Why Is My Rat Terrier So Aggressive?

Aggression in dogs is one of the biggest challenges that dog owners have to deal with. And it’s not just the physical damage that your dog may cause. Aggressive dogs are more likely to end up in shelters. So the question you need to ask is why is your Rat terrier so aggressive? The answer to that question is complex. So this blog will look at some of the contributing factors to aggression in rat terriers.

What Can Make My Rat Terrier Aggressive?

Rat Terriers are generally affectionate and loving dogs; with a keen desire to be in their owner’s good books. Contrary to popular belief, they can make excellent household pets. They are not going to go out of their way to attack without proper reason and this is why we will take a look below at some of the common reasons why Rat terriers may lash out and bite:


When it comes to your Rat terrier, sometimes the most trivial thing can become the focal point. Possession aggression often occurs when your pet wants immediate access to something and is not ready to share it with others in his vicinity. This can be most evident with food, but sometimes toys or other objects of value can come under attack too. 

This behavior is somewhat common in the Rat Terrier breed. The variable degree of aggression between dogs may influence this behavior, but it is not well understood how. Most Rat Terriers are a bit assertive and don’t like sharing their “spotlight” with other objects or animals around them.

A lack of trust may also cause resource guarding in dogs as well. One way you can help curb this behavior is by being firm and consistent whenever you try and take an object away from your furry friend so he knows what’s expected of him.


Many Rat terrier owners may be surprised by the fact that a Rat terrier, whose loyal and friendly nature indicates that he is a calmly-disposed animal, can easily develop aggressive behavior due to fear. Most Rat terriers exhibit aggressive behavior if they sense that they are in danger, cannot escape, or have nowhere to go to and feel their life threatened. 

For example, this may occur when a Rat terrier feels like it’s cornered with no way out, or if someone raises their hand over its head while saying “stay” which it interprets as a sign of being about to get hit by them.

If your dog exhibits intense and out-of-the-ordinary behavior, it could be a sign that it was abused or neglected in the past. You can tell if this is true by talking to the rescue group you adopted your dog from and finding out more about its experiences with its previous owners.

If a dog gets scared or suspicious at an unfamiliar place it would be recommended for you to take those factors under consideration before adopting one of these dogs.


When a rat terrier fumes with frustration from not being able to obtain something or accomplish a desired objective, it will tend to take its aggression out in other ways. This is commonly referred to as redirected aggression and is the most common since dogs that are frequently tied up, restrained on a leash, or behind chain-link fences often develop this behavior.

A dog that’s chained in the yard all day may spend the day suspiciously eyeing up any passers-by from yards or houses across the street, many of which may be dogs. The frustrated dog will likely growl and bark more fiercely as the day continues until its owner comes back home.

Dogs have a great sense of smell so if this is going to be a regular incident then your dog will eventually become more agitated and once it sees you approaching he will most likely redirect his aggression onto you.

Health Issues

Rat Terriers, like most terriers in general, are a feisty breed. They tend to be aggressive at times, although only because that is part of the temperament of their breed naturally. Sometimes an outbreak of aggression can be caused by a medical condition though. If your dog has never shown any sign of hostility and suddenly starts snapping, growling, or even bites someone or another animal it might mean that they have a disease or illness.

Physical pain is a major cause of aggression in rat terriers. Your dog could be hurting for one or several reasons including internal injuries, arthritis, and tumors. Lacerations and broken bones can also prompt an over-aggressive reaction in your pet. It’s important that you realize when something is wrong with your furry friend so that you can get it treated before the condition worsens or becomes a life-threatening problem.

When dog parents realize their dog’s changing behavior, it can be scary and worrisome. Don’t assume that you know the cause of their behavior and make assumptions about what to do next from there. Instead, discuss the change with a veterinarian before doing anything else.

Other Aggressive Dogs

You need to understand that while Rat Terriers are friendly dogs most of the time, they will behave differently in a lot of scenarios. If they do not react well to other dogs, they will tend to develop an aggressive demeanor when around them. 

In most cases, you can expect your dog to react the same way when exposed to other dogs. The bad news is that there is little you can do about this apart from training your dog so he adjusts during more confrontational scenarios involving familiar and unfamiliar animals alike.


If you have a Rat terrier and you’re having problems with aggression, there are a few things you can do. First of all, it’s essential to figure out what is causing the aggression. If you have a young Rat, it could be a sign of them being fearful. If you have an older Rat, it could be a sign of them being territorial. The first step to fixing the problem is to determine the root cause.

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