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Australian Cattle Dogs ... what's your experience?

22511 Views 33 Replies 21 Participants Last post by  JoanneF
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?

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Thanks, all! This is great, keep the stories coming!
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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That definitely gives me hope, Elrohwen :) thank you
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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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
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!
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!
ACD are still relatively rare im my country, but the one i met were very fixated on one person, they all had a high ability to focus themself on one task, which is awesome if is training but annoying if it something else.
they were were all very attentive and extremely intelligent.
from the personality they seemed more "directly challenging" and more involved than BCs for example...less sensitive but very capable of standing their ground in a group of dogs. I like how direct they are, but this of course can also have their down sides.
they seemed like you need to be very consistent for them not to test you and since they very active you need to be willing to exercise them mentally and physically so they don't get bored.

From my personal experience with Ember over these past few months, this is all completely accurate. :) She is SUPER attentive and picks things up so fast. My challenge has been keeping her attentive on the right tasks and picking up the right behaviors. She definitely stands her ground when with dogs, but will also back down when she senses she should. And oh boy does this little firecracker test me, lol - love her to pieces and she has definitely made my life interesting ♥
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