How to Train Your Sheltie
Shelties make dog training easy because they're intelligent and eager dogs. But problems can arise if you miscommunicate. Here's some expert advice on dog psychology and essential obedience training.
House training a puppy is a two-stage process: start indoors by teaching him to pee and poop on training pads. Puppies' bladders and bowels are small and weak. They can't hold it in for more than a few hours, so designate a place indoors they can access anytime. The second stage is to transition to outdoor business at around 4 months old, when puppies have the physical and mental capacity to get where they need to go. During this particularly messy time in your dog's life, you will need three things. Read more.
Why do Shelties bark so much? Are they just crazy hyper dogs? They're not completely nuts. They only bark for good reasons—good to them, at least. The excessive Sheltie bark all comes down to their genetics and breeding. Shetland Sheepdogs were trained to guard their flocks on the Shetland Islands for generations, so your pet today is genetically predisposed to being an active watchdog. Naturally, she wants to alert you to all potential dangers. Read more.
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 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. Now, a little clicking noise may mean nothing to you or your dog right now. But with repeat exposure, the click ingrains the habit for your Sheltie to listen and react to your commands. Its simplicity is key: once entrained, the click tells your dog to listen up. Read more.
While the aim is to breed self-assured, confident Shelties, there is no denying that sometimes these can be very shy dogs. This is usually a result of poor socialization when they are young, although there is an underlying genetic component to this trait. As a result, some Shetland Sheepdogs can grow up to be fearful of strangers, causing them to alarm-bark or run away altogether. Socializing Shelties when they're young can seriously boost their confidence for the rest of their lives. While you can't undo her genetics, there is a lot you can do to help your dog overcome any instinctive shyness and feel good about the big wide world. Read more.
Is your Sheltie chewing everything she can get her tiny jaws around? Not all dogs feel the inclination to chew. Some find it a very satisfying activity, while others do a lot of chewing when teething and then grow out of it as they get older. It only becomes a problem when your puppy or dog is engaging in destructive chewing—that is, chewing the wrong things. Your Sheltie has strong jaws full of sharp, pointy teeth: just about anything she chews on is going to be damaged in less than a minute. She doesn't care if it's your TV remote, your favorite stuffed toy, your shoes, or your new sunglasses. It's this destructive gnawing of your personal possessions that we want to eliminate. Read more.
Many dogs love to play fetch or tug-of-war, but Shelties are far more idiosyncratic. As herding dogs, Shelties love to chase moving targets, but the concept of picking it up and returning it to you is usually off the radar. So what kind of games do Shelties enjoy? We looked to our own Shelties for the answer. And the first thing we learned was how to initiate a fast-paced game. The Play Bow is a dog's way of saying, "I'm gonna get ya!" You'll see your Sheltie do it to other dogs at the park, and he'll be stoked when he sees his human do it when you're both stuck at home on a rainy day. Read more.
Before you begin working on toilet training, obedience training, leash walking and more, the first step is build a loving bond with your new dog. This not only helps you understand his needs and instincts, it also allows your Sheltie to develop trust in you. As soon as you bring your Sheltie home, start to develop a strong bond simply by playing and spending lots of time together. When puppies are secure in the knowledge that they belong to the family, they are more likely to respond better to your training commands. The trust you build now comes from showing affection, defining mutual boundaries, and treating any breach of those boundaries with firmness and fairness. Read more.
As puppies, whining comes naturally. Think of a baby crying. Puppies whine to get attention when they are hungry, tired, or cold. Their mom will react by providing them with milk, warmth, and a safe place to sleep. But as time goes by, the growing puppy makes an association between the two. When they whine, they get attention. This is known as Pavlovian conditioning. The ideal age to adopt a Sheltie puppy is at 8-10 weeks old. This is the time that your puppy will either learn that whining doesn't work with her new family—or that it does. If it does, she'll learn to use whining as a manipulative tool to motivate her new mommy to get what she needs. This can become a really bad habit her whole life, making you a slave to your pooch. Fortunately, with puppies, you can nip whining in the bud. Read more.
Nipping and play biting is completely natural in puppies. They explore the world using their mouths—just like we use our hands. Nipping and mouthing is not a form of aggression; it's a healthy way of communicating, exploring, and playing with their littermates. Biting is also how young pups learn an important lesson called bite inhibition. If a puppy bites a sibling too hard, the other pup yelps in pain and stops playing. So when a puppy enters your home, you need to set the limits using the same approach of bite inhibition. Read more.
Many Shetland Sheepdogs hate water, likely due to their size, their breeding history, and their lovely thick fur. However, this isn't always the case; some Shelties love water, and those on the fence can be encouraged to take a cooling dip on a hot summer's day, or get gentle exercise that doesn't strain the joints. Teaching your Sheltie to swim is well worthwhile. Like many dog behaviors, your Sheltie's attitude to water is determined by her genes (eg, in her natural confidence or risk aversion) and the environment she grows up in (eg, frequent exposure to water). At first, the ocean, rivers and lakes can be strange and scary to a small Shetland Sheepdog. So to overcome this instinctive fear, familiarize her with water when she's still young. Read more.
Jumping is reward in itself for many dogs. And it just isn't a problem for some owners either. Pete and I love physical play with our Shelties and this means jumping all over the place. However, there are times when you need to know how to stop your Sheltie jumping. Whether it's to avoid muddy footprints all over the couch, freshly clipped claws sinking into your skin, offending dog-fearing guests, or scaring young children. There is a command you can use to curb this behavior. Read more.
Often, the sight of the leash is enough to bring on a fit of joy in a dog. Most dogs know that the leash means a walk and they react accordingly. For some dogs though, the leash creates fear and submissiveness more than anything else. And since some Shelties can be very nervous dogs, it can be more common for phobias to develop. Read more.
Separation anxiety is a real problem for many dogs. When you leave for work in the morning, nervous Shelties can be plunged into a state of anxiety which intensifies rapidly without your return. Why is this? Dogs are social animals. They need human company and social interaction to feel fully secure. No dog likes to be left alone for long stretches of time, but some dogs suffer a lot more than others because of their nervous disposition. In particular, Shelties were bred to be highly sensitive alarm dogs as well as affectionate companion animals. Read more.
Throughout the course of animal evolution, aggressive dogs thrived. It improved their ability to hunt prey, defend themselves, and protect resources such as food, shelter, and mates. Around 30,000 years ago, humans began domesticating wild dogs, significantly reducing their need for aggression. Modern day breeding has fine-tuned the temperaments of individual dog breeds, with Shelties being artificially selected for sensitive and submissive temperaments. So why does aggression occur in dogs today and what can be done to address it? Read more.
What do Shelties make of The Dog Whisperer? Here's what I learned from Rana the Sheltie's rehabilitation sessions with alpha-dog proponent, Cesar Millan. Cesar aims to teach people how to build better relationships with their dogs who, in turn, exhibit healthier behaviors. He approaches a range of problems in the first season, from excessive barking to aggression towards people. Each episode typically features two misbehaving dogs who, thanks to some good editing, undergo massive personality changes in minutes. So how does he do it? Read more.