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Do Shetland Sheepdogs Bark a Lot? Reasons & Helpful Tips

Krystal Facey

By Krystal Facey

shetland sheepdog sitting on grass field and barking with mouth open

There are certain dog breeds that may bark more often than others due to their ancestral uses, such as herding animals, scaring off predators on farmland, and more. These behaviors end up being passed down the line over decades of breeding and will even often be encountered in modern-day dogs. The Shetland Sheepdog, more commonly known as Shelties, is a smaller-breed dog with straight, long fur and pointy ears that has its own breed behaviors. Shelties naturally tend to bark more often than other dog breeds.

Keep reading to learn why Shelties are among the dog breeds that bark more often than others.

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Why Do Shelties Bark?

In terms of the Sheltie breed, they were originally farm dogs in the 1900s who were bred to scare off predators to farm animals, alert people to danger or incoming strangers, and herd sheep. Because of this natural behavior of the dog breed, they are known to bark often. This may be one behavior that is more difficult to train out of your dog nowadays, but not impossible.

Of course, not every Sheltie is the same. There are also reasons that dogs naturally bark regardless of the breed (in most cases), such as barking to communicate, express their excitement, show fear, and more.

Portrait of a cute shetland sheepdog looking upwards and barking
Image Credit: atiger, Shutterstock

How Do You Stop Shelties From Barking?

Although a natural behavior in Shelties, there are ways you can reduce barking by learning what is triggering it. In some cases, your dog may be excited when the doorbell rings and begin barking. Or, maybe your dog naturally barks at other dogs in public (either aggressively or non-aggressively, which is an important distinction), at dog parks, or passing on the street. Once you identify what causes the barking, it is much easier to reduce the behavior.

The best way to train or reduce any type of negative behavior in dogs is to start teaching them early when they’re puppies. You can do this by using behavioral classes, a trainer, learning some tricks yourself, or altering their environment to support positive behaviors. Teaching them when to bark on command is a good first step. Rewarding them when they listen to your command will give them positive reinforcement, and some subtle negative reinforcement, such as stopping a walk early, can alert them to something they are doing wrong.

What Can Cause Barking in Dogs?

In addition to training your dog with commands, rewards, or behavioral classes, you can also alter the home environment to reduce barking behaviors in a dog. This includes physical changes such as switching the fence in your yard to a solid material so that your dog cannot bark at a passerby through spaces in the fence.

Not allowing them to bark when people come to the front door, including strangers like a delivery person or mail person, is an additional way to train out barking behaviors. Also, keeping them company when they are in your backyard for a free-range activity or making sure they have their favorite toys so they are entertained will reduce barking as well.

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In Conclusion

Although Shelties may naturally tend to bark more often than other dog breeds, it is a behavior that can be trained out with proper owner education and training. Although Shelties were bred to be farm dogs to herd animals and avert predators, you can still alter your home environment to keep them from excessive barking as domestic pets. As a Sheltie owner, learn some tips from a trainer, check out local behavior classes, or practice proper commands to lower the chances of unwanted barking.


Featured Image Credit: atiger, Shutterstock

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