable. She's a peanut!
 

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I love the pic where she's using her paw as a pillow. Mine does this too. Very cute!

IMG_0100.jpg

I, too, was very overwhelmed when I got my ACD mix. I was unprepared for her energy level and the many issues she had (I had no idea what leash reactivity was before her). Things have gotten much better over the last year as she's settled in and we've worked very hard on training. She's very high prey drive, picky about which dogs she gets along with, but loves all people (actually too much, we're working on jumping...). I wouldn't say she's the brightest dog (she's not the independent problem solver that my parents' beagle mix is), but she picks up tricks easily and I love teaching her all types of fun ones. Her advanced play dead is my personal favorite. Anyway, very pretty dog you have there!
 

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My family, including myself have grown up around working dogs, heelers included. The ones we have met and worked with are super high energy, obsessive (way worse than any border collie I've met), stubborn as anything though if you find the right motivator, they can be somewhat easy to train and with the ones I have met, if they aren't working then they tend to be fat - I've met one that was 35-40kg when heelers tend to be more then 15-20kg range.
 
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