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Let's Talk Terriers

If you are wondering what is the right dog for you, this is the place to be. In this introductory forum we talk about topics such as breed vs. mix, size, age, grooming, breeders, shelters, rescues as well as requirements for exercise, space and care. No question is too silly here. This particular forum is for getting and giving helpful, nice advice. It is definitely not a forum for criticizing someone else's opinion, knowledge or advice. This forum is all about tail wagging and learning.

  
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Sarah,- CW-SR,- CW-G1, CGC

Million Dollar- Mutt
 
 
Barked: Wed Jun 27, '12 1:38pm PST 
Sarah is part JRT/part beagle (or so we think). She is AWESOME! She does not have a lot of the terrier traits, but I'll answer for her personality.

- What is it really like to live with a terrier?
I love living with Sarah. She loves to snuggle and play. She gives me a reason to get up and go with her every day.
- Can you ever really trust them off-leash?
I trust Sarah somewhat off-leash. I know she will always come back to me because she is very attached. What I don't trust her to do is come immediately when called. I am worried she will get hit by a car. We go to off-leash parks that are not fenced, but only if they are far enough away from the road.
- How hard is a wiry coat to care for?
Sarah doesn't have one- she has a beagle-type coat.
- What are the best tips you can give for living peacefully with a terrier?
Keep them occupied! Train them with positive reinforcement, but be clear in what you expect. They learn very quickly and learn how to get away with things. For example, I make Sarah go in her crate to get fed. She figured out she could get away with only two feet in the crate! I tried the "be a tree" method for loose leash walking, and she learned to go to the end of the leash, then turn so the leash was slack, and that I would keep walk with her! I turned her in to a yo-yo!
- Is dog aggression really that common in terrier breeds?
Sarah does have "issues" especially with other females. This didn't start until she was around 2 years old. With the exception of a few specific dogs (former female fosters, and two extremely submissive females at the dog park), she never seeks out confrontation, but she will respond quickly. Sarah is like Paris in that play-fighting can quickly turn into real fighting (or at least a lot of noise). She has a "hair-trigger". That being said, she can go out in public, she can go on group walks, go to the dog park, and I can foster (males, or very calm females) with no problem.

- Do they have an "off" switch, and if so, how much exercise does it take to activate it?
Sarah is very laid back. She can get obnoxious first thing in the morning, but having other dogs to play with really helps. She plays fetch with me while I get dressed in the morning, runs around int he backyard, and then is alone while I am at work. I usually spend a good hour or so doing "stuff" with her every night. If I take her to the "dangerous dog park" for an hour, she will sleep the whole day afterwards- she exhausts herself running around, swimming in the river, and digging.

- Do they make good apartment/city dogs?
I live in the burbs in a house, so can't answer this one.

- What else should prospective terrier owners know about them?
Once you go terrier you'll never go back wink. Terriers love to learn and figure out how to make you laugh. They are always up to crazy antics!
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Lisa

Always my angel.
 
 
Barked: Sat Jun 30, '12 1:38am PST 
Thanks so much for all the great responses! This is definitely some interesting reading...

So from what I'm picking up here, it sounds like the reactivity (if not necessarily aggression) is actually something to worry about. That's definitely something I'll keep in mind as I look at dogs, especially since it sounds like it showed up later in life for many of you. I live in an urban environment where sociability with other dogs will make my life 10 times easier, so I'll want to make sure that my prospective terrier mixes are adults who come from foster situations, where someone can tell me about their temperaments and attitudes toward other dogs.

The barking also concerns me since I live in an apartment. I've had some success with "quiet" commands before, but I'm a little concerned about when I'm not home and can't enforce/give the cue. You know? I'm never quite sure how people handle that one. I can see working with it, though, especially with the right adult dog.

The sense of humor, mischief and general zest for life are definitely things I enjoy in a dog, though, so in that sense a terrier (or mix) might be a fantastic fit. How difficult are they to train, in general? Is it just a matter of keeping training session short, frequent, and not too repetitive? Can anyone tell me how it compares to working with, say, a spastic Cattle Dog mix? laugh out loud Because I loved that. I got to invent all kinds of ways to incorporate mental challenges into her daily life, train in short sessions for one command or long sessions if there would be a variety of commands, and proof everything a hundred different ways since she was very proficient about finding loopholes. I thought it was fun. I never had to deal with outright stubbornness or lack of attention, though - just creative problem-solving, overthinking, and occasional boredom. So I'm not sure what I'd do with a dog who wasn't "into" training at all. You know?
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Zephyr

1213425
 
 
Barked: Sat Jun 30, '12 5:56am PST 
- What is it really like to live with a terrier?
Mixed bag like anything else. My main complaint is barkiness but it's not hard to deal with if you can find their motivation to shut the heck up.

- Can you ever really trust them off-leash?
Probably less than you could trust a BC but more than a greyhound. A well bred terrier will chase and try to kill small animals. Is it trainable? Absolutely with most terriers but with some their prey drive will just be too high to be trustworthy.

- How hard is a wiry coat to care for?
Not difficult but I have smooth coats. Learning to hand-strip is not hard but extremely time-consuming. We will do it at work but it starts at $60 and can go a lot higher if the coat is already blown.

- What are the best tips you can give for living peacefully with a terrier?
Training is your friend. They thrive under structure but repetition is not the way to their hearts.

- Is dog aggression really that common in terrier breeds?
Yes. Extremely. Some breeds are much less prone than others (Wheatens, KBTs, Fox and Scotties are super-prone to it. Borders are probably the best naturally in general because they were bred to hunt in groups) but if sociability is a big factor in your life... I would look elsewhere.

- Do they have an "off" switch, and if so, how much exercise does it take to activate it?
One of mine is no. The other, absolutely. The first no amount of exercise is going to have her resting. She'll run through injury just to keep moving and go-go-going...The other eh. Even at her peak ages she was more mellow. In generaly I'd say they lean much more 'always on' though an off-switch can be trained (Thank god for crates)

- Do they make good apartment/city dogs?
Most, no. They are a barky group.

- What else should prospective terrier owners know about them?
If you haven't trained a dog to a reasonable degree of obedience do not get a terrier. Like you I love the 'push back' terrier attitude. 'Damn the torpedoes' if you will but there are a heck of a lot of negatives than come with that.

Edited by author Sat Jun 30, '12 5:59am PST

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Missy

Miss- Pig!
 
 
Barked: Sat Jun 30, '12 5:57am PST 
I've found training relatively easy with Missy and she's generally a very obedient dog. Even the trainers where we used to train ( when she was seeing a behaviourist ) commented on how well trained she was...for a terrier. laugh out loud But, it's only really when i found clicker training that i saw another side to her, like i said before. She is as bright as a button and can put her mind to anything, always being very willing to train/work her brain. I can't say i've ever really noticed any stubborn behaviour when training her, she's very eager to use her brain, so i don't really think she finds training boring as such. That stubbornness comes out in other ways, like her having to have the last word even when i've been telling her to "be quiet" for the past 10 minutes! I'd say training is similar to that of what you did with the Cattle dog, keeping things fun, inventive and non repetitive.

It's a great idea to find a terrier in a foster home environment. It will give you a much better idea of temperament, like you said way to go
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Buster

1201864
 
 
Barked: Sat Jun 30, '12 9:10am PST 
If you can persuade them it's worth their while to do whatever stupid thing the human has come up with this week they're pretty trainable Buster loves clicker training. Old style, the dog should just want to work for me wouldn't really work I don't think they don't really have that mindset of wanting to work for humans.
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Pixie Bell

Is that a ball?
 
 
Barked: Sat Jun 30, '12 12:31pm PST 
Agreeing with Buster on training.

Frankly, I think they're far more trainable than most websites give them credit for. I mean, Pixie doesn't know the difference between play time and training time, they're so intertwined! She will do ANYTHING if I'll just throw that stupid ball. And in all honesty, I've never seen her turn down a "sit" in return for a cookie either...

I have an ACD mix, and I HATE training her. I find my terrier much more focused. Use that play drive to train with anD you'll have great success.
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Henry Miller

He's a tramp,- but they love- him!
 
 
Barked: Sat Jun 30, '12 1:49pm PST 
I didn't read all the other responses but here is my experience which has been only positive:
I live in a small apartment in Brooklyn, NY.
Henry is my dog. He is a wirefox or jack russel mix: He is great with other dogs and was easy to train. His biggest issue was being destructive, but he grew out of that. He had lots of energy until he was about 3 years old. Now he is a couch potato. I love him to death and think he would be so adaptable to any situation. He is a total clown and big time snuggler. His biggest issue now is that he steals food from babies at the park during off-leash hours. LOL!

Annie was my Southpaws foster: She was some sort of terrier mix and amazing with other dogs. Lots of energy, but no bad habits. All around adorable great dog! (see her profile on my page) She lives in Rhode Island now with a new baby sister and is doing great.

I am now fostering a 7 month old wirehaired terrier mix named Luna. She was found with her brother living in squalor in a backyard. She is the sweetest thing ever. Great with other dogs and people. Quiet and calm inside and playful outside.

Honestly-If you are looking at petfinder--look for dogs living in a foster home and you will get a great idea of personality and energy level. Better than generalizing about terriers in my opinion.

Here is my current foster: SOOOOO CUUUUUTE!

Luna

Luna playing
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Missy

Miss- Pig!
 
 
Barked: Sat Jun 30, '12 3:03pm PST 
Luna is adorable, Henry cloud 9 She looks like a Patterdale cross to me. But i'm not sure they are all that common over there are they?
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Henry Miller

He's a tramp,- but they love- him!
 
 
Barked: Sun Jul 1, '12 6:20am PST 
Can't imagine she is a Patterdale terrier! Probably a terrier/lab/unknown mix. Not sure what she really is though because she's so small. This is how they found her.
Luna and her brothers
She was a neglect case. Her blonde brother is in a rescue in NC. Sadly, her other brother didn't make it out. He was put to sleep within 24 hours of entering the shelter because they said he wasn't very adoptable because he looked more like a lab.
disgusting.
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Dexter

1249805
 
 
Barked: Sun Jul 1, '12 11:51am PST 
- What is it really like to live with a terrier?

My family has two wheaten terriers and I've personally owned two miniature schnauzers. All four had CH or GCH parents and my most recent is on the way to finishing his CH. With terriers I do think it is to your advantage to purchase from a phenomenal breeder that can tell you which quirks run in her lines.
The wheatens are fun loving, a little wild, and LOVE LOVE LOVE strangers. They are prone to barking if they don't get sufficient exercise but they "turn off" around 8 pm.
My schnauzers have a good off switch but require 2-3 hours of exercise per day to be truly tired. My schnauzers can get verbal if allowed and required a lot of continuous socialization from 12 weeks-1 years.

- Can you ever really trust them off-leash?

Yes. Both my schnauzers are very good off leash.

- How hard is a wiry coat to care for?

If you correctly maintain it by pulling then it is a 30 minute-1 hour commitment twice a week for life or weekly grooming visits with a groomer who can properly roll a coat.

- What are the best tips you can give for living peacefully with a terrier?

Socialize. Maintain boundaries. Provide ample exercise. Crate train.

- Is dog aggression really that common in terrier breeds?

They are intense dogs. None of my have aggression issues but I would say that it is fairly common.

- Do they have an "off" switch, and if so, how much exercise does it take to activate it?

My 9 month old hasn't done anything today (it's 3 pm here) and he's sleeping at my feet. That being said, if I grab a toy or a ball he would light up and go wild.

- Do they make good apartment/city dogs?

Yes with ample exercise.

- What else should prospective terrier owners know about them?

Be prepared to socialize like crazy. The majority of terriers will be very vocal and this can be a problem in an apartment setting. Don't forget that being little does not mean that a dog should be treated like a baby.
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  (Page 2 of 2: Viewing entries 11 to 20)  
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