Rat terriers are some of the most fun, most interesting, and energetic of all breeds of dogs out there. Not only can they run around, chasing mice and rabbits, but they can cuddle on your lap and be very loving, sweet pets.
While they are relatively easy to take care of, there are some simple tips out there to make owning a rat terrier a little easier. Here's information for how to care for this small type of terrier:
- They need regular nail clipping. When learning how to care for rat terriers, it is important to first realize that rat terriers can grow EXTREMELY long nails (as you will find out), and it's important to keep them trimmed for your dog's benefit and your own. Long nails can be very painful, especially when they get caught on carpet, on twigs, or stuck into your leg. What you do: Buy a pair of SHARP nail clippers from a local pet supply store. If they are not sharp, they can twist the nail and cause your pet much discomfort. If your dog is restless and tries to get away, request the help of someone else to calm your pet down and hold them. If not, try wrapping your pet up in a blanket, leaving the lower nails out first. After you cut those, wrap the blanket around the legs and cut the top nails. Cutting the nail is not difficult; cut far enough down to make sure the nail is not sharp, but not far enough to cause your pet to bleed. A 1/4" should do it, depending on how long your dog's nails are.
- They shed. All the time. All year-round. There is no way to stop your dog from shedding and rat terrier dog care means dealing with a lot of shedding. Daily brushing might help, but not enough to make much of a difference. Another good grooming idea is monthly baths (depending on how dirty and active your pet may be). Washing your pet will get rid of excess hair and dander. Plus your pet will smell good, too! Make sure to use a shampoo that is specially made for small dogs.
- They may be small, but they have lots of energy. Exercise them regularly. Don't let their small size fool you; rat terriers are very active dogs and they need a LOT of exercise. Try to do at least a half an hour of activity with them per day. If not, your dog could start destroying things around the house. Terriers enjoy being outside, so a walk is ideal, or taking them to a dog park where they can run free.
- They love attention. Give it to them. Whether it's laying on the couch or just petting them, your dog needs attention. A lot. Rat terriers are known to get depressed if they aren't getting the attention they need, and depressed dogs can suffer health problems. Just a few simple pats on the head or a little fetch session will make your dog happy. And he'll sleep better too.
- They need plenty of food and water. A lot of dog food bags tell you to give your pet 1 cup of food a day (depending on size). While this does work for a lot of pet owners, many experts will tell you that if you have an active dog, let him eat as much as he likes (without going overboard). Rat terrier dog care means that you give your terrier plenty of food and LOTS of water. They are smaller dogs and burn a lot more energy than larger breeds, so they need it.
- Take them to the vet for checkups. Like any other pet, ratties need to go to the vet for shots and for checkups. The nice thing about this breed? Rat terriers have very few health problems, and they live long lives (15-18 years on average). But there are exceptions, so keep going to that vet to make sure your dog is in the best of health.
Follow these tips, and your dog is sure to be happy and healthy. Rat terriers are a great fun breed, and you should have no trouble with them at all!