For families and people that want a dog that is energetic, happy, intelligent and a very loyal pet and protector the Cairn Terrier is a perfect match. They are outgoing in their personalities and often don’t seem to realize that they are a small dog. A natural watchdog, the Cairn Terrier can be stranger, dog and pet aggressive if not properly socialized. The Cairn Terrier will often attack much large dogs in their role as protectors, so care must be taken to keep them safe and away from larger breeds that could easily cause the smaller dog injury. With proper socialization they can be excellent companion dogs for both other breeds of dogs as well as non-canine pets. A natural hunter, Cairn Terriers will chase and need to be kept within a fence or on a leash to prevent them from running off on a hunt.
Cairn Terriers are good family dogs although they can be snappish and somewhat possessive of their food and toys. In a family with children the Cairn Terrier will always be involved in the children’s games and play and loves to run and romp. Their boundless energy makes them a terrific pet for active families. Chasing balls, like kong dog toys, and playing fetch is a favorite pastime of many Cairn Terriers.
Cairn Terriers are a people breed of dog and need to have contact with their owners and family on a regular basis. They do not do well if left alone for long periods of time or kept in a kennel. Bored or lonely Cairn Terriers can quickly develop destructive or problematic habits such as constant barking or problem digging. Consistent, positive training and challenges keep this breed stimulated both mentally and physically. Cairn Terriers quickly learn new skills and tricks and love to work for praise and attention. Cairn Terriers do need affection and attention and love to find a comfortable spot on the couch or, even better yet, on a lap and spend time with the family. They make an excellent housedog and will be very active. They do love to be outside and run and play, so a yard is recommended but with regular walks it is not absolutely required. Without the right amount of exercise the Cairn Terrier can become somewhat difficult to work with and may become less compliant and more headstrong.
Despite the natural good humor and rather independent attitude of the Cairn Terrier they are a breed that does not respond well to punishment. They are surprisingly sensitive to reprimands and changes in the owner’s voice, so care needs to be taken to avoid speaking in harsh tones or raising your voice with this breed. Although not prone to being timid they can become more aloof and independent if they are mistreated, teased or not attended to in a positive fashion.
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