Dog Ownership, Dog Questions

Why Is My Wheaten Terrier So Aggressive?



Are you a soft-coated wheaten terrier owner and ask this question often: Why is my wheaten terrier so aggressive? If so, we have the answer for you so you can start to tackle the root of the aggressive behavior.

aggressive wheaten terrier

Why Is My Wheaten Terrier So Aggressive?

Wheaten terriers are soft and cute, but like a storm on a hot summer day – fierce and aggressive. There’s one thing that many soft-coated wheaten terrier owners can agree on, and that’s the breed’s aggressive behavior can be quite concerning at times. Understanding the reasoning behind soft-coated wheaten terrier’s aggressive behavior can help reduce or eliminate their rebellion.

Fear / Anxiety

While soft-coated wheaten terriers may seem all big and bad when they’re attacking people, other dogs, etc., they are actually scared – very scared. Unlike other reactions to fear, they fight rather than flee.

Any threat that your pup perceives can turn into a fight. It doesn’t matter if that threat is children, other dogs, cars driving by, the postal service member, etc. It’s the perception the threat is going to do something to harm either your pup or family that can get trigger the aggression.

Separation anxiety is common among soft coated wheaten terriers. This is one of the most common reasons people as: Why is my wheaten terrier is so aggressive? They are known to attack the door when their owners leave.

High Energy

The terrier breed is known for their being energetic. That’s many people decide to get a terrier. The energy can be fun, but it can also cause problems like when your dog tears up the bed.

When high energy causes problems, that’s when dog owners ask: Why is my wheaten terrier so aggressive?

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Instincts – Genetic

Soft coated wheaten terriers are born that way. Just like people, wheaten terriers have a long history of being reactive. The good news is that even though we all may be born with personality traits, we can work to change them.

Negative Past Experiences

Dogs with negative past experiences will often become reactive dogs. If you adopted your pup from a shelter, it’s likely the reactive aggression comes from negative associations formed in the previous home. This could be due to abuse or neglect.

Attention Seeking

Wheaten terriers demand attention and if they don’t get it, they will do what they need to do to get it. That includes being aggressive.

Rage Syndrome In Wheaten Terriers

Rage syndrome, also known as sudden-onset aggression, has been documented in some Wheaten Terriers. This neurological condition is characterized by sudden intense episodes of aggression towards people or other animals, without any apparent provocation.

Owners and breeders of Wheaten Terriers have reported cases where their dogs, typically known for their friendly and outgoing nature, have unexpectedly displayed aggressive behavior. While studies are limited, this syndrome seems to occur more frequently in male Wheaten Terriers and can be potentially dangerous if not properly managed. It is crucial for owners to seek immediate veterinary assistance and behavioral modification training to ensure the safety of both the affected dog and its environment.

why are soft coated wheaten terriers aggressive

How to Decrease Aggressive Behavior in Wheaten Terriers

The best thing you can do to decrease aggressive behavior in your wheaten terrier is to hire a dog trainer. Professional dog trainers have the training and skills to turn the behavior of an aggressive dog around in much less time than doing it yourself.

While working with a dog trainer or if you’re interested in trying it yourself, keep the following tips in mind.

Positive Association vs. Punishment

Punishment can fuel reactive aggression. As your doing obedience training with your terrier, work diligently to produce positive behavior associated with certain situations or triggers. When there’s a positive response, provide a lot of praise and treats.

Repetition is key here as the more positive association there are, the faster your terrier will understand what not to do.

Claim Dominance

Reactive dogs believe they are the leader of the pack. They need to protect themselves and pack no matter what. That dominant behavior can be reduced by showing your pooch that it’s not needed because you’re the one that is the pack leader.

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You can do that by teaching commands such as stay and sit while there is a trigger around. The dog will then watch what happens and see that you are in control.

Attention for Positive Behaviors

One of the biggest mistakes terrier breed owners make is falling prey to constant attention-seeking behaviors. When your pup is bad, do not pick him/her up, distract him/her with playtime, or go for a walk. That’s rewarding the behavior. Instead, provide attention when your pup does something good and ignore it when doing something bad.

Wear Your Pup Out

The best way to train a dog is when exhausted. Be sure to run your pup in the backyard, provide puzzle toys, and work with your dog to get him/her tired before starting training with your terrier breed.

Expose Puppies to New People

The more puppies are exposed to new people, the less of a threat they will become later. Just be warned that wheaten terriers are renowned bouncers, so warn people about it until the behavior is under control.

wheaten terriers

Tools to Make Obedience Training Easier

You don’t need much to help your wheaten terrier be less reactive. The following dog products can help make behavior modification faster and easier.


Signal to your pup that you want him/her to perform a specific action with a clicker. You can also click when there is bad behavior. Whatever association you give the clicker is what it will then be used for later.

Treat Pouch and Treats

A treat pouch is super convenient when carrying treats on a walk or at the dog park. Simply attach the treat pouch to your belt and treats are easily accessible.

Learn More: Dog Won’t Take Treats on Walk

Check out this combo purchase:

dog clicker and treat pouch

Reactive Dog Vest

A reactive dog vest lets children, other dog owners know not to engage with your dog. People, especially children, think that small dogs can’t hurt but that is not the case, especially with the dog breed.

reactive dog vest

Short Leash for Control

Store your long and/or retractable leashes because they are not good for leash-reactive dogs. You need a strong short leash to ensure you can take control of any undesirable behavior while out in public.

reactive dog leash

CBD Oil for Reactive Dogs

One of the reasons dogs exhibit reactive behavior is because they have high energy AND anxiety. CBD oil has been shown to reduce anxiety in dogs and calm them so they aren’t so energetic. This can be highly beneficial during obedience training. Read more information about CBD oil for leash reactive dogs.

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Read More:  Does CBD Help with Dog Aggression?

What to Keep in Mind About Terrier Breeds

Just because your puppy is aggressive, it doesn’t mean that terrier breeds can’t be good family pets. They make good family dogs as long as they learn what to do and not do.

Just like children, they need to learn the right and wrongs of being a family member. After they learn how to behavior appropriate in a family unit, they make a great family dog.

When Buying Terrier Puppies

If you stumbled upon this article because you want to purchase soft coated wheaten terrier puppy, be sure to keep these tips in mind:

  • Puppy mills are NOT recommended for any dog breeds. They are not healthy and cause problems because shelters are overrun with dogs needing forever homes.
  • A pet store is also not a good place to look for puppies. Most of the puppies come from puppy mills.
  • Breeders have healthier environments, but they also contribute to the increasing problems in shelters worldwide.
  • Shelters have a bad reputation for having bad dogs, but that’s not always the case. Shelters rehabilitate “bad dogs” by working on them – obedience training and behavior modification – before making them adoptable. You can find great family dogs in a shelter, including wheaten terrier puppies, adult dogs, and older dogs.

Loving Your Aggressive White Coated Wheaten Terrier

Work with your terrier and remember that learning can be difficult for anyone. The more you work with your pup, the happier you and your puppy will be throughout your lives together.

In the comments below, share your experiences with your wheaten terrier!

Looking for some new toys for your Wheaten Terrier?

squeaky aggressive dog toy

Stuffed Dog Toys for Aggressive Chewers

FAQ About Wheaten Terrier Aggressive Behavior

The following questions are common among aggressive Wheaten Terrier dog owners.

Is my wheaten terrier crazy?

It depends on what you mean by crazy. If you mean your wheaten terrier is aggressive, yes, that is quite common behavior for Wheaten Terriers.

Are soft coated Wheaten Terriers Aggressive?

Yes, soft coated Wheaten Terriers can be aggressive. With dog aggression training, Wheaten Terriers can be less aggressive.

When do Wheaten Terriers calm down?

Wheaten terriers, a breed known for their energetic and spirited nature, typically calm down around the age of two to three years. These dogs are often described as being lively and full of energy during their puppyhood and adolescent stages.

However, as they mature, Wheaten terriers tend to mellow out and become more relaxed. It is important to note that individual dogs may vary in their rate of calming down, with some dogs taking longer to reach a state of calmness.

So, if you are wondering when Wheaten terriers calm down, it is generally around the age of two to three years, but this can vary from dog to dog.



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4 thoughts on “Why Is My Wheaten Terrier So Aggressive?”

  1. Blonde is our 3rd dog who we’ve had for almost 3 years. She had been rehomed a couple times and is a runt. She’s my special needs one. My other dogs: a 10 year old toy poodle is joy cool and Bella is a Lagotto Romano, aka my Italian girlfriend.

    Blonde goes all Rambo when her trigger is tripped. I can bring her down (sit and soft massage around the ear) most of the time, but if the other dogs go off all bets are off.

    Anyhow in her past life he had training, but it left a mark on her spirit. You say “stay” and you’d swear someone did her wrong. she’ll sulk away and go lay under a table. It breaks your heart.

  2. Getting ready to adopt a Wheaten Terrier. Separation anxiety, mostly aggressive just by seeing another dog.
    I am in an apartment and going to try to work with the lad.
    Do you have a trainer in mid Michigan? (Fenton, 48430).

  3. We have 2 Wheatons Our little a boy 4.5 not an aggressive bone in his body such a sweetheart and a 2 yr old girl
    She on occasion attacks him when someone comes to the door
    Yesterday she left 5 bite areas all of which drew blood
    He seems fine but we’re really concerned

    • Hi Ken! Yes, this is normal. We actually dealt with the same thing but with our Yorkiepoo. It’s called overstimulated aggression. Sometimes, when dogs get really excited or scared, they become aggressive and will take it out on something or someone (your pup in this case). You can help this by always showing your aggressive Wheaten the behavior is uncalled for with a loud NO when it’s about to happen or does happen. Dogs can feel when their owner is upset and if it’s felt at the right time, I can communicate exactly what you want. You can read more about the overstimulated aggression here:
      Oh, and there’s also over excited aggression:


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