Shetland Sheepdogs are an all-around family dog. Shelties love their families and want to be included in all activities, both outdoors and indoors. They get along well with kids, and enjoy interactive outdoor games. Shelties are highly intelligent and pick up training very quickly. They are often champions in the competitive arena in obedience, agility and herding. For active families who prefer a smaller dog, the Sheltie is an excellent fit.
Shelties are small enough to live in an apartment, as long as a commitment to regular exercise has been made. Shelties require daily walks and the opportunity to run as often as possible. Shelties do well on a leash, but off leash they should be in a fenced in area at all times, for their own safety. They have a strong urge to herd and will try to herd groups of kids, animals or even cars.
If possible, your Sheltie should be enrolled in advanced obedience, trick training, agility, or organized herding activities. These smart dogs need to use their minds as much as their bodies and appreciate the opportunity to learn new things as they exercise. Properly exercising and occupying your Sheltie's brain help keep them calm indoors. A bored Sheltie can bark obsessively, which can drive the house crazy and alienate your neighbors – especially in an apartment building.
Shelties are highly trainable dogs. They pick up new commands quickly and possess a strong desire to please. Excited praise and treats are all the motivation needed during training sessions. Shetland Sheepdogs should never be treated harshly, as they will become defensive.
Shelties are excellent showmen and enjoy being the center of attention in the home. Trick training can be a great way to keep your Sheltie mentally sharp and get some extra bonding time.
The Sheltie bark is a trademark of the breed. It is high pitched and ear-piercing and can set your teeth on edge. It is essential to train your Sheltie to obey commands to quiet down. Socialization is also important so that your Sheltie learns to alert you when strangers are approaching, but not friends or the mailman or every incoming dog, cat, bike, or leaf that wanders near the house.
Shelties are a popular breed and this has unfortunately led to a lot of indiscriminate breeding. This practice means there are a lot of Shelties born with unstable temperaments. It is crucial to research any potential breeder extensively and also to meet your potential puppy's parents before committing to a Shetland Sheepdog.