An Australian Cattle Dog is an extremely high-energy working dog that is also very intelligent (learn how smart here.). They require a lot of exercise and mental stimulation. They can go all day and never seem to tire. However, this does not mean that they need to be over-excited and hyper all the time.
It can be absolutely exhausting having a dog that is constantly on the go and never seems to settle. However, your life with your Australian Cattle Dog doesn’t need to be like that.
Obviously, they need plenty of exercise, both physical and mental but calmness is a state of mind. Being overexcited all the time is a stressful state for a dog and not good for their mental health. This can cause frustration for both you and them and result in behavior issues. This can be destructive behavior, nuisance barking, digging, or even aggressive behavior.
In addition to having a Blue Heeler that is hyper all the time, you may find that they follow you everywhere. This is known as velcro dog syndrome. To learn how to deal with a velcro Blue Heeler see here.
Fortunately, it is possible to train a dog to be calm and to manage the level of excitement.
Do Australian Cattle Dogs ever calm down
Blue Heelers typically begin to mature more and become more settled from around 4 to 6 years old. Just because they are younger dogs doesn’t mean they can’t be calm and mature with consistent training and regular exercise, both physical and mental.
If your Blue Heeler is older than 6 years and still is constantly on the go and hyper they are lacking the outlet they need such as the physical and mental release of energy and correct training.
Why is my Blue Heeler so hyper all the time?
A dog that is hyper and overexcited all the time is a sign of a dog that is not happy and stressed. Saying that they are a high-energy active breed is not why they are behaving like that. The reason they are running around in circles, jumping, barking, and carrying on is because that is the only way they know how to release all that pent-up energy and frustration.
A high-energy breed like an Australian Cattle Dog can still be calm when required. If your Australian Cattle Dog is hyper and overexcited all the time the cause is most likely boredom, lack of stimulation, and pent-up energy.
Ways to calm a hyper Blue Heeler
The only way to have your hyper overexcitable Blue Heeler into a calmer and more mature dog is to provide for their needs and teach them how to surrender to a calm state of mind. As an active working breed, they require a fair amount of exercise, both physical and mental to tire both their body and their minds. They also need to be taught impulse control. Impulse control is where they are able to go from a state of high arousal to a calm state.
Provide sufficient exercise
The first step in finding a solution to dealing with a hyper Australian Cattle Dog is to increase the amount of physical exercise and activity they receive daily. For a full guide to Blue Heeler exercise with suggestions see here.
If you find yourself asking “is my Blue Heeler getting enough exercise” the answer is probably no. A healthy adult Blue Heeler will probably be up for as much physical activity as you can give them. The minimum should be at least one hour of intensive physical work, but two hours daily would be better.
One of the best exercises you can give your Blue Heeler to make them calmer is flirt pole exercise. Playing a flirt pole game with your Blue Heeler will not only burn a lot of energy in a short period of time. It is also an excellent way to teach impulse control. By teaching impulse control, they will learn to go from a state of high arousal when chasing the lure to a calm state when given the “leave” command. This can take a fair amount of practice, but the results will be well worth it.
A flirt pole, often also called a flirt stick, is a pole with a bungee-type rope with a lure or toy attached to the end. To use it, you move the toy along the ground in different directions as your Blue Heeler tries to chase it. This game caters to a dog’s natural chase and prey instinct.
There are numerous benefits to using a flirt pole in your Blue Heeler’s exercise routine.
- It Burns a lot of energy in a short time. Ten minutes of flirt pole exercise is enough to tire any dog fast.
- Takes limited effort on your part while your dog gets a solid workout.
- It is a good muscle conditioning and strengthening exercise. The rapid movement and change of direction work the core and the entire body.
- A flirt pole is an excellent training tool teaching your Blue Heeler control and response to commands such as “leave it”.
- It is enriching for your dog catering to their natural chase and prey instinct.
- A great way to train calmness into a dog. It teaches the dog’s brain to go to high arousal and come back down to a calm state. Works well for dogs that are reactive.
Every high-energy dog like a Blue Heeler should do flirt pole exercise. View Flirt Poles on Amazon here.
Mental stimulation and enrichment
It is often underestimated just how tiring mental exercise and enrichment can tire a dog. The Australian Cattle Dog is an extremely smart dog and requires a lot of mental stimulation and enrichment. To learn just how smart a Blue Heeler is see here.
If you are trying to calm the mind of a hyper Australian Cattle Dog, providing plenty of mental stimulation and enrichment will make a huge difference. For a full guide to Blue Heeler mental stimulation and enrichment with suggestions see her.
Two of the best ways to provide mental stimulation and calm a hyper Blue Heeler are learning and training, and playing nose games.
Learning and Training
Regular and consistent training will not only make your Blue Heeler more obedient. It will teach them how to focus their minds. Learning new commands and tricks is not just for puppies. Training is one of the best ways to provide cognitive enrichment for a dog. On average a dog can learn 165 different words or signals. Teach them new commands or tricks on a regular basis.
Another popular game is to teach your Blue Heeler the names of their toys and have them get them for you. Once they have this all figured out, add in a new toy they don’t know. Ask for that toy and see how they react. You will be surprised how they are able to get the new toy by a process of elimination.
Nose and scenting games
When it comes to providing sensory enrichment for a dog, nothing compares to the sense of smell. With approximately 200 million olfactory receptors, Blue Heelers have an excellent sense of smell. Blue Heelers can detect unique odors from 1.2 miles away.
Playing scenting and nose games with your Blue Heeler is an excellent way to engage their nose. There are numerous games you can play from a simple “which hand is the treat in” game to laying a scent trail for them to track.
Calm the mind (theirs and yours)
The first step to having a calmer Blue Heeler is for you to be calm. Yelling at your Blue Heeler to settle down will in fact probably make them more worked up. When trying to calm them it is important that you give off calm energy. Speak to them in a calm low tone and avoid sudden movements.
If you are speaking and interacting with your Blue Heeler with excited energy it will excite them. if your energy is calm and you speak to them in a calm monotone pitch it will keep them calmer.
A dog’s mind can be compared to a car going from 0 to 100 miles an hour. The car doesn’t go straight to 100mph but gradually increases in speed 10, 20, 30, …. 80, 90, 100.
If you take your foot off of the accelerator the car begins to slow. If you tap or gently press the brake the car slows some more until you have come to a stop. If you slam on the brakes you may spin out of control. Unless it is an emergency it is better to slow the car gradually.
If the car is only going 50mph when you take your foot off the accelerator and apply the brakes it will come to a stop easier than if you were doing 100 mph.
It is the same with a dog’s mind. They don’t go from calm to out-of-control arousal even though they can quite quickly. The trick is to be aware of when they are getting into a state of excitement and arousal and take the actions required to calm the mind. The earlier you catch the excitable state the easier it is to calm them.
There are a number of techniques you can use to calm your hyper Blue Heeler down. This includes –
The Calm Hold
A calm hold is a technique used to settle and calm a dog. Simply place your hand on the side of your dog’s shoulder just holding them still. Don’t make eye contact with them and you don’t even need to say anything.
You can hold your Blue Heeler by the collar if you wish to hold them in place with your other hand on the shoulder. If you wish you can say something like “Relax” in a calm monotone unemotional tone. Once your Blue Heeler has relaxed you can remove your hand.
You should be able to notice as their mind becomes calmer. Their bodies will become more relaxed, their breathing will change, and their eyes and face will show relaxation.
Rub their stop area
Rubbing the stop is also very calming for a dog. The stop is the area on the bridge of the muzzle between the eyes. This area has many nerve endings. Rubbing here releases endorphins to their brain giving them a feeling of relaxation and a good calming effect.
Another similar spot is where the ears join the head. Rubbing here has the same result as rubbing the stop area.
When your Blue Heeler is in a calm state you can reward the behavior with a gentle pat or even treat. Never give your Blue Heeler affection when they are overexcited or aroused. This simply reinforces the state of mind.
Giving treats as a reward to a dog that tends to be hyper can sometimes backfire. Treats can often cause excitement and arouse the mind to do the exact opposite of what you are trying to achieve.
Gentle belly rubs and massage
Giving calm belly rubs or a gentle massage to your Blue Heeler has the same effect that a back massage has on humans. It helps to relax them and release tension and they may even fall asleep.
This should be done in a calm manner and avoid it turning into a game.
How to calm down a Blue Heeler puppy
When it comes to calming down a hyper puppy, the same strategies and techniques can be used. The main difference with a puppy is it is important not to overexercise them. The exercise needs and limitations of puppies are different from those of an adult dog. For more on how to exercise a Blue Heeler puppy see here.
Flirt pole exercise as suggested above is not suitable for a young puppy. The twisting and high-impact nature of the activity can cause injury to the growth plates, joints, and tendons.
The best way to tire a puppy is by providing mental exercise. Mental activity can tire a puppy (or adult dog) just as much as physical activity.
Summary – Calming a hyper Blue Heeler
The Australian Cattle Dog is a high-energy and highly intelligent dog. They require a lot of physical exercise along with mental stimulation and enrichment. Just because they are extremely active dogs does not mean they need to be hyper.
If they are it is most likely because of boredom, lack of stimulation, and pent-up energy. The reason they are hyper is that it is the only way they know to release their energy and frustration. Providing for their need to have sufficient exercise, both physical and mental, and training them to be calm means you will have a calmer, happier Blue Heeler.