West Highland White Terriers, or Westies, are small, adorable dogs with bright and playful personalities. These dogs are known for their loyal and independent natures. Despite their small size, some may even become excellent watchdogs due to their alertness and strong prey drive. Westies are not known to be excessive barkers, but they can develop a habit of barking, especially if they’re bored and have pent-up energy.
Sometimes, it’s helpful to have a Westie bark to get your attention, but too much barking can be quite the problem. Knowing why Westies bark can help you address the issue and prevent excessive barking.
West Highland White Terrier Temperament
Westies were originally bred as hunting dogs. They may look small and dainty on the outside, but they’re actually quite scrappy and were bred to hunt rats and other small rodents. Even their short, sturdy tails help them in their hunting. On some occasions, they would chase small animals and get stuck in their burrows. Their tails were bred to be sturdy so that they could be pulled out of tight spaces by their tails.
Because of their history as hunters, Westies are quite brave and independent. They’re very aware and observant of their surroundings, and they have a strong prey drive. In fact, one of the most common training challenges for Westie owners is leash training. Westies often have an extra challenging time resisting the urge to chase a squirrel or rabbit that crosses their paths on their walks.
Reasons Westies May Bark
There are several different reasons why Westies will bark. First, they’ll bark to alert you of something. Barking is a common behavior that hunting dogs engage in to alert their humans or other dogs of prey that they’ve discovered or caught.
Another reason a Westie might bark is to express excitement. Excited barks are often more high-pitched, and you’ll also see your Westie wagging its tail, running around in circles, or tapping its feet. Westies can also bark when they’re feeling anxious or territorial.
Some Westies will develop the habit of excessive barking if they’re bored and unstimulated. Westies are intelligent dogs with a lot of energy, so it’s essential to allow plenty of opportunities for physical and mental exercise every day. Bored Westies are susceptible to developing behavioral issues that include excessive barking, destructiveness, and repetitive digging.
How to Stop Westies from Barking Excessively
Barking is normal dog behavior, and some dogs are just more naturally vocal than others. However, there are some cases when it’s disruptive, and it’s possible to reduce some barking. Working with a dog trainer or animal behaviorist can help you determine what’s triggering your dog to bark. These types of professionals can help you come up with solutions to eliminate or redirect your dog’s attention from certain triggers. They can also provide tips for establishing a healthy daily routine that incorporates enough physical exercise, mental stimulation, and social interactions that will keep your Westie feeling happy and healthy.
You can also teach your dog the “Quiet” command. It does take some time, patience, and treats, but your Westie can learn to quiet down on command. The basic framework of this type of training is to reward your dog every time it calms down or stops barking. Then, you’ll gradually work to increase the amount of time your dog has to wait quietly before it gets a treat. Eventually, your dog will learn that it will be rewarded every time it hears and responds appropriately to the “Quiet” command.
In some cases, Westies may bark due to an underlying health issue. They may bark because they’re in pain or something feels unsettling internally. If your Westie suddenly develops a habit of barking, it doesn’t hurt to consult your veterinarian to see if there’s an underlying medical cause that’s making it bark.
Westies aren’t known to be excessive barkers, but some can develop a habit of barking. Providing plenty of exercise and fun and engaging activities will keep Westies happy and reduce the risk of them developing disruptive barking habits. If you’re ever facing difficulty with training your Westie to stop barking, don’t hesitate to work with a dog trainer and figure out the best way to teach your Westie to quiet down.