Living With A Border Terrier

BT Xing Sign

Here he is, an eight week old Border Terrier, all joyous, trusting, and dependent for love and life on his new owner. Don't be tempted, because he is so cute, to delay training him until he grows some. There are numbers of good books on raising puppies. Pick one that advocates a pattern of rewards for good behavior rather than threats and punishments for errors. A BT by nature is anxious to please. Harsh correction can ruin his basically happy and obliging personality. BT's are sensitive to noise, voice and touch. Always use your hands lovingly. Express approval and disapproval with your voice. Tell him he is terrific every time he does something that you like. Keep corrections brief, clear, and immediate. Keep in mind that BTs are affectionate, naive, and sensitive, but rarely stupid, and they have long memories. Never hit a Border to discipline him. Maintain a routine he can figure out and anticipate. Talk to him a lot. Use the same word again and again for regular activities. Say out, supper time, go to bed. Hug him. He is guessing what the world really is and needs you to find out if his guesses are right. Borders are healthy, active dogs and live for twelve to fourteen years and longer. Your time invested properly in the beginning will be repaid a thousand-fold over the many years you will have together.

Borders are active dogs and as puppies they can really be VERY active. The proper use of a crate will improve quality of life for both of you. A wire crate will serve for a lifetime as his bedroom, travel box, and a secure place when you have company who might leave a door open, or when he needs peace and quiet. A good brochure is available on the proper use of a crate. If no one is home during the day, much thought should be given to how long the dog is to be cared for. No dog should be crated for over four hours at a time during the day and it is unfair to crate a dog all night and then again during the day. If a Border is alone all day, expect to give him exercise and devoted attention every evening. Many Border owners become enamored with the breed and eventually get another, preferably of the opposite sex, thus giving their Borders a companion. Remember, Borders do not thrive unless they have steady, loving interaction with their people. Never doom a Border to life in a garage or basement or a doghouse in the yard. They are not guard dogs but superb and affectionate working/companion dogs who have need to share the living quarters and lives of their families.

Borders are not yappy dogs, barking all the time; however, they do keep an eye on things and are sure to tell you not only that someone is at the door, but that the neighbors dog has just walked past or that the UPS truck is next door. They watch you, too, and quickly learn that when you put on your garden shoes there is a trip to the backyard, but that dress shoes mean you are leaving without them. They know just when it is time to be fed and have no qualms about trying to convince you that the clock is wrong. Living with a dog that thinks is the charm for most people who love the breed, but for someone not interested in having to explain things to the dog, too, it can be exasperating.

a good scratch

Though active, Borders are not constantly asking for attention. Permission to be near you, close at your feet or next to you on the sofa, some kind words as you go about your chores, and a couple of good hugs a day satisfies the adult Border. A surprising number of Borders arrange to sleep in somebody's bed where they are quiet and well behaved, kind of a canine hot water bottle.

The key to most Border's hearts is food. They tend to get pudgy rather quickly so treats need to be tiny and low calorie. They enjoy veggies and treat the hard ends of lettuce, cabbage and broccoli like candy. The word cookie brings instant attention and compliance, but the cookies can be a single nugget of a different dry dog food, or even, I kid you not, a single Cheerio. Since come is not a favorite word, many owners resort to the reinforcement of a cookie. It gets the job done without stress on anyone's part.

Border in a pouch

A Border gets along well with children provided the children respect and love the dog. However, if you have babies and very young children, you may want to postpone getting any dog until the caregiver has more time to give the animal. Adding a BT to a household is like adding a two year old in a dog suit. Without proper attention, the active Border Puppy can get into just about as much danger or mischief. Never get a dog with the idea of teaching a child responsibility. Both children and puppies need an adult caregiver and parents need to accept this before getting the dog. Borders will take several years to mature into the steady, devoted family friend you thought you were getting.


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