Are Blue Heelers good with other dogs

Do Blue Heelers do well with other dogs

A Blue Heeler (Australian Cattle Dog) that is well socialized from puppyhood is more likely to accept and get along with other dogs and animals.

If your Blue Heeler has not been socialized well they are more likely to be timid or even aggressive towards other dogs and pets. They also have a strong herding instinct and they may be prone to herding other dogs and animals if they are not well trained.

If you have other dogs and pets you should introduce your Blue Heeler to them slowly and with supervision.

Blue Heelers, like all dogs, are a social animal. They enjoy playing and the company of other dogs, animals, and humans. However, socialization and training from a young age are crucial for a Blue Heeler.

This does not mean to say that an older Blue Heeler can not also receive the right training and socialization required to get along fine with other dogs.

Two Blue Heeler traits that need to be taken into consideration when getting a Blue Heeler used to other dogs are;

Blue Heelers are naturally very protective of their family which can make them excellent guard dogs. For more on this see Blue Heelers as guard dogs here. This means that they can be suspicious of people and other dogs they don’t know.

Blue Heelers are also a herding breed and the instinct to herd other animals can be quite strong. They may want to control and herd other dogs which may annoy the other dogs.

Are Blue Heelers good with small dogs

A well trained and socialized Blue Heeler is likely to get along fine with most small dogs. It is important to make sure that they don’t try herding the smaller dog. But generally, they will not be aggressive towards the small dog.

The main issue may occur if the small dog suffers from small dog syndrome. This is when a small dog thinks they are much bigger and tries to dominate a larger dog. Many of the Terrier breeds can fit into this category.

If you do want to have a Blue Heeler and a small dog to live together, it is usually better if the small dog is the older one. Alternatively, if the Blue Heeler and the small dog are raised together from puppies there are usually no problems.

It is also a good idea for the small dog to have a safe space they can go to. Alternatively, if the small dog seems overwhelmed or hassled by the Blue Heeler it is best to separate them. This will avoid a situation where the small dog snaps or nips and the Blue Heeler responds.

How to socialize a Blue Heeler puppy

The easiest age for the socialization of a puppy is before 12 weeks of age. After 18 weeks of age, it becomes more difficult but by no means impossible.

It is possible to over socialize a puppy so it is important to introduce them to new experiences, people, and animals slowly. Socialization starts when they are still with their mother and siblings. This is the time when they learn they learn the social skills and rules of being a dog. The best puppy trainer in the world is the mother dog.

Tips to socializing a Blue Heeler puppy

Introduce your puppy to new experiences, sights, sounds, and smells. This is known as habituation. Examples of the type of thing to introduce your puppy to can include;

  • New objects such as balloons, moving objects, the vacuum cleaner, etc
  • Different surfaces such as grass, carpet, tiles, etc
  • Different places such as the beach, park, markets, etc
  • Traveling like going in the car.
  • Different types of people of different genders, personalities, and ages.
  • Introduce them to other animals including other dogs and cats. This can include friendly adult dogs and other puppies. Other options can be puppy training classes and doggie daycare. For more on doggie daycare pros and cons see here.

It is important to allow your puppy to make positive associations with these new experiences. This can be achieved by;

  • Rewarding your puppy for engaging with the new experience, person, or animal by giving small treats, verbal praise, and pats.
  • Be calm and confident yourself. If you are anxious, your puppy will pick up on this and think it is something to be wary of.
  • Don’t force them to do anything they are not ready for. Allow them their space.

Baby steps are the best approach. Don’t introduce them to too much too quickly. This may make them feel overwhelmed. If they are unsure of something, allow them their space and time to adjust.

How to socialize an adult Blue Heeler

It is never too late to socialize a dog. It just may require a little more time and patience.

Slowly introduce your older Blue Heeler to new sights, smells, and sounds, with careful supervision and an emphasis on a positive association. The process for socializing an adult Blue Heeler is similar to that of a puppy.

It is all about building their confidence, not overwhelming them, and making it a positive experience.

Blue Heelers as part of a multi-dog household

If you are considering having another dog and a Blue Heeler in the same household, there are a couple of things to consider.

Get dogs of the opposite sex

Male dogs tend to be better with other dogs of the opposite sex. Therefore, if you have a male dog it is best to have a female as the other dog.

Female dogs generally are fine with other females or with a male dog.

This is only a general guideline and it does not mean that male dogs can’t live together. It is just important to ensure the rules and boundaries are set and you provide good leadership.

Get dogs of different ages

Dogs in the same household that vary in age tend to get along much better. There is a clear hierarchy that becomes established. With dogs of the same or similar age, there can be some jostling for position in the pack.

I had three dogs at one time. They all varied in age and there were no issues at all. The social hierarchy sorted itself out with no interference from me. This is despite them all being males.

Generally, an age gap of two years or more is considered best.

Desex the males

Neutering a male dog stops any sexually motivated behavior. By neutering a male dog, it stops the production of testosterone preventing the desire to assert dominance over the other dogs.

Desexing obviously also prevents the male dog mating with the female resulting in unwanted puppies. It is also a good idea to spay the female also.

I don’t recommend desexing a dog until around 6 months old when they reach sexual maturity. Desexing stops the production of hormones. Studies have shown that these hormones are crucial in the development and growth of the dog. Dogs that are desexed too young are more prone to tendon and joint injuries later in life.

Be aware of food aggression

The most likely time for there to be an issue with two or more dogs is around food and mealtimes. There are two approaches you can take at mealtimes.

Either feed them separately in different areas or train both dogs to only eat from their own bowls. If you give your dogs a bone to chew it is probably best to separate the dogs.

Other tips for having a Blue Heeler in a multi-dog household are

  • Ensure all your dogs receive the right amount of exercise and mental enrichment they require. Unreleased pent up energy can lead to fight or behavior issues. For a guide to Blue Heeler exercise see here. If the other dogs in the household are of a different breed see here for a guide to their exercise needs.
  • Supervise feeding time. Each dog should have their own bowl and not share. The dogs will quickly learn which is their bowl and understand the rules to mealtime.
  • Ensure all the dogs receive equal attention and don’t have favorites. This will help to prevent any jealousy developing.

Dog body language when greeting

It is important to be aware of your Blue Heelers and the other dog’s body language when meeting.

When two dogs are greeting in a courteous manner they will meet head to tail. That is they will stand side by side with their heads at opposite ends so they can sniff the other dogs rear.

If two dogs meet head to head, it is a sign of dominance and aggression and they should be separated or corrected. If one dog tries to make their body position higher and place their head above the other, it is also a sign of dominance.

It is usually a good idea to introduce dogs to each on a leash if you are unsure. That way, if there is any issue you can jerk the leash if needed. It is best not to separate them completely unless there are signs of aggression. By removing a dog at the first sign of dominance they will never learn proper communication.

Blue Heeler signs of dog aggression

Blue Heelers are not in general an aggressive dog. It is important to distinguish between aggressive behavior and behavior related to their instinctive herding drive. It is more a dominant and controlling behavior rather than actual aggression.

Every dog is an individual and some Australian Cattle Dogs are aggressive which is true of any breed of dog. This is not so much a trait of the breed. It is more likely the result of past experience or poor training.

To learn more about Blue Heeler aggression see here.

We have looked at what a good greeting looks like above. It is also important to be aware of signs of tension, dominance, and aggression in dog body language. This is not a full list of aggression dog body language but it can include:-

Hackles are up – Hackles are patches of hair between the shoulder blades or near the rear end of the dog. if they are standing up it is a sign of aggression.

Ears and tail are erect – if the ears or tail are standing straight up it is a sign of aggression. It is also thought that if the tail is wagging the dog is happy. This is not always true. If the tail is wagging in a stiff motion while be held high it is a sign of aggression.

Bearing teeth – Showing teeth by raising their lips is a warning sign. It is often followed by a snap or bite. Most dogs will do an air snap rather than a full-on bite. This is a further warning to let the other dog know the next one is for real.

Growling – a deep growl or snarl usually with eye conduct focused on the other dog. All growling is not necessarily aggressive and many dogs use a play growl when playing. This has a completely different tone. Continuous barking without gaps is a similar sign of aggression.

Stiff body posture – A dog will become noticeably rigid and stiff in their body when they’re becoming agitated. They may stand in a wider stance than normal or try to raise the height of their head and body. They will have their eyes focused on their target.

Summary – Blue Heelers and other dogs

Blue Heelers are social, like most dog breeds, and do enjoy the company of other dogs. In general, they get along well with other dogs as long as they have been socialized well and had good training.

Blue Heelers are also a herding breed and the instinct to herd other animals can be quite strong. They may want to control and herd other dogs which may annoy the other dogs.

Blue Heeler related posts you may like

How to exercise a Blue Heeler or Cattle Dog

Herding Breed Behavior Problems

Best Type of toys for Blue Heelers

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