Lot’s of people are asking me the question: are patterdales aggressive? The answer to this question is really the same answer for any dog and not just Patterdale terriers. They can be aggressive, yes. But it depends on several influencing factors such as their genes, upbringing, experience and training (or lack of it). As a general rule, Patterdale terriers need a lot of exercise and need to know their place in the house!
Patterdale terriers are fiesty and energetic dogs for sure. Their temperament is quite similar to that of a Jack Russell. They have a great deal of energy and need a lot of attention and walks. If they don’t get enough intellectual stimulation and exercise then their behaviour can become destructive or aggressive. The patterdale terrier bite force is approximately 200 PSI (pounds per square inch) and some of them without the right training and exercise that they need can become quite snappy. You can read more about the Patterdale terrier dog breed here.
Patterdale Aggression to Small Animals
They also have a very strong prey drive with a natural instinct , and so if they have their heart set on running towards something, they are going to do that. Most terrier breeds have this inbuilt prey instinct and so unless you have your dog on a lead 100% of the time, you can’t be sure that it’s not going to kill rabbits, squirrels and foxes. There for aggression towards small animals is in the breed.
As patterdales have this prey drive, it can be a challenge to have a patterdale at home with other small pets such as guinea pigs or rats.
Aggression towards Joggers and Bikes
Due to the patterdale temperament, you might find that they are aggressive towards joggers and bikes because of the fast movement that encourages them to chase. This is something that should be trained out of them at a young age and is harder to train out of rescue patterdales. Clicker training is good for this kind of behaviour if your dog is very food motivated.
Are Patterdales Aggressive towards people?
If you have a dog from a puppy and train it well from the beginning it is unlikely that your patterdale will be aggressive to humans. They will be very faithful and loving towards their owners.
Over-Protectiveness in Patterdale terriers
Sometimes, their attachment to their owners can make them overly protective which can result in them aggressively guarding their owners (a form of resource guarding or over protectiveness). If you’ve ever watched Victoria Stillwell’s ‘It’s me or the Dog’ you may recall a Patterdale terrier called Rex who was overly protective of his teenage owner Becks. they used positive reinforcement to train it out of him. You can watch the full episode on YouTube here:
Patterdales who have not been trained from puppies or who have experienced abuse in their life may become aggressive towards people. Our rescue patterdale Blake was aggressive to all strange men when he first came home. It took over a year to get this out of him by building up trust and positive reinforcement in his training.
Aggression due to Fear
More often than not, dogs aggression towards people is driven by fear, and by building positive and trusting relationships this can help.
If you have an aggressive dog, it’s really important that you seek professional help before it gets out of hand. Search your local area for a good and experience dog trainer who can do one to one sessions before progressing to dog training classes.
Food Aggression and Resource Guarding
Sometimes Patterdale terriers can display aggression around their food. This can happen particularly when they are being fed a raw diet or when only one member of the household feeds them.
If yoru patterdale is a family pet and fine with the main owner, but aggressive around food with other family members then you can ask all members of the family to feed the dog and give him/her treats which can help.
If your patterdale terrier shows clear signs of food aggression around everyone every time the food goes into his bowl, then it’s time to switch things up a bit. The dog should be hand fed because then he/she will begin to associate people will giving him food rather than taking it away. Cut the meat into small chunks and get different members of the household to feed him or her a bit at a time. He/she will have to be good for it! Then you can slowly over time (days or even weeks depending on the progress of the dog) get closer to the feeding area and bowl, but still continuing to hand feed the dog. Finally you will hand feed right over the bowl before progressing to the last stage where the food goes into the bowl again. This often works well when the patterdales aggression is food motivated.
As well as aggression around food, Patterdale terriers can also become aggressive around a certain toy that they love, which is another form of resource guarding. A good technique to help them to overcome this is to teach them ‘ trade’ – if they give up the toy that they love it gets replaced with another one or something else fun (or tasty!)
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