About that Scottie-tude...

Recently, a fellow Scottie Mom got in touch and asked us for a little advice.

I am writing because of a problem my husband and I have with Mo, our rescue Scottie. He is an only dog and is with us 24/7. Rarely is he left alone at all. Mo is somewhere between five and seven years old. We know nothing of his history. My husband and I consider him "almost" perfect. However, his behavior regarding other people is often unpredictable. You mentioned in one of your blogs that one of your pups does not always like people and dogs. Mo may be protecting his now happy lifestyle and home, but...his behavior is unacceptable. How do you handle your similar situation?

When I first found Mr. K at a shelter in South Carolina, he - like Mo - had been in that crowded place for two weeks and did not react to my attempts to get to know him. It took me 20 minutes to get him to make eye contact and even then, it was only for a few seconds at a time. I believe the trauma of the whole situation made him unsure of his surroundings. Also like your situation, I do not know much of Mr. K's background to this day - other than the fact he was left tied up outside by his previous owners before they finally surrendered him to the humane society.

Once Mr. K was home with me, his personality started coming out a bit. I hadn't had him for more than a few days when we attended a Bark in the Park event where I learned very quickly Mr. K was not a fan of other dogs. He challenged a big, ole Rottweiler to a dual and within seconds, the Rottie had shaken Mr. K out of his collar and there he was dangling below by the jaw. Naturally, as a first time dog mom (never mind Scottie Mom), this experience was quite frightening. What I was to learn in the coming months and years is that the trick is to let him know (gently, but firmly - the Scottie pride is easily wounded) that his behavior won't be tolerated while getting him used to being around other dogs through socialization - once a scary concept for a new Scottie Mom like me.

As for aggression towards humans, Mr. K is the opposite of Mo. While Mo doesn't seem to like women (besides his Scottie Mom, of course!), Mr. K didn't - at first - care for men. Each one had to go through Scottie Security when they entered the apartment. I can only recall two instances when he went for ankles. Again, all it took was getting Mr. K to understand that his behavior was not OK and with time, he has mellowed out. The most he does now is greet any doorbell ringers with a few, definitive barks. After that, the tail is all wags. I credit his toned-down nature to regular socialization through Scottie play dates and frequent interactions with family, friends and visitors. 

I think Mo is being protective of his new home. He is probably quite happy with his new living arrangements and doesn't want that taken away. Since you adopted him in February, I imagine it is only a matter of time that Mo will learn what is acceptable behavior in the eyes of his Scottie Mom and Dad. Patience, understanding and love are your best allies in the first few months of any rescue scenario. Try having Mo go outside the house and meet any guests before they enter his terrier-tory. Being in a neutral zone may lessen his protective instinct and re-entering the house with or after the house guests may help him understand these people are not threats to the Scottie House. 

I do not pretend, however, to know it all about Scottie-tude! After all, Heather and Mr. K are my first Scottie dogs ever. Each Scottie is different and what worked for Mr. K may not work with Mo. Therefore, I'd like to open it up to other Scottie Moms and Dads - anyone have other advice to share with a fellow Scottie Mom on how to tame Mo's 'tude? 


  1. It takes time. Mo needs to go out in non-threatening situations.

  2. So true about scotties being different. Kendra, my seventh scottie wasn't socialised as a pup and never liked people. She hated anyone who came to the house...or dared walk in front of it. She'd sneak around and attack an ankle from the back. She tolerated other dogs. Daisy, my eighth, loved everyone...just a happy girl. Bella, number nine, doesn't like people or other dogs. But after meeting some people enough times, she will tolerate them.

    I think your advice about being on neutral ground is a good one.

    1. My boy has a similar issue with strangers and humans. Pray tell what works as we are in mortal fear that he will bite a person and the consequences mayjust be that he has to be put down. =(

  3. Our Foxterrier was a "misanthrope" too and it was always a challenge when we got visitors. Fortunately she tolerated the most family members. There was really NO reason what could explain her behavior. I hope Mo will learn to tolerate people, maybe he needs more time...

  4. Time is what it takes, lots of time. Our Monty is 12, Abbie is 7 and Junie is 8. They all bark like nuts when someone arrives and then its all tail wags.Be stern but gentle. With our gang when they show unacceptable behavior we (hubby or I) get down on the floor at the pups level. I gently grasp the pups beard so he or she cannot turn away and look them straight in the eye. and say NO, naughty. The pup will try to look away but they cannot because you have the beard. After a few seconds, they get a kiss on the nose and a pat on the head and they scamper off. this process took a few months but the scotty-tude is well in hand. Also we have a 6 dog beds, 3 in our sunroom and 3 in the bedroom. When we say sleppytime they run to the ones in the bedroom cause its time to sleep. When they are acting very naughty I say the naughty pups name and say Bed,and to the sunroom they go these are the Scotty equivalent to time out beds...

  5. Having had three Scotties from the time they were pups it would be different for me, but I have been definitely blessed by all three loving every people, children and other dogs. But from the time they were put in my hands they were socialized in puppy class through AKC Good Citizen classes and the learning never stops. They all learned the lesson that I am the leader of the pack. Not one of them enters the home before me and I think that steps teaches them a great rule of not challenging humans. But I know how those eyes can tempt you into accepting bad behavior.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog
    Sweet William The Scot

  6. We have had Scotties for our entire marriage. over 30 years. They are all so different. We have two boys now that I rescued together as pups. They were a bit harder to train in twos. They have now formed their own pack. They are loving with us and our friends, but they were being walked and really went after my daugher's Labradoodle puppy who was being walked by me on the far side of the property. I just think I probably did not get them socialized early enough. They are so sweet and loveable that I just make sure they don't hang around with any other dogs. Sometimes you just have know the personality of your scottie and know that there are things you can do and things you cannot do to change the scottietude.

  7. I've owned 11 Scotties over the years. I have never had a people aggressive Scottie, but I have had a few that did not like other dogs with the exception of their siblings. Shelby loves everyone and every dog. Sidney has a fear of larger dogs,but will usually get along with dogs that are smaller than his size. You can't generalize.

  8. walking with other dogs for long walks really really helps! Lay him on his side when he's having one of his "bouts", it helps snap him out of it; if his tail is straight up keep him away from the other dog; socializing though not easy , is really the best solution, my Henry never liked puppies, so sounds like Mo doesn't either; labradoodle will soon be towering over him and he won't do that, as long as they learn to run around together. He may like a tug toy with other dogs to play with, The benefits ALWAYS far out weight the costs with a Scottie!!!