Labrador-Heeler Mix Training Methods
A mixed-breed dog with one Labrador and one heeler parent is likely to be an intelligent pet, because both parents are considered to be from intelligent breeds. Labradors and heelers, or Australian cattle dogs, are highly trainable pets that will be eager to please their owners. One downside of this intelligent dog breed, though, can be boredom; a bored dog can be destructive if left alone for long periods of time. Both dog breeds are receptive to a variety of training methods--use of a clicker, treat rewards or positive reinforcement--and a dog of these two breeds should respond to these techniques as well. Pick whatever works best for your lifestyle and makes you and the dog feel most successful.
Training should start early with a Labrador-heeler mix puppy. Heelers are known to be loyal, one-person-type dogs and can be shy around people if they are not socialized at a young age. One the other hand, the Labrador personality is very friendly and less apprehensive. Determine how your puppy behaves around strangers and try to introduce him to as many different kinds of people as possible--short, tall, male, female, young, old and of different ethnicities. You can also try to dress up around the puppy to see how he responds to different ways people look; try wearing a funny hat or uniform around the young dog. Praise the puppy for interacting in a positive way with each new person he meets.
Because both Labradors and heelers are considered intelligent breeds, you should enroll in a basic obedience class with your dog. The class will help you learn how to effectively train your dog and you should finish the class with a repertoire of basic commands and maybe even a trick or two. Both breeds are known to jump and tug on a leash. Some Labradors will even enjoy a "game" of leash tug-of-war. Begin walking with your dog on a leash daily. Do not allow your dog to lead you, tug at the leash or approach strangers. A tip for leash training is to stop walking and stand in place each time your dog pulls the leash taught. Begin walking again when the leash is loose. Carry treats in a pocket that your dog can smell to encourage him to walk by your side. Work on commands such as sit, down and stay at home as well.
Because of the somewhat cautious nature of the heeler breed, positive reinforcement is especially important. Praise your dog for doing what is expected of him. Use kind words and lots of petting. If you prefer clicker training, use a click with each desired action. Try to avoid yelling at or striking a dog with your hand because you do not want the dog to fear you.
Work for Your Dog
You may find that your Labrador-heeler mix wants a job to do. Australian cattle dogs are from the herding group and need frequent work and exercise. They can excel in advanced obedience and training classes and in agility or herding trials. Labradors, on the other hand, are much more laid-back dogs that don't necessarily mind lounging around the house after a daily walk. Determine which personality your dog exhibits and plan his daily routine accordingly. Plenty of exercise and daily walks will also go a long way to helping you develop a long relationship with a well-behaved dog.