We work tremendously with shetland sheepdogs or shelties and have been doing so for many years. Through all our experiences, we have discovered plenty of traits and characteristics of shetland sheepdogs or shelties.
Although every dog is different, shelties or shetland sheepdogs usually stop biting before their first birthday. Typically though, they stop biting somewhere in the seven to eleven month range. You can stop your shetland sheepdog or sheltie from biting by training them.
Biting is a natural and normal process for any dog; it allows them to play and discover more. We are going to get into some frequently asked questions and give you everything you need to know about shetland sheepdogs or shelties and their biting habits!
Why Is My Sheltie / Shetland Sheepdog Biting?
For shelties or shetland sheepdogs, biting is a completely natural and fun thing to do. Shelties or shetland sheepdogs nip or play bite in order to explore the world around them by using their mouths, similar to how we as humans explore the world around us by using our hands. For shelties or shetland sheepdogs, biting is actually a healthy way of exploring, playing, and even communicating.
When Do Shelties / Shetland Sheepdogs Start Biting?
Shetland sheepdogs or shelties start exploring the worlds around them using their mouths from birth. They start biting to explore their mother, den, littermates, etc. Once they are a number of weeks old, they begin to play with their siblings by using their mouths. However, once a shetland sheepdog or sheltie puppy comes into your home and starts to bite all of their surroundings, it may be time to intervene.
Should I Prevent My Sheltie / Shetland Sheepdog from Biting?
Since biting is a completely natural process, it is a good thing to allow your shetland sheepdog or sheltie to bite a bit so they can feel free to explore and learn more about their surroundings. However, if your sheltie or shetland sheepdog is tearing up your living room or home, then you can think about intervening and imposing some limitations for them.
What Can I Get My Sheltie / Shetland Sheepdog for Them to Bite On?
For shetland sheepdogs or shelties, it is very important to give them what they need. If your shetland sheepdog or sheltie is a puppy and they really need something to chew on to help alleviate their discomfort, you can give your puppy chew toys and / or pieces of bones or tendons. There are plenty of items that your shetland sheepdog can chew on, and it is incredibly helpful for you to provide it for them.
Is My Sheltie / Shetland Sheepdog Biting Due to Instinct?
This is a great question that not many people know the answer to. Shetland sheepdogs or shelties actually bite when they are puppies to learn bite inhibition. When a puppy bites one of their siblings in a very hard way, then the other puppy cries in pain and stops playing. This act teaches the biting puppy that if they bite too hard that they will face social isolation. Once other puppies bite that originally biting puppy too hard too, then the original biting puppy learns what the pain feels like and becomes more empathetic in the process.
Because of this, some puppies that are taken from their litters at less than seven weeks, or at too early a time, often have a very difficult time adjusting. This is because they miss these important opportunities to learn social lessons. Consequently, the shetland sheepdogs or shelties or puppies in general will retain tendencies to bite during play once they become adult dogs and then in emotional situations where they are stressed, they can create dangerous home environments.
Should I Help Refine My Shetland Sheepdog / Sheltie’s Bite Inhibition?
Even the younger shetland sheepdogs or shelties that have learned the basic bite inhibition from any of their siblings need to often be reconditioned once they enter a new home. It is also important to note that human skin is easier to damage than puppy skin so you may need to consider refining your sheltie’s or shetland sheepdog’s bite pressure even more.
Younger dogs are not able to inflict serious damage. However, their teeth are as sharp as razors but their jaws are far too weak to do too much damage. Adult dogs on the other hand are able to cause much more damage, which is why it is important to consider teaching or refining your sheltie’s or shetland sheepdog’s bite inhibition.
How Can I Help Refine My Shetland Sheepdog / Sheltie’s Bite Inhibition?
First, it is crucial for you to decide what the limit is for your shetland sheepdog or sheltie’s play biting habits. When you are playing with your sheltie or shetland sheepdog puppy, you must choose the mouthing level that you are prepared to accept that is within limits of decent to good behavior. There are some owners that are happy with their dogs touching them with their teeth so long as there is no pressure being exerted. However, there are also other owners, especially those that have young children, that set limits for no tooth contact at all.
Second, you can impose the limit on your shetland sheepdog or sheltie’s biting. In this case, whenever your sheltie or shetland sheepdog crosses the boundaries that you set, you must yelp, squeal, or cry in pain and immediately turn away from your sheltie completely. You must then move away while keeping your eyes and face averted. You must not speak to your sheltie or touch them for at least thirty seconds. After this amount of time, the lesson can really begin to sink in for your puppy. Do not leave them alone for long enough however for them to forget what caused them the social isolation. You must also ensure that nobody else plays with or approaches your sheltie during that time as well.
Third, you should supply chew toys. Many younger dogs, as well as some older dogs, have innate needs to chew on things when they are playing. In order to prevent your sheltie or shetland sheepdog from biting you, you must give them something more appropriate to chew, which includes anything that has a bit of give to it. These chew toys include pigs’ ears, rawhide bones, as well as squeeze rubber toys.
Fourth, you should correct any bad behavior. If your sheltie or shetland sheepdog tries to bite your hands while you are playing, correct them immediately with a quick, sharp, “No!” or any other negative reinforcing statement. Your dog will be started but that startle will likely cause them to stop. Once they stop, you must immediately praise them and redirect their attention towards that appropriate chew toy that we discussed earlier. Again, when your sheltie or shetland sheepdog has their jaw around the chew toy, immediately praise and pet them.
Fifth, you must remember to never use physical force to correct your sheltie or shetland sheepdog’s biting or chewing. It is unnecessary and actually encourages your dog to continue biting. Giving your sheltie the cold shoulder will actually serve as the most humane and effective manner of showing displeasure. Ultimately, your sheltie or shetland sheepdog wants to play with and please you, so they just have to discover what the rules are.
Sixth, you can use time outs for your sheltie or shetland sheepdog when they continue or persist to bite. If your shetland sheepdog or sheltie gets really fired up and makes repeated attempts to bite you, they may need to chill out for a bit of time. In these cases, time outs are incredibly useful. In order to carry out a time out, you can take your puppy to a crate or small room and leave them there for a few minutes to calm down. When it is time to return, you can begin playing again, but you must tone it down a bit until they can play without biting.
Seventh, you must really avoid any kind of rough play with serial biters. If your puppy or adolescent sheltie or shetland sheepdog has a hyperactive nature, then you must choose non-contact play when it is feasible for the situation. For example, fetch, frisbee, and tug-of-war are great options so long as your sheltie or shetland sheepdog knows the command to drop it. You must also avoid any rough play that includes wrestling or gentle slapping. Games like these encourage biting and bring about your dog’s instinctive aggression.