Are Border Terriers Nervous Dogs? – How To Help Fearful Dogs

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A couple of weeks ago Indy and I went to a Border Terrier walk organised by a local Facebook page, in support of Border Terrier Welfare. We thoroughly enjoyed it, even if we had to make an early exit as when it came to the actual walk, Indy was ‘fed up’ and would refuse to walk – yes, he is definitely the pack leader, not me(!!!).

But the meet up was an opportunity to witness how Borders can be victims of some health and behavioural issues as any other breed. Seeing quite a few nervous or shy dogs made me think how they would cope with the forthcoming festivities and the noise of partying and fireworks that goes with the holiday period. I couldn’t help asking myself this question: how to best help fearful dogs?


Border Terriers Are Stoic Dogs

I always say Border Terriers are a sturdy breed. They do get ill and suffer from ailments like with any other breed, but they are stoic, they do not let an illness take the best of them, and for the majority they seem to bounce back as if nothing had happened.

I consider myself particularly lucky with Indy. Indy, as you probably already know, has endured quite a few surgeries, to remove his rotten teeth twice, to remove lumps and bumps. And more recently he’s undergone two cancer surgeries, both last December and the previous Christmas, and is currently on the side effect free metronomic chemotherapy. I just hope this Christmas it’s going to be cancer free for him!



The reasons why I believe we have been so lucky with our Indy are these, however.

First of all, Indy has in time always bounced back like a yo-yo from his health conditions. In his own time, he keeps rediscovering his ‘joy de vivre’ after any convalescing period, or after scorchingly hot summers or colder and gloomier winter days. This is a trait of Border Terriers that I have witnessed not only in Indy, but in other Borders too, as many Borders keep telling me about their dogs.

But the other reason, of course, why we feel we have been particularly lucky with Indy, is due to the fact that he has never suffered from Spike’s Disease episodes, nor from any other chronic conditions. Nor has he ever suffered from any behavioural problem – other, that is, than misbehaving with other dogs on a one-to-one basis during his walks. Again, we have never put this down to a problem in his behaviour as such, mind you, but rather to the typical ‘grumpiness’ of Borders.


Border Terriers Can Have Behavioural Issues

However, the fact that Borders are sturdy by nature does not necessarily mean they are immune from behavioural problems, whether they express them through shyness, in nervousness or aggression. Unfortunately Borders, like all other breeds, can have behavioural issues.

Generally speaking, and from talking to owners of ‘nervous’ Borders, this is by far due to some genetic malfunction typical of this breed.

As ever, and regrettably, the reason of behavioural problems in Borders is due to life circumstances.

Your dog may have spent a period of time with another aggressive dog. This is what happened to Indy. When we first met him, he had no problems with other dogs whatsoever. Unfortunately however, he had been allowed to spend time with a very nervous Jack Russell bitch. This meant that, by the time we adopted him, his behaviour towards other dogs had completely changed. We believe that Indy developed a sense of protection towards the non-spayed bitch, which caused him to become a bit of a barking ‘terror’ to other dogs, which his sense of smell read as ‘danger zone’.

Indy’s problem has never been necessarily overbearing. But the reason why I mention Indy’s little tale of not-being-nice-all-the-times is because I want to outline how a chain of nervous aggression can be created and transmitted from dog to dog. And it’s always best to break that chain as soon as you see negative signs in your dog’s behaviour.

Another reason for your Border’s nervousness may be due to the fact that your dog was shaken up by scary events in his or her early years.

These could range from an unstable family surrounding (and I am referring to human family), to neglect.

Expert say dogs tend to live in the moment, and can only apply short term memory skills to their every day life. That’s why they say, when it comes to training your dog, you have to keep reinforcing the positing training, or else your dog will simply forget how to be a good boy or girl.



However, it is renowned for Borders to have a very good memory. If they were victims of, or witnesses to, traumatic events – abuse, or more simply the loss of a family member, human or canine companion, for instance – they are bound to remain psychologically scarred. In this way, dogs are far more similar to us than we like to admit.

These scenarios are not all-inclusive, unfortunately. There can be many more reasons to cause distress, hence fear, hence shyness or aggression in your Border.

One of the reasons can be loud and sudden noises and lights.


Halloween, Guy Fawkes, Not So Many Jollies For Dogs

Our Indy is Mr Cool, the most lay-back Border we have ever come across. Nothing will faze him off his daily program of ‘works’ and activities: food, snoozes, walk, play.

But let’s admit it, fireworks and lights during the holiday season can become overwhelming, and tiresome after a little while. In our corner of UK, over the years we have noticed that fireworks are started sooner and sooner, in the lead up to Guy Fawkes Night. Every year fireworks are brighter and louder, and particularly they can affect young children, older residents and, yes, pets.

The level of noise, and the element of surprise, with an unexpected and loud bang, can unnerve the most calmly predisposed person.

But, it can affect dogs too!!! This time last year I wrote an article on how to make this season less stressful for our canine companions. You might want to read it again, by clicking here.

If you Border is nervous, or shy, or displays signs of aggression when uneasy, you may want to start getting your dog used to the forthcoming different routines and noises far sooner and more assertive than you may need to do with a more lay-back dog.

Throwing your dog in the mist of the celebrations might have a detrimental effect, and might make your dog much worse in his or her displays of unsociability.



How To Help Your Dog During The Holiday Season

Those of you who follow my blog regularly will know that I have recently discovered a natural ingredient, which is particularly indicated to help pets, as well as dogs, who have anxiety issues.

Yes, once again I am talking about CBD. Let me take you back to my first articles on CBD, where I explained the so many advantages to feeding your dog CBD.

I hope you clicked on the link above, as there will find a loooong list of ailments that your dog can be helped with through CBD.

The above picture tells you how CBD works on pets. I hope you can read it. If not, do click on it to be redirected to the original, and bigger letters, version.

CTFO has some wonderful and yummy Pure Hemp Chew Treats, which are specifically designed to keep your dog’s anxiety and stress levels under control.

The benefits of this product are quite a few:

  1. you can add the treats to your dog’s normal diet (so long as you do not feed him more than 2 treats a day), without your dog having to be fed a proper medicine or tablet. Your dog will have a CBD Pet Treat like any other treats;
  2. the treats are totally made of natural ingredients – unless your dog is allergic to rice and starch, I do not see any other of the ingredients use that may cause stomach upset for your dog;
  3. the percentage of PCR (phytocannabinoid-rich) hemp oil is only 5mg per treat – any higher percentage could potentially cause your dog to become used to the product, hence not reacting to its calming effect.

On this last point, let me clarify.

First of all, CBD is NOT A DRUG. CBD is not that part of the cannabinoid plant containing THC, which is the addictive drug, still classed as illegal in many countries.

Let me show a video which will tell you more about the safety and the efficacy of CBD:

The other thing to point out is this. You may wonder why getting a CBD product for your dog if all it contains is 5mg of hemp oil per treat. You may feel you are spending money for nothing.


There are many competing manufacturers and retailers of CBD products. One of the largest ones boast the fact of being the largest producer of PCR hemp oil. What they cannot make a claim to is to be producing an all-natural product – a claim which CTFO can make theirs.

As ever, my advice is that your consult your dog’s vet about whether they deem these treats may be good to stabilise your dog’s mood, and let her or him enjoy life to its fullest … even during the holiday season.


Borders Do Like A Bit Of A Party

After all this talking about nervous dogs and how the holiday period may become an upset for your canine friend, does that mean that you are not allowed to have a party, a family gathering or guests coming to visit or to share a festive meal with your family?

You could not be furthest from the truth!

Particularly if your Border is younger, (s)he will pick on the exciting atmosphere in the house, and will be wanting to share in the fun. Remember, Borders are extremely sociable with humans. If they are shy or nervous, provided they know the person or people coming to visit, they will enjoy their company and put themselves at the centre of everyone’s attention.

And if your Border is a senior, they may want to retreat to their favourite bed for a bit of a snooze after a little while, but they will still want to assist as hosts, by ‘trying out’ food and nibbles … you know, just to make sure it’s nicely cooked for everyone #doublewink

So long as you respect your dog’s needs, and so long as you get your dog gradually used to what there may be of different on the big Holiday day – music, door bell going, people coming and going – your dog will be able to enjoy the festivities as much as the rest of the family. And, why shouldn’t (s)he?!?!?!

Is your Border nervous? or does (s)he like to growl or bark even, when fireworks are lit up or the household becomes louder? It would be lovely if you could share your experience with your Border, by leaving your comment below. The Border Terrier community of owners is wonderful, and I am sure we are all happy to share and learn from each other.



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