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More on the Herding Skills of the Shetland Sheepdog

Unbeknown to the casual observer, Shetland sheepdogs have a spectrum of working tendencies to show behind their general herding instinct! A study involving over 1,000 herding instinct tests under the ...

Unbeknown to the casual observer, Shetland sheepdogs have a spectrum of working tendencies to show behind their general herding instinct! A study involving over 1,000 herding instinct tests under the American Shetland Sheepdog Association revealed what actually happens and what rarely happens for most sheepdogs.

84% of the dogs had a gathering style; the rest did not have. Under “Approach,” 68% tended to move close, compared to moving wide around the stock. When it came to barking, the dogs were roughly equally divided between 3 groups: barkers, forced barkers (only when the stock showed resistance), or quiet workers. When it came to gaze and stance, the two most dominant tendencies were loose eye (meaning the dog does have good concentration on the stock, but is free-moving and takes in a wider view of the overall scene) and medium eye (intent concentration but freer, upright manner of moving). A shetland sheepdog has been know to commonly fetch or gather, and a dog that will manifest driving is said to be out of shape, or is insecure, immature, or not too enthusiastic about being away from his master's side.

What are the major factors that give the breed the best chance to show their herding skills? It is said that nothing beats having good stock and positive handling. A clear style preference is likely to manifest itself when the dogs have had enough experience with appropriate livestock. The lack of a domineering frame is no problem at all, since the dog makes up through proximity to the stock, quick movement plus the injection of a bark. If a shetland sheepdog barks, it would be because he got excited or is making up for inexperience; a more mature dog, however, is a quite worker, and using force-barks when appropriate. A more confident Sheltie will also rely on sight and will rarely need to crouch.

Furthermore, looser-eyed Shelties will also have an upstanding style and will be seen as more inclined to sit or pause on their feet rather than down in case a stop is needed. A variety of approaches is very welcome since the working history of the shetland sheepdog indicates an an all-purpose, practical farm dog. In sumFind Article, shelties are by all means welcome to stick faithfully to the style that suits their particular disposition and character.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Richard Cussons is delighted to share his knowledge about the shetland sheepdog. Want to know more about sheltie training? Feel free to explore sheltiesavvy.com.



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