Shetland Sheepdogs, commonly known as Shelties, are affectionate, active, intelligent dogs who do well with families because they enjoy being around people. They are small to medium in size, growing to around 13 to 16 inches in height at the shoulder, and have long flowing hair of white and black, blue merle, or sable color. They are herding dogs with a natural instinct to herd other animals and even children or adults if allowed, but like most dog breeds, they may also start digging in your yard or under your fence.
Reasons Dogs Dig
While some dog breeds dig specifically because they have been bred for that purpose, other breeds such as Shelties dig most often for other reasons. If they do not have anyone to play with or any toys to occupy their attention, they may dig to amuse themselves. In harsh weather such as rain or snow they may dig so they can hide themselves in the hole. If they are hunting a prey animal and it goes underground, they may try to dig it up. And if they desperately want attention, even if it is negative, they may dig just to get it.
Shelties are very energetic and very loving, but they can also be skittish around strangers and anxious when left alone. They like to play chasing and fetching games and can be trained to be around small children, though they should still always be supervised. Some Shelties have more neurotic tendencies than others and will react more negatively to being alone or being inactive than others will.
When Shelties becomes bored or lonely they can become destructive. This includes digging in the yard outside or in the carpet inside, chewing on things besides their toys, and barking too much. Regular exercise as well as mental stimulation and obedience training are needed to keep their destructive behaviors to a minimum.
Shetland Sheepdogs respond best to positive reinforcement and nonviolent training methods. They want to make you happy but are very energetic and have short attention spans so need constant repetition as well as encouragement. While they easily can learn basic commands such as sit, stay and walk, other things such as not jumping on guests or furniture and not barking excessively can be more difficult.