How to Train a Blue Heeler Puppy

By Charles Perry

"Always alert, extremely intelligent, watchful, courageous and trustworthy, with an implicit devotion to duty making it an ideal dog." These are the characteristics that the American Kennel Club (AKC) attributes to the Australian Cattle Dog, also known as the Blue Heeler, in the official breed standard. It is your task to assimilate your Blue Heeler puppy into your home and life and to ensure that you offer the training and guidance that will make her a good canine citizen in your community and a loving and trusted companion for you and your family. Seasoned trainers Brian Kilcommons and Sarah Wilson offer techniques for developing basic puppy skills that will get your training program off to a successful start.

The "Down" Command

Get your puppy accustomed to wearing a collar before introducing a leash. Give her at least a few hours to get used to the collar. You will know she is accustomed to wearing it when she no longer pays it any attention.

Position her collar so that the leash attachment ring is in the front, just above her chest.

Sit down near your puppy, facing her. Snap a leash onto her collar.

Place your foot on her leash to apply a gentle downward pressure. Keep your foot on the leash throughout the training session.

Speak the command, "Down."

Wait 30 seconds for your puppy to respond to the command. You do not need to repeat the command if she does not lie down.

Reposition your foot on the leash, applying slightly more pressure. Wait 30 seconds for your puppy's response. Repeat, taking up a little more slack on the leash each time, until she lies down.

Reward her when she lies down by praising her in a soothing voice. Place a treat on the floor in front of her.

Practice this routine with your puppy until she will lie down at your command. Gradually increase your distance from her, until you are working without the leash.

Keeping the Leash Slack

Take your puppy to a quiet place such as an empty garage, where she will not be distracted by interesting things.

Stand about 2 feet in front of your puppy, and snap the leash onto her collar.

Gently apply pressure to the leash, pulling it toward you. Keep a steady pressure on the leash. Do not increase or decrease it if she resists you by trying to pull away. Do not move toward her.

Wait for the puppy to move toward you.

Release the tension on the leash immediately and praise her when the puppy makes a move toward you.

Take up the slack on the leash again and wait for her to move toward you.

Practice this exercise until she makes the association between a slack leash and your praise.

Gradually begin walking, a few steps at a time. If she begins to pull on the leash, stop, remain still and take up the slack on the leash. Wait for her to make the leash slack again by moving toward you. Praise her, release the tension on the leash, and then begin walking again.