Running with your Australian Cattle Dog – Best tips

Running with your Blue Heeler is great motivation to get or stay fit as well as providing the exercise this high-energy breed needs. Blue Heelersneed a lot of daily exercise and incorporating running into their exercise routine is a great way to met some of their daily exercise needs. For a full guide to Blue Heeler exercise with suggestions see here.

If you are planning to start running with your Blue Heeler it is a good idea to have your vet give them a full check-up to ensure they are healthy and suitable for this type of exercise.

Generally, dogs are more natural at running short fast bursts and not so much continuous long distances. However, as the Blue Heeler was bred to cover long distances as a herding dog they have excellent endurance.

Are Blue Heelers good running partners?

Yes, a healthy adult Blue Heeler can make excellent running partners. They were bred to herd cattle all day over long distances so they have good levels of stamina, are high energy, and are sure-footed on all types of terrain. Blue Heelers are agile, athletic, and real workhorses.

It is important to ensure your Blue Heeler is well trained on a leash to avoid any mishaps. For a guide to loose leash walking a Blue Heeler see here.

How far can you run with a Blue Heeler?

Ultimately it depends on the individual Australian Cattle Dog, their level of fitness, and whether they are conditioned to run long distances. A healthy adult Blue Heeler that has been conditioned can run 7 to 10 miles (11 to 16 km) in a session with relative ease.

If your Blue Heeler is new to running it is advised you start with a shorter distance and gradually increase the length of the run. Running is a repetitive and high-impact activity so the joints and tendons need to be conditioned before going too far.

It is recommended to start with a 1 mile run maximum and access how they cope. Increase the distance after a week if they are handling the workload. Run two to three days a week but still go for walks on the days in between to allow recovery and to work out any muscle soreness.

Things to do before starting running with your Blue Heeler

Before you start a regular running program with your Blue Heeler it is a good idea to be prepared. Things to consider are –

Get a full vet check

If you are planning to start running with your Blue Heeler it is a good idea to have your vet give them a full check-up to ensure they are healthy and suitable for this type of exercise. Running is a repetitive high-impact activity. Have your vet check that their joints show no sign of injury. Your vet will also check their heart and lung function and any other issues that may affect their ability to run injury-free.

It is probably a good idea to have a doctor give you a check-up also if you are new to running.

Master loose leash walking

If your Blue Heeler doesn’t walk well on a leash they will be even more difficult to handle while running. Otherwise, you will find that your Blue Heeler will drag you along and all over the place or even pull you over. For more on mastering loose leash walking see here.

Have the right equipment

Make sure you have everything you will need for your Blue Heeler. This includes –

Leash and harness

It is recommended that you use a leash that is 3 to 6 feet in length (1 to 1.8 meters). As long as your Blue Heeler runs well on the leash, a hands-free leash that attaches to a running belt will make things easier.

View hands-free leashes on Amazon.

Using a harness rather than attaching the leash to a collar is best to avoid choking or pulling your dog around by the neck.

View dog harnesses on Amazon.


Keeping your Blue Heeler hydrated when running is important, especially if the weather is warm. However, it is just as important that they don’t drink too much water. If their stomach is full of fluid it will be uncomfortable for them. More importantly, too much water before, during, or after exercise can increase the risk of bloat or GDV. These are serious and potentially fatal conditions. To learn more about dog hydration and exercise see here.

View dog travel water bottles on Amazon.

Poo Bags

Remember to always take poo bags with you when running with your Australian Cattle Dog. I am sure you don’t want to step in dog poo. Other people don’t want that either.

Flashing or reflective collar or harness

Ideally, it is best to run in daylight and low-traffic areas for safety. However, sometimes you may be running when the light is poor due to the time of day or weather conditions. Use some type of a reflective or flashing collar or harness on your Blue Heeler so they are visible to motorists.

View reflective vest for dogs on Amazon.

View light flashing collars on Amazon.

Paw Balm

Keep some paw balm at home for any damage that may occur to your Blue Heeler’s paws. Do a check on your Blue Heeler’s paws after each run for signs of cracking or soreness. If possible try to run on a softer surface like grass or sand. Running on sand provides added resistence giving a better workout.

View dog paw balm on Amazon

Conditioning your Blue Heeler for running

As with humans, you need to build your Blue Heeler’s fitness levels up gradually. Don’t go out for an excessively long run on the first session. Start with shorter runs or even run for a couple of minutes and then walk for a couple of minutes as they become conditioned to the activity.

As their conditioning for running improves you can increase the time or distance of each run every week.

Run two to three days a week but still go for walks on the days in between to allow recovery and to work out any muscle soreness. It is also a good idea to give your Blue Heeler a gentle muscle massage after each run to aid in recovery.

Be aware of the signs of over-exercising your Blue Heelerl. If they are falling behind, seem exhausted after a run, show signs of soreness, or are panting excessively you may be overdoing it. See here for more on overexercising your Austrlian Cattle Dog.

Monitor your Heeler’s sleep and eating patterns and make sure that they are not showing any signs of injury or soreness. Your Springer Spaniel will get many health benefits from this exercise as well as the opportunity to release pent-up energy. You may even see improvement in their behavior. Most of all, ensure that it is fun for your Blue Heeler and they want to do it.

Feeding before and after running with a Blue Heeler

Do not feed your Australian Cattle Dog immediately before or after going for a run or any intense exercise. Dogs that eat too soon before or after exercise can develop bloat. Bloat is a digestive issue that causes a dog’s stomach to fill with gases blowing up like a balloon.

Alternatively, they may develop a problem known as torsion also referred to as Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV). This is where the top and bottom ends of the stomach twist. This can trap gases and cut off circulation.

Both of these conditions are extremely painful and are often fatal without veterinary intervention.  The general rule of thumb is to wait at least 1 hour, preferably 2 hours after running or exercising your Blue Heeler to feed them. Alternatively, if you run or exercise your Blue Heeler after they eat, wait at least 1 hour, preferably 2 hours before heading out.

Weather conditions for running with your Blue Heeler

Australian Cattle Dogs are relatively tolerant of both warm or cooler weather. However, running is a strenuous exercise so it is best to avoid running in hot weather. Heat exhaustion or even heat stroke is a genuine concern when exercising any dog in hot weather. Another potential issue is that their paws can get badly burned on the hot ground.

Temperatures above 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 18 degrees Celcius) are too hot for running with your Blue Heeler.

For more hot weather tips for Blue Heelers see here.

Precautions should also be taken if the weather is cold, especially if it is wet and windy. For temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celcius) a fleece jacket may be required.

For cold weather tips for Blue Heelers see here.

What age can you start to run with a Blue Heeler?

Running is a high-impact and repetitive activity. You should not take your Blue Heeler running until they are at least 1 year old.

A Blue Heeler puppy’s (under 12 months old) bones, joints, and muscles are growing and developing. A major concern when exercising a puppy is to avoid doing damage or causing injury to their growth plates.

Growth plates contain rapidly dividing cells that allow the bone to grow until they reach puberty.  At that time the bone ends calcify becoming a stable inactive part of the bone. Until the growth plate close they are vulnerable and prone to injury.

For more on exercising a blue Heeler puppy see here.

Summary – running with a Blue Heeler

Blue Heelers can make excellent running partners. They are high energy, have good levels of endurance, and are sure-footed on all types of terrain. Running is not suitable for a puppy under 12 months old. Their bones, joints, and muscles are still developing and growing.

Start with shorter runs initially to condition your Blue Heeler for the activity. Gradually increase the length of the run over time as their fitness level and conditioning improve.