In this two part article we are going to look at the Dachshund temperament and then later how to control aggression in Dachshund’s
The Dachshund Temperament
Dachshunds are independent. Dachshunds are loving. Dachshunds are playful. Dachshunds are aggressive.
How can all this be true of one breed of dog? Well, it is. Dachshunds are among the most complex and interesting breeds precisely because they encompass all these attributes and many more besides.
Bred in Germany in the 1600s to chase vermin, bold and fearless characteristics were selected first and foremost. At the same time, they had to be strong-willed, resourceful and persistent. It does little good to have legs and feet that are excellent for digging if the dog doesn’t have the spirit of pursuit.
Those attributes have continued down the centuries. While most Doxies today are pets, not hunters, once attributes are bred in their nature doesn’t change much. But what’s aggression in one circumstance can be simple courage in another. What is willfulness in one situation can be valuable persistence in another.
Above all, Dachshunds are intelligent dogs. Their individualist character makes them more difficult to take an interest in training. But handled correctly, their smarts allow them to excel in whatever they do.
Keep in mind, too, that independence does not necessarily mean they are uninterested in others. Doxies are filled with curiosity and want to take part in any adventure going on around them. Some breeds are satisfied to sit by quietly and observe. A Dachshund wants to be in the middle of things, participating along with everyone else.
Within these broad outlines there are variations.
The classic-looking Smooth-Coat exhibits all the classic behaviors – barking at the least invasion to its territory, leading the pack whenever possible and more. It will be reluctant more often to take a bath and struggle during nail clipping time.
The Wire-Hair type looks and acts like a combination of Doxie and terrier. Terriers, too, are high strung. But they love to play and their behavior is not aggressive so much as just forthright.
The Long-Hair is more like the Irish Setter in miniature, though not to that extreme. They enjoy a good romp, but are a little more inclined to watch and wait their turn. They are among the easier varieties to train though they take a bit more grooming care.
All are natural diggers. Bred to chase badgers and other small game into a den, they like getting
into things. Their powerful front legs and muscular chest make it pretty easy for them to do just that. Getting out isn’t too much more difficult, thanks to the streamlined body and smooth, narrow head. As a result, if you want to keep the garden or lawn intact, don’t allow the dog to roam freely without supervision.
But Dachshunds do need at least moderate exercise in activities where they can work off some of their natural energy. An obstacle course with tunnels is a good idea for these ‘gophers’.
They are also loyal and loving. The bond between a Doxie and the person or family it ‘adopts’ is unusually strong. They want to be near people and enjoy interaction. As any Dachshund owner will be happy to tell you…
How to suppress agression in a Dachshund
Dachshunds are a naturally feisty breed. Bred to hunt badgers, they had to be tough and resourceful. But that assertive nature should not be allowed to turn against you. You need to be the alpha dog.
Individual dogs will vary in degree, of course. There are submissive Doxies though fewer than other breeds, on average. Some will try to insist on having their own way at all times, much like most terriers. But training can modify their behavior, especially if you start when they are young and stay consistent.
Zero tolerance should be the rule for all aggressive behavior, whether toward you, a family member, or strange people and animals. Biting the leash during training is one mild manifestation.
Discourage it by stepping on the leash close to the dog’s head. Then with the other foot, slowly pull the leash down to the ground closer and closer to the collar. Take care not to stress their neck, as Dachshunds are prone to spinal problems. When they have released the leash, praise them lavishly.
To discourage snapping or biting or excess barking a squirt bottle comes in handy. When your dog shows this behavior, give him a little squirt against the muzzle. Avoid the eyes. That startles your dog and it is unpleasant besides. Repeat, if necessary, but avoid making it a contest of wills. That only tends to make it appear to the dog that you are a competitor. Firm consistency is preferred to counter-aggression.
If your Dachshund persists, isolate your dog and be prepared for some barking. Like spoiled young children, a dog will sometimes try to whine or shout its way out of punishment. Give your dog sturdy chew toys and allow him to work out the aggression on those while he’s in the ‘time out’ box.
Follow this negative reinforcement with some positive reinforcement. Look for instances of good behavior and praise it lavishly. Use a moderate amount of treats if necessary. The point is to help the dog see for itself the different consequences of its own behavior in terms of your response. Doxies are smart. With persistence, they will catch on.
For example, one may become assertive during fetch, refusing to give up the ball. Try to distinguish between genuine willfulness and a simple desire to play a different game, tug. Make the difference clear by using a rope for tug, which they love.
It’s necessary to tread a fine line, though, since tug can lead to encouraging aggression. Exercising them a little harder than you would a more playful or placid dog will help. Aggression is partly caused by the frustration of pent-up energy with no positive outlet.
An assistant can be a big help here. Toss the ball to a partner several feet away, along the ground. When the Dachshund gives chase, make sure the partner gets the ball first. Repeat the exercise a few times, then let the dog win.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article about Dachshund aggression and have learned a thing or two. Comments or questions please post them below.
With patience and a little creativity, you can channel your Dachshund’s aggression into more positive directions.