The Shetland sheepdog is a hardy and loyal dog that enjoys the company of his human family as much as he likes to work. The "sheltie" loves to please and has an innate sense of knowing when something is wrong. The sheltie is sensitive yet demonstrative of affection. While it might appear that a sheltie's long coat would requires extensive grooming, simple regular maintenance will keep it healthy and full.
Exercise your sheltie daily. Shelties are naturally agile dogs that enjoy romps in the park as much as leisurely walks down quiet roads. Consider an activity to engage in with your dog, such as agility training or flyball. A sheltie will become bored easily and may begin to display bad behavior, such as chewing on household items, if he is not given opportunities to be active. Your sheltie will gain unnecessary, unhealthy weight if he is unable to run and play.
Train your sheltie carefully. Shelties are affectionate but are also very sensitive and occasionally reserved in nature. Enroll in obedience classes if possible when your sheltie is 1 year old and mature enough to focus on tasks. Use your voice in a confident yet pleasant manner when giving commands. A sheltie will regress and become timid if you use your voice in a harsh or demanding way. Positive reinforcement is most effective with a sheltie. The sheltie is a quick learner.
Groom your sheltie regularly to maintain a lustrous coat that is free of mats and debris. Bathe him with a shampoo designed for dogs, and always brush his coat when it is damp to avoid breaking the hair. You can bathe a sheltie once every two months, particularly when he's shedding, to release excess fur from his undercoat. Use a gentle pin brush to groom the dense undercoat as well as the long topcoat. A slicker brush is useful for sensitive areas and finer hair, such as behind the ears. Brush your sheltie once a week to keep his coat healthy and avoid shedding. When brushing your sheltie between baths, always mist the coat with water in a spray bottle to avoid breaking the hair.
Locate a veterinarian in your area to perform routine veterinary care and vaccinations for your sheltie. While shelties are generally healthy dogs, there are a few ailments to watch for. Hot spots or acute moist dermatitis is caused by heat rash, fleas, scratching or an allergy. Arthritis or rheumatism is relatively common in the senior sheltie. Constipation, dermatitis, and diarrhea are ailments that require a veterinarian's treatment. Keep a rectal thermometer and lube on hand, and use them if you suspect a fever. A sheltie's average temperature is 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit but can vary half a degree without any cause for concern.