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Training Your Scottish Terrier

Updated on March 12, 2009

You've got to be prepared when it comes to training scottish terrier dogs. This elegant and classy breed has some character traits that can make training them quite a challenge. Originally bred to hunt badgers and small animals like mice, squirrels and rats, scottish terriers have developed key traits like independence, dominance and stubbornness. As a consequence of their work (hunting) being independent from people they also became very reserved, sometimes even excessively protective of their own privacy.

Despite their somehow strong temperament, scottish terriers do respond positively to reward-based training as long as you follow certain rules.

Here are five tips for successfully training your scottish terrier:

1. Motivation

Scottish terriers, like all dogs, are motivated to do something in exchange for getting something they want. Each individual dog has its own motivation: toys, food, praise, a behavior that gives them pleasure(like chasing a squirrel). To find out what motivates your Scottie you should experiment with food, toys or objects and see what exactly catches his attention.

Let him show you what he truly loves. Pay attention to his reaction to the reward you offer. Just because he accepts a piece of kibble doesn’t necessarily mean he loves it. Watch him carefully when you’re giving him a treat, petting, or playing with him. If he looks away or walks away, he probably isn’t all that thrilled about what you are offering. But if he gets excited, stays close and begs for more, he’s showing you that he loves it and certainly will be willing to work for that reward in the future.

2. Leadership

If you want to get the best results from training your Scottie, if you want to have control over your Scottie in any circumstances, you must show leadership.

Dogs are sociable animals and they like to live with other sociable animals in a group or pack. The pack has a hierarchy. There is a most dominant animal that becomes the leader, sets the rules and makes the decisions. Dogs need a confident, dependable leader. It makes them feel safe, confident and secure. Dogs do want a leader and if you don't show them that you are the leader they will lead you. Scottish terriers have a dominant personality so it's important to make them clearly understand who is the boss, the pack leader...

Here are a few ways to communicate your leadership: a) have him do something before you pet or pay attention to him; b) make him do an exercise before you tell him he can eat; c) when going out he should not walk ahead of you unless you tell him he can; d) when going up or down stairs you should go first unless you tell him to go ahead; e) he should only get in or out of the car when you tell him to do so.


Did you know the scottish terrier is the only breed that has lived in the White House more than three times? That's leadership...

3. Consistency

Training a scottish terrier, as well as most other breeds, requires consistency. Training sessions must be repeated following always the same pattern, so he doesn't get confused. Consistency is particularly important when correcting bad habits such as barking, chewing, jumping, digging. Your Scottie must be corrected every single time he does an undesirable behavior. Not doing so will give him the wrong idea that he can continue doing a particular bad behavior at times.

4. Patience

Each dog is unique, and will only learn at his own pace. Some dogs learn quickly; others take more time. Patience is indeed a virtue when it comes to effective dog training. More so with scottish terriers because they are hardheaded and independent. Sometimes it may take a little more time to get things across to them. Don’t lose your temper if he doesn’t “get it” right away, or appears to be ignoring you.

Don’t make your training lessons too long. Dogs, like humans, become bored by repetition and bored students don’t learn very well. Scottish terriers can become bored to death when repeating the same exercise over and over again. To keep the training sessions effective, don’t make them outlast your scottie’s attention span. Be alert and notice when his attention starts wandering. Try for a 15-minute session and see how that goes. Shorten it if necessary. Repeating a short session two or three times a day will be much more effective than having one long session each day. Important: do not start a training session at the end of an exhausting day or when you are too short of time.

5. Socialization

Scottish terriers normally do not feel comfortable with a lot of noise, confusion or disorganization around them. In the beginning it is ideal that the training takes place in a calm environment, preferably without the presence of other dogs or any kind of distractions.

Once both of you are skilled at the several obedience commands, you can begin with socialization, to make him feel comfortable around other dogs and people. This is a very important part of your scottie's training. Gradually start taking him to different areas for practice, where there is an increasing amount of distractions and eventually other dogs. This could be near a supermarket, a busy parking lot or a busy park on weekends. He must learn to obey your commands despite the distractions. Off-leash obedience training is fundamental, as Scotties are inclined to run after anything that runs.

Using appropriate training techniques you can teach your scottish terrier just about everything you want. The final result is that you will have a superbly trained dog. Training Your Scottish Terrier is a great source of useful information about this unique breed.


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      1234 5 years ago

      Fantastic info. Thanks