Sheltie Quirks: Barking

“Bark bark bark!” *body wag* “Bark bark bark!”

Ever wonder what makes a sheltie a sheltie? The quirks of course! I thought it would be fitting to spotlight some of the behaviours we’re most known for! Let’s start off with probably the most (in)famous one: barking.

I should begin by saying that we are all individuals and have unique traits that cannot be defined by a blanket description. However, there’s no denying that some traits are more prominent in certain breeds than others. These traits can be related to our development and the jobs of our ancestors.  For example, shelties are known for having a loud piercing bark which we’re not afraid to use. Since we are a herding breed, this would be helpful in both guiding and communicating with our hoomans.

Now, I’ve never seen a sheep and I’m sure the last thing I’d want to do is bark at it. I’m more of a rebel myself, preferring to be the quiet, mysterious type. I often get comments on how “well-behaved and quiet” I am! Here’s a little secret, I actually don’t like it when other dogs bark, I find it a bit scary which is why I don’t bark in public. I don’t want to scare anyone off, I want to say hello!

The doorbell, well that’s another story. Sometimes I think those darn hoomans don’t hear it, they never get up fast enough. So I take it upon myself to alert them. I even throw in my tough-guy bark just in case of stranger danger! That’ll scare-off any intruders and those that stay will get my special greeting of tail wags and kisses. I love visitors!

What was that? Squirrel? Where?! Oh, don’t get me started on those squirrels.. They come into my yard, so I go out to greet them. Will they come down the tree to say hello? Nope. I beg them to come play but they just sit in the tree. Their hearing must be worse than the hoomans so I try to bark and hop and bark to get their attention. So far, nothings worked, gotta come up with a new plan. Maybe I should learn how to climb trees..

Anyway, mommy has a few words to say about barking:

Hi guys, I just wanted to pop-in and say that, while Riley has never been much of a barker I have made it a priority to teach the “quiet” command. He has never barked at the strange things some sheltie owners report, like: coughs, sneezes, stretching, plastic bags, coffee makers, cars, moved/misplaced objects, the phone,washer, dryer and the list goes on.. His genetics and temperament may have a piece to play in this, but I also wanted to mention it has taken management.

When doing my research, I did notice that shelties were known for being barkers, so at an early age I made a point to teach the “quiet” command and limited barking as much as possible. While I do not mind barking at doorbells or at the squirrels during the day, in the mornings and at night I do not tolerate it. I do this for the sake of my neighbours, I don’t think anyone wants to be woken up by the sound of such a piercing bark, including myself. 

In sum, while shelties do tend be quite the barkers, management is possible.

(I’ll go into more detail about how I conditioned Riley not to bark sometime in the future.)

Long post. Here’s a picture of the thing that makes all the noise.


Posted on May 5, 2013, in Behaviour and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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