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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