Like many herding breeds, Shetland Sheepdogs can be pretty shy and easily stressed. One of the most common complaints with Sheltie owners is the constant barking – at every little noise. This behavior is often related to stress and anxiety. Being able to identify when your Sheltie is stressed, fearful, or nervous is the first step in helping yours quiet down. The following are five signs your Shetland Sheepdog is stressed.
#1 – Whale Eye
If your Shetland Sheepdog is showing the whites of his eye, then he is stressed about something. Called “whale eye,” it’s a very obvious sign that you need to change the environment.
#2 – Yawning
While yawning in humans may always remain a mystery, in dogs it’s a sign of stress. Dogs yawn to try and relieve their anxiety, so if you notice your Sheltie yawning at the park, during training, or when kids approach, he is trying to tell you something.
#3 – Whining & Barking
Whining is often a sign that your Sheltie is stressed about something. If yours is whining and you know he doesn’t have to go outside to go potty, he may be stressed. And with Shelties, whining almost always turns into stress barking if the source of the anxiety has not been removed. If your Shetland Sheepdog is reactive (barks at things), he may actually be fearful and not aggressive.
#4 – Won’t Eat
Another sign of stress your Shetland Sheepdog may display is unwillingness to eat. Whether you are training or just offering him his meal, a stressed dog often won’t eat. Or, he may eat, but take the food very hard. He may even accidentally bite you. In both cases your Sheltie is most likely anxious about something.
#5 – Aversion
Shelties will try to evade something if it’s stressful to them. They will put their head and body low and try to slink away from whatever is bothering them – like when the kids try to grab them. They may even run and hide in a place they deem safe, such as a kennel or under a table.