The Border Terrier Club 
of Central Ohio

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.

Feeding Your Border


Your puppy needs a high quality dog food. Be certain to feed a meat-based dog food.  Food can be mixed with a small amount of Bil Jac frozen or canned food two times per day. You may also add in a little plain yogurt or cottage cheese for a special treat. All meals should be mixed with warm water.  Border are voracious eaters and can actually choke on dry food because they inhale it. 

All dogs do better on two meals rather than one. Most adult Borders eat ¼  to ½ cup, twice a day.  This, of course, may vary depending upon your dog’s size and activity level. Don’t allow your Border to become overweight, especially as a puppy.
Their bone structure will be stressed by too much weight. 

Table scraps, if given at all, should be in very small amounts. Avoid pork and pork products. Some dogs have severe allergic reactions to those foods. Remember that overeating causes weight gain, so break those biscuits in half for Borders. 

Never give your dog chocolate.
Because of their size, Borders could have a life-threatening reaction to chocolate. Do not feed dogs raisins or grapes. They are toxic!


At about six months, you’ll want to decrease you puppy’s intake of protein. If you are feeding puppy food, at that time, gradually change your puppy over to an adult Maintenance Diet. Your Border should eat all of its food within five minutes. (Most will be done long before that!) Wetting it down will make it easier to swallow. 

The ideal weight for an adult female Border Terrier is 12-15 lbs. Adult males are slightly larger, weighing between 15 and 20 lbs. To tell whether or not your puppy or dog is overweight, feel for its ribs and backbone. These bones should be readily felt, but not visible to the eye.


Veterinary Care

Puppies should stay with their litters for 8- 10 weeks. At six, nine, twelve and sixteen weeks they should receive their vaccinations. The breeder should provide you with a copy of your pup's vaccination records. Puppies should be vaccinated against transmittable diseases: distemper, parvo, parainfluenza, adenovirus, leptosperosis, coronavirus, bordatella, and rabies. Vaccinations must be given on time as they lose their effectiveness and your puppy will be susceptible to transmittable disease. Dogs should be updated on their shots as recommended by your veterinarian. 

Virtually all puppies are born with round worm. Puppies should be wormed at 3, 6, and 9 weeks. They may need to be wormed again on subsequent visits. Bring a stool sample to your veterinarian. You should see your veterinarian within seven days of purchasing your puppy so that you can be assured that it is healthy. 

Veterinarians should be seen when your pet is not feeling well. Border Terriers are small dogs, especially as puppies. It is better to pay for an office visit if your pet acts ill. Vomiting and diarrhea are good reasons to take your puppy to the vet. They can quickly become dehydrated.

It takes time for puppies to be fully housebroken. You will want to crate-train your puppy. Put papers down for your puppy if you cannot return within four hours for a little while. 

The pup needs to be made comfortable with the out of doors before it’ll be able to use the bathroom there. Take short trips outdoors when puppy first awakens, after eating, and when playing and suddenly become distracted. There is a housebreaking handout provided elsewhere on our web site to assist you.