The First Few Weeks with a new Scottish Terrier – Tips from a Scottie Expert

The following is an excerpt from "The Complete Guide to Scottish Terriers" by Tracey Squaire. For more information visit the books Amazon Page.

Author Credit: Tracey Squaire

The Importance of Having a Plan

There’s a reason prospective new parents spend months planning for the arrival of a new baby: no one wants to be scrambling to gather supplies and prepare an appropriate areas after a new responsibility has entered the home, so follow the lead of anxious new parents everywhere and make a plan for bringing home your Scottish Terrier.

Having a plan will cut down on a lot of stress with the ride home, first introductions, safe explorations, and more.

You should have a plan for how to introduce your Scottie to the other animals and children in your home. Consider practicing where everyone will stand and how they will act if your children happen to be excitable. Remember that this precaution is for everyone’s safety. If you want to start the family bonding process early, ensure you have treats for the family to respectfully offer to the new family member.

Scottish Terrier black
Photo Courtesy – Aaron Gordon

I also recommend already having a potty schedule planned. Puppies don’t have large bladders and will need to use the potty at consistent times, and having a schedule will make the house-training process much quicker and much less stressful. You should have fewer accidents if you’re following a schedule, and if you prepare the schedule ahead of time, you can get a head start on the whole process. Your pup should go to the potty as soon as possible after arriving in her new home.

You’ll also want to predetermine who the primary caretaker of your Scottie will be. Scottish Terriers typically bond with only one or two people, so consider this before bringing home your pup. Is the new dog specifically supposed to be a companion for someone? This person should be taking an active part in training, feeding, and socializing your Scottish Terrier.

Also be sure that everyone in the household understands the unique personality of the Scottish Terrier as well as the rules for interacting and living with your Scottie. Plans don’t always go the way we expect, but having a concrete plan does allow us to stay on track and be aware when we need to make a change.

Pet Supplies to Have Ready

Back to my “prospective new parents” analogy; new parents don’t wait until the baby is home before going out to buy diapers, a crib, or baby formula. These items are bought sometimes months in advance because the parents know the new baby will need the items and they also know they probably won’t have the chance to leave the house.

Similarly, you want to ensure you have several supplies on hand before bringing home your Scottish Terrier.

You should consider purchasing a kennel or a crate for your dog. A kennel serves as a safe place for dogs not only when they’re around their families but also when they are alone and must be contained to one area of the house. The kennel serves as a place to retreat from overwhelming situations, so have a kennel ready before bringing home your Scottie in case she experiences stress and needs her space.

Scottish Terrier lying down
Photo Courtesy – Linda Lukac

You’ll want to have puppy food, a food bowl, and a water bowl. Try to keep the same food your Scottie has been eating before you brought her home. Any bowl can be used to feed and water your dogs, but they will appreciate having bowls that are specifically theirs and that only they are allowed to eat from. Having bowls for each pet also cuts down on aggressive behavior during mealtimes, so if you have multiple pets, it’s vital to purchase new pet bowls for your new Scottish Terrier.

Be sure that you bring home some new toys for the new dog to play with. While your pets may share most of their toys later, your new Scottish Terrier may be reluctant to encroach on what may be someone else’s territory by playing with toys that have another animal’s scent.

Cleaning supplies are a must, regardless of whether you’ve prepared puppy pads in your home. Your puppy may have an accident outside of the designated area, or she or another of the animals may decide to mark their territory by spraying around the house. The basic cleaning supplies you’ll need are paper towels and a pet-specific cleaning solution. You can make your own cleaning solution, but the pet-specific cleaners work to prevent stains and odors from settling into your home and help prevent marking in that area in the future.

Something you may not consider having on hand already is a collar, harness, and leash. A collar isn’t 100% vital, but it does give you somewhere to place an ID tag, and most dogs actually like having a collar. It’s something that smells like them, and they often get upset when their collars are removed. A collar is something that dogs may consider their property, so go ahead and buy your Scottie a collar so she can proudly display her belonging to your family. A harness and a leash are a must because your Scottish Terrier requires daily walks and should not have those walks unleashed.

The Ride Home

The ride home is likely an exciting event for both you and your new Scottish Terrier, but you may both be feeling nervousness along with that excitement. Your pup has no idea where she’s going, and you have no idea how she will react to her new environment.

For safety reasons, your new puppy should not have free rein to roam around your car during the ride home. Excited dogs in a car can be a dangerous distraction. I recommend having a car harness or kennel ready before picking up your Scottie. Have someone sit in the back seat with your new pet to keep her calm, especially if the drive home is long.

The First Night Home

The first night home is likely to be stressful. Your Scottish Terrier is in a new and strange place with new and strange people. The family she’s known all her short life is nowhere to be found and neither is the litter she’s spent her whole life sleeping and playing with. Your Scottie puppy might be nervous around everyone and won’t want to sleep alone.

Scottish Terrier in clothes
Photo Courtesy – Cathy Boyes

It’s important to make your Scottie feel secure in her new home, and if you’ve prepared areas for your Scottie beforehand, this step shouldn’t be too difficult. Just give your Scottish Terrier all the time she needs to explore her kennel, her potty areas, her food area, and her living area in her own time. You may need to utilize snacks to convince her to enter the kennel on her own. Do not force her inside or she may never come to trust the kennel as a safe place.

Try to tire your Scottie out before bedtime to make the event much easier. Don’t let her nap, and consider a short playtime either inside or in a fenced yard. It won’t take long for your Scottie to use up a lot of energy with her small frame.

If you’re planning to crate train, your Scottish Terrier should spend her first few nights sleeping inside of her kennel. She is likely to whine to be released, which causes another layer of stress as you worry about your new pup. With time, she will become used to being in her kennel at night, and with continued proper crate training, she will come to love being inside and will enter on her own whenever she pleases. I suggest making the kennel as comforting as possible: give your Scottie a blanket or pillow with your scent and a few toys to keep her company.

As I’ve already mentioned, puppies have small bladders, so you’ll be waking up several times in the middle of the night to take your Scottish Terrier to her designated potty area. Nighttime may be scary for your pup at first, so be sure you’ve taken your Scottie to this area during daytime, and she should be able to smell where she did her business before and be comforted by the familiar scent.

First Vet Visit/Choosing a Vet

If you haven’t already chosen a veterinarian for your new pet, do so immediately. Your Scottish Terrier should visit a vet within the first few days of being in her new home to ensure her health as well as to introduce her to her new doctor. Your vet will want to see where your Scottie is health-wise so he or she can track your pup’s health as she grows.

Scottish Terrier outdoor
Photo Courtesy – Caroline Reid

Choosing a vet shouldn’t be too hard, but you do want to consider a few things. You want the veterinarian taking care of your animal companions to be trustworthy. Do online research and check reviews; pet owners aren’t afraid to warn fellow pet owners from a distasteful veterinarian and will rave about an exceptional one. You can also get recommendations from any pet owners you know personally.

The vet you choose should be somewhere close to your home. If none of the vets close to your home are to your liking, you can look farther away, but you should know of somewhere close to take your Scottie if she ever has a time-sensitive accident. You don’t want to waste time during an emergency trying to decide the best place to take a member of your family. Be sure you know exactly what services these veterinarian offices offer as your pet may require care that one office isn’t equipped to give.

The first vet visit may be stressful for a puppy, but the more often your Scottish Terrier visits new places, the less nervous she’ll be each time. The vet is no different, and it’s a good idea to get your pup used to being handled as she’ll likely need to be handled by both strangers and your family a lot. Scottish Terriers require a decent amount of grooming, and some of that grooming sometimes happens at the vet’s office anyway.

Puppy Classes

Puppy classes are a great opportunity to bond with your new Scottish Terrier and are really important if you don’t plan to do extensive training at home or aren’t sure how to train a puppy properly. It’s important that your puppy be vaccinated before attending classes. All dogs participating in puppy classes are supposed to have proof of vaccination, but there’s always a chance that one of the dogs is sick.

Many new dog owners don’t yet know how to interact with their dogs, a problem which often leads to the dog disrespecting the owner and ignoring commands. During puppy classes, an instructor can guide new owners through how to motivate their new puppy, how to teach their new puppy, and how to properly give their new puppy commands.

Scottish Terrier inside pen
Photo Courtesy – Becky Bratten

Of course, dogs of any age can learn new commands, but it is far easier to teach a puppy than it is to teach an adult who has settled into his ways. Puppy classes serve as an opportunity to socialize your Scottish Terrier with other dogs and with humans. According to a study from the Azabu University Graduate School of Veterinary Science, puppies who attended a six-week puppy training class were more likely to act positively toward strangers than adult dogs who attended a six-week training class and dogs who did not attend any training classes at all (adult or otherwise).

This study exemplifies the importance of early socialization, especially for the Scottish Terrier which can become aggressive toward all but a chosen few if not properly trained and socialized. Socialization is important all throughout a dog’s life, but it’s especially important before six months of age. In fact, specialists recommend that a puppy be exposed to at least 100 people of diverse ethnicities, ages, and heights within the first month of being home. Even something as simple as eyeglasses can make a dog distrustful if she’s never seen them on a person before.

Puppy classes can be both exciting and stressful, but these classes are just one hour a week for you and your puppy to learn together. When you’re home, you should practice as often as possible, and you should see improvement in your puppy’s behavior, socializing, and bond with you as the weeks go on.

Overall, puppy-training classes are more than just to teach your puppy a few tricks. These classes are important to teach both you and your pet the correct commands as well as to ensure your puppy is polite and well-socialized. No one wants to enter your home only to be greeted negatively by a distrustful and untrained dog.

Cost Breakdown for the First Year

The cost of owning and caring for a Scottish Terrier varies depending on many factors. The first year is likely to be the most expensive, but that expense is more like an investment in many healthy and happy years to come.

Though it may not be the first expense you encounter when deciding to bring a new companion into your life, the adoption fee or purchase price for your Scottie is the first thing you should consider. As I mentioned earlier, adopting a Scottish Terrier may be hard since this breed is so popular, and adoption fees can range anywhere from $150 to $500, depending on how strong the breed’s physical characteristics display within the pup. Of course, no pup needs to look exactly like the AKC standard, so adopted Scotties are definitely worth the adoption price.

If you’re looking for stronger Scottie features or proof of a pure bloodline, you’ll be paying top dollar, anywhere between $700 to $3,500. The more expensive dogs you’ll find will probably come from a successful show line or may have specifically been bred to compete as show dogs, so the high price point reflects the heritage of the breed.

Vet visits are one of those expenses that will go down with time, if only because as your puppy ages, she won’t need to visit the vet as much. For the first four months of a puppy’s life, she should be seen at least once a month to keep her updated on vaccinations and to track her physical and behavioral development. After that age, your dog should see the vet every six months. Depending on your veterinarian as well as other factors, you could pay between $25 and $45 per visit to the vet, and that number doesn’t include any tests or vaccinations the vet may need to administer.

Vaccinations and other preventive care are vital for your dog’s health, and some are even required by law. From six weeks of age to three years of age, your dog should get regular vaccinations. As she grows older, she’ll need fewer and fewer, but the vaccinations she receives in her first year will protect her from distemper, measles, rabies, and many other common and preventable diseases. Other preventive care can also protect your pup; flea prevention and heartworm prevention can protect your Scottie from the diseases and conditions these invasive pests cause. The first year of vaccinations can be between $0 and $300, depending on your area and access to shelter or community programs.

The cost of sterilization depends on the size and gender of a dog. The national average for sterilizing a dog is anywhere between $50 and $500. For a small-dog breed like the Scottie, that cost shouldn’t reach the higher price range unless there are complications during the surgery or other considerations the veterinarian has to account for before surgery begins. Since spaying is more invasive than neutering, sterilizing female dogs will be more expensive. Of course, you may choose not to spay or neuter your dog, or you may have signed a contract with a breed preventing you from doing such. If that’s the case, this won’t be an expense for you.

The price of pet insurance depends on whether you’re actually insuring your pet or signing up for a pet-care plan. The difference is that a care plan gives you discounts on pet supplies and vet visits while pet insurance is more about reimbursement. You may also need a specific type of insurance if you’re planning to turn your Scottie into a show dog. Pet insurance and care plans are really helpful because they give you peace of mind that you’ll be able to pay for any unexpected medical expenses. Pet insurance averages between $10 to $100 a month.

Grooming is another optional expense, but during the first year, regardless if you groom at home or take your Scottie to a groomer, you’ll need to spend money. If you’re planning to groom at home, you can save yourself an average of $50 a month on grooming, but you’ll need to make a one-time purchase for most of the supplies you’ll need including nail trimmers or grinders, brushes, shampoos, and more. You can also choose to brush your dog’s teeth at home to lower the cost of dental cleanings.

And of course, you need to take into account how much you’ll be spending on toys, a collar, a harness, a leash, a crate, a travel crate, cleaning supplies, paper towels, and much more. These costs will vary depending on what you actually need and use.

Expense Estimated Cost
Adoption/Purchase $150 – $3,500
Physical Exams $100 – $180
Vaccinations/Preventive Care $0 – $300
Heartworm Prevention/Flea Treatment $100 – $200
Spay/Neuter $0 – $500
Insurance $0 – $100
Grooming $60 – $600
Dental Cleaning $75 – $300
Puppy Classes $50 – $125
Food $250 – $700
Toys/Other Supplies ~$300


Though the first-year costs of owning a Scottish Terrier seem high, it’s a price you should be prepared to pay before you actually adopt or purchase your Scottish Terrier. Remember that animals are not accessories, so when you’re planning to add a new creature to your family, make sure you have the means and the desire to properly care for that creature before bringing them home.

To read more from "The Complete Guide to Scottish Terriers" by Tracey Squaire, or purchase on Amazon, visit the link below:

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