Raising and Training Your Border Terrier
Written by: Annette Neff
Border Terriers were bred to hunt vermin, such as rats and fox. It is best that they be brought up with such pets as cats and rabbits. Borders need to be taught how to interact with these pets. Some Borders are reliable with their own household pets, but lethal with outside ones. Because terriers love to dig, they should be provided with a digging area. You can increase the area’s attractiveness by hiding toys and treats there. Don’t allow them to dig in other places.
Borders can be very energetic and playful, especially as puppies. They love to dart and race around, especially under furniture. This can become a hassle in the house. So, encourage this type of activity out of doors only. Give them things to crawl into and upon in your yard. Also provide your new puppy with interesting and safe toys. These include nylon bones, commercially sterilized bones and durable rubber or vinyl toys.
Supervise your puppy when playing with toys that have squeakers, or parts that can be torn off and swallowed. Do not give your puppy rawhides, pig ears, or cow hoofs to chew. These toys have caused injury and even death to some Borders.
Border Terriers will demonstrate affection, understanding, or even humor, by leaping up and giving a quick, gentle nip on the arm or wrist. Though well meant, this behavior could scare a child. Also, when a child dashes by, Borders may take a quick grab at the arm, out of excitement. Children must be taught how to appropriately play and give attention and affection to a dog, and Borders needs to be taught not to leap and nip out of excitement.
You’ll have to teach your Border not to bite. Many puppies are mouthy and Borders are no exception. In fact, they are the rule. They mouth, nip, and lick. Mouthing and nipping should never be tolerated. Licking is desirable to some people. You can teach your puppy not to mouth you by closing your hand around its lower jaw and pressing on the tongue. At the same time, say firmly, “NO BITE!” Then say, “Be soft" and "Good puppy.”
Correct your puppy every time it put its mouth on any body parts. If the dog is not mouthing, but nipping or tearing at clothing, you can clap your hands and say firmly, “No Bite, leave it!” If this doesn’t work, use a spray bottle or shaker can instead of clapping your hands in conjunction with a verbal correction.
Don’t allow growling. If your puppy growls at you, raise it up to your face and look at it squarely. Tell it, “No growling” firmly. Then, draw the puppy close to you and say, “Be soft” and “Good puppy”. If it continues to growl at any point, repeat the above or put the pup on its back and close your hand loosely around its throat and say “No!” Follow that up with, “Be soft.... good puppy” and rub its belly. Do not use a scruff shake correction.
Do not allow any member of the household to play contact games (like wrestling) or tug-of-war. These games encourage aggression. Let the pup be aggressive only with things, i.e. shaking up a rope toy. Teach your puppy to chase and fetch toys. Play hide 'n seek. Teach your puppy tricks. These are all positive outlets for energy. Your pet needs a moderate amount of exercise.
Teach all children, especially young ones, how to pet, play, and interact with the puppy. Many young children are exuberant with puppies. Therefore, they stimulate the puppy and may make it very active. Teach your child not to squeal and run from the pup, as it is apt to chase the child and nip. Children should throw toys for the pup and sit quietly on the floor to pet the puppy.
Some young children want to carry a new puppy around, like a toy. Borders are notorious for leaping out of the arms of both adults and children. Borders are very small puppies and because of this, they are fragile. They shouldn’t be dropped, stepped on, or fallen over because they will get hurt. Additionally, don’t allow your pup to jump up or down from furniture.
Cars will kill them. Keep your Border Terrier on a leash.