What do Blue Heelers like to play with?
The Australian Cattle Dog is a highly active and smart herding dog. They are also bred to work for a handler and love to have human contact. The best type of toys for a Blue Heeler will cater to one or more of these traits.
Blue Heelers require a fair amount of exercise and physical activity daily. Toys can be a great way to provide for this need. For a full guide to Blue Heeler exercise see here.
Due to their intelligence (learn just how smart they are here), they require constant mental stimulation and enrichment. Certain toys such as puzzle toys are a great way to meet some of their enrichment needs. For a guide to mental stimulation and enrichment for a Blue Heeler see here.
Any toy that gives them the opportunity to burn energy and have a job to perform, especially if it resembles herding is often a favorite. They also like the opportunity to challenge their minds and solve problems. Their desire for human contact means they also enjoy any toy or game that involves you.
The must-have toy for Blue Heelers – Herding Ball
The Blue Heeler is probably the best cattle herding breed in the world. This is the job they were bred to do and have a natural instinctive drive to herd.
Chances are you don’t have access to cattle for them to herd but using a herding ball is the next best thing. Blue Heelers were bred to chase and control moving objects. Teaching your Heeler to play herding games will actually reduce their desire to herd people and other dogs as herding breeds often do.
There are a couple of herding balls I recommend. Because Blue Heelers will nip the hock of cattle or in this case the ball you need a ball that is strong. They will ruin a softer ball in no time.
The Jolly Ball is made from hard plastic and is nearly indestructible. These can also be filled with water or sand to add weight to give more resistance to the workout.
View the Jolly Ball on Amazon
The Virtually Indestructible Ball is very similar to the Jolly Ball. It comes in a range of sizes to suit your particular dog.
View the Virtually Indestructible Ball on Amazon.
Puzzle and Enrichment toys for Blue Heelers
Blue Heelers are extremely intelligent dogs. To find out just how smart a Blue Heeler is see here. As a result, they require a lot of mental stimulation and enrichment daily.
One of the best ways to provide these mental challenges and enrichment is to give them puzzle toys. For more on mental stimulation and enrichment for a Blue Heeler see here. With a smart dog like a Blue Heeler, it is best to select toys that they won’t find too easy. The recommended top picks are –
The Dog Activity Memory Trainer is a demanding game for dogs. It consists of a food or treats container and a release button with a signal sound. The dog has to press the release button with its paw or nose to make treats fall out of the feed container.
Once your Blue Heeler understands that the container and release button belong together, the distance between them can be increased up to 40 m. You can even put the button in a different room to provide a real challenge. It may take a little training to teach your Blue Heeler what to do but once they know it will keep them occupied for mind challenging hours.
View the Trixie Memory Trainer on Amazon.
This is for the more advanced player. Your Blue Heeler is rewarded with treats as they master opening drawers and pushing the sliders.
The main function of this puzzle toy is to move the pin in different directions to get the treats filled into the four indentations. Your Blue Heeler can also get a reward by pulling on the loops. Additionally, cones can be used as stoppers that the dog has to lift off first. The game is made of durable plastic, is dishwasher safe, and comes with non-slip rubber feet for a secure hold. A training booklet gives tips and tricks for optimal training.
View the Trixie strategy game on Amazon.
Every Blue Heeler should have a Kong Extreme. The Kong is a rubber hollow toy that looks like three different-sized balls stacked on top of each other. It has a small hole at the top and a larger hole at the bottom. This is for safety to prevent it from being stuck due to suction. The larger hole is for stuffing with food and treats.
The Kong extreme comes in five sizes but for a Blue Heeler, I recommend getting either the XL or XXL. The Kong is more than just a food stuffing toy. In addition, it is a tough chew toy that can handle the power of a Blue Heeler jaw. Plus it is a great toy for playing fetch. Due to the unique shape and being made of rubber, it bounces in unpredictable directions adding another challenge to the game.
View the Kong Extreme on Amazon.
Toys for Blue Heeler puppies
When selecting appropriate chew toys for your Blue Heeler puppy it is important to know that adult chew toys may not be suitable. A puppy’s teeth and jaw are not as strong as an adult dog so they need toys that are softer and have a little more give.
They also need to be durable so they don’t fall apart creating a choking hazard for your puppy.
Kong Puppy Chew Toys
The Kong is the must-have toy for a Blue Heeler. For a puppy, it is important to use the Puppy kong as opposed to the harder adult Kong Extreme. In addition to the classic shape Kong, there are other shapes available for puppies such as the Kong teething stick and the Kong Goodie Bone. These have grooves on the side so you can spread a little paste into them to make the toy more interesting than your stuff.
Chew toys for Blue Heelers
The best material for chew toys for a Blue Heeler is rubber. Rubber is durable and virtually indestructible, so this material should be your top pick for your Heeler Look for soft, malleable edges that are smooth and not sharp. Blue Heelers can be destructive with chew toys so durability is important.
Chewing is not only great for dental health and keeping them occupied. It also provides mental health benefits.
It’s also important to keep the size of the toy in mind. Chew toys that are too small can easily be choked on by a Blue Heeler.
Gough Nuts Indestructible chew toy
The Gough Nuts chew toy range is my number one pick for Blue Heelers. This is due to their durability and size.
These are extremely tough and the perfect size and shape (11.75 inches long) for a Blue Heeler. Stick-shaped toys are the ideal shape for a dog because they can hold them between their paws while they work on the end. Also great for a game of fetch.
View the Gough Nuts Maxx Stick on Amazon.
The Gough Nuts ring is 5″ in diameter with a 1.75″ cross-section. Virtually indestructible, guaranteed! If your pet can chew through the outer layer to expose the inner red layer, GoughNuts will replace your toy.
View the Gough Nuts Chew Ring on Amazon
Plush Toys that don’t shred
Many Blue Heelers like soft plush toys. The problem is that they can easily shred and destroy most plush toys. The solution is to find soft toys that are strong and durable. That is where the Tuggy range of plush toys comes in.
The Tuffy range is the toughest soft toy for dogs available. The Tuffy plush toy range combines strength and durability with softness. This is accomplished with seven-layer stitching, multiple tough outer layers of material, and a fleece inner lining. They are also machine washable and float.
View The Tuffy Range of Plush Toys on Amazon
Exercise toys for Blue Heelers
The right toys can be a great way to provide exercise and burn energy for your Blue Heeler. For a full guide to Blue heeler exercise see here.
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 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 impulse 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 should do flirt pole exercise. View Flirt Poles on Amazon here.
KONG – Flyer – Durable Rubber Flying Disc Dog Toy
A game of frisbee toss is another great energy burner like fetch, but with an added skill challenge. Blue Heelers look spectacular playing this. To teach your Blue Heeler to play Frisbee you can start by rolling it along the ground. They will automatically grab it in their mouths.
You can then advance to tossing it in the air towards then. Gradually increase the distance and height until they master the skill. It pays to use a durable frisbee like the Kong Flyer to prevent them from destroying it and spoiling the game.
View Kong Flyer on Amazon
Most dogs love a good game of tug of war and it is a great exercise for building muscle, particularly the rear end. Have your Blue Heeler crouch back as much as possible to get the most benefit.
Some dog trainers are opposed to tug of war as they think it encourages dominant behavior in dogs. This is not strictly true. Just ensure that it is a controlled game and they leave the toy on command. Even if they win the game, as long as they bring the toy back to you it is fine.
If they do become processive of the toy, it is best to end the game.
View dog tug toys on Amazon