Patterdale Terrier training

Patterdale Terriers are incredibly smart dogs. You may assume that training a clever dog would be an easy task, and you would be correct for some breeds. However, Patterdale Terrier training is tough.

Despite their intelligence, Patterdales are a notoriously stubborn breed. If they don’t find a task interesting, they simply won’t participate. 

This, combined with their high prey drive, makes training a Patterdale Terrier a challenge. 

If you get your Patterdale at a young age, it’s important to start their training as early as possible – even as young as eight weeks old. 

Unfortunately, if you take on an adult Patterdale Terrier, you’ve got an even bigger challenge on your plate!

So, how can you effectively train a Patterdale Terrier? 

How to build a strong relationship with your Patterdale Terrier

The first place to start is to develop a strong bond between your Patterdale and you. Without a close connection and a sense of trust, the Patterdale Terrier will never listen to you.

These terriers need a ‘master’. Patterdales are most happy when they have a strong leader to follow and tasks to complete.

Training your dog is a great way to build up a strong relationship. Not only will it encourage you to spend a lot of time together, but it will also demonstrate to your Patterdale that you are a worthy leader. 

Socialising your Patterdale is also great for building a close bond, as well as bringing your dog out of their shell; however, we will cover socialising your Patterdale in more depth later.

Top Tip: The Patterdale breed is incredibly food driven. Use this to your advantage when training your Patterdale Terrier by incorporating hand-feeding. 

Hand-feeding is exactly what it sounds like; only feeding your dog from your hands. Particularly effective in food-driven breeds, like the Patterdale, hand-feeding is a brilliant method for getting your dog to focus on you.

It can also help build a strong bond between the two of you, as your dog will know you as their food source and trust you to look after them.

Obedience Training

Obedience training is essential for all dogs. However, it’s particularly crucial for the Patterdale.

Being a working dog, Patterdales have high energy levels that can lead to trouble if they’re untrained. Lack of obedience could mean this energy comes out as aggression or destructive behaviour.

As well as this, failure to train your dog’s basic obedience could lead to injuries. For example, if you’re out on a walk and your disobedient Patterdale is off-lead, they could run into traffic or end up getting injured by an aggressive dog.

It’s important to teach your Patterdale the basics of obedience, but where should you start? Here are the fundamental commands you should be teaching your Patterdale from as early as eight weeks old:


Sit is probably the most basic command you can teach a dog, and for this reason, it should be where you start your training. The sit command is exactly what it says on the tin – when you say the instruction ‘sit’, your Patterdale should sit down where you’ve told them to. 

Teaching the command ‘sit’ also works best when food is involved; remember, Patterdales are highly food motivated. 

Here’s how to train your Patterdale to sit:

  1. Start with your dog standing next to you and grab a treat. Hold the treat near their nose, close enough for them to smell it but not too close to their mouth. 
  2. Once you have your Patterdale’s attention, begin to slowly move your hand towards their back in an arc-like motion. Their head should follow the treat and raise upwards as you do this, causing them to sit down.
  3. When your Patterdale is in a seated position, give them some praise and reward them with the treat.
  4. Continue repeating steps 1 to 3 and begin to add in the cue ‘sit’.
  5. Practice makes perfect. The more you practice, the more confident your Patterdale will become with the command. As their confidence (and obedience) grows, you can begin to increase the duration of the sit before trying the command in different situations. 


After successfully learning to sit, your Patterdale is already halfway to performing the down command. Learning to lie down on command is extremely useful in situations where you want your dog to feel at ease or settle down. 

  1. Start with your dog in a sitting position and grab a treat. Place the treat close to your Patterdale’s nose, just like you did when teaching them to sit.
  2. Slowly move your hand from their nose towards their chest and then to the floor, guiding them down as you go. Your Patterdale should now be lying on the floor, and you can reward them with praise and the treat.
  3. Continue practising this repeatedly and begin to add in the cue word ‘down’ as you go. 
  4. Again, once your Patterdale is competent at responding to the cue, you can experiment with different scenarios until you’ve got it mastered.


Leave is imperative for all dogs to learn, including Patterdale Terriers. Not only will it help to protect your treasured belongings, but it can also help to keep your dog safe if they’re chewing on something sharp or poisonous. 

  1. Begin by offering your dog a treat, but don’t give it to them. Instead, close your hand into a fist, so your Patterdale is unable to get to it.
  2. Avoid and ignore their attempts to get to the treat, instead wait for them to lose interest and back away. Once they back away, even slightly, open your hand and reward them with the treat and praise.
  3. As your Patterdale begins to understand what is happening, you can add in the cue ‘leave’ and continue to repeat the training.
  4. Once they’ve got that down, try the same exercise with a treat in your open hand while uttering the command leave. If your Patterdale successfully leaves the treat and backs away, you can reward them with a treat from your other hand and lots of praise.

Remember, Patterdale Terriers are highly intelligent dogs. Therefore, these commands shouldn’t be too difficult for them to learn, so stick with it and practice, practice, practice. 

Make sure to take frequent breaks between training sessions to avoid boring your Patterdale and bringing out their stubborn side.


The command ‘heel’ is used to order the dog to walk directly next to you, rather than pulling in front or lagging behind. Using this command shows your Patterdale that you are in charge of the pace and direction of your walk. 

It’s essential if you’re planning on letting your dog off the lead when out and about. However, it is still helpful for on-lead activities – particularly if your Patterdale is a puller; trust me, your shoulders will thank you!

Training a Patterdale to heel can be a challenge, but the most effective method is to lure and reward. 

  1. Start with your dog on-lead and move them into the heel position before rewarding them with a treat. 
  2. Repeat this until your Patterdale has the movement down, rewarding each time. 
  3. Once you are happy with the positioning, you can add the ‘heel’ command.
  4. When your Patterdale is happy with the word ‘heel’, you can begin to add movement into the mix. Walk around your home or garden and repeat the heel command, rewarding when they do it correctly.
  5. Repeat these steps until both you and your Patterdale are happy with the command. 
  6. Once you’ve accomplished this in your home, you can then test the command in different environments. Try it when you’re on a walk, in the presence of another dog and continue rewarding whenever your Patterdale complies. 

Recall Training

Recall training is essential for all dogs, as it could be the difference between life and death. Training your dog to return back to your side is vital for all breeds; however, it is particularly significant for terriers.

Patterdale Terriers have an incredibly high prey drive that can completely take over their behaviour. So if you’re out walking your Patterdale off-lead and they spot a rabbit rustling around in the long grass, you’ve had it.

Without proper recall training, your Patterdale could be gone for hours! If your dog does not return to you when prompted, it increases its chance of getting into danger. 

Once their prey drive takes over, they will do whatever they can to get hold of their prey whilst paying no attention to their surroundings. 

Follow these tips for recall training to ensure your Patterdale doesn’t run away from you, injure themselves or get lost.

Long Line Training

A long line is essentially just a really long lead. They are available in various sizes, but you should start your training with a 10m line. 

Using a lead this long gives your Patterdale the sense of freedom that comes with being off-lead while keeping you in control. Use your long line in a wide-open area that you are familiar with for best results.

Let your Patterdale roam around freely before calling them back to you. Once they return to your side, give them a treat and praise them immediately. 

After a couple of times repeating this exercise, your Patterdale will know the drill. Now it’s time to add in the ‘come’ cue. Again practice makes perfect, so keep repeating these drills with your dog. 

Once you’re confident and your Patterdale is returning every time, you can increase the length of your long line. Eventually, your dog will obey the command off-lead.

Top Tip: Don’t use the cue ‘come’ in negative scenarios! If you’re telling your dog off and asking them to come to you, use a different signal. If your Patterdale associates the word ‘come’ with a negative result, they’re less likely to return to your side when you utter the command.

Whistle Training

Another option for recall training is to use a whistle. Many dog owners prefer to use a whistle as the higher frequency of the sound means it can be picked up by your Patterdale from much further away than your vocal commands.

Simply replace the cue word ‘come’ with a whistle. Your Patterdale will then begin to associate the sound of the whistle with a reward and will come back to you every time. 

Clicker Training

Clicker training is an alternative to the traditional rewarding methods often used in dog training. Instead of just using food and treats as a reward, the noise of a clicker becomes the reward.

Many dog owners have found success with a clicker explaining how it can help to train your dog much faster than regular treats. The noise of the clicker is used exactly when your dog has done what you wanted them to, making it a more precise method overall.

Clicker training being faster than training with regular treats is ideal for a Patterdale Terrier as they are incredibly stubborn. The less time it takes for them to learn a trick or behaviour, the more likely they are to do it. 

Top Tip: Always make sure that a reward follows a click. This will help your dog to associate the clicking sound with a treat. Also, make sure that your timing is correct; only click once when your Patterdale has successfully completed the task you instructed them to do.

Avoid separation anxiety with crate training

A common behavioural problem with Patterdale Terriers is separation anxiety. Patterdales develop incredibly close bonds with their owners, and when left alone for long periods, they will become anxious.

This anxiety may lead to howling, barking and even destructive behaviour. To avoid this, you can incorporate crate training.

Crates for dogs often get a bad reputation, but they can be instrumental in overcoming separation anxiety. The crate provides your dog with a safe environment where they feel at ease. 

If your Patterdale lived in the wild, they would have a small den to live in – the crate recreates this in your own home. Introducing a crate at a young age is best. Make the crate comfortable and enticing for your Patterdale using blankets, treats, even their favourite toys. 

Once your Patterdale recognises the crate as a safe space, you can increase the intervals you leave them inside for. Then, before you leave your home, place your Patterdale in their crate and you’ll avoid coming home to your sofa chewed.

Socialise your Patterdale Terrier

By nature, Patterdale Terriers tend to prefer their owners to other dogs. If they are not appropriately socialised with other humans and dogs, they could become aggressive.

When socialising your Patterdale Terrier, aim for positive experiences only. To ensure this occurs, begin by introducing your Patterdale to people you know and their dogs, as long as they’re well behaved.

This will help boost not only your Patterdale’s confidence but also your own.

Try to introduce your Patterdale to a range of different locations too. Walking them around the same park every day is incredibly boring for them. Instead, you should aim to mix it up regularly, especially if your Patterdale is a puppy. 

The same goes for people and dogs. If your Patterdale only ever sees one other person or dog, they will assume all other people and dogs are a threat. Show them that this isn’t the case through positive experiences.

If possible, avoid dog parks as they can be an overwhelming environment for unsocialised dogs. Patterdales are incredibly protective over their owners and could turn aggressive if they feel threatened or believe they are in danger. 

The key to training a Patterdale Terrier successfully is to practice, practice, practice. Make sure your training sessions are short in length to avoid triggering their stubborn side but regular enough for them to learn properly.

Overall, Patterdale Terriers are intelligent dogs who will never forget their training, so make sure you get it right the first time, and you’ll never have to worry again.

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