Rat Terriers are small and nimble dogs with a long history of working on farms and hunting rodents. In recent years, they have become a popular breed to own as pets; due in part to a number of positive attributes including being gentle, sweet, sweet-natured, yet playful all at the same time. But are they known to bark a lot? Is this the kind of behavior an owner can expect and something to consider when owning this breed? This is what you need to know about the natural tendencies, behaviors, and traits of the Rat Terrier.
So do rat terriers bark a lot? Rat terriers do bark a lot, and it is a common behavior across the breed. Their vocalizations are not limited to barking; they make many different sounds that can mean other things making them a relatively noisy dog to own. Many owners report that their rat terrier is hasty to sound the alarm at each new sound and sight. You must be equally as quick to stop them, and train this behavior out of them, or they’ll just keep barking and resort to it at any given opportunity.
The rat terrier is a dynamic little dog breed that can be a fierce hunter while at the same time a sensible and calm companion at home. Can being the important word here.
These dogs are playful, curious, and clever, with inquisitive natures.
They love companionship and attention, so much so that they often wrap their paws around their owner’s neck to get what they want, and often times it works! Who can say no to these cute adoring dogs!
But, they do bark, and they do bark quite often. And for most owners, this can not only be a pain, but it can be largely frustrating.
Common reasons for barking include boredom, wanting attention from their owner, alerting their owner to potential danger, seeing a stranger, or another dog approach them, their family or their house.
Nevertheless, barking is not limited to just this breed; the most persistent barkers are dogs that are bored, miserable, and confused and much of this is due to a lack of attention and/or training.
Rat terriers are intelligent, agile, alert, and eager to please so thankfully all is not lost if you did want to keep one, and keep them quieter than the breed expectation.
We must always consider their heritage and not confuse this behavior for anything less than it is.
Barking is innate to rat terriers because they were bred as hunting and farm dogs and barking was in many ways essential for these jobs.
These days rat terriers are generally kept as family dogs and as companions, so excessive, unnecessary barking should not be tolerated.
Let us now take a closer look at the rat terrier when it comes to barking.
We will take a look at why this breed barks so much, the situations where they are most likely to bark, and some practical approaches you can take to keep prevent and limit the noise if you decide to keep one.
So be sure to keep on reading to get all the information you need!
Are Rat Terriers Barkers?
Rat terriers are indeed barkers; and it comes naturally and instinctively to them. These dogs have a long history of working as hunting and farm dogs, chasing away rodents was a common job for them.
In fact, there is even a variety of the rat terrier called the ‘Teddy Roosevelt Terrier’.
According to the AKC, this is a variety of the rat terrier and was bred to hunt and clear the home and farmsteads of vermin.
They acquired this interesting name in honor of the 26th President of the United States; an avid hunter whom used this breed to clear the White House of a rodent infestation.
This has ever since given these dogs the reputation of being such impressive hunters.
Despite being classified as separate breeds by the United Kennel Club (UKC) in 1999, both the rat terrier and Teddy Roosevelt terrier share many similarities.
They are both hunting dogs by design.
Their former roles required them to be a vocal dog, and rat terriers fit the bill. They therefore have a strong prey drive and are frequently on high alert.
As a result, they bark a lot, and anything can set them off. This could be something as innocuous as bright lights or something more sever like sudden or loud noises, unfamiliar people, and other dogs.
Consequently, rat terriers make an ideal watchdog. Any owner would want a dog to watch out for their family, but due to their small size they are not suitable as guard dogs.
For most families, excessive barking is an undesirable trait. So, this does need to be somewhat managed, minimized and controlled through a structured and consistent training program.
Rat terriers have a standard terrier temperament; they are smart, willfully and bossy.
They are generally not shy or timid about getting what they want so when it does come to training, you need to be firm but fair.
Aside from barking, they are known to ‘chatter’ and talk. This is a kind of ra-ra-ra sound. You can expect this when they are trying to communicate that they want something; usually from you.
When Are Rat Terriers Likely To Bark?
Not all barking is bad or unwanted. For example, a greeting bark is a friendly bark, and ifs it not too loud it can be sometimes nice to get this type of welcome if you just came in the door.
Other types of barking are justified, such as your dog is trying to alert you of real danger.
Perhaps your dog is unwell or injured and this can be good too. It can help you identify that something is wrong and ensure you get them the treatment they need, faster.
Nevertheless, individual rat terriers that bark a lot are likely to bark constantly.
Excessive barking can be a sign that the dog is hungry or even needs to go out to the toilet. Usually barking gets louder as the dog gets more frustrated that their needs are not being met.
Let us now discuss other times when rat terriers are likely to bark:
A rat terrier is likely to bark more when they are afraid.
Dogs that are not socialized as puppies will develop fears of loud noises, new people, or situations.
When your terrier is worried, they will bark as a way of voicing their concerns.
If a new dog or person enters into what your terrier perceives as their space, they will bark,=. Often, they feels their territory has been trespassed.
These dogs get quite possessive of their space and will seek to protect it. Your dog’s area can range from an item of furniture, such as the couch or a chair, their yard, their bed, or your entire home.
Rat terriers crave attention and companionship. They don’t like to be left on their own, especially for too long.
When a rat terrier experiences separation anxiety, they will behave compulsively by chewing or scratching walls, furniture, and doors, and they will also bark and whine until you come home.
Canines are pack animals; your rat terrier is no different.
Rat terriers dislike being alone, preferring the company of others.
If a rat terrier is left alone for too long, he will bark to show he’s miserable. A lonely terrier will also long for human companionship.
Rat terriers are intelligent, active, and curious little dogs.
These dogs require mental and physical stimulation, or they become bored and will act out; part of that will include excessive barking in addition to other destructive behaviors.
How Do I Teach My Rat Terrier To Stop Barking?
You will never get your rat terrier or any dog to completely stop barking, but you can prevent unwanted, unnecessary, and excessive barking.
Barking has its time and place, and you should do everything you can to avoid unwittingly encouraging your rat terrier to bark.
Early socialization is important for your rat terrier once they gets familiar with seeing new people, animals, sights, sounds, and experiences. This will help to stop them from barking at those things.
First, the best way to prevent excessive barking is to eliminate potential origins of the behavior.
Your terrier must learn when to bark and when to be quiet. Once you notice the problem barking, get working on to stop it straight away.
The longer you leave it, the worse it will get, and it will be difficult to curb.
Let’s look at steps you can take to prevent excessive barking with your rat terrier:
There are a range of products on the market designed to help reduce unnecessary barking from dogs when they are in the home.
These send high-frequency sounds that discourages dogs from going to certain areas (where barking would be more likely). It also distracts dogs in a safe and humane way.
This anti-barking device on Amazon is a best-seller and many dog owners swear by its effectiveness on even the most vocal of dogs and breeds.
Start training your rat terrier the Speak/Quiet Commands. The purpose of this training is to get your terrier to bark and be quiet on command.
Don’t expect this training to work overnight; often, it takes time.
You can continue with this training yourself or enlist the support of an expert.
Either way, you must be consistent, and you must learn to read what triggers your terriers barking.
The root of excessive barking can include territorialism, loneliness, fear, seeking attention, or loneliness.
It would help if you pinpointed what is triggering your terrier’s excessive barking so that you can eliminate the trigger from your dog and work on modifying his behavior.
You can teach your rat terrier basic commands such as sit and down when he obeys, reward him; this shifts his focus from barking.
Part of this training includes giving your pup the exercise he needs, as pent-up energy often leads to excessive barking.
Your rat terrier will enjoy getting lots of movement as well as playing with stimulating chew toys and puzzles.
We discussed separation anxiety and how your rat terrier can experience this; rat terriers love attention, and they love company. So it’s not ideal to leave them alone for too long.
If you must go somewhere, don’t leave your dog alone for too long.
You can get your terrier to get used to you leaving the house gradually by leaving the house for short periods.
You can begin by leaving the house for twenty minutes at the start, increasing the length each time, for as long as your dog is comfortable, always make sure that you leave out toys, food, and water for your companion.
When To Visit The Vet
If excessive barking is new behavior for an otherwise calm and quiet dog, make sure that you check your dog for any potential injuries or illnesses.
If you suspect anything, or any other accompanying behaviors, ensure your terrier receives immediate veterinary attention to address any underlying health issues.
At the vet, they can rule out any medical problems or injuries that may be causing the barking, and they can assist you in developing a plan based on the needs of your dog.
Aging dogs are known to bark a lot more, and they will have different requirements for a younger dog that barks a lot.
For aging dogs, whom are more likely to develop conditions and be in pain, it’s crucial to get to the root of barking.
Consider The Role Of An Expert
Some rat terrier owners consider debarking surgery, otherwise known as devocalization. Its a surgical procedure where tissue is removed from the dogs vocal cords to permanently reduce the volume of their vocalizations.
This is of course an extreme and it is a drastic and expensive operation. Its not for everyone, whether financially or morally.
If you feel barking is excessive, there are people you should consult before contemplating anything as severe as surgery.
A vet or a behaviorist can help you get your rat terrier to stop barking. A behaviorist can quickly identify the root cause of your dog’s barking and devise a plan to reduce it.
Rat terriers are lovely companions. They love to play and love to give and receive affection.
These dogs have a long lifespan, between 16 to 20 years, and have many excellent traits.
They are great with children, easy to groom, easy to train, they are playful, intelligent and they are generally loving and affectionate, with few if any aggressive episodes.
Excessive barking is one of the few downsides of rat terrier ownership. With that said, you must not give up on your terrier, and thankfully there are some proactive things you can do to curb it this behavior.
With time, consistency in training, you can train your rat terrier to bark only when truly necessary.
It is essential that they get used to new sights, sounds, people, and experiences from a young age.
Taking your dog out in different settings like parks and beaches, and interacting with people and other dogs, can be fun ways of socializing your terrier while at the same time building their character.
When teaching your terrier commands like speak and quiet, be sure to offer plenty of praise as well as the odd treat when they obey.
Positive reinforcement is an excellent technique and one to definitely pursue.
Be careful never to reward your rat terrier when they bark out of turn, as this only encourages this unwanted behavior.
All in all, this is a fantastic breed of dog to own.
Of course, barking can be an issue if you let it, but ultimately its relatively in your control when it comes to how you want your dog to eventually behave.
Want to learn more about the Rat Terrier breed? Then my following guides may be of interest:
- How Much Do Rat Terriers Cost? [Average Price & Cost Guide]
- How Big Do Rat Terriers Get? [Average Height, Weight and Size]
- Do Rat Terriers Shed? [Is This A Hypoallergenic Breed?]
- Are Rat Terriers Aggressive? [Typical Temperament Of This Breed]
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.