Shetland Sheepdogs, or shelties, are loving pets whose intelligence often seems unbelievable. Bred to herd, shelties are agile, smart, and speedy. They love to learn anything you teach them.
Shelties are a particular joy for pet owners who enjoy training in obstacle courses, as shelties love being mentally stimulated. With this intelligence, however, behavioral issues arise.
Because of the might of their little brains, shelties can pick up on small changes in volume, motion, and even emotions.
These small changes can easily set them off on a nervous barking tirade or cause separation anxiety.
It’s important to learn the different behavioral problems shelties have before bringing a sheltie puppy home–to help both yourself and your sheltie.
To check your Sheltie‘s health status or their DNA, please visit the Embark vet website for all the help you may need.
Behavioral Problems In Shelties
The behavioral problems shelties are prone to are not much different than other dog breeds. However, the natural temperament and intelligence of shelties do make them more susceptible to a select few.
You may notice signs of bad behavior in the puppy stage, which is most common, or as your sheltie ages.
In any case, watch for these behavioral signs so you can catch them before they become habitual for your sheltie.
All dogs bark, to some extent. Shelties unfortunately tend to pull too much from their herding genetics, prompting them to bark at every sound and sudden movement.
Excessive barking is so common in shelties that many pet owners turn to surgical measures to stop the bad behavior.
Barking is a difficult trait to stamp out in your sheltie. Their natural response to nearly everything is a bark or two, which quickly infuriates their owners.
Shelties love to speak and use their voice, as they once relied on their woofs to direct and herd animals.
That is why you’ll notice shelties having a higher tendency to bark–they just can’t help themselves. While this behavior can be corrected with patient training, it does require some dedication to get right.
Shelties, like humans, can experience separation anxiety. They require attention and stimulation throughout the day, and if left alone for more than a few hours, their boredom can turn destructive.
Your sheltie will be devoted to you, which is natural among dogs. However, dogs with separation anxiety will refuse to leave your side.
They will follow you like a shadow, wanting physical contact with you as often as possible. As you prepare to leave the house, your dog may exhibit these signs even more obviously.
Destructive behaviors like chewing usually begin after fifteen minutes of alone time. Your sheltie will cherish your company, which can become difficult to deal with if they cannot stand to be alone.
Contrary to what you might expect, shelties are one of the more timid dog breeds. Though they enjoy mental stimulation and exercise, new people tend to overwhelm their high-processing brains.
Inviting a friend over may cause one too many new sounds and smells, making your sheltie timid. Shelties have a cautious nature, meaning you’ll need to begin socializing them at a young age.
This socialization should continue throughout adulthood, allowing them to interact with other dogs and humans.
- Easily Overwhelmed
Reducing stimuli becomes much harder when small children are involved. Shelties notoriously don’t do well with little kids, as they move and act more erratically than adults.
Shelties struggle to keep up with the quick movements and loud noises little kids make. While shelties won’t often become aggressive in these situations, they may want to run and hide until the little ones leave.
Adult guests that are noisier than your sheltie is used to may cause a similar fleeing response. Exposing your sheltie to a variety of people and ages will help them enjoy your guests as much as you do.
- Desire To Herd
Shelties struggle to contain their desire to herd–they may try to herd other pets, cats, children, and adults.
While this behavior could be seen as an enduring one, it can get annoying if it happens somewhere like a dog park.
You won’t want your sheltie corraling other dogs, as you can’t be sure other owners will think it’s as enduring. Like barking, correcting this behavior in shelties is difficult.
Herding is in their DNA. Your best bet is to catch it while they’re young and not allow it in any circumstance–even if you think it’s cute.
Some shelties have enough energy to power a home, or so it seems. This hyperactive, borderline hysterical behavior is usually a result of bad breeding.
Adopting older shelties is a great way to weasel out this behavior, as you’ll be able to see their mature personality first-hand.
If you’ve been wanting a puppy, make sure you’re adopting from a reputable breeder familiar with shelties and their unique personalities.
Shelties with too much energy will bark, jump, and spin, sometimes all at once (called the sheltie spin!).
Though this acrobatic feat may look cute, it’ll get bothersome fast–especially for your neighbors.
Some shelties will spin and bark any chance they can, like when a passerby jogs past your yard.
In most cases, they behave like this in hopes of attention from their owners and other humans.
Shelties will keep themselves occupied at any cost, even if the cost is your shoe. Chewing may be caused by boredom, not enough stimulation, or by anxiety.
Shelties are especially likely to chew as a way to relieve separation anxiety. They will usually begin to munch not long after you leave.
If they’re chewing up more than their chew toys while you’re gone, you may want to purchase a kennel to keep them contained while you’re away.
For your dog’s vitamin supplement, food, toys, or other dogs product please visit the Health Extension website.
Sheltie: Aggressive Behavior
Aggression isn’t a common trait in most shelties, though they do have the potential for it. As previously mentioned, shelties can quickly become overstimulated and overwhelmed.
While this doesn’t often lead to acts of aggression, other factors can. Shelties can be heel-biters, again acting in tune with their genetics.
They would nip at animals’ legs to encourage movement and guide them in the proper direction.
But when this nipping behavior starts happening with people and children, you’ll want to correct it as soon as possible.
Keep in mind that shelties are rarely acting out of aggression, but that is how people are likely to see it if they don’t know your dog.
How To Correct Behavior Problems In Dogs
Fortunately, shelties are one of the most likely breeds to have success in training and behavior correction.
Shelties are both brilliant and eager to please, making them fun and easy trainees. They’ll love the mental stimulation and the challenge of learning new commands and tricks.
And the younger you start teaching commands and correcting bad behavior, the more likely your sheltie is to retain the information and be obedient to you in the future.
- Correcting Barking
Shelties use their voice to get your attention and to signal alarm or boredom. You’ll need to figure out the cause of their barking before you begin to correct it. If your Sheltie barks when they’re alone, they’re likely bored or understimulated.
They bark at people and sounds to guard you and your house, which is unwanted and unnecessary in most cases.
Bored barks respond well to an owner that ignores them. Your sheltie will eventually realize that their tactic for getting your attention isn’t working, and they’ll move on to something new.
Teach your sheltie a quiet command, like the word ‘quiet’ or ‘enough’. They’ll likely be happy to oblige.
In cases where barking is a fear response, you may need to remove the trigger. If certain sounds cause barking fits, like the doorbell, either change or remove them.
You may need to make an effort to close windows and blinds, preventing your sheltie from seeing a jogger and wanting to bark.
- Correcting Shyness
This one is relatively easy. All you’ll need to do is ensure that your sheltie is getting frequent socialization and for a good amount of time.
Make sure to introduce your sheltie to different dogs and humans, allowing interactions to take place with as little intervention as possible.
Let your sheltie become comfortable, and don’t force them into games or small spaces with someone they don’t know well.
It’s important to note that some shelties are naturally shy. Like humans, their personalities and temperaments vary, though shelties are known for being more reserved.
Your sheltie may not respond as well to socialization or show little change, and that’s okay–as long as their shyness doesn’t negatively impact themselves or you.
- Correcting Hyperactivity
The best way to handle an off-the-walls dog is with exercise. Try to combine physical and mental exercise, both of which shelties love.
Teach new commands and tricks when you go to the park, either before or after your sheltie has had a chance to run around.
Being mentally and physically tired will take the edge off their wild ways, making shelties easier to care for and train.
As with barking, ignoring actions like jumping and twirling will force your sheltie to look for attention in other, gentler ways.