Terrier and dachshund care

Terriers and Dachshunds are unique pets that love to run around, explore, give chase and dig holes – they may be small, but they have a lot of affection and a terrific tackle-anything attitude!
Brown Dachshund standing with tongue out
Brown Dachshund standing with tongue out
Brown Dachshund standing with tongue out

Examples of some typical dachshund or terrier breeds in this group include:

  • West Highland White Terriers
  • Parson Russell Terriers
  • Jack Russell Terriers
  • Bull Terriers
  • Border Terriers
  • Yorkshire Terriers
  • Smooth Haired Dachshunds

Your dog is a terrier or dachshund if they:

Enjoy exploring, digging, and chasing then pouncing on squeaky toys. Your Terrier or Dachshund will also have a tendency to bark when excited, and enjoy shredding paper and playing tug-o-war games with you and other dogs. Terriers are often known for their tenacity, persistence, pluck and for their innate desire to explore tunnels and dark holes. Many terrier breeds are quite small with short or wiry coats, making them perfect outdoor explorers!

Exercise and play

Terriers and Dachshunds love the great outdoors and have a lot of energy for their small size. They are typically fast and agile, and will hunt any pests in the garden or out on walks, enthusiastically setting off after them through thick undergrowth, over or under fences and across all terrains. Terrier and dachshund exercise shouldn’t be too strenuous since these types of dogs are quite small; however, you might just be surprised at how much energy these little dogs actually have.

Independent play

A terrier’s temperament is generally independent but loving, and as such they are good at providing their own entertainment as well as asking for affection from you! They are normally quite content to find their own amusement or play on their own if given the right safe toys.

Like terrier breeds, a dachshund’s temperament means they like to play and have fun. A good game to play with a terrier or dachshund is ‘hunt the toy’, ideally using a treat-filled toy hidden somewhere in the garden where they have to dig for their prize, such as in a doggie ‘ball pit’. A dedicated digging area just for your dog, which is out of bounds for children, will give them somewhere to satisfy their urge to dig – hopefully away from your flower beds!

Terriers often enjoy destroying squeaky and soft toys, so make sure that there are no dangerous detachable pieces or other choking or swallowing hazards in them first. Check squeaky toys regularly to ensure the ‘squeak’ is in no danger of being removed and mistakenly eaten as a tasty treat!

If you hide some of your dog’s daily allowance of dry food in small individual cereal boxes, they will probably enjoy ripping them open to get to the food inside, combining part of their meal plan with a dose of fun.

Playing with your terrier breed or dachshund

As well as taking your small dog for on-lead pavement walks to explore urban areas, your dachsund or terrier breed will also enjoy lots of off-lead running in safe areas – be it chasing balls on a beach or scurrying after squirrels and birds in parks and woodlands. Walking Terriers can turn into an unexpected adventure - try and protect them by teaching good recall, but don’t be surprised if your dog doesn’t always listen when mid-chase!

Keep walks varied – these bright dogs enjoy new environments and smells where they can explore the undergrowth, dig and let off steam, so the more they can do it during exercise, the more satisfied they will feel later.

Tug-of-war is usually greatly enjoyed by Terriers; their strong jaws and a determination make them formidable opponents despite their size, but be careful to play gently with dachshund breeds because their long backs can be sensitive. Only adults should play this with these types of dog to avoid potential accidents - even a small, friendly Terrier can pull over a child or accidentally nip a hand when over-excitedly grabbing a fun tug toy.

Many terrier breeds and dachshunds are also very bouncy and love chasing and jumping at moving objects. Try blowing bubbles for them to pop - great fun for everyone, especially for children who get to combine blowing bubbles with playing with their pet. Alternatively, use a bubble machine made especially for dogs to blow meat-flavoured bubbles if you want to amuse them while you get on with other chores. These can be purchased online and from some pet stores.

Black and Tan Dachshund running with ball in his mouth

Emotional bonding

Dachshund care and Terrier care should include satisfying their innate needs. Dogs in this group are often confident, spirited and extrovert characters. This is because their original work required them to be tough as they went underground hunting rats and badgers - no easy adversaries! Even Terriers who have never seen a rodent can be feisty with other animals, which is why early and thorough socialisation and training Terriers and Dachshunds is especially important for them.

If you are considering getting another dog as a companion, choosing a dog of the opposite sex dramatically improves your chances of them having a happy relationship, as the two sexes usually get on very well and rarely compete over resources. Discuss neutering one or both dogs straight away with your vet. With Terriers, choosing a non-Terrier breed as the second dog can also work well. A Gundog or Scent Hound, for example, will want very different things in life to another Terrier, so they are unlikely to compete. Dachshunds usually get along well with other Dachshunds, so you might enjoy looking after a playful duo!

Whether you have one or more Terrier or Dachshund, you can strengthen the bond between you and each dog 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, and something they really value. If they’ve been well exercised mentally and physically, they will enjoy simply snoozing at your feet or on your lap in the evening while you read or watch TV.

Terriers and dachshund breeds 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 three sides to make it as cosy as possible for a dog that likes to be ‘underground’, and place some comfortable bedding and a safe tasty chew toy inside to make it perfect.

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

Training a terrier or dachshund

Owner's hand rested ontop of tan Dachshunds head

Although your terrier breeds or dachshund can be well socialised and trained to have good manners, they may be unlikely to back down if another dog picks on them, despite the fact they’re physically small! With this in mind, recall training should be practised regularly to ensure you can always get your dog’s attention, and you should remain vigilant on walks for potentially difficult situations with unknown dogs.

It may be a good idea to train terriers to 'shush'. Terriers are quick to react to callers or unusual noises with a warning bark. Some are more reactive and persistent than others, and teaching a good response to the requests ‘Speak’ and ‘Shush’ is very useful for a quiet life! If you teach a Terrier to bark when asked, it will not only mean they can have a good ‘shout’ when it’s convenient for you both, such as outside on a walk, but also that you can quieten your dog more easily when they bark indoors.

Many Terriers and Dachsunds enjoy sitting on a deep windowsill or other piece of furniture and simply watching the world go by. If your dog is quick to bark, however, you might want to restrict their ability to see outside so as not to overstimulate them, and to teach them to be quiet on command – this will make the home environment calmer for both of you.

On occasions when you can’t adequately exercise your Terrier or Dachshund outdoors, training exercises and games such as hiding treats around the house will help to prevent boredom, as well as being a bit of fun too.


Nutrition is a key part of terrier and dachshund care. Since food is such an important part of what makes a dog like yours happy, there are far more options for feeding that simply giving them a bowl of food twice a day. Instead, make mealtimes longer-lasting and more interesting by devising different ways of providing your Terrier’s or Dachshund’s daily allowance.

Feeding your Terrier or Dachshund can be fun as well as practical. These breeds’ natural desire to hunt and burrow can be stimulated by putting up to 30% of their dry food in a ball pit, or scattering and hiding it around the garden on dry days for them to hunt for. Try placing up to 10% of their dry daily food allowance in a variety of food-dispensing toys for them to play with, and another 5% as rewards for obedience and tricks.

Feed the rest of your dog’s food to them in two meals every day (morning and evening) so that your dog will continue to see you as a food provider.

If your dog has wet food, use other more convenient treats as rewards in training, but be careful to include them when calculating their daily requirements. Feed them at least two meals per day: you could split it into one main meal of half their allowance, and put up to 4-5 smaller portions for the other half in varying locations, so your dog has to use their brain power to seek it out.

As long as you are following the daily feeding guidelines on your dog’s food packet, monitoring your dog’s weight and keeping them in ideal body condition, don’t worry if the resulting amount you put in his bowl looks a bit small – if they’ve had their daily food allocation and you are feeding them a complete diet, they will have all the nutrients and energy they need to be happy and active!

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If you’d like more information on Terriers and Dachshunds, or have any other queries, contact our PETCARE EXPERT TEAM