How to Keep a Blue Heeler Busy


If you live with an Australian cattle dog, aka a blue heeler, you may relate to my article, “How to Keep a Blue Heeler Busy.” Apparently, it’s one of the most popular dog articles I’ve written for this particular site, according to the traffic stats, and it means lots of people are searching for this information — if you know the breed, you’ll know why. Unfortunately, some people don’t research the breed of dog they acquire, and the dog always gets the short end of the stick. Often, a new canine family member who’s not a good fit for its humans’ lifestyle ends up at the pound. This happens often with cattle dogs, and sadly many end up in rescues along with other high-energy or ‘strong-willed’ breeds.

Scamp, pictured in this post, is going on six years old — this pic was when she was 10 months old. She is my second cattle dog and I adore the breed’s characteristics and ‘every day is Christmas’ attitude. While bursting with an almost manic energy, the breed is also exceedingly affectionate and loyal. I call her my ‘velcro’ dog, never more than a stone’s throw from me at any time. Because I work at home, my three dogs and me are 24/7 buddies, a strong bond indeed. Aside from her comical antics, obsession for playing ball, love of being surrounded by cats and hugging her ‘mom’, Scamp can be sneaky and thinks she can outsmart her humans. Well, sometimes I have to admit, she can:) The breed does best with experienced dog handlers who can provide lots of exercise. Bred to work, cattle dogs are successfully rounding up cattle or other animals all over North America and in Australia, of course. We’re vegetarians, and not cattle ranchers or sheep keepers, so we have to be inventive to keep our blue heeler busy.

According to the rescue report, Scamp was born in Columbus, Ohio into a hoarder’s outdoor camp, and lived with 49 other dogs of assorted breeds, including cattle dogs. Isolated from human contact, they were at least well-fed. She was transferred to a rescue agency here in Ontario at the age of 10 months. I found her on Pet Finder and fell in love. She was the spitting image of Sydney, my first cattle dog who passed away a few years earlier, and the reason I was looking for another cattle dog in the first place. So enamored were we with Scamper that we adopted her best friend, Chip, as well — he’s another post coming soon. We wanted to make sure she began her new life with someone familiar and their love bond is a joy to behold. We traveled four hours each way to bring these guys home and both Scamp and Chip have made a powerful impact on our lives. They are both the epitome of the appreciative rescue dog. Although most of our 10 dogs over the past 17 years were wonderful, we’ve never had a pair so cuddly and sweet. We adore them completely and our beautiful Plott, Daisy Mae, too.

My article explores a few ways to keep these rugged, high-energy dogs happy and healthy:


“Australian cattle dogs, known unofficially as blue heelers or Queensland blue heelers, are members of the herding group of dogs, as recognized by the AKC, or American Kennel Club. Renowned for both their high energy and uncanny intelligence, they love to be active. Investing time and patience in training is necessary for a cattle dog to reach her full potential. In addition to daily walks, hiking and swimming, there are several organized activities and sports you may consider to satisfy your cattle dog’s mental and physical needs.”

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7 thoughts on “How to Keep a Blue Heeler Busy

  1. We need to talk. Ozzy is mine, but really think; his. He is 6 and large Heeler. Energetic is a close to possible for description for a dog who 1) won’t stop playing 24/7, 2) is Velcro to the max. He once jumped through 2 glass doors to be with me, 3) recently tore up a leather chair because he was bored, 4) is totally devoted to both my wife and myself.

    I wish I had enough time in the day to keep this fellow safely busy, but I am working to feed him.


    1. Thanks for your comment, Barry. Ozzy sounds wonderful, just like my Heelers, who have both passed, one in July. I love that loyal Velcro side of them, but they definitely thrive with a job of some kind. Scamp, my most recent cattle dog had a job as full time playmate/pal to my collie, Chip. Sydney, my first Heeler’s job was pal to my German shepherd, Beau. Both these pairs spent much of most days playing. Having dog friends worked wonders for many of my dogs over the years. As much as I love to spend time playing with my dogs, I always could rely on another dog to fill in the gaps when I was just too busy.:)


  2. We have had seven Australian Cattle dogs, six blue heelers and one red. We also registered as a kennel and bred one litter, but screening prospective owners was so stressful we vowed never to do it again.

    We have two at the moment, an 18 year old red who is nearly deaf, nearly blind, and has the equivelant of dementia; and an 8 year old blue bitch who is a rescue. She is also without a doubt the smartest dog I’ve ever encountered.

    They can be a challenging breed, but also very rewarding. THEY NEED RULES, BOUNDARIES AND LIMITATIONS. They are happiest when they know what is expected of them, and when they know what is expected they will suprise you with the initiative they take while still behaving properly.

    Once you’ve had a good heeler you will not want another breed, but a bad heeler will drive you over the edge. And, the difference between a good heeler and a bad heeler is the owner.


  3. Cheers for writing this blog! We just adopted a 1 yr old Blue Heeler . She was an undernourished rescue afraid of everything at first, but settled in with us by day three. She’s a sweetheart and fairly obedient for a shelter pup, but its been a week & she’s started testing boundaries , esp when she’s bored. I can’t take her out six times a day as I work & right now dog parks and training aren’t an option, as she was recently spayed and isn’t quite ready for class yet, as per the vet. Outside of walks and playtime with toys, we are running out of ideas! How do you keep them employed & busily content indoors? Thanks, Marian


    1. Thank you Marian for your kind comments and glad you’re enjoying my blog! Kudos for adopting this young rescue dog and sounds like she is now doing well, and is finally safe. I’ve shared my life with two blue heelers since 2003 so I’m no expert, but certainly my several years of experience with each of them informed that article I wrote. My most recent, Scamper, passed away in July and I miss her so. Aside from walks, play and the usual nurturing environment, blue heelers need a job. It was easy for me since I have alway had multiple dogs. Scamper was a full time playmate/pal to my collie, Chip. Sydney, my first Heeler’s job was to be a companion to my German shepherd, Beau. Both of these pairs spent much of most days playing, usually getting worn out in the process, then snoozing side-by-side for hours. Having dog friends worked wonders for many of my dogs over the years. As much as I love to spend time playing and walking with my dogs, I always could rely on their pals to fill in the gaps when I was just too busy.:) I know that one dog is often enough to look after, but in my experience, dog breed like heelers, who tend to get bored, do best with another dog in the household if it’s at all possible.


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