Now we all know terriers are cute and fun-loving and you would probably love to have one! But, underneath all that cuteness there is a high level of energy that only a certain type of dog owner can cater for. You will need to be very active and training-minded to own a terrier. So in today’s blog, we aim to answer the ever-popular question ‘Should I own a terrier dog?’
What are Terriers?
The term terrier actually comes from ‘Terre’ meaning earth or ground (think of the French for potato – pomme de Terre meaning apple from the ground). That’s because terriers were originally bred to go underground hunting foxes and badgers. Whilst fox hunting and badger baiting are now illegal in the UK, terriers such as Patterdale terriers and Jack Russell terriers are still used in England mainly for ‘bushing’ and ratting on farms. They are popular farm dogs because they keep the land clear of vermin.
With this strong hunting instinct and prey drive comes high energy, a strong chasing instinct, and the tendency to attack small creatures. That being said, they are often very loyal to their owners. But, terriers can certainly be a handful.
Are Terriers an easy dog for first-time dog owners?
In short – absolutely not!
Terriers are active with a strong level of energy and a high prey drive. They need endless amounts of exercise and without the right training and upbringing, they can be snappy. If you are a first-time dog owner without any experience of exercising or training a dog then you may prefer to choose to start off with a more placid breed such as a Cavalier King Charles or a Bassett Hound.
Should I own a Terrier Dog?
If you are adamant that you want to own a terrier, then you should see if you can answer yes to most of these questions. If you can, then a terrier might be a good dog for you.
– Do you work from home and won’t need to leave your dog alone for prolonged periods?
- Do you have the time and energy to walk with your dog twice a day for at least half an hour to an hour?
- Can you provide your dog with off-lead exercise in a safe space such as a garden or enclosed field?
- Do you want a dog that will be close to you – sitting on your lap often and frequently wanting to play?
- Can you spend money on dog puzzles and games and show your dog how to use them?
- Do you particularly want a ‘working dog’ such as a terrier to clear rats from your farm?
- Do you live an active outdoor lifestyle including walking, hiking, and cycling that you will want to share with your dog?
- Is your household free from other small furry pets?
Issues with Terriers
Some of the issues that can crop up with terriers are that they are difficult to rain off lead due to their strong prey drove. To solve this problem you can train your terrier in a large hired field or use a long line (30m) to keep them safe during training before you fully let them off.
Some terriers can be snappy at fast-moving objects such as running children, which isn’t always compatible with a young family. You can do training with your dog on this using positive reinforcement methods (rewarding them when they do not chase). But you might find it easier to train a terrier on this from a puppy.
It’s not advisable to get a terrier if you have other small animals already as pets in the home such as rats, rabbits, or cats. This could end in disaster!
Some terriers can get bad separation anxiety and cannot be left alone for too long. 3-4 hours is the absolute maximum amount of time you should leave your dog alone. It wouldn’t be right to get a terrier and leave it alone all day while you work 9-5 in an office.
Is a Terrier the Dog for you?
If you are prepared for all of these issues and are willing to put in the time needed to exercise, look after and train a terrier then this may be the dog for you. Are you the kind of person who wants a close relationship with a loving and loyal dog? Terriers are dedicated to their owners and make lovely pets. Make sure that your terrier is well exercised, played with, fed, and watered and you will have a best friend for life!