Shelties are sweet natured and gentle, but they are also known to make great watchdogs. What are the reasons for this and is it because they are known to bark a lot? I decided to research the barking behaviors and traits of this breed. I’d like to share with you what I was able to find.
So, do Shelties bark a lot? Shelties are known to bark a lot. This is due to their herding and watchdog heritage – it’s instinctual and a trait they carry. As instinctive guard dogs, Shelties bark to protect their owners, especially if a stranger was to approach or come into the house. They are also likely to bark when excited, scared, hear noises, through boredom, or if they are in pain.
The Shetland Sheepdog, or Shelties as they’re called, are sometimes mistaken as little Collies. But Shelties are a breed in their own right. As such, they somewhat different.
They were initially bred as herding dogs and as such, are relatively small in stature (13-16″), while being very active and agile.
They’ve also developed a range of traits and characteristics, such as barking, to fulfill their herding role and responsibility for the course of generations.
Let us now take a look at barking in this breed in further detail.
We’ll be covering all of the main reasons why and when a Sheltie is likely to bark along with some practical ways owners can look to minimize this behavior – so keep on reading to learn all that you need to know!
Are Shelties Barkers?
Shetland Sheepdogs originated from the Shetland Islands in Scotland. Historians think that Shelties were bred by crossing the large collies on the Scottish island with other herding dogs in the 1700s.
Either way, they were bred for one purpose – to be used to guard sheep. They have done so for centuries.
In the early 1900s, Shelties made their way to the United States; where they domesticated and people started to keep them as pets.
Because of their predisposition to guard, Shelties make great watchdogs. The downside of this, is that they bark a lot.
Studies have found that a dog’s barking is primarily as a form of communication with their owners.
No doubt that when your Sheltie barks, they’re trying to warn you or let you know something is happening or has changed in the environment. Sometimes, it can even be of potential danger.
Shelties are naturally reserved towards strangers – so you will likely hear them bark whenever somebody comes to visit or they hear/see activity outside.
Despite being vocal and cautious, Shelties are very intelligent and thankfully, easy to train. They do very well in competitions for obedience as well as agility and herding.
This bodes well for owners whom are not looking to keep them for guarding purposes, or whom want to minimize or limit their barking when it is not deemed necessary.
Taking it one step further, Shelties are a sensitive and affectionate breed – highly in tune with the mood of the household. It is traits like these, that make them ideal for families.
Reasons Why Shelties May Bark
Shelties bark to communicate; so it naturally follows that they will bark due to several different reasons. Some good, and some not so good.
Here is a list of potential reasons why your Sheltie may bark:
Shelties bark due to their instincts as sheepdogs.
It’s in their genes to be a watchdog and alert their family members of changes in and to the environment. Being a watchdog means barking at every noise they hear whether it’s the mailman, your dishwasher, or your television.
Shelties are very smart, and they can become easily bored.
This may also cause them to bark a lot since there’s nothing else to do. They are also likely trying to get your attention, or seeking a distraction.
Your Sheltie may bark because there’s something exciting about to happen, like playing with you outside.
Happy barking is common in Shelties. Your dog is trying to communicate with you. He’s trying to say he’s happy you want to play with him.
Something Is Genuinely Wrong
It’s easy to assume your Sheltie is just barking for no reason, but if there isn’t a stranger around, and your Shelties isn’t bored or excited, then it’s important that you look around for what could be upsetting your dog.
It could be a wild animal that has snuck into your yard or the neighbor is calling to you.
Or, it could be that they have an injury and are in pain.
Usually, this follows along with other behaviors so its important to check for other signs like limping, sleeping more or becoming more reserved. These all usually indicate something is wrong.
Shelties are smart, they bark for a reason, so assume there is a legitimate reason for your dog’s barking.
If you suspect your dog is unwell, injured or suffering, you may need to visit a vet. They will be able to examine your dog to see if there is an underlying condition or cause of the barking. Sometimes, addressing these issues helps to resolve or reduce barking in certain situations.
Of course, constant barking can be annoying. It’s important to get your Shelties’ barking under control early on, otherwise it can be harder to keep it under control.
How Do You Stop A Sheltie From Barking?
Shelties are persistent barkers. It’s important to train your Sheltie to stop barking early on if possible.
There are many techniques recommended to stop your dog from barking.
Some Shelties are easier to train than others.
The most important thing is that you are firm and gentle with your Sheltie. Stay calm, when you yell, it only makes the barking worse.
In fact, many people suggest that when you yell, your dog thinks you’re barking along with him. That’s not the message you want to give your Sheltie, so avoid yelling.
Here are several techniques that may work to stop your Sheltie from barking.
Shaking Coins In A Can
Drop a few coins in a washed-out empty soda can. Tape the top shut so the coins won’t fall out when you shake it. Whenever your Sheltie barks, shake the can.
You should be close enough to get your dog’s attention. Don’t shake the can angrily, just enough so your dog hears it.
This is an annoying sound to your dog and will catch his attention, so he stops barking. Of course, because Shelties are so smart, after a while, your dog may ignore the noise of the coins in the can.
Command “No Bark or “Enough”
Teach your Sheltie this command early on. When he barks, calmly but firmly say, “No bark!” Then ignore their barking. You may need to say it again until your dog stops barking.
It’s good also look at the dog with lowered eyebrows and a stern face. Hold your dog’s gaze and he’ll begin to understand you’re not happy about the barking.
Give Positive Attention
Many people suggest that it’s best to give a positive affirmation when your Sheltie barks. After all, he’s just doing his job as a watchdog. Saying, “Good job guarding,” or “Good boy” when your dog barks.
This tells him that you’re taking over now and he can go lay down. Again it may depend upon how submissive your Sheltie is, some are strong-willed and won’t back down without a firm, “Go get in bed” command.
When he turns and heads toward his bed, give him a treat and say, “Good boy.”
Use A Clicker
Dogs don’t like the sound of clickers when they’re used to correct behavior. Reserve the clicker for correcting your dog’s barking.
When he starts to bark, click the clicker several times and say, “No bark.” The combination of the clicker and command are effective ways to stop some Shelties’ barking.
Use An Anti-Bark Collar
This is another helpful tool to stop dogs from barking. This collar emits a vibration in response to any barking from your dog. It automatically responds to the intensity of barking. You can set the vibration sensitivity so your dog stops barking instantly.
Many dog owners use this type of collar successfully for living in apartments where a barking dog is a huge problem for neighbors. Here is an amazing, best-selling collar on Amazon to check out!
Gently Hold A Muzzle Shut
This is the last resort and must be done with gentleness and care otherwise you can hurt your Sheltie.
This may be effective, especially if your dog is trying to dominate you. With these dogs you need to let them know you’re the pack leader, and he needs to listen to you.
More submissive dogs will back down quickly when you are forceful, but these dogs really don’t get it unless you stand your ground and gently hold their muzzle shut saying, “No bark!”.
Again, don’t yell and don’t use unnecessary force that will do more damage than good. You don’t want your dog to be afraid of you, then you’ll have other problems. You want your dog to listen when you give a command.
Teaching your Sheltie to stop barking may take a while. You must be patient and consistent, don’t give into anger for frustration.
Other Possible Ways To Deal With Barking
There are other clever ways Sheltie owners have found to help their pooch stop barking so much.
The old saying, “if you can’t beat them, join them” may be used here.
Sometimes training doesn’t work, so here are some creative ways to help your Sheltie be less prone to barking.
Walk Your Sheltie More
A worn-out dog is a dog that’s too tired to bark all the time. Keep your Sheltie exercised by walking or running daily several times a day.
This way he’ll be less bored so he won’t bark as much. Plus, he’ll be tired, more prone to resting instead of listening for every sound he can.
Turn On A Radio/Television
This can muffle the sounds outside so your Sheltie won’t hear them. If it’s too quiet, he can pick up every little sound.
Some people turn on on a sound device that emits a low noise to prevent your dog from hearing outside noises. Fans work, too, as long as the fan isn’t blowing on your dog.
Put Your Sheltie In Another Room
Sometimes you can’t stop the barking, but you can move the dog. When someone comes to the door or your dog barks at the blender, simply command them to go into another room and close the door.
You can give your dog a treat and say, “Go into the room.” Your dog will learn quickly to head to “his room” when he hears the doorbell because he knows he’s going to get a treat.
If your Shelties love treats, use them to your advantage remove him from the area to get him to stop barking.
He may bark while in the room, but it won’t bother you or your guest as much. This may sound like giving up, but really it’s just being creative with what you have-a dog that won’t stop barking.
It’s better than being frustrated or angry at your dog all the time. It gives you peace without causing the dog any harm. Your Sheltie may even calm down and stop barking by being removed from the noise. It may help him get control of himself.
Shelties tend to bark a lot. It’s part of their heritage as watchdogs to bark to protect. If your Sheltie barks at everything he hears, it can be annoying.
Thankfully, there are several training techniques you can try to help him stop barking.
It’s best to do this when your Sheltie is young, but these techniques can work for some older dogs, too. Of course, you may not have success teaching your dog to stop barking.
If this is the case, you may need to be creative and find ways to lessen your dog’s barking. Giving him lots of daily exercises, turning on a radio or a noise-emitting device can reduce your dog’s barking.
If this doesn’t work, you may need to put your dog into another room so he can relax and calm down.
Interested in learning more about the Sheltie breed? My guides below are for you:
- How Big Do Shelties Get?
- How Much Does A Sheltie Puppy Cost?
- Are Shelties Aggressive?
- Do Shelties Bark A Lot?
- Can Shelties Swim?
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.