Patterdale Terrier Puppy Training- Rats

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Our Patterdale terrier pups have reached age Week 6 and each have had a 6 way vaccination and a Neo-Par vaccination for Parvo- now they are ready to go outside and start learning!

In this video we construct our outside “Puppy Tunnel” set up.

The purpose of the tunnel construction is to get the young pups to exercise while encountering new stimulus that begins the learning process in the brain. We feel the earlier you can make these learning connections in the brain the faster the pups will progress.

In this video we introduce the pups to rats- not because we expect them to kill the rats rather only to introduce new sights and scents that the pup will soon be encountering in his/her early life in the field.

In this video it’s interesting to note that in a pups early life “Scent” seems to dominate his sensory world- much more than “Sight.” You will notice that throughout the early part of the video. This is because ‘scent” is the dominant sense in a dogs world- just as sight is the dominant sense in the human world.

Soon the young pups learn to associate the “scent” of something with the “sight” of something. This is always part of a pups learning process and the quicker they make the connection the faster they will advance. This is where “Hunting” begins in a young dogs life. Don’t worry if your pups aren’t killing rats at 6 weeks old- they aren’t supposed to be!

What we want to see is the pup using his nose. Everything you see in the tunnel set up is there to make a puppy use his nose. This encourages “locating” at the earliest possible age. Putting a puppy in a barren enclosure with a rat is fun to watch and does help the pup in ways- but to get the most out of your time and rats we feel you need to create hiding places for the quarry that encourages the pups to use their nose to locate game instead of sight alone.

We use tunnels in the video made from scraps of plastic pipe- you can see in the first few minutes of introducing the pups to the set up, some are a bit apprehensive but in minutes this passes. It always does. In a few days they actually race and run through the various challenges learning to navigate different obstacles! This learning process builds confidence at an early age and translates to better results on their first few trips to ” The Woods” and a better use of your time when starting young dogs.

A few pointers that are purely my own opinion:


Don’t push your pup into a rat or a tunnel or anything he shows discomfort with! You are developing a relationship of trust with your pup at this early age so this is very important.


When a pup does a great job act all excited! Talk to him and pet him up! Let him know you are proud of what he is doing!

At this young age there will always be other pups that aren’t doing much- They will see you petting and encouraging the pup that’s doing good. Don’t scold this pup but don’t pet him up either. It’s best to just ignore him for the moment. If he is an intelligent pup he will quickly realize what the other pup is doing to get this reward and will join in. Loving rewards during outside training are for the pups that are responding. Love them all up when its over!


Always watch the puppy’s tail. If its up and erect-The pup is alert and unafraid.

If the tail is “wagging” the pup is having a good time.

If the pup drops its tail or tucks it between its legs it’s signaling it does not like the situation its currently in. That is YOUR SIGNAL to STOP what ever it is that’s going on- remove the pup from the situation and pet him up and show him love and that everything’s OK.

If you keep pushing your pup in an uncomfortable situation you are well on your way to ruining that pup and any trust he may have with you in the future. Be Patient-Be Supportive!


Do NOT tolerate ANY dog on dog aggression. You cannot beat on these puppies in ANY way! When you encounter ANY aggression, swat the pups with a ball cap and a stern and clear “No” command. You will have to repeat this over and over in the pups early life.

Remember- Repetition Is The Mother Of Learning!

You must be consistent and stop any aggression at every opportunity. If you only do it ” sometimes” or “50% of the time” all you are doing is confusing the pup! It has to be corrected consistently from just weeks of age throughout the training process. In the beginning the pup will be a bit confused- all he will understand is that when he shows aggression this dang ball cap swats him on the ears or rump which causes discomfort. In time the pup will realize that you will not tolerate aggression. If aggression is not too strongly bred into the bloodline this will work wonders in allowing YOUR pup to hunt with others later in life.

Soon as the pup gets older he will test you. At this point HE KNOWS you don’t allow aggression towards other dogs but HE WANTS to do it anyway. When a young dog UNDERSTANDS the behavior that you want from him and he REFUSES to comply- that is when you can become a little more stern in discipline which can include a “swat” on the rump with your hand which must ALWAYS be accompanied with a stern command like “NO!” or “BAD DOG”

As your pup matures towards becoming an adult these commands are invaluable to stopping all sorts of undesirable behavior. They quickly understand- even in a completely NEW situation that ” NO” or “BAD DOG” tells them that what ever they are doing at the moment is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

These are valuable commands in the field and throughout their lives- unfortunately with Patterdale Terriers, it does not guarantee you will be able to kennel them together as adults.

At some time you wont be there- and they will KNOW you aren’t there and there will be a fight which normally results in injury and often death. You learn your dogs behavior over time and you learn who can be kenneled together and who can’t. Better to provide separate kennels when ever possible.


Lastly, after a training session where the pup has been introduced to new things and has developed new understandings, take the pup (s) and put them up with as little outside stimulus as possible for a few hours. Without distractions, this is an important time for a pup to access and re-live everything they just learned, locking it away in his/her permanent memory.

Usually the entire litter is so wore out after 30 minutes that when you put them back in their kennel they all crash out in a ball of sleep. If you watch closely- you will often notice them “twitching” and “jerking” as they dream of the events they just encountered. I really feel this is an important part of the learning process. If distractions are removed the pup will begin to access everything he just encountered and store it away in permanent memory. That’s actually what LEARNING is!

Watch for more training videos here as these pups progress!