Shelties are one of the best choices in family pets. They are sweet and gentle dogs with a lively personality and a great sense of fun. They are also one of the most intelligent dog breeds, ranked number 6 in intelligence by the American Kennel Association. But, like all breeds, shelties have some particular personality traits that must be managed during training if you're to make your sheltie the perfect family pet.
Shelties need exercise - Shelties are very active and lively dogs. Particularly when they're puppies, in fact, they can be quite active if they're not given the opportunity to run off some energy. You'll need a place for your sheltie to exercise or you'll need to be committed to walking him daily in order for him to be happy and healthy.
Shelties need human companionship - Shelties thrive on contact with their families and will not be happy if they're left in the back yard while the family goes about life indoors.
Shelties need socialization - Shelties are friendly dogs, but can be prone to shyness with strangers if they are not properly socialized. It's important to begin training your sheltie to be comfortable around your friends and other dogs at an early age to ensure that he will be well behaved and comfortable no matter where your travels take you.
Shelties like to bark - Shelties are natural barkers, as using their voices is part of natural herding behavior. It's important to teach your sheltie when it's appropriate to bark and when it isn't. The sheltie's bark is a great way to gain your attention to intruders, but they should be trained to quiet down on command.
Shelties must be trained sensitively - All dogs need basic obedience training, and this includes correction when their behavior is inappropriate. But, shelties, like collies, can be overly sensitive to harsh training techniques. Positive reinforcement for good behavior will be far more effective than negative reprimands for inappropriate behavior. Never strike a sheltie!
Herding behavior must be kept in check - Most of your sheltie's herding behavior will not cause a problem as a family pet. However, one habit that many shelties have, particularly when they're young, is nipping at the heels. This is part of a technique used by many sheepdogs to keep sheep in check, but it can be annoying, and can be frightening and painful to children. Work with your sheltie consistently to teach him that nipping is inappropriate. Most dogs outgrow the behavior on their own, so the training will get easier as the dog matures.
Shelties are great family dogs. They'll make wonderful companions and fun and active playmates. Consistent and gentle training can help make your sheltie your best family pet ever and ensure that you and your sheltie will have many happy years together.