Top 10 Patterdale Terrier Behaviour Problems and How to Fix Them


Patterdale Terrier Behaviour Problems | If you’re thinking about getting a Patterdale Terrier and you want to know the top 10 behavior problems that affect this particular breed, then you’ve come to the right place! First of all, let’s talk about this adorable little dog in general terms so you can see if it matches up with your expectations. After that, we’ll get into some specifics about how to deal with the most common problems that owners of Patterdale Terriers face when training them. Are you ready? Let’s dive in!

What Is A Patterdale Terrier?

The Patterdale Terrier is a small, feisty terrier breed originally from the Lake District in England. They’re known for their tenacity, hunting abilities, and friendly disposition. Here’s a quick overview of what they’re like:


  • Compact and robust build, typically weighing around 11-16 pounds and standing 10-15 inches tall
  • Dense, wiry coat that comes in a variety of colors, including black, red, liver, chocolate, and tan
  • Rough or smooth coat, or a combination of both


  • Energetic and playful, with a strong prey drive
  • Intelligent and independent, but also affectionate and loyal
  • Can be stubborn and challenging to train, so early socialization and obedience training are essential
  • Not recommended for first-time dog owners or those with small children, as they can be high-maintenance

History and Purpose:

  • Bred in the early 18th century to hunt foxes and rabbits in the Lake District’s harsh terrain
  • Still used for hunting in some parts of the world, but also popular as companion dogs
  • Excel in dog agility and other canine sports

If you’re considering getting a Patterdale Terrier, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • They need plenty of exercise – at least two walks a day, with playtime in between
  • They have a strong prey drive, so they should be kept on a leash in unfenced areas
  • They can be vocal and dig, so they’re not suited for apartment living
  • Early socialization and training are essential to prevent unwanted behaviors

Patterdale Terrier Behaviour Problems

Patterdale Terriers are feisty, energetic dogs with tons of personality. However, their strong terrier instincts and independent nature can sometimes lead to behavioral issues. Here are the top 10 Patterdale Terrier behavior problems and how to address them:

1. Excessive Barking:

  • Problem: Patterdales are vocal dogs and will bark at anything that catches their attention, from squirrels and birds to the doorbell and passing cars.
  • Solution: Provide ample mental and physical stimulation through walks, playtime, and training. Teach them the “quiet” command and reward calm behavior.

2. Pulling on the Leash:

  • Problem: Patterdales have a strong prey drive and can easily become fixated on squirrels, rabbits, or other interesting scents during walks, leading to leash pulling.
  • Solution: Use a harness instead of a collar to prevent choking. Practice leash training in controlled environments and reward loose leash walking with treats and praise.

3. Digging:

  • Problem: Patterdales are natural diggers, a trait inherited from their hunting ancestors. They may dig in your garden, flower beds, or even under fences.
  • Solution: Provide them with a designated digging area, like a sandpit filled with toys, and redirect their digging instincts there. Reward them for using their designated digging spot.

4. Chasing Small Animals:

  • Problem: Patterdales have a strong prey drive and may chase after cats, squirrels, rabbits, and other small animals. This can be dangerous, especially near roads or traffic.
  • Solution: Keep them on a leash in unfenced areas and practice recall training. Socialize them with other animals early on and teach them the “leave it” command.

5. Separation Anxiety:

  • Problem: Patterdales are social animals and can suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for long periods. This can lead to destructive behavior, howling, and barking.
  • Solution: Gradually increase the amount of time they are left alone and provide them with calming activities, like puzzle toys or Kongs filled with treats, to keep them occupied.
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6. Resource Guarding:

  • Problem: Patterdales can become possessive of their food, toys, or even their owners’ attention. This can lead to growling, snapping, or even biting.
  • Solution: Teach them the “leave it” and “drop it” commands. Practice hand-feeding and slowly introduce them to sharing their resources with other people or pets.

7. Jumping Up on People:

  • Problem: Patterdales are excitable dogs and may jump up on people to greet them. This can be annoying, especially for young children or elderly people.
  • Solution: Ignore them when they jump and only give them attention when they have all four paws on the ground. Teach them the “sit” command and reward them for greeting people politely.

8. Chewing:

  • Problem: Patterdales, especially puppies, have a strong chewing instinct and may chew on furniture, shoes, or other household items.
  • Solution: Provide them with plenty of chew toys and redirect their chewing to appropriate items. Crate them when unsupervised and offer frozen Kongs or other chew toys to keep them occupied.
  • Treats should only make up 5% of their diet so don’t give them any more than two per day. If you reward them this way, make sure you’re only giving them natural treats for dogs

9. Stubbornness:

  • Problem: Patterdales are intelligent but independent dogs and can be stubborn when it comes to training. They may not always follow commands or seem uninterested in learning.
  • Solution: Use positive reinforcement training methods with plenty of treats, praise, and playtime. Keep training sessions short and fun, and be patient and consistent.

10. Difficulty Potty Training:

  • Problem: Patterdales can be challenging to potty train, especially compared to some other breeds. They may have accidents in the house or take longer to learn where to go.
  • Solution: Establish a consistent potty schedule, take them out frequently, and reward them for going outside with treats and praise. Be patient and consistent, and don’t scold them for accidents.

What Are Some Fun Facts About The Patterdale Terrier?

Here are some fun facts about the Patterdale Terrier:

  • They’re fearless adventurers: Bred to hunt foxes and other small prey in the rugged Lake District of England, these feisty little dogs are fearless and determined. They’ll happily take on challenges much bigger than themselves, and their love of exploring means they’re always up for an adventure.
  • They come in a rainbow of colors: While black and white is the most common Patterdale Terrier coat, these dogs can actually come in a wide variety of colors, including red, brown, brindle, and even tri-color. So you’re sure to find a Patterdale that matches your personality.
  • They’re natural-born diggers: Their terrier instincts mean that Patterdales love to dig. If you have a garden, be prepared for some creative landscaping! But on the positive side, their digging skills can also come in handy if you need to find a lost toy or bury a bone.
  • They’re fiercely loyal: Once they bond with you, a Patterdale Terrier will be your friend for life. They’re incredibly loyal and protective of their families, and they’ll always be there for you, no matter what.
  • They’re surprisingly athletic: Despite their small size, Patterdales are incredibly athletic dogs. They have tons of energy and stamina, and they love to run, jump, and play. They’re also excellent climbers, so don’t be surprised if you find your Patterdale perched on top of the highest piece of furniture in the house.
  • They’re independent thinkers: Patterdales are intelligent dogs, but they can also be a bit stubborn. They like to think for themselves, and they’re not always the easiest dogs to train. But with patience and positive reinforcement, you can teach them just about anything.
  • They’re big personalities in small packages: Don’t let their size fool you, Patterdales are big personalities in small packages. They’re full of character and charm, and they’re always up for a good time. They’re sure to bring laughter and joy into your life.
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Why Do Patterdales Shake?

There are several reasons why Patterdale Terriers might shake, and it’s important to consider the context and other physical or behavioral clues to understand the cause:

Excitement and Nervousness:

  • Excitement: This is the most common reason for shaking in Patterdales. Their energetic and high-spirited nature can manifest in excited shakes during playtime, when expecting walks, or seeing loved ones. This shaking is usually accompanied by other signs of excitement like wagging tails and happy vocalizations.
  • Nervousness: Some Patterdales can also shake when they’re feeling nervous or anxious. This might be due to new situations, loud noises, or unfamiliar people or animals. Look for other signs of nervousness like flattened ears, tucked tail, and avoidance behavior.

Physical Causes:

  • Cold: Just like people, Patterdales can shake when they’re cold. If your dog is shaking and the environment is chilly, this is likely the explanation. Provide them with a warm blanket or sweater to make them comfortable.
  • Pain or discomfort: Shaking can sometimes be a symptom of pain or discomfort, especially if it’s accompanied by other symptoms like limping, whining, or loss of appetite. If you suspect your Patterdale might be in pain, consult a veterinarian immediately.
  • Allergies: Skin allergies or food sensitivities can also trigger shaking in some dogs. Consider if your Patterdale has been exposed to anything new or if there have been any changes in their diet recently. If you suspect allergies, consult a veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.
  • Seizures: In rare cases, shaking can be a symptom of a seizure disorder. If your Patterdale experiences violent shaking accompanied by loss of consciousness or other concerning symptoms, seek immediate veterinary attention.

How Do You Calm Down A Patterdale Terrier?

Calming down a Patterdale Terrier depends on the reason for their excitement or anxiety. Here are some tips based on common causes:


  • Redirect their energy: Provide them with a distraction like a chew toy or engage in a calm play session like fetch or tug-of-war.
  • Ignore the behavior: If their excitement is attention-seeking, avoid giving them attention until they calm down. Reward calm behavior with praise and petting.
  • Create a calm environment: Remove them from stimulating situations like loud noises or gatherings. Provide a quiet space with their favorite bed or blanket.


  • Identify the trigger: Try to understand what’s making them nervous and remove them from the situation if possible.
  • Offer comfort and reassurance: Stay calm and speak in a soothing voice. Pet them gently and offer treats or their favorite toy.
  • Practice desensitization: Gradually expose them to the trigger in a controlled way while providing positive reinforcement for staying calm.
  • Seek professional help: If their anxiety is severe or you’re unsure how to manage it, consult a certified animal behaviorist or trainer.

Do Patterdale Terriers Have Health Problems?

Like all dog breeds, Patterdale Terriers can be prone to certain health problems. While they are generally healthy dogs with an average lifespan of 10-12 years, here are some of the most common health issues you should be aware of:

Musculoskeletal Issues:

  • Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD): This common condition occurs when the discs between the vertebrae bulge or rupture, causing pain, weakness, and even paralysis in the hind legs. It’s more prevalent in dogs with long backs and short legs like Patterdales.
  • Patellar Luxation: This condition involves the kneecap slipping out of place, causing pain and lameness. It can be managed with medication or surgery in severe cases.
  • Hip Dysplasia: This malformation of the hip joint can lead to pain, arthritis, and difficulty walking. X-rays or a physical exam can diagnose it.

Eye Problems:

  • Glaucoma: This build-up of pressure in the eye can damage the optic nerve and lead to blindness if not treated early. Regular eye exams are recommended.
  • Cataracts: Clouding of the lens can affect vision and may require surgery in advanced cases.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): This inherited disease causes gradual vision loss and eventually leads to blindness. Genetic testing can identify affected dogs.
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Other Health Concerns:

  • Hypothyroidism: This underproduction of thyroid hormones can lead to weight gain, lethargy, and skin problems. Medication can effectively manage it.
  • Allergies: Patterdales can be prone to allergies to food, pollen, or environmental factors, causing itching, skin problems, and respiratory issues. Identifying the allergen and managing it through diet changes, medication, or environmental control is essential.
  • Dental Issues: Regular dental care is crucial for all dogs, including Patterdales, to prevent gum disease and other oral problems.


Living with a Patterdale Terrier is an adventure, filled with boundless energy, unwavering loyalty, and, yes, sometimes a few head-scratching moments of behavior. But before you throw your hands up in frustration, remember that these quirky traits are often rooted in their very essence – their terrier instincts, their intelligence, and their unbridled zest for life.

Addressing behavior problems in Patterdales isn’t about breaking their spirit or turning them into robotic replicas of obedience. It’s about understanding their motivations, channeling their energy into positive outlets, and building a strong, trusting relationship based on mutual respect and clear communication.

So, the next time your Patterdale digs a crater in your garden, chases squirrels up trees with acrobatic zeal, or greets guests with a bark that could rival a foghorn, take a deep breath, smile, and remember – you’ve chosen a life less ordinary, and wouldn’t trade it for the world. Because with a Patterdale by your side, every day is an adventure, and every challenge an opportunity to learn, grow, and laugh together.

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Are Patterdale terriers aggressive?

Patterdale Terriers, while not inherently aggressive, can exhibit aggression if they are not properly socialized, trained, and exercised.

How often should I bathe my Patterdale Terrier?

Minimum: Bathe your Patterdale Terrier at least once every 8 weeks.
Maximum: Avoid bathing them more than once every 2 weeks, as it can strip their coat of natural oils and lead to dryness and irritation.

Are Patterdale Terriers stubborn?

Yes, Patterdale Terriers are known for being stubborn.

Do Patterdale Terriers get cold?

Patterdale Terriers are generally quite hardy dogs and can tolerate cold weather well. Their double coat, consisting of a dense undercoat and a coarse outer coat, provides excellent insulation in chilly temperatures. Their small size and high energy levels also contribute to their ability to stay warm during outdoor activities.

Do Patterdale dogs bark a lot?

Yes, Patterdale Terriers are known for being quite vocal and enjoy barking, making them not ideal for owners who value peace and quiet or live in close proximity to neighbours.

Do Patterdale terriers like other dogs?

Whether Patterdale Terriers like other dogs is a bit complex and depends on several factors. While they can be friendly and playful with other dogs, some aspects of their personality can lead to conflict or make them less tolerant of canine companions.

Can Patterdale terriers be left alone?

Patterdale Terriers are generally not recommended for being left alone for extended periods. Their inherent traits can make them susceptible to issues like destructive behavior, anxiety, and excessive barking when left alone.

Are Patterdale terriers obedient?

Patterdale Terriers’ obedience can be tricky due to their inherent traits, making them not known for being the most easily trained dogs. However, that doesn’t mean they’re impossible to train! Understanding their characteristics and employing suitable training methods can lead to a happy and obedient Patterdale companion.