Category Archives: Scottie Dog training

Training dogs including Scottish Terriers, who sometimes require special attention.

Aggression update for Abby the Scottish Terrier

Hi everyone,

Abby is still doing really well.  Refocussing her attention to me changes her demeanour such that she ignores the other dogs.  Even Ann admitted she is doing really well.  (Thanks Ann!)  It has been a pleasure to walk Abby over the last two weeks.  Well, a pleasure in that she doesn’t freak out over other dogs..not so much a pleasure when she decides not to walk).

Something in the comment that Russie made on the first post really made me think.

Russie wrote “We had a much stronger relationship and he clearly trusted me, which was no small thing. He could be distracted with a click or a word–even when another dog was coming at him, teeth bared. He knew I was there to support him, and, more importantly, he was less afraid and had more confidence in himself.”

I think Abby now knows that I am going to handle the situation and it is not up to her.  I once told Ann that Abby was not a confident Scottie as noises and new situations were difficult for her.  Having her focus on me let her know that I could be trusted and that she could relax.  I had her back.  This has changed our relationship and I wish I had done this sooner.

Thanks again for everyone’s advice.  I am getting the Abby I knew back.



Abby’s doggie aggression – reader comments

We had some great feedback from everyone regarding Abby’s disposition toward some other dogs.  I am glad to hear I am not alone in my Scottie experience.

Here is a quick update:  We have had a really good week.  I have restarted her training and getting her to “Watch Me!” (picture me saying that in a loud, squeaky, happy voice).  I use treats and get her to stop, sit, and look at me in the eyes (done by holding a special type of treat by the tip of my nose).  She gets the treat and lots of praise.  I do this each time we see a new dog.  It took a couple of times but now she moves away with me when she sees a new dog and waits for the treat and calmly watches the dog go by.

I don’t always give a treat but I will always praise her.  We have not had any new incidents.  (I am quickly touching wood as I type this.)

Thanks everyone for your feedback.  Here is a summary of some the comments below:

Shari recommended:

Talk to the vet.  Abby might need something like Prozac.  Never used it myself but it might help”.

Sandra wrote:

Oh do I know about walking the difficult Scottie!  We are usually at the farm in mid state Georgia, of course, on a leash except for the family time we spend at the pond when Ansel is so busy fishing he can be trusted not to “break bad” and chase into the woods.  When we have to be in the city we time our walks so to avoid other dogs.  There is always the dog not on a leash whose owner asserts the friendliness of their dog and I assert the non-friendliness of Ansel.  Usually I scoop him up and try to hold him to prevent his work on the other dog.  Ansel was abused as a puppy (now eight years old) and the slightest event can set him off on fearful aggression.  We tried a muzzle, but felt it was causing more damage than good.  What seems to have worked is to provide him a squeaky toy to channel his fearful aggression onto the toy in lieu of the dog, cat, bicycle, etc….you know.


Ansel’s Handmaiden

(Love her sign-off as Ansel’s Handmaiden)

Janet recommended the pet safe bark collar:

I had the same problem with a little breed mama that I adopted.  A pet safe bark collar has really helped when it is needed.   You might try it on Abby.  It has done wonders for Stormy’s attitude.  I talked to a dog behavior specialist in TN recommended by TN Scottie Rescue.  He gave me some very good tips on how to handle the aggression issue.

Here is a link to Pet Safe Bark Collars on Amazon.

Joyce had success with the pinch collar:

I have a two year old with the same problem.  I got her a pinch collar and used properly works like a miracle.  I too have to be aware of what’s coming around the bend, but I found if I make her sit and give her the command “wait”,  she is quiet as a mouse.  Sometimes too, I just say wait and pass them and she is good.  She has been a tough one, toughest I have had and she is my 5th.  Takes patience and training.  You may want to actually “set her up” so you can practice.   Before getting the pinch my leg came between her mouth and another passing dog a couple of times.  Ouch!

Good luck.  The pinch is almost always loose because she behaves.  But just a slight correction gets her right back on track.  Just puts even pressure equally around her neck and is miles away from hurting.  I never used one before, but it works so well, and is more humane than clipping a leash to a collar and her gasping for breath as the regular collar will choke her.  Even a choke collar is better used properly will hang loose if the dog behaves, but good for corrections.

Pinch Collars on Amazon.

Judith has similar troubles with her little Molly:

Sorry to hear about Abby.  It really sucks when your scotties go postal!  I have the same issue with my Molly.  Loves people, is insecure and bites when around other dogs!  A walk is sometimes an exercise in futility.  I’m really good at hiding behind cars when I see another person walking down the street with their dog.  I truly can’t believe the sounds coming out of Molly!  And to make matters worse, she has taught Angus (my wheaton scottie) the same aggressive tactics!  Angus loves to run up to other dogs and bites them to get them to play!  Needless to say, we no longer go to the dog park!!

Mary had success with her Yorkie, Buster, by enrolling him in a training class:

I enrolled him in a socialization class for a year in and half and it really worked. One night a week we would meet with the class and our trainer would have us run drills for an hour and half. We would line up with 25- 30 dogs in close proximity, criss crossing in front of each other, going over jumps but always following the leader, and always moving. We would take breaks away from the group and then get called back in to line up. It worked brilliantly! Now whenever Buster sees an approaching dog on our walks, it’s no big deal. I guess he wore himself out on being aggressive when he couldn’t tackle 25- 30 dogs all at once. I recommend looking in your area for a good trainer who works with socializing groups. It was a great experience and we were all there for the same reason, so you feel a lot less critical about yourself and your dog.

Russie provided titles for books that helped him and his little Scottie.  Fluoxetine was also diagnosed which helped.

I relied on these books to help me gain insight into the mind of an aggressive dog:

  1. Aggression in Dogs: Practical Management, Prevention & Behaviour Modification
  2. Fight!: A Practical Guide to the Treatment of Dog-dog Aggression
  3. Click to Calm: Healing the Aggressive Dog by Emma Parsons

I also love the book Bones Would Rain from the Sky: Deepening Our Relationships with Dogs by Suzanne Clothier. I don’t think I understood the sometimes fragile psyche of an aggressive dog. Parts of the book brought tears to my eyes. Hers is a relationship-based method of training. (She has a website with a wealth of information on this subject.)

But not really having the energy at that precise moment to try harder, I enlisted the help of drugs for my frightened and bite-prone boy. He was on the lowest dose of fluoxetine available, but it made a tremendous difference in his attitude and behavior. Training was easier as he felt relaxed. We had a much stronger relationship and he clearly trusted me, which was no small thing. He could be distracted with a click or a word–even when another dog was coming at him, teeth bared. He knew I was there to support him, and, more importantly, he was less afraid and had more confidence in himself. (You’d think confidence wouldn’t be the problem, right? But so often it is.)

Please check out all the Comments.

Scottish Terrier Terror

The last few weeks have been difficult as Abby has decided that she will only be nice to dogs she currently knows or to unneutered males.  This is making walks more like traversing enemy territory.  One must scout what is coming around the bend and try to get Abby’s attention focussed on something or someone else until the dog moves on.

She is really good at hiding her intentions.  Other owners will say, “But she is wagging her tail.”  I have to tell them that it is not wagging but a tail held tight with excitement that is moving back and forth as she tries to hold in the tension.  The problem with her attitude is that she gets so excited that she will turn and bite anything.  That anything is usually me, my jeans, and my coat.  I have holes in my pants and coat and a nice scar on my leg.

Abby’s behaviour has made walks more tense.  When a new dog comes along, I try to stay relaxed and make sure that the dog does not come too close.  I also try to walk with dogs (and owners) that she has had a problem with. This usually works as they are now considered a bit of a pack so she accepts them without issue.

She is always on a leash now as I cannot trust her.  The last time I let her off, she went after a lovely, old Labrador who was just hanging out as all the owners chatted.  Everything was quiet and then Abby just looked up, saw this dog (even though we had been standing there for about 10 minutes) and just ran at it and tried to bite it.  Thank goodness it was wearing a wool sweater to protect it. There was no damage done but I could no longer trust her.

Now, the biggest worry is about off-leash dogs.  Dogs will run up and their owners shout, “Don’t worry.  He (She) is friendly.” That leaves me shouting, “But my dog is not.”  People with large dogs just say that is okay. They don’t realize that I am hanging on to what I can only describe as a tasmanian devil with larger teeth.

Ann agreed to babysit Abby for me for a couple of days.  Before I was to go away, Ann and I met for the regular weekend walk.  Unfortunately, Abby saw a dog that just set her off.  She turned into a screaming, whirling dervish.  Ann was stunned at the level of aggression that was displayed.  I knew she was thinking, “Uh, I have to watch that crazy dog?” (I ended up not going away so she did not have worry after all.)

This behaviour is challenging.  Abby was socialized and loved to play at the park with all dogs.  I am starting to retrain her from the beginning to get her to relearn proper etiquette and that I am the boss (wish me luck with that one).  I am also considering a muzzle.

Wish me luck!

Abby and her bestie Bridget:

Dreaming they are mountain goats.
Dreaming they are mountain goats.


Scottie News readers seek help, tips

Sherine left a comment about her pup’s foot biting, a problem we’ve tackled before:

I have a 7-month old female Scottie called Eshta. She is very loving and playful but she has not outgrown the habit of biting feet. I have tried everything, including the squirt bottle but it is not getting better. She will obey me when I use a stern voice but guests do not have a hope in hell. It is no longer cute as her teeth hurt and the more a guest will shout at her the more excited she gets and the more she snaps and wants to bite. I know this is playful aggression but it is a real nuisance with guests, especially as we tend to have stay-over guests who need to be able to control her without me being around. Any advice? I adore Eshta. She has learned to sit, stay, come and she even rings the bell when she needs to go out. But I cannot teach her to ‘leave it’ (our feet, that is). I worry that this will only get worse.

Caitlin also left a comment a while back:

My male scottish terrier is almost 3 years old. He won’t stop attacking our cats and dogs outside of our home. He is a loving dog to all humans, but small dogs or cats he looks at like toys. Do you know any methods I could use to stop the attacking? I do not have the money for training right now, so I have to do it myself.

Scottie News replied:

Hmm, can you provide some more details? How long has he lived with the other pets? Has he always been like this? What do you mean by attack? how do the other animals respond?

Caitlin responded:

He has lived with one other dog for the whole 3 years. We have had 4 cats, and he is constantly trying to fight with them. If the cat didnt get away and we didnt stop him, I believe he would have killed the cat. He tries to bite them and shake them, as if it is a rodent. He has been like this since he turned one years old. The other animals are so afraid of him and they try to get away.

He is honestly a sweetheart. The most loving dog I could ask for. This is why I am so confused, because he is on attack mode with the other animals.

Susan wrote last weekend about her dog, Gus:

Could you post a request for a little prayer for my oldest scottie Gus. We had to rush him to the hospital this morning. We thought he had a stroke. He was screaming in pain and couldn’t walk. They gave him pain killers and muscle relaxers and still couldn’t get him out of pain enough to do an x ray by this afternoon. My vet is keeping for the weekend for observation. They think a disc in his neck may be pressing on a nerve. He was playing like a pup last night with Barkley and Maizie, his much younger housemates. His sister Gracie misses him terribly!

Thankfully, he was doing better this week. Let’s all hope he continues to make progress:

He’s doing better! He still walks in circles, but the pain is not as bad. There is a light a the end of the tunnel.

Please, everyone, feel free to contribute your thoughts and best wishes.

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

Annie does agility with a Scottie strut

We’ve seen Scottie agility champs before, but what makes this video special is that Annie has a distinctly Scottie agility style, emphasized by the long-shot camera work. She’s adorable.

Hitting the road with a Scottish Terrier

Seamus travelling as a puppy 2
Seamus travelling as a puppy 2

Travelling with dogs seems like a good topic to cover as we bid farewell to June and usher in July. Reader Hillary writes:

I am a travel journalist based in New Jersey, right outside of NYC. I take my Scottie Seamus on a lot of drive-able trips (mostly for fun, sometimes for work) and blog about it here: I’ve had Scotties all of my life, but as I’m sure you know some of them don’t travel as well as others. Luckily Seamus enjoys coming along for the ride and he is a great (if typically high-maintenance) travel companion. He has now been to every state on the East Coast and then some.

Below Seamus checks out the dyed fountain in Savannah:

Seamus at the dyed fountain in Savannah
Seamus does Savannah

Check out some other travelling Scottish Terriers.

The difficulties of training a Scottish Terrier puppy

Sterling the eight-month-old Scottie reminds me a lot of what my dog Bridget was like at that age. Oh, who am I kidding, Bridget’s still like Sterling.

She doesn’t like to lie down and never has. She hasn’t mastered the art of staying and since she wouldn’t lie down, we never got to play dead.

I wish I had been as persistent as Sterling’s trainer and stuck with it like she’s doing. My life would be a whole lot easier today as my Scottish Terrier approaches her sixth birthday.

What to do about dogs who fear men

Jennifer writes:

I just got an 8 month old scottie on Saturday, who hasn’t been socialized very well so he’s very skiddish, but luckily is not a biter! Among other things (that we’re working on at the moment), he seems to have an aversion to my dad, but not to most females. He barks/growls whenever my dad comes home, and shies away from him if he tries to play with him/pet him. Initially he was this way with all of us (minus the barking) but he’s made some improvements since bringing him home. He’s a lot more stubborn than I expected though, even after reading about the breed. So, I guess my question do I prevent him from treating my dad (and other males) this way? I know it takes patience to get him properly socialized, but I’m just wondering if there’s something additional I could be doing.

Scottie News doesn’t think this is a Scottish Terrier issue, but more likely a problem related to bad early experiences with men. I used to have a cat that was scared of male humans and he never really conquered his fear. Has anyone successfully treated this problem?