I think my sheltie may be broken

Questions and dog training solutions to raise a well-adjusted Sheltie.
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I think my sheltie may be broken

Post by Urbntngo » Sun Mar 15, 2020 3:17 pm

I have a 4ish year old male sheltie that I inherited when my oldest went off to college. This dog barks at EVERYTHING. Come in the house? Bark like mad. Run the Hoover? Bark like mad. Leaves go skittering across the porch? Bark like mad for 20 minutes. Get up to go to the bathroom? You guessed it. I've begun (shamefully) wishing it was humane to clip his vocal cords bc hes driving me to my wits end. I've tried spray bottles, cans filled with change, cans filled with rocks, yelling, holding his snout closed, bark collars....none of it has more than a marginal effect. Someone PLEASE have some advice for me.

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Re: I think my sheltie may be broken

Post by Beverly0 » Fri Apr 16, 2021 2:52 am

Oh no, you didnt get an answer. My sheltie also js a lot like yours. I know they are prone to this but it does get annoying sometimes. I had seen this and hoped for some pearls of wisdom.

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Re: I think my sheltie may be broken

Post by SheltiePlanet » Mon May 03, 2021 6:36 pm

Our Shelties were a lot like this at 1-4 years old. The good news is, there are some other things you can try, and it does decline with age.

In dog years, he's a young man with lots of energy and hormones. In my experience, he probably feels like he's the boss and has to take charge OR is nervous and genuinely alarmed by these perceived threats to the status quo. His breed history means many of his ancestors were selected to be hyper vigilant of changes in the environment. He's really gone to town with that idea because he's bored and looking for a job to do, and this is the most natural job that occurs to him.

It's not a miracle cure, but it will lessen the barking if you:

1) Give him a long walk in the morning, about an hour if you can. If you exhaust him first thing, he'll spend the day lounging around in recovery and be far less concerned with hyper vigilance.

2) Ramp up play time on the walk and get him burning up as much energy as possible. We got Howard to run by hyping him up and rolling large pebbles along the beach. They triggered his predator drive and he chased and barked at them with delight. Piper wouldn't run after pebbles, so we ran around and got him hyped up then told him to "get" the waves. He'd bark and jump and chase and get it out of his system. Basically, if it moves, it's a potential target, and you can train him to chase it. Just don't train him to chase kids, bikes, or cats, because the habit will stick regardless of the situation.

3) When he barks in the house, look at your own reaction. If you become suddenly loud or active when he barks, he thinks there really IS something to be excited about. He doesn't see your shouting as a reaction to him, but as a reaction to what he's excited about. So, as impossible as it feels in the moment, try really hard to keep calm. Only give short, firm commands like "SHHH" or "NO BARK". Calmly direct him away from the source of the stimulation and distract him. Pick him up if you need to, but preferably walk him away. Reward him with praise and strokes when he stops barking, even if it's only for a second. It takes repetition, but Shelties are smart, and if you offer enough praise and diversion, with a calm and commanding attitude, he'll accept you've recognized the "threat" and he's done his job so he can quit barking at it.

4) Give him some dog chews and toys to distract him when he's got energy but you can't take him out for a walk. An empty peanut butter jar is always more interesting to a Sheltie than barking. Raw meaty bones and large rawhides provide lots of relief for you and enjoyment for him. Adjust his meals to be smaller if you do give daily chews so he doesn't put on weight.

5) Know that the barking will subside with age. Shelties are vocal dogs so it won't go away completely. But you are definitely at peak age for an energetic, excitable dog who's just reacting to the world out of boredom and/or anxiety. By 12 years our dogs barked a tiny fraction compared to 4 years, and that's a sliding scale, with sudden drops as they reached new phases of aging. One day he'll be old and weary, with vision and hearing loss, and while he will be much quieter then, you will miss the energy and playtimes you have with him now. If you can reframe that in your mind, knowing that this is just a short time in your life, that may help you stay a little saner.

Good luck :)
Becky Casale
Sheltie Planet

For the inside scoop, download my ebook The Pet Owner's Guide to Shelties

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