Pet Columnists get Scottish Terrier questions

From the Toronto Sun, where they think a Schnauzer is a Scottie, according to the photo

Q: We have a 4½-month-old purebred Scottish terrier and we are using the “all positive” training method with limited success.

Outside and inside he is either biting or snapping at feet, hands and fingers. We have tried loudly saying “no biting!” It hasn’t worked. In the yard, he can be controlled best when on leash but if off leash, it is disastrous. Other owners are telling me he is simply young and will outgrow this.

We don’t want to “beat up” the little fellow but we are becoming exasperated with him.

— Rob Roy

And from the Toronto Star:

Q: I realize I am not supposed to attribute sophisticated human emotions to my Scottish terrier, but there are times when I just know she is being deliberately defiant. For example, on many occasions, before she bolts away from me (to explore the neighbourhood), she will look over her shoulder to check that I cannot catch her — and then run for it. At other times, if we are doing obedience training and practicing basic moves, at a certain point, she will just cease to respond and obey. Do you have any advice?

Go ahead, pretend you’re a pet advice columnist dealing with disobedient Scottish Terriers. Comment away

14 thoughts on “Pet Columnists get Scottish Terrier questions

  1. LOL. The first people, if they think they have a “purebred Scottie” that is in fact a Schnauzer, they must not be dog people. How’s the puppy supposed to know what ‘no biting’ means? Our dogs basically did grow out of the biting hands thing but they need to not be playing tug with the dog till he stops that behavior and we would stop petting, say no and put our hands behind our back, bring it back and reward if the dog gave kisses instead…it seemed to sink in but maybe we were lucky. But then, I’ve never had a Schnauzer! ;0)

    The second person…they DO have a Scottie. They need to keep her on a leash until she is more reliable not to run off in the neighbourhood.

    We have a fenced yard but Bella still won’t come back if it doesn’t suit her and when you call her she might “mosey” over if it suits her. Of course she responds better for my husband..!

    1. I think when you own a Scottie you have to remember the temperament that comes along with the territory (that is advice for both questions). Our pup loved to chew fingers for the first few months that we had her – but by the time she was a year old that all ceased. She still will nip at you if we are playing tug-of-war but the second she makes contact with my hand instead of her woobie or rope she will immediately let go and lower her ears. I never have to get upset at her.

      As for the Scottie running away – I would NEVER EVER have my dogs off-leash. They are pure-bred hunters, and if there is a cat, mouse, bird, rat, skunk, raccoon, other dog around, they will be off at the speed of light despite my best efforts to call them back. On the best of days my dogs will only come if there is something “in it” for them. I think that’s part and parcel of owning a Scottie. It’s part of the reason I love them so!

    2. Hi CBMum,

      I’m almost certain the Schnauzer picture was the newspaper’s screw-up not that of the Scottie puppy peeps.

      Looks like a lot of people agree with you on the leash.


  2. I had to laugh when I read the two posted articles. When our Scottie, Malcolm, was little I posted on this very blog about the same mouthing and biting issues. He’s the second Scottie we’ve owned and was a real pistol as a pup. When he would nip too hard on fingers or toes, I would make an extra loud “ouch” sound to get his attention then walk away from him. This was my best attempt at how young pups react when play gets too rough.

    It was hit and miss with how successful this was, and it took about a year before he learned to not nip so hard on fingers and toes. He’s just past two now and is as sweet as can be.

    Regarding the bolting Scottie, I have to agree with Julie. We NEVER take Malcolm outside off-leash. Julie hit it right on the head about Scotties being hunters, and they are naturally curious and want to explore. The independent temperament of a Scottie can also make it tough getting them to come to you. I’m sorry to admit it, but Malcolm was an Obedience School drop-out. 😉

    1. Aw. Win some, lose some. Glad to hear Malcolm’s settled down and that you’re okay with his educational misfires so to speak.

  3. We’ve owned 4 Scotties over the years and they do settle down, almost magically , once they reach age 2. Until then, we used a firm hand and strong voice to discipline them (not hitting them, but firmly pushing them away, etc.) Obedience classes also help.
    My Duffy (age 6) recently got through 9 of the 10 tests to pass his canine good citizen. The one he failed had to do with being quiet when left with a stranger. He is just a talker, always wanting to be the center of attention, but on his terms.
    All my Scotties – pure bred and rescues – have the sweetest personalities and I wouldn’t trade any of them.

  4. One more thing – I, too, would never have any of mine be off leash. They’d be off in a flash! Especially at night it is almost impossible to find a small black dog in the dark.

  5. Scotties will be Scotties! That’s just the way it is.

    The first question: 4-1/2 months is still a puppy and puppies like to bit and nip. Keep your fingers out of the way!

    Second question: That’s the Scottie attitude for you!! A strong command helps. (About the attitude – NOT the running away. That’s a different thing altogether.)


  6. My childhood scottie, Mac, would run away every chance he got! It’s just that stubborn streak in them to prove that they CAN. But he always came back once his point was proven and/or he was hungry.

  7. I have two scotties – they are sisters and aged 4. They have always been best of friends, but the larger of the two (and more stubborn one!) has suddenly taken to biting her sister – for no reason whatsoever! She has always been more boisterous, but never bullied her sister in the past. Nothing has changed in our domestic environment. Please help!

    1. Chris – I’m curious if the one is biting the other one hard enough to hurt? Or being overly-aggressive with her?
      I had a mother daughter pair. And they would play nightly. And the snarls and growls they would make you would swear they were angry but when you looked they were just playing as dogs do. There were nights Lulu would grab Flora by her collar and throw her down onto the floor hard enough her head would “knock” on the hardwood, every once in a while you would hear a little “yelp” and the game would be over.
      Is this assertive/aggressive playing? Or is this aggression?

  8. I have owned 4 scotties. Right now we have a 3year old named Finn. I’ve loved all my scotties but he is by far the best. I understand your frustration though. Finn was tough to train but over night he just figured it out. Months and months of p pads and yelling finally paid off. Good luck!!!

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