Terriers & Dachshunds



Your dog is this type if he likes:
Exploring and digging; chasing and then ‘killing’ squeaky toys; being quite vocal when shredding paper, destructible toys or enjoying tug-o-war games. Terriers are often known for their tenacity, persistence and pluck and for a great desire to go into tunnels and dark holes. Most Terriers are quite small with short or wiry coats.

Exercise and play

Terriers and Dachshunds love the great outdoors and have a lot of energy for their size. They are usually fast and agile and will naturally hunt any pests in the garden or out on walks if given the opportunity, setting off in chase through thick undergrowth and over or under fences. And they rarely give up.

Independent play

Terriers are sometimes less fixated on people than other dog types, but they can and often do, of course, make loving pets and great companions. They are naturally a little more independent and usually quite content to find their own amusement or play alone.

A good game to play with Terriers and Dachsunds is ‘hunt the toy’, ideally with a treat-filled toy hidden in the garden where he has to dig for his prize (a doggie sandpit or a digging area). A dedicated digging area he can call his own will help keep his innate need to dig away from your flower beds.

Terriers often enjoy destroying squeaky and soft toys but make sure that there are no dangerous detachable eyes or other choking or swallowing hazards first. Check squeaky toys regularly to ensure the ‘squeak’ is in no danger of being removed and eaten.

To further provide opportunities for ‘legal destruction’, hide some of his daily ration of dry food in small, individual cereal boxes, paper bags or foraging toys.

Playing with the owner

As well as taking on-leash pavement walks with you through urban areas, your dog will enjoy off-lead running and exploring in safe areas – be it chasing a squeaky ball on a beach, or scurrying after squirrels and yapping like mad in a wood. Fortunately, most squirrels are far too quick and smart to be injured.

Keep walks varied – these bright dogs enjoy new environments and smells, where they can explore the undergrowth, dig, chase around and let off steam.

Many breeds in the Terrier group also enjoy taking part in agility training and competition, especially when it comes to going through tunnels. If you don’t have any time time to take such classes at a dog club, pop-up children’s play tunnels are very affordable and can be installed in your garden for your dog to run around at any time.

Tug-of-war is greatly enjoyed by Terriers – they have strong jaws and a determination that makes them formidable opponents despite their size. Only adults should play this as accidents may happen with young children. Even a small, over-excited terrier can pull over a child or accidentally nip a hand when grabbing the toy.

Many Terriers and Dachsunds are also very bouncy and love chasing and jumping at bubbles to pop them, which is great fun for everyone, especially for children who get to combine blowing bubbles with playing with the dog. Alternatively, use a bubble machine to blow meat-flavoured bubbles (yes, they do exist, made especially for dogs!) if you want to amuse your dog while you weed the garden or get on with other chores.

Emotional bonding

Dogs in this group are often confident, extrovert characters, full of spirit. This is because their original work was to go underground hunting rats and badgers who, cornered and fighting for their lives, were no easy adversaries. Even terriers who’ve never seen a rodent can have something of a reputation for being feisty with other animals, which is why early and thorough socialisation and training is especially important.

Although any Terrier or Dachshund can be socialised and trained to have good manners, they are still very unlikely to back down if another dog picks on them, so recall training should be practised regularly and you should remain vigilant on walks for potentially difficult situations with unknown dogs.

If you are considering getting another dog as a companion, choosing a neutered dog of the opposite sex dramatically improves your chances of a happy ongoing relationship, as the two sexes usually get on very well and rarely compete over resources. With terriers, choosing a non-terrier breed as the second dog can also work well – a gundog or scenthound, for example, will want very different things in life to a terrier or Dachshund. 

If you have two Terriers or Dachsunds – or one with another vocal breed such as a Spitz type –  they can become a very noisy pair, setting each other off with their barking.

Whether you have one Terrier or Dachsund or more, you can strengthen the bond between you through regular play, training and exercise. These are all crucial to your dog’s emotional and physical health, but don’t forget that just spending time together is also very important. If he’s been well exercised in mind and body, these dogs will enjoy simply snoozing at your feet or on your lap in the evening while you read or watch TV.

Your dog will also enjoy being stroked and brushed all over. Terriers and Dachshunds are usually short-haired but daily grooming will ensure that debris picked up from forays through the undergrowth is removed and that any skin or coat health issues can be treated early. Some dogs in this group, such as the long-haired Dachshund, will need more regular grooming to remove tangles and to prevent mats from forming. On an emotional level, the physical touch of stroking and gently brushing your dog will be relaxing for him and help strengthen the bond between you.

Terriers are quick to react to callers or unusual noises and are often quick to bark a warning. Some are more reactive and persistent than others, and teaching a good response to the requests of ‘Speak’ and ‘Shush’ is very useful for a quiet life. If you teach your Terrier or Dachsund to bark when asked, it will not only mean he can have a good ‘shout’ when it’s convenient for you both, such as outside on a walk, but also that you can silence him more easily when he barks indoors.

Many Terriers and Dachsunds enjoy sitting on a deep windowsill or other piece of furniture and simply watching the world go by. Give them ‘steps’ to access these areas, such as a well-positioned table or footstool. If you have an inveterate barker, however, it would be advisable to restrict his ability to see outside, so as not to overstimulate him, and to teach him to be quiet on command.

On occasions when you can’t adequately exercise him outdoors, training exercise sequences and playing games, such as hiding treats around the house, will help to prevent boredom and stop him bouncing off the walls.

Terriers and Dachsunds generally take well to indoor kennels (sometimes known as crates) and enjoy the peace that comes with being in their own den-like space. Put a blanket over the top and draped over three sides to make it as cosy as possible for a dog that likes to be ‘undergound’, and place some comfortable bedding and a tasty chew toy inside.

An indoor kennel is also a great place for him to rest unsupervised, keeping him (and your household possessions) safe. It is important to ensure these types of dog are accustomed to short periods of solitude from a young age, so that they will happily snooze a couple of hours away in a safe, dog-proof room without you when required. Exercise him before you leave, so he is toileted and ready to relax, and hide a treat-filled chew-toy for him to find in your absence. This should prevent him barking for company, or becoming destructive in order to entertain himself.

Teaching your dog ‘Speak!’ and ‘Shush!’

It may sound strange, but to teach your dog to stop barking on command, you should first teach him to bark on command.
• Ask your dog to sit and then show him a tasty treat, but keep it out of reach.
• As he gets frustrated, he should eventually bark, at which point you should immediately say “Speak” and then give him the treat and lots of praise.
• Repeat and your dog should soon learn that he should bark whenever you look at him and say “Speak”.
• Practise little and often, in various locations, in order to generalise his learning.

Now that he’ll bark on request, you can train him to stop when asked.

• Ask your dog to “Speak” and reward him as usual.
• Next tell him to “Shush” and distract him with a high-value treat, such as a new squeaky toy or a very tasty treat. When he stops barking, praise him and give him the treat.
• Repeat little and often, and you’ll soon be able to control your dog’s barking.

Nutrition and health

Since food is such an important part of what makes a dog happy, it makes no sense to put down a bowl of food to be wolfed down in seconds twice a day. Instead, make mealtimes longer-lasting and more interesting by devising different ways of delivering your Terrier’s or Dachsund’s food.

This dog-type’s natural desire to hunt and burrow can be stimulated by burying up to 30% of his dry food in sandpits or ballpits, or hiding it in dark tunnels and holes (e.g. behind sofas, in old boots or destructible cardboard tubes etc) for him to hunt for throughout the day. Try placing up to 10% of his dry food ration in a variety of food-dispensing toys for him to play with, and another 5% as rewards for obedience and tricks.

Scatter up to 20% of his measured daily dry food ration around the garden on dry days. Feed the rest in two meals every day (morning and evening) so that your dog will always continue to see you as a ‘parental’ food provider. 

Key Facts: Terriers & Dachshunds

Your dog is this type if he likes:
Exploring and digging; chasing and then ‘killing’ squeaky toys; being quite vocal when shredding paper, destructible toys or enjoying tug-o-war games. Terriers are often known for their tenacity, persistence and pluck and for a great desire to go into tunnels and dark holes. Most Terriers are quite small with short or wiry coats.

Download PDF

Download this article as a PDF to save or print.

The PRO PLAN® range

Find your dog’s ideal food.

Learn about your dog type