Are Blue Heelers clingy and needy dogs?
Yes, Australian Cattle Dogs bond very closely with their owners and often attach to one person in particular. This means they can become quite clingy dogs that will follow you everywhere always wanting to know where you are and what you are doing.
This needy behavior can also result from a lack of confidence and anxiety. If this is the cause of your Australian Cattle Dogs’ clingy behavior it needs to be rectified. This means building their confidence and working on helping them with any anxiety issues they may have. For more on solutions to reduce your Blue Heeler’s clingy behavior scroll down.
Why does my Blue Heeler follow me everywhere?
There are two distinctly different reasons your Australian Cattle Dog follows you everywhere. Firstly they are a velcro dogs. This is a relatively common trait in Blue Heelers. The second reason is some type of separation anxiety. This is quite a different situation and needs to be treated differently.
If you are wanting to reduce your Blue Heeler following you everywhere you first need to determine if they are simply being a velcro dog or if there is a more serious separation issue.
Velcro dog vs Separation Anxiety
A velcro dog is a dog that likes to follow you because they want to be with you. They may be seeking attention, are bored, or just want to know what you are up to. A velcro dog is just clingy when the owner is home. They are generally happy and calm. For more on the ways a Blue Heeler shows affection see here.
A dog with some type of separation anxiety is genuinely stressed by being away from you. A dog with separation anxiety panics when they are away from its owner. They will show numerous other signs of anxiety.
Common signs of separation anxiety include –
- Barking or howling when you are gone
- Destructive behavior and chewing
- Attempts to escape to follow you
- Excessive panting or drooling when you are about to leave
- Pacing around, whining, and becoming anxious if they think you are leaving
- Salivation and increased rate of breathing
- Toileting in the house when you are gone
- Exhibiting inappropriate behavior only when you are not there.
- Not eating or drinking when home alone
Types of Separation Anxiety
The term “Separation Anxiety” is a general term to descript a dog that doesn’t like being left alone. However, there are four types of “separation anxiety”. Each is different in the way it should be treated.
|Isolation Stress||Isolation Anxiety|
|Separation Stress||Separation Anxiety|
Categories of Separation Anxiety
A separation issue stems from a dog’s attachment to one person or a group of people like their family. In this situation, no other person can alleviate their stress or anxiety.
An isolation issue is a dog that doesn’t like or want to be left alone. In this situation another person or even an animal to keep them company can alleviate the problem.
A dog with isolation stress doesn’t like being alone but is not suffering severe panic or anxiety. They will be fine if you leave them with someone else. It is a more mild issue and can be relatively easy to solve with training and conditioning.
A dog with isolation anxiety is a more severe problem and maybe a little more difficult to solve. It is best to work with a dog trainer or behaviorist with this kind of issue. Again, they are usually fine if they have company.
Separation stress is at the more mild end of the separation issue spectrum. With training and conditioning, this can be improved or even completely solved.
Separation anxiety is an extremely serious issue and there is no quick fix. In this situation, the dog is so panicked and anxious that it could seriously hurt itself. A dog with severe separation anxiety can become so panicked that it would jump through a closed window to get to the owner. This type of anxiety can only be helped by a professional dog trainer and behaviorist.
How to stop your Blue Heeler from following you everywhere
Having your Blue Heeler following you everywhere may have become a problem for you. Sometimes it is just nice to be able to go to the bathroom in peace. The first step is to determine whether your Blue Heeler is simply being a clingy velcro dog or if there is a more serious isolation or separation issue. This will determine the approach you take.
A dog with milder isolation or separation stress can be worked with to condition them to be alone. A dog with a severe isolation or separation anxiety issue can only be helped by a professional
How to reduce a velcro Blue Heeler’s clingy behavior
With a velcro dog, there is a good chance that you inadvertently taught them this behavior. At first, it probably seemed cute that they followed you everywhere. You may have rewarded the behavior without realizing you were by giving them attention and affection when they did it.
Provide more exercise
Another reason your Blue Heeler is constantly wanting your attention is that is not getting sufficient exercise. The Australian Cattle dog is an extremely high-energy working breed and requires one to two hours of energy-burning exercise and activity daily. Try increasing their daily exercise to make them more tired and you may see a decrease in clingy behavior. For a guide to Blue Heeler exercise with suggestions see here.
Provide more mental stimulation and enrichment
The Blue Heeler is also a very smart and intelligent dog and requires a lot of mental stimulation and enrichment. By providing more enrichment and keeping them occupied you may also see a decrease in clingy behavior. For suggestions for mental stimulation and enrichment for a Blue Heeler see here.
A Blue Heeler that is not receiving sufficient physical exercise and mental enrichment can become hyper in addition to being clingy. See here for ways to calm a hyper Blue Heeler.
Train “go to your place”
Teach them to go to their bed on command. This may take some initial training but the Blue Heeler is smart and learns new commands quickly. You can give them a chew or Kong while they are on their bed to keep them entertained.
Use baby gates
This should only be a temporary measure until they learn to give you more space. The baby gates will prevent them from following you.
Don’t allow them to lay at your feet
They are probably used to laying by your feet while or are watching television. Instead, send them to their place.
Blue Heelers are very aware of your body language. They may respond every time you stand up. If they stand up every time your dog just keep standing up and sitting down. They will soon get tired of responding as the action no longer has any meaning.
Ways to help a Blue Heeler with isolation or separation stress
With a Blue Heeler that suffers from milder isolation or separation stress, there are many ways you can help to reduce this stress. For dogs that as more severe isolation or separation anxiety you should work with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist.
Don’t make a big deal when leaving
Creating high arousal when leaving or arriving home will make it harder for them to adjust to being alone. Don’t make a big fuss when you leave. Put on your shoes, pick up your keys, and leave. You don’t even need to speak to them.
When you arrive home don’t greet your dog. Just come in and act normal like you never left.
Give them exercise before you leave
Take your Blue Heeler for a quick walk or play a game of fetch to tire them before you go if your schedule allows. Once the walk or game is over just carry on with your normal activity such as getting ready to leave allowing them to settle.
Provide them with activities to keep them occupied
Leave your Blue Heeler with some chew toys, puzzle toys, or a Kong to occupy their minds while you are out. See here for recommended toys for Blue Heelers.
Get them a companion
Many owners consider getting a second Heeler or dog as a friend and company for their existing Blue Heeler. This is obviously a serious decision and it is important to do research and weigh up the pros and cons. For more on getting a second Blue Heeler or dog see here.
Use a Thunder Shirt
A Thunder Shirt is a garment that is calming for a dog. The shirt applies gentle and constant pressure to their body. This gives has a calming and stress relieving effect on them.
View Thunder Shirts on Amazon
ADAPTIL Calm Home Diffuser
This s a diffuser you plug into a power outlet. It releases dog appeasing pheromones that give a calm feeling. To us, there is no smell and can only be perceived by dogs.
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Summary – Why your Blue wants to be with you all the time
There are generally two causes to why your Blue Heeler follows you everywhere. They may have become a clingy velcro dog. This behavior is often something that you have inadvertently taught them. With a little training and conditioning, this behavior can be reduced or even stopped.
The second cause is some type of separation anxiety. This can range from mild isolation or separation stress to the more severe condition of isolation or separation anxiety. Isolation or separation stress can usually be helped simply. Isolation or separation anxiety is more severe and will need to expertise of a professional dog trainer or behaviorist.