With any herding breed and most of the working dogs it is important for them to feel that they have a purpose in life and something to do. Unfortunately many owners of Australian Cattle Dogs find out the hard way what a bored Australian Cattle Dog is capable of. These dogs will use their natural intelligence and athletic abilities in very weird and destructive ways, barking, digging, climbing and literally destroying whatever seems to take their fancy.
This negative behavior is not a breed trait in the Australian Cattle Dog any more than it is in any other dog. When the Australian Cattle Dog is properly trained, exercised and socialized they are a wonderful companion pet that is very attuned to the owner and the family. Keeping the Australian Cattle Dog busy also isn't difficult if you are willing to put in a bit of time and effort and get your dog involved in doing some type of event or competition.
Not all owners are going to want to actually compete with their dog and many may never take their Australian Cattle Dog to an actual event. Training, practicing and working through your own routines at home is just as beneficial to the dog, plus it will greatly enhance your working relationship and trust with the dog. After all if you as the owner know how your dog will behave in any situation you are more confident and willing to take your dog new places and into new situations. In turn this continues to help with socialization and training, continually strengthening the best components of your Australian Cattle Dogs overall behavior.
There are many different types of events that an Australian Cattle Dog will excel at and really enjoy besides the most obvious event which is actual herding and livestock work. The great thing about working with this breed is that they are so intelligent that training is really a pleasure and the owners are constantly amazed at the dog's ability to problem solve and react in training situations. Their natural athletic ability also greatly enhances all types of training, which is another reason why these dogs are seen in such a variety of events.
Dog Frisbee, sometimes known as canine disc competitions, is one of the more unique types of events that the Australian Cattle Dog and the Border Collie typically take center stage. The sheer athletic ability of the breeds combined with their almost obsessive love of fetch is a perfect combination.
There are two very basic and general types of events in dog Frisbee competitions, with more specialized competitions within each general event. The first is the basic throw and catch type of competition. In these events the handler throws the Frisbee or disc a set distance and the dog must jump up and catch the disc. This is a timed event in most areas and consists of teams of dogs and owners. Different scoring rules apply for most throws and catches and longest throws and catches.
Freestyle events are truly amazing to see. In these events the dog do a lot of additional tricks, often jumping up over the head or back of the handler and doing back flips to catch a specific type of throw. These events are choreographed to music and are also timed. They are scored on complexity of moves, keeping in time with the music and overall routine difficulty.
Similar in some aspects to Frisbee or disc competitions, Flyball requires dogs to be fast, very capable of fetching and to have a natural competitive edge. This fun and entertaining event is big in many areas across the United States, Canada and even the United Kingdom and Europe.
In this event teams of dogs, like in a relay, race from a starting line to a Flyball box at the end of a straight track. The dog leaps on the box which is spring loaded to release a tennis ball. The dog catches the ball and races back for the next dog on the team to go. Not only are the dog running, but they also go over a series of small jumps, and the dog returning will actually meet and pass the next dog in heading for the box on the track.
Flyball is both a fun spectator sport and a great way to have your dog involved in a team activity, terrific for socialization for both the dog and the owner.
Agility events and Australian Cattle Dogs are a natural match; however the dog will need to be very well started along obedience training before starting agility. This is because the Australian Cattle Dog, when in full focus mode, is often hard to command. With basic obedience under his or her belt the owner can be assured that when off-leash the dog will respond to the verbal commands needed to go through an agility competition.
The high energy levels and the natural athletic abilities of the breed are really an outstanding combination for this event. The pause table, where the dog has to jump up and stop for a pre-set time, is often the most challenging aspect of the course to teach since the Australian Cattle Dog just wants to keep on going.
Since this event has different levels for dogs and handlers of different experience levels it is a natural progressive type of competition for an Australian Cattle Dog. In addition the agility events enhance the sense of teamwork between the handler and the dog, creating a wonderful bond.
Although the Australian Cattle Dog is independent, they thrive on being able to make their owner happy. An Australian Cattle Dog that is bonded with the owner will make an ideal obedience dog because of its strong desire to please. They do need to be trained slightly different than some breed for obedience because repetition is definitely not their best method of learning.
If you are interested in obedience training with an Australian Cattle Dog it is a good idea to find a trainer or class that specializes in herding breeds since they often can provide great pointers about how to vary routines and training programs.
Regardless of the activity you select, getting yourself and your Australian Cattle Dog involved is the first step. If you aren't sure what activity is the best match, go and watch some events, sit in on a training session or try a few out with your dog until you find the right combination.