Basic Training | Grooming | Medical Care


Basic Training

Shelties are a very special breed. They are particularly sensitive and react to your moods, thriving on lots of love and attention. The most important thing your Sheltie must receive is lots of TLC!

House-and-leash breaking should begin as soon as your puppy arrives home with you.

HOUSEBREAKING: Housebreaking need not be too difficult, if you remember to follow a few simple rules. Always put the pup outside in the same location (or on paper) immediately after a meal, first thing in the morning, last thing at night and anytime the pup just wakes up from a nap. Give him a command ("Go potty", etc.). Make him stay there until he has relieved himself. PRAISE when he does go. If your pup has an accident, NEVER rub his nose in it – it only teaches him bad manners (stool eating, etc.). If you find the evidence, you’ve missed your chance for a correction. If, however, you catch the pup in the act, run at him yelling "NO!" Pick up the pup, telling him how bad he is. Once you get to the door, stop scolding. Take him to his outside spot, give him his "potty" command and PRAISE him when he does. If your pup likes to take his time when he gets to his spot, give him 5 minutes, then take him back in and put him in his crate. Take him back out 15 minutes later and give him the command again, giving him another 5 minutes. Continue that routine until success is achieved. THEN allow playtime.

LEADBREAKING: A pup’s first collar should be a flat nylon or leather collar that cannot choke. Put the collar on the pup and play with her until she is used to the collar and doesn’t pay much attention to it. Add the lead and continue to play with the puppy, letting the lead drag. NEVER allow the puppy out of sight when you have the collar and lead on. If caught, it could become a death trap or, at the very least, make the dog hate the lead and collar. As the pup becomes used to the lead dragging, pick it up and follow the puppy, occasionally letting it tighten. Do not try to control the pup at this point. Do this for a few minutes several days, but not longer than every day for a week before you begin requiring the puppy to walk where you want to go. Call the dog’s name and the command "walk" as you gently tug on the lead. Never haul or drag the puppy. NEVER forget that PRAISE! It’s what your dog lives and works for. If your puppy fights the lead, stop – and ignore her. Let her pitch her fit and give her no attention for doing so. Don’t even look at her. Praise only when she calms down. Never pick the puppy up or pander to her – you will only be creating trouble for yourself. Remember, you are being far kinder when you teach her to walk on the lead where she is safe than if you give into her little fears, insecurities and attempts to control you.

OBEDIENCE: Your puppy should be taught a few simple commands before the age of six months and is able to learn all of these commands beginning at 7 weeks, provided they are taught in short spans (5-10 minutes) with lots of FUN and PRAISE! And not all in one week. Make sure each command is clearly understood before you move onto the next. He will readily learn to understand a sharp "NO!" or a happy "Good dog!" Remember to use the same easily understood command each time you interact with the puppy. Examples: sit, stay, come, heel, off, good, down. Say the command once and gently require the dog to follow through. Never hit the dog or push down his rear or shoulders. This can break bones or injure internal organs, such as kidneys. You and your Sheltie will each find benefits from simple obedience training, as Shelties are very intelligent and enjoy working with "their people." If you are interested in clicker training, starting with a pup is fantastic.



Establish a grooming routine with your puppy so that s/he becomes used to and enjoys it. This will make grooming very easy as an adult.

Find a comfortable spot, such as a towel on the floor. Keep the first grooming sessions short, keeping one hand on the dog and talking to her as you groom. Praise for appropriate behavior! If she struggles, stay calm and keep your hand on her so that you can keep her in the position you placed her in. AS SOON AS the struggling ceases, release the pup and PRAISE! Timing is everything. If you let the puppy up while she’s struggling, she’ll quickly figure out that all she has to do is fuss to get out of whatever she doesn’t want to do. Save freedom and praise for the moment the puppy stops struggling and she’ll realize there’s nothing to fear. Do this daily or at least several times a week and she will soon look forward to grooming as being special attention time. Take the time to open the mouth, handle ears and feet. This will make teeth and ears easier to clean and nails easier to clip.

Be careful not to scratch the puppy with the brush, as it will make grooming and unpleasant experience. Never rough handle the dog. If a correction needs to be made, say "no" and require the behavior you are requesting. Don’t forget to praise when you get it! As the dog becomes used to grooming, teach it to lie in its side. This makes brushing a long-coated dog easier.

HOW OFTEN: It is best to brush a sheltie a couple of times a week. This prevents matting and shedding and allows you to inspect your pet for any injuries and potential problems. Each session should only take about five minutes. However, if neglected, grooming can become an ordeal of getting a messy and matted coat back into shape. This can take hours and is torturous for the dog, not to mention you.

EQUIPMENT: A small slicker brush for pups, a pin brush for adults (#1 All Systems pin brush works particularly well), a comb and nail clippers or a nail grinder are all that are needed. The small slicker can be converted to use behind ears and on feet/hocks on an adult.

COAT: Use the brush for the main grooming job. Again, be careful not to scratch the dog. Brush from the skin out, against the grain (backwards), checking for parasites and other irregularities as you go. Be sure to include the "feathering" – the long hair on the ears, chest, tail, stomach and backs of legs. These areas tangle more readily and should be gone through with a comb as well. Mats or tangles should be removed slowly with fingers and comb, using a drop or two of oil to loosen. Use scissors as a last resort. Never yank a tangle. This is painful and will leave the area looking moth-eaten. During your regular grooming, sprinkle a bit of baby powder or cornstarch into the areas likely to tangle and brush it through. That will help keep the hair from matting.

NAILS: Clip or grind the nails when they touch the floor – about every week to 10 days. Be careful of cutting the quick, as it is extremely painful and will bleed profusely. If you do nick the quick, apply pressure or blood stop powder. Keeping your dog’s nails clipped is very important. Overlong nails spread the paw, which is painful. In extreme cases, it can become crippling. Neglected nails can also snap and tear off, causing injury. Remember to trim the dewclaws if your dog has them. These grow on the inner leg above the front paws. If left unclipped, they will curl around and grow into the skin, causing open wounds and abscesses.

EARS: Check at least twice a month, both visually and by sniffing the ear. If needed, clean with a cotton ball dipped in 50% alcohol and water. If the inner ear is inflamed, has a foul odor or if your dog persistently shakes his head, rubs it against the floor, hold it tilted to one side or scratches excessively, have your vet check it. These signs are warnings of infection or ear mites and immediate vet attention is necessary. Don’t wait if you can’t see anything.

TEETH: If you feed the raw food diet including bones (chicken backs, etc.), your dog will rarely, if ever, need its teeth cleaned! The bones keep the tartar from building up – and tartar is what causes bad breath and tooth loss. If you feed kibble, you will need to brush your dog’s teeth at least weekly.

BATHS: Bathe your dog only as necessary – not more than once a month. Too frequent bathing removes natural oils that protect skin and give the coat a healthy gloss. Most dogs remain clean with regular grooming and very rarely need a bath, unless they have parasites. Use only shampoos formulated for dogs (human shampoo has a different ph and is very drying) and be sure to rinse completely. Use a blow dryer on cool setting if needed (heat settings burn the skin easily).

If your dog isn’t really dirty but doesn’t smell as nice as you’d like, here’s an alternative: mist your dog with a light coat of water (from a spray bottle) and lightly sprinkle your favorite powder (baby or deodorant) into the coat, then brush completely through.

SUMMER: Your dog will be more comfortable and easier to groom in the summer if the coat is thinned out. This means combing out the loose undercoat. Never shave your sheltie at any time of the year, unless directed by your vet for medical purposes. Your dog’s coat is his natural protection against skin injuries, insects and bad weather, including the hot sun.



Shadymist follows the vaccine protocol recommended by Colorado State University, based on the findings that immunization from vaccines lasts much longer than previously thought.

At 8, 12 and 16 weeks, give parvovirus, adenovirus 2, parainfluenza and distemper. Following the initial puppy shots, a booster will be given one (1) year later and then every three (3) years for all of the above diseases.

Leptovirus and coronavirus vaccines are not recommended as both can have serious side affects that outweigh their benefits.

Rabies can be given at 16 weeks. However, if you are giving the above combo shot at 16 weeks, it is preferential to wait until 18 weeks to give the rabies shot. Research is still incomplete at this point, but more findings are coming out that loading a puppy up with multiple vaccines at one time can trigger auto-immune responses in the animal. The current recommendation is to wait at least two (2) weeks between vaccines.


Please do not ever use any internal flea control products or spot-on products on your dog. These include such products as Advantage, Frontline, Revolution, Program, Defend, Bio-spot, etc. These are poisons you are literally giving your dog internally. If you read the literature on these products carefully, it says that it can cause death. I personally know of two dogs whose deaths are attributed by the attending veterinarian to using internal flea-control products. I know of several others who have had auto-immune responses to the spot-on products, resulting in allergic skin and hair loss that lasted years.

If fleas are an issue, start out with the lowest possible toxin and work your way up until you have the problem under control. The safest product is a flea shampoo with pyrethrins. Permethrins are the next step up, fenoxycarb and carbaryl a step up from that. At the same time you bathe your dog, treat your house with a spray or fogger that contains in insect growth regulator (IGR), the first of which was PRECOR. PRECOR prevents fleas from hatching for up to 12 months and is non-toxic to humans and pets. Don’t bother spraying your sheltie or using a flea collar – because of the amount of coat that shelties carry, neither is effective. If the shampoo doesn’t work, move up to a dip. However, if you shampoo the dog thoroughly and treat your premises, you should be able to control the problem relatively easily. Keeping your dog at the peak of health will also help repel fleas.


Commercial food tartars up dogs’ teeth very quickly. One solution is to feed the dog a raw diet with plenty of raw meaty bones. Another is to feed a high quality kibble and provide raw beef bones to chew on. If you feed kibble, you may still have to scrape and/or brush your dog’s teeth, but not as much as you would if you didn’t provide the bones. Bones are a dog’s natural toothbrush. Just make sure the bones won’t splinter dangerously – the biggest danger comes from cooked bones, which are brittle and can crack teeth.

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