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Help! I hear you scream! My patterdale terrier is out of control! Don’t worry, I absolutely know how you feel. I have owned dogs all my life, and still my rescue Patterdale has beaten me! He is honestly improving all of the time, but still there are times when I think to myself – he’s out of control!

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My Patterdale Terrier is out of Control!

Now, I’m not a qualified dog trainer, but I do have a passion for Patterdales. I know from my experience what has worked for our dogs and I’m happy to share.

My advice is first to get a good exercise plan in place, secondly to assess what is causing the crazy and out of control behaviour and finally to look at a positive reinforcement training regime to implement.

Get him EXERCISE and PLAY!

Of course, Patterdales are all very ‘wired’ for hunting and extremely high energy, so a lot of the time you will need to try to divert that energy into positive things that help them to spend it. Any training will be difficult to implement if your dog is not physically and mentally satisfied, so implement this before you move on to any other training methods.

Basically, get that energy out!

This could involve doing plenty of off lead runs. If your Patterdale cannot be control off-lead, then you could consider hiring an enclosed space – many farms have fields for hire such as Mutts Off Lead in Maghull.

You can also try different things that your Patterdale might enjoy such as chasing a toy on a flirt pole, This is a good thing to do because it satisfies the chase and hunt instinct that most Patterdales have.

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If your dog loves running then you could try Canicross – a new sport which involves running with your dog! Try different things until you see what your dog enjoys. Our dog Blake doesn’t fetch a ball, but he does love running with me!

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Figure out WHEN and WHY your Patterdale Terrier is out of Control

All dogs are different and all dogs are set off by different things depending on their experiences and temperament. As well as exercising your dog, you also you need to figure out what really makes your Patterdale crazy? Is it motorbikes? Fireworks? Being off lead? Being on lead? When greeting visitors? Perhaps he destroys things in the house when left alone due to separation anxiety? It might help to write a list of his worst situations, and then decide to tackle them with a training plan one by one.

Once you have a good exercise routine in place and figured out what the main problem is that is making your Patterdale uncontrollable – then you can start to look at some possible training techniques.

Exposure and Positive Reinforcement Training

If there is a particular thing that your dog is scared of, you could try building up exposure slowly and incorporating positive reinforcement through clicker training. This is when you give the dog a click with the clicker and a treat when he sees the thing that he is most scared of or reactive towards. this could be a bike, a strange man or another dog for example.

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Why I hate Harsh Negative Training Methods

Personally, I hate the idea of any harsh negative punishments such as prong or shock collars. If you watch ‘It’s me or the Dog!’ you will see that when they have been used, it has not helped with the behaviour of the dog but actually has instilled fear in the dog and made it worse. That’s why I like positive dog training methods. Not only are they kinder, but they are more likely to work. I’m not saying that your dog never needs to hear ‘no!’ but I am saying that abusive methods are not only horrid but don’t work.

Out of Control around other Dogs?

So if when your dog sees another dog he goes crazy, try coupling the sight of the dog with a click closely followed by a treat (within 5 seconds). If it’s still too difficult start off a little further away. If he is still not quite responding up the anti with high value dog treats such as cooked chicken or liver cake.

Out of Control with Visitors

For dogs that are out of control when visitors arrive, you can do a mock set up. Stage it so that your friend knocks on the door. Command your dog to sit and stay, and do not open the door until he does. You may need to do this many times – perhaps 20-30 times before he does it! But if he can get to that stage he will be calmer when the person comes in. Then when your visitor finally comes in have them throw some chicken on the floor and walk gently and slowly. This will help them to associates visitors as a positive. You may need to repeat this over a longer time frame for really out of control Patterdales!

You can also create diversions when visitors arrive. use interactive dog toys and licky mats to hide food and they will probably be more focused on that than causing havoc when someone comes to visit. We now have 3 licky mats and kong extremes filled with tasty wet dog food and stored in the freezer. Then when someone visits we can get one out!

licky mat for dogs

Out of Control Off Lead

This is a difficult one, because if your Patterdale is out of control off lead then it makes him harder to be let off which means restricted exercise and this can trigger a downward spiral.

BUT it’s important that if you don’t have good recall and your dog is aggressive towards other dogs or people, he shouldn’t be let off lead in public when other dogs and people are around. It’s dangerous if your dog could bite or not come back when you call him away from hazards such as traffic.

We hire a space for Blake in a farmers field so he can have a run. We also let him off in areas that we know are quiet with other people and dogs that he already knows. We are positively reinforcing his recall (treats for coming back when called) all the time.

You can improve your dogs behaviour off lead by doing long line dog training. This is when you have a long lead of around 30m so they can run and have freedom but you still have control over them. You can then practice calling them back to you and treat them when they come. It’s a safe way to let them exercise and get this kind of training.

Out of Control On Lead

Now….this is Blake’s problem! For the first few months of his life Blake was literally out of control on lead. He HATES the lead, and it makes him crazy because he is frustrated that he can’t get to other things that he wants such as greeting other dogs or chasing squirrels. I remember once trying to walk him in the park and he was so bad, running circles around me and barking crazily, I didn’t know what to do, other than call my husband to come and collect us in the car and get us home!


But the more that I read and watched about this problem with poorly behaved Patterdales on leads, the more that I realised it was happening because we were letting it. He was getting really hyped up when leaving the house to go for a walk that he was launching at the door! Now he sits quietly and is not allowed out until he has done that, This calms him down and sets the mind set for the rest of the walk.

Then, when we are walking, as soon as the crazy barking behaviour starts we simply turn the other way. Now when we started to do this kind of training, we found ourselves turning every 2-3 minutes! We often didn’t even make it to the park! But now, he knows that we are in control and when the barking starts he will go away from the thing he wants to get to, not towards it.

This behaiour tends to escalate when a dog knows where they are going! For example, as we approach the park Blake’s energy starts to go up and he starts pulling like a crazy pooch. It’s so exciting, I know! But then we turn and walk away and he doesn’t think he’s going to the park anymore! This calms him. When he is calm again, he may be in for another chance! But we will only make it to the park when his calmness remains!

On top of this on lead training, we are combining it with ‘decompression walks’ where he is driven to a nice quiet open space and is on a long lead with some freedom. this means he still gets his exercise and it takes the pressure off us and Blake to know that he is not out training all the time. Sometimes we all just need to let off steam!

Is my Patterdale Out of Control?

So, is my Patterdale out of control? I would say that by implementing these methods we are gaining control back by calming his mindset and taking charge. Blake is no longer a completely out of control Patterdale, but he is certainly still ‘In-Training!’ Sometimes, we simply have to remove him from certain situations. for example, he did not do too well at doggy daycare for various reasons and so we took him out. But we still socialise him with other dogs but in a way we can control.

We love him and understand that with a rescue dog, you are constantly working on improving things all the time. Be kind to yourself when you are training your out of control Patterdale. Recognise the small wins and recognise that we all have a bad day. Give yourselves a break and resume training the next day.

We may not have perfect patterdales, but we can always strive to help them to improve!

If you enjoyed this article you might also like to read about How to calm a Patterdale Terrier

Best of luck.

Amy and Blake. x

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