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I quite often get asked ‘Are Patterdale terriers good with kids?’ It’s unfortunately not an easy question to answer, because it depends on the dog and the training and experience he has had. They answer can be yes or no….

Patterdales – Cute but a Handful!

One of the difficult things to deal with is the fact that because Patterdale terriers look so ‘cute’ and are a nice size, people get them thinking that it will be an easy dog to look after and perfect for family life. Well, I can tell you that Patterdales are a handful and are not great for first time dog owners! However, Patterdale terriers can make good pets.

Some Patterdale Terriers are NOT good with Kids

Some Patterdale terriers are not good with kids. Patterdale terriers can become aggressive if they are not trained properly or if they have certain experiences that can lead to aggressive behaviour. The main issues that can make Patterdales aggressive are:

  • Lack of socialisation as a puppy
  • Not enough exercise (exercise your Patterdale at least one hour daily)
  • Not mentally stimulated (lack of games such as sniffing, finding things)
  • Children ‘winding them up’ and mistreating them such as tail and ear pulling
  • Physical Abuse from owners
  • Being attacked by other dogs
  • Being confined to a small space for prolonged periods
  • Being tied up and neglected

If you have a dog that has ever experienced any of the above, we recommend a combination of socialisation and positive reinforcement training. You can use clicker training or a marker word followed by a treat to increase your dogs positive experiences and build his/her confidence.

Some Patterdale Terriers can be Good with Kids

If a Patterdale terrier is bought up with kids from a puppy, or receives the right training, they can make excellent family pets and be very good with kids.

Our Patterdale terrier likes children and doesn’t find them too scary, because of their size. It is big scary men that he is cautious about! Sometimes though he can get a bit high-energy when they start to run around (especially if running and screaming) so we have to tell everyone to calm down so that he does nip by mistake or out of excitement!

Remember that Patterdales are prey driven dogs – they were bred for hunting. That means that it is in their instincts to run and chase something fast moving. Young children will easily forget that they have to be calm around the dog, so you need to stay with them and guide them.

Never Leave a Child and Dog Alone

It’s important to remember that no child should ever be left alone with any dog. It’s just not worth the risk. It could result in an injury and the dog having to be taken away from its home or even worse, put to sleep.

Tips on Introducing your Patterdale terrier to Children

If you are bringing a patterdale terrier into your home (or meeting other children) you will need to be very careful about the way that they are introduced. Here are some tips to help the meeting go smoothly.

  • Before the dog arrives, explain to the children why it is very important to be calm around the dog. He might get scared, he likes it quiet, he doesn’t like shouting/screaming/jumping. Children usually understand this – you don’t have to scare them saying he will bite their hand off – you don’t want to instil too much fear into the child as this could make things worse.
  • Make sure that all adults and children are sitting down at a chair nice and comfortable and that they are armed with treats!
  • In the meet and greet room there should also be a blanket or mat or dog bed so that he has a ‘safe place’ to go to if it’s all too overwhelming.
  • You could also prepare a treat such as a licky mat in the same room so he has a distraction and something positive to focus on.
  • The dog should come into the door and not meet people standing up at the door – this will create too much excitement. He should have chance to calm down before he enters the room to meet the children – he shouldn’t enter if he is barking, jumping or foaming at the mouth!
  • When the dog comes in, everyone should treat him and let him sniff, but not go straight in for strokes and fuss. Let him wander around, check everybody out and go in his bed or have the lickimat if he wishes.
  • Slowly, when the dog is getting used to everyone, people can start to gently stroke him, but watch his body language and only allow this if he is ready.
  • If the dog displays any sign of stress or aggression, immediately remove him from the room – now is not the time to try this. Barking and growling are signs that he is uncomfortable, don’t discipline him for this, just take him out. You can try another time and maybe with less people.
  • Repeat this process two or three times before the new children (and adults) attempt to play with him like playing ball or ragga, or running outside.
  • Again, children should always be supervised when around any dog.

If you have children in your house and you have a new Patterdale terrier, your children may want to be involved in the feeding, walking and training of the dog. This will help to build a positive relationship with the dog. He will quickly learn to love and trust them.

If you have any comments or questions, please comment below. Do you have a family pet patterdale? How is he/she with children?

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