The Cairn Terrier is often referred to as "scrappy", and if you've ever owned one you certainly know why! These are energetic and resilient little dogs that will certainly give you a run for your money if you let them. Even for terriers, they are very athletic, hyper, and stubborn. Nine times out of ten your Cairn Terrier will tire you out long before he or she is ready to call it a day.
Cairn Terriers are an adorable breed and are often mistaken for potential lap dogs by those searching for a new pet. The Cairn Terrier will not and can not be happy as a sedentary pup. This breed needs lots and lots of exercise, and will consistently act out if not properly stimulated. A tired Cairn Terrier is a happy Cairn Terrier – if your dog does not have enough physical activity in its day, he or she will no doubt resort to chewing, digging, or any number of other destructive behaviors.
The Cairn Terrier is also a little Houdini of a dog. This breed is notorious for escaping from the most complex situations. For this reason, you must take extra measures to "terrier-proof" your yard and home. They are excellent diggers and will find a way to get under your fence and run away – that is, if they can not figure out how to get over it! Pouring cement at the base of a fence or gate is the easiest and most effective way to curb this behavior, but even that is not foolproof. It is very important that you never leave your Cairn Terrier unattended outdoors, even if it's only for a moment.
The Cairn Terrier, being a very intelligent breed, is also very stubborn. Because of this, it is imperative that one enroll their dog in obedience training courses at a very early age. The benefit of using a course as opposed to training at home is twofold: it provides a regimented resource for learning new tricks and curbing negative behavior, and it also provides invaluable socialization with other people and animals. If your children are old enough, they should accompany you to obedience classes to learn how to properly handle and care for your family's new pet as well.
While Cairn Terriers are generally very happy and friendly, they are not encouraged as pets for extremely young children. Cairns may not know how to act or respond around a baby or infant, and active children of a young age are often too aggressive or rough for such a tiny dog. Regardless of age, your children must be taught how to handle your new dog on a leash or in the home with gentleness. Cairn Terriers, though sturdy and playful, can be quite fragile in certain scenarios. One hard pull on the collar can lead to a complete tracheal collapse, which will of course kill the dog.
It is important to work with your children so that they understand the needs and weaknesses of owning a Cairn Terrier, which is why the breed is recommended mostly for families with older children who are capable of comprehending this. The Cairn Terrier will make a loving and entertaining family pet, so long as he or she is treated with the care they deserve!