How to Train Your Sheltie
Training a Sheltie is usually pretty easy because they're intelligent and eager dogs. But problems can arise when you mis-read them or mis-communicate. Let's take a look at expert approaches to dog psychology and basic obedience training.
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 caring and loving relationship with him 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... [continue reading The Basics of Sheltie Puppy Training]
Puppies' bladders and bowels are small and weak. They can't hold it in for more than a few hours so you need to work out a frequent toilet break routine or they'll just go anytime, anywhere.
Housebreaking a puppy is one of the major challenges of dog ownership, particularly for first-time owners. Traditional housebreaking starts by training your puppy to pee and poop indoors on puppy training pads. In time (usually within a couple of weeks) you can move the training pads outside as a signal, before removing them altogether. There is certainly a risk of having messy accidents this way, but it does enable your dog to build confidence exploring the house during her crucial early months of development... [continue reading How to Housetrain a Puppy]
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 easy 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.
Now, a little clicking noise may mean nothing to you or your dog right now. But with simple training, 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. Through psychological conditioning (a most natural way for your dog to learn) you can instil new behaviors and commands... [continue reading How to Clicker Train Your Sheltie]
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. This is not a good trait to see in your Sheltie. It just makes them extremely nervous. But it doesn't have to be that way.
Socializing Shelties when they're young does not take much effort and it seriously boosts their confidence for the rest of their lives. While you can't undo their genetics, there is a lot you can do to help your dog overcome her instinctive shyness and feel better about the big wide world... [continue reading How to Socialize a Shy Sheltie]
Many Shetland Sheepdog owners would agree that Shelties hate water. However, this isn't always the case. In fact, some Shelties love water. They can be encouraged to take a cooling dip on a hot summer's day, or get gentle exercise that doesn't put excessive strain on 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... [continue reading How to Teach Your Sheltie to Swim]
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 as puppies 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... [continue reading How to Stop Your Puppy Chewing on Everything]
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. (Think of the toddler who whines even though they have developed more sophisticated ways to get their needs met.) 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... [continue reading How to Stop Your Puppy Whining]
Nipping and play biting is completely natural in puppies. They explore the world using their mouths - just like we use our hands. Puppy nipping is not a form of aggression: it's a healthy way of communicating, exploring and playing. From birth, Sheltie puppies use their mouths to explore the den, their mother and their littermates. When they are a few weeks old, they use their mouths to play with their siblings. But when a puppy enters your home and begins biting everything he can get his jaws around, it's time to impose some limits.
Puppy biting is actually 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. This teaches the nipper that biting too hard results in social isolation. And when other puppies bite him too hard, he learns what that pain feels like too... [continue reading How to Deal with Nipping and Play Biting Puppies]
This is my review of The Dog Whisperer - a TV show hosted by expert dog rehabilitator, Cesar Millan. He teaches people how to build better relationships with their dogs and, in turn, their dogs appear to exhibit much healthier behaviors.
Cesar deals with a range of problems in the first season, from excessive barking to dog aggression. Each episode typically features two misbehaving dogs who, thanks to some good editing, undergo massive personality changes in minutes. The dog owners are left gobsmacked while Cesar exudes a calm confident energy over their problem pet.
So how does he do it? Are we dog owners missing something completely obvious? How is it that, as a nation of dog lovers, we are all so terrible at raising calm, obedient, well-adjusted dogs... [continue reading The Dog Whisperer Review]
Why do Shelties bark a lot anyway? 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 any potential dangers whatsoever.
That's why Shelties take it upon themselves to bark like crazy when they spy children playing noisily in the street, visitors at the front door, or even the neighbor's cat. These things could all mean trouble... [continue reading How to Stop Your Sheltie Barking]
Jumping is rarely a problem for the dogs themselves. In fact, jumping acts as a reward in itself. And it needn't be a problem for 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.
First, we have to accept that we've entrained this behavior in the first place, even if we don't realize it. Many dog owners inadvertently encourage jumping behavior in puppies. When a tiny Sheltie puppy comes gamboling up to us, wiggling with excitement and making small, clumsy leaps at our knees, it's natural to lean down and respond in kind... [continue reading How to Stop Your Sheltie Jumping]
A fear of leash walking is by no means limited to Shelties, but since some Shelties can be very nervous dogs, it's easier for phobias to develop. Young and old dogs can have a fear of the leash too.
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.
This can happen when the leash was used in a negative way with a previous owner; as a tool for dragging the dog around. Perhaps it was used to confine the dog for long hours at a time. In some extreme cases, dogs have even been whipped with the leash as punishment. Or perhaps your dog is just very highly strung and is prone to developing phobias seemingly arbitrarily... [continue reading Overcoming Fear of Leash Walking]
Separation anxiety is a real problem for many pet dogs. When you leave for work in the morning, your dog may be plunged into a state of nervous anxiety which intensifies rapidly without your return. Why is this?
Dogs are social animals. They need an abundance of human company and social interaction to feel happy. 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 psychological disposition.
Shelties are particularly prone to developing this problem because they were bred to be highly sensitive watchdogs as well as affectionate companion animals. They hate it when you're not around... [continue reading Treating Separation Anxiety in Dogs]
Throughout the course of animal evolution, aggressive dogs have thrived. Such aggression improves their ability to hunt prey animals, to defend from attack and to protect resources such as food, shelter and mates.
Selective breeding has minimized this trait significantly, ever since man and dog began living together. (Genetic evidence suggests wild dog domestication began 32,000 years ago, some time after speciating from wolves). Now skip forward to modern day breeding practices.
As separate dog breeds have emerged, humans have developed different dog breeds with different temperaments. While Shelties were originally bred to be submissive watchdogs, for example, Doberman Pinschers were first bred to be aggressive guard dogs. It was a matter of what kind of temperaments were matched together for mating... [continue reading How to Deal with Dog Aggression]
Many dogs love to play Frisbee, or fetch, or tug-of-war, but Shelties are far more idiosyncratic. As herding dogs, they love to chase moving targets, but the concept of picking it up in their mouths and returning it is off the radar. So how do you exercise your Sheltie without such classic dog games?
We looked to our own dogs for the answer. The first thing we learned was how to initiate a game - with the Play Bow. Get down on all fours like a dog. For added effect, waggle your rump as if you had a tail as well. Your hands should be underneath your shoulders. You'll notice two dogs doing exactly this when they're ready for play. Then, suddenly sprawl your hands forwards and outwards and lower your chest towards the ground... [continue reading 3 Cool Dog Games for Shelties]