West Highland White Terrier - Westies - Training Success TipsWritten by Jeff Cuckson
The West Highland Terrier is a friendly dog, and is considered easier to handle and train than other terriers, such as Scottish Terrier. Still, it possesses bold, dynamic terrier temperament, and has to be trained in a manner appropriate for breed.
Your West Highland Terrier training begins from moment you bring your terrier home. Westies are stubborn and clever, and considered a bit naughty. They will become demanding and ill tempered if they do not get their way, so you must teach them from start that you are in charge. From beginning, treat your terrier in a firm, consistent way.
Terrier puppies, like all very young dogs, should be trained in short sessions of five minutes or less. Make training session play for both you and your terrier. Generously reward your dog with praise. They are also known to react well to food training.
Your Westie will become confused if you lash out at its misbehavior, particularly if you continue to be angry after behavior has stopped. Your little terrier wants to please you, and by consistently rewarding behavior you wish to promote, you will encourage it to become part of dog's personality.
Like Scottish Terrier, and other terrier breeds, Westies are barkers. Barking is a dog's natural way to communicate a variety of feelings from happiness, to anxiety, to boredom. The terrier breeds, though, are quicker to bark than other dogs.
The most natural reaction by dog owners is to yell at your terrier to stop barking. This is exactly WRONG thing to do. Your dog hears loud voice as a sort of human bark, and it only reinforces behavior.
The key is to remain calm, verbally and physically, and diffuse terrier's excited emotional state. Say 'no bark' in a calm but firm tone. Never forget to reward dog when barking stops.
Westies Dogs and Your ChildrenWritten by Jeff Cuckson
Almost without exception, breeders will advertise that their favorite terrier, westies dogs, are good with children. However, terrier enthusiasts, and westie rescue organizations, tell a different story.
Before you bring your terrier into a home with small children, be sure you understand westie personality, and how they might react to your children's behavior.
Like any terrier, a westie can have what is called a high 'prey drive.' Any breed of terrier, westhighland terriers included, was originally bred to hunt down small prey, chase into its den, and then aggressively, or even viscously fight prey until it was caught in dog's jaws. Because small children's high, squealing voices sound like squeals of fleeing prey , a westies' prey drive may be triggered by these sounds.
To compound confusion dog will see children running from them in same way see prey running to escape. It will give chase.
Among breeds of terrier, a westie is one that will not tolerate manhandling. Trainers advise that unlike some dogs, which can be desensitized to ear-pulling, and poking and prodding that small children are likely to inflict, westies will react adversely to this treatment. The more you or your child annoys your little terrier, more likely it is to become aggressive or nip.
From point of view of a terrier, it will see small children as an inferior member of 'pack.' This is true of many dogs. Being strong-willed west highland white terriers have an inclination to be bossy in first place. Small children are incapable of countering this behavior.
If you have your heart set on a terrier, westies can still be your dog of choice if you have children. First train your children, then train your terrier. Teach your children how to properly approach, handle, and play with your westie.