How to Exercise a Cattle Dog

Cattle dogs were bred to herd all day.
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If you have an Australian cattle dog, you know he is determined to see that both of you get plenty of exercise. Herding is an Australian cattle dog's nature, so he wants physical and mental activities. Otherwise, he won't be a happy camper.

Characteristics of Cattle Dogs

The Australian cattle dog is an active breed that will become mischievous if not challenged mentally and physically. He does well at canine sports such as agility, obedience and flying disc activities. A protector of the family, he wants to be part of all family activities. He tends to bond more with one person and can be considered a "Velcro dog" because he wants to be by your side. He has an instinct to nip, part of the herding instinct to keep the cattle from straying. If put to a task, he can be relentless; monitor him so he doesn't hurt himself.

Physical Exercise

Plan on daily walks with your cattle dog. Two walks a day that are at least 45 minutes long are necessary for this active dog. If you love to jog, your cattle dog is a great companion. Rollerblading is another good activity for him. Consider biking with him in areas with no traffic. If you have an open field, take him off leash to run. Make sure he is under voice command before attempting off-leash activities. In the back yard, play fetch. Use a Frisbee for more challenging activities. In the house, you can play tug of war, a physical energy builder.

Mental Exercise

Hide-and-seek is an exercise in recall skills. Place your dog in the sit position and give him a "wait" signal such as holding up your hand. Leave the room and hide. Call your dog. When he finds you, give him lots of praise.

Give your Australian cattle dog toys stuffed with treats. Buster Cubes require the dog to roll it the right way to get the treat.

Spend time reviewing basic commands such as "sit," "stay" and "roll over." Cattle dogs love to please, so they are always ready to learn tricks.


Take your pup on long hikes. Put a weighted backpack on him. He will love the work. Because of an Australian cattle dog's natural herding instinct, he may nip at children's heels. It's important to include regular training in his exercise routines. Teach him to "stop" and to go into the down position. Flyball is another activity that provides both mental and physical exercise. In Flyball, teams of dogs race each other over hurdles. They must release a ball and return it to their owners.

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