My Boston Terrier tales go beyond the normal ‘breed blurb’ and give a real description of the joys and frustrations of owning these unique wee dogs.
Being a good, responsible Boston owner to be, I did some basic research on the breed before our little bundle came home. The general opinion seemed to be that they were friendly, gentle souls who were great family dogs, intelligent, trainable and fun.
Sure, there was the odd reference to a stubborn streak, getting scrappy with other dogs or being ‘energetic’, but they were buried under all of the praise and barely registered on my consciousness. I merrily waited for our angel to arrive.
She did arrive, our firebrand in her fuzzy black and white disguise. Initially she did all of the things puppies are supposed to do – play, lick, be cute. I reveled in the joys of dog ownership, after several years without a canine companion.
Boston Terrier Temperament and Potential Problems
After a few weeks I was scratching my head, wondering where the ‘gentle’ part came in. Surely not all of the breed description writers were liars, or confused. Maybe we got a pup with throwback genes, on both the terrier and bulldog sides, to the days of ratting and fighting respectively. Perhaps we were such terrible ‘parents’ that our puppy was already dysfunctional and rebellious.
At approximately 4 inches tall and weighing as many pounds, she was fairly certain she ruled the world. Upon meeting another dog she turned into a leaping, snarling, savage beast as she launched herself at her opponent. The fact that she rarely got higher than its elbows was no deterrent. Amazingly, most dogs did not retaliate, perhaps shocked by her audacity, or wondering what exactly this minute creature was. Thus her dominance over all living things was confirmed. Her favorite victim was a Great Pyrenees. It became common to see something resembling a small polar bear running in fear for his life from this little scrap of fur and fire.
She definitely fit the friendly and playful part of the breed profile. Everybody’s friend, playing was acceptable at any time. If no living friends were available she would happily play with leaves, stones or invisible entities. Energetic does not begin to describe it. Her happiness was almost constant, unless you interrupted her dog bullying or otherwise disturbed her fun, at which point she became very vocal about her dissatisfaction. Teaching her that growling at people was a definite ‘no’ quickly became our first priority.
Her boundless energy subsided only when she was sleeping, which she did with gusto.
Boston Terrier Training
I started training as soon as we got her, which in retrospect was very important, I think. Initially keeping her attention for more then 1.46 seconds was the main challenge, so we did lots of very short sessions. To my amazement she learned sit, down and stay very quickly. Who would have thought that wiggly little body could stay still for so long?
This was an encouraging sign that she did indeed possess that intelligence we had been promised: we had some doubts. In the first few weeks she bumped into things a lot, either trying to jump on something 10 times her height or running so fast she lost control of her own limbs. This led to jokes about how she got her facial structure, but also genuine worry that there might not be much underneath that cute little skull. Thankfully she has now mastered controlling her own body. Still, at the time signs of intelligence were welcome.
She actually has progressed well in her training. Short, fun sessions with lots of praise and treats seemed to work best, coupled with instant, brief but very clear reprimands when necessary. There was a definite ‘testing’ period around two months in. This mainly manifested itself in a refusal to come when called, followed by running laps with “you can’t catch me” coming across as loud and clear as if she’d actually said the words.
We got through that rebellion. She has also learned to behave respectfully to people and although still a vigorous playmate, is much less aggressive to other dogs. Had we not been willing to put in the time to train her, and been patient and consistent, however, we may have created a monster. Her energy is now beginning to be a positive thing, channelled in the right direction, but could easily have turned her into a pest.
Boston Terriers: Great Entertainment and Company
This dog is funny. She can have a whole group of adults captivated as she cavorts, face split in two with her clown grin. Her play repertoire includes an array of kung-fu moves. She buries toys in (flat) blankets, solemnly pushing air with her nose until satisfied that her treasure is well hidden.
The number and variety of her play moves are rivaled only by her noises. As well as the expected snorting and snoring, she has a whole vocabulary of grunts, moans, yowls, sighs and whines. They are mostly very quiet and often when she is sleeping, but along with her expressive face, give her a human-like presence. We hope to one day translate her language.
We have a growing list of species she resembles. So far: bat ears, monkey climbing skills, shark mouth, frog legs, and believe it or not, a curly pig’s tail.
Despite my initial adjustment period from the mythical Boston to my Tazmanian devil, I love this dog. She makes me laugh every day, is always eager to do anything I suggest and is now showing a lot of intelligence and agility. When relaxing she is the cuddliest dog I have ever known and always wants to be close. We joke about our “wolf pack of three” (watch ‘The Hangover’ and you’ll get it) as we cannot sit beside each other without her finding a spot in the middle.