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West Highland White Terrier Training Guide

Training a purebred dog may often involve using some of the same techniques across many breeds and this is true of the West Highland White Terrier. Keep in mind that most experts will tell you that each breed has its own particular characteristics or personality that makes certain training techniques necessary.

The Westie is generally not as willful or aggressive as some other terriers but is still very energetic and may be a bit snappish when irritated.


How to Train West Highland White Terrier

From the beginning, you should acknowledge that the West Highland White Terrier is energetic and sometimes playful, which can make training a challenge. Owners should remember that the West Highland White Terrier developed from the Cairn Terrier breed. This dog was commonly used to chase down vermin and other small animals on the Scottish farm.

With this in mind, owners may find the Westie a bit less aggressive but still with a good deal of courage and a sense of self-importance.

West Highland White Terriers are relatively tough, physically, but they should not be mistreated or teased. In relation to children, owners should establish down time for the West Highland White Terrier as well because this breed will sometimes want a few minutes alone before coming to play or exercise again. Westies can be good with children but only if the children are well behaved.

Westies are built to dig and explore, so this should be kept in mind during early training. However, they are also highly intelligent and can learn a lot of different things, if the training is fun and challenging.

Most Westie owners know that this is often a big dog in a small dog’s body. As terrier experts recommend, a smaller dog such as the West Highland White Terrier should not be tied outside alone, because it becomes a target for larger dogs. A nice, fenced yard is excellent for the West Highland White Terrier, though this breed will do well with only occasional exercise.


West Highland White Terrier Training Guide


The West Highland White should probably be exercised on a leash, too, because owners sometimes cannot keep this breed from chasing squirrels, cats, rabbits, and other animals. There are some danger signals that apply generally to training any breed of dog.

West Highland White Terrier owners might be wise to look for some of these when they first bring their Westie puppy home. One of the questions that may arise is whether the West Highland White Terrier, as a breed, can co-exist with cats.

Westies will chase a cat but usually will not harm it. A firm “no” is suggested if overly aggressive behavior is noticed. Owners may also want to reinforce good behavior and calmness with light petting and treats.

Crate training may work with the Westie, because this gives any dog a place to feel safe in. Dogs will naturally want to keep their “den” clean as well. Using crate training does not mean just confining the pet to the crate when you want to.

This should be a gradual learning process that includes leaving the crate door open, so the pet can go in and out without being forced. Food, water, and even some healthy treats can be used to entice the Westie to use the crate as a place for sleep and to get away for a short time.

The West Highland White Terrier can be a good watchdog and seem to be very easy to travel with. Many owners have found that training and caring for a West Highland White Terrier is not the same as for many other breeds.

Some have even stated, and written in books, that the Westie requires very special attention and care. We recommend that you do your homework, consult a professional with health and training questions, and be prepared to bond closely with this energetic and fun-loving breed.


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