Have You Seen The Sheltie Smile?
Is the Sheltie smile real? Dog experts say yes, but it's not for the reason we necessarily think. Take a look at the evolutionary roots in wolf behavior and dog psychology that causes your Sheltie to beam at you.
The Sheltie smile is an endearing trait, and it's not unique to Shetland Sheepdogs. But what's going on when they appear to smile? Are our dogs actually happy or are we just anthropomorphizing them?
What The Experts Say
Can dogs really smile? The experts say yes, but not for the reason we imagine. Apparently, wolves appear to smile to indicate submission to another wolf. Equally, dogs instinctively interpret this grin as sign of submission; telling them that this particular dog isn't a threat to them.
So it makes sense that confident, alpha dogs rarely smile. They have no desire to show their submission to anyone. And since Shelties are usually gentle, submissive dogs, you're more likely to see them submit with a Sheltie smile.
The only exception to this rule is when dogs "laugh" with their upper teeth bared. This is not at all submissive, but is a sign of aggression. If you see a dog making this face (including dear sweet Shelties) than back off quick.
When The Sheltie Smile Becomes Real
If you think the Shetland Sheepdog smile has just lost its magic... think again. Because experts also concede that eventually a dog's laugh can actually become genuine over time, thanks to the psychological effect of classical conditioning.
Remember the famous experiment known as Pavlov's Dogs? Ivan Pavlov, the Russian psychologist, repeatedly rang a bell before giving dogs their dinner. Soon, the dogs began salivating when they heard the bell but there was no food present.
Like Pavlov's Dogs, to reinforce the Sheltie smile, you need to repeatedly reward the behavior: a belly rub, a dog treat, or a nice pat on the head. In this way, we're conditioning our dog's laugh by rewarding this cute behavior every time we see it.
Conditioning this kind of submissive behavior in your pet dog is a good thing. Your Sheltie needs to know you're the boss. It's his instinct to follow the pack leader, and can create a happier lifestyle all round when you're able to ensure your dog is well behaved. So next time you see your Sheltie smile, give him a reward and everyone wins.
How to Care for a Shetland Sheepdog Puppy
All puppies are adorable. That's a scientific fact! But the Shetland Sheepdog puppy - with his big floppy ears, beautiful almond eyes, and silky soft fur - knows how to be deliberately cute on demand. Interestingly, sable Sheltie puppies usually have lighter fur when they're young, which deepens and intensifies as they age. In fact, it can take up to two years for the full adult double coat to grow, which is what gives this breed their distinctive look.
How to Clicker Train Your Dog
Clicker training is a gentle training method that uses only positive reinforcement to teach your dog new behaviors. All you need is a good clicker and an understanding about what makes this dog training method work so well, especially with intelligent dogs like Shelties. I'm going to help you get an overview of clicker training here, plus everything you need to get started.
How To Photograph Your Dog
One of the reasons I made Sheltie Planet is because I have an abundance of Sheltie photos I wanted to share. I love taking pictures of Howard and Piper and being able to capture them in a way that frames that moment forever. Today I'd like to share some general pet photography tips based on what I've learnt using my digital point-and-shoot camera. I hope this helps you get the most out of your pet photography and creates some great images that you will treasure forever.
The Top 10 Most Intelligent Dog Breeds
Dogs can be smart in different ways: a breed with an acute and wellhoned ability to work will be quick to learn how to do its job. Other breeds may be so eager to please their people that they're attentive and highly trainable. But intelligence alone doesn't make a good pet. Owners need to be willing to put in the work to channel a dog's inherent intelligence - and a good owner will understand a dog's natural traits to bring out his natural smarts.