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How to Train a Westie: 6 Expert Tips and Advice

Jana Blagojevic

By Jana Blagojevic

West Highland White Terrier

When picking a dog breed, it’s essential to research beforehand and find the breed that suits you and your lifestyle the most. That said, West Highland White Terriers are often one of the first choices for many when getting a new puppy because of their friendly and loving personalities. Even though they are, in most cases, very easy to train, there are cases in which it can be more challenging because of their unique personalities.

So, if you need help training your Westie, you came to the right place! We’ll share some expert tips on how to do it properly.

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The 6 Tips to Train a Westie

1. Start From a Young Age

The age when you start training your dog has a crucial role in the success of the training. You must begin training your puppy as soon as possible—as early as 8 weeks of age. When puppies are very young, they spend a lot of time sleeping, but you should use the time they are awake for bonding and training. Train your puppy for about 5 minutes a few times daily and repeat the process each day. As they get older and stronger, make the duration of the training longer.

But remember that these are only puppies that may struggle to comprehend even the most basic commands, so you should make their training as fun as possible and base it on play as much as possible.

West Highland White Terrier dog on grass
Image Credit: BIGANDT.COM, Shutterstock

2. Train Every Day with One Command at a Time

West Highland White Terriers can be stubborn, so training them frequently is best, and as time progresses, the sessions can increase. Frequent training will make your Westie understand what you want them to do more and more and over time, they will learn the command. Remember to always finish the training positively with praise or a treat because you want them to be excited about training, so don’t let them sense that you are frustrated.

It is also crucial to teach them one command at a time because even with their high intelligence, you can confuse your Westie by simultaneously giving them too many commands. Once your Westie has mastered that one command, you can move on to another.

3. Train Basic Commands

The most basic commands that every dog should know are:
  • Come
  • Sit
  • Down

These three commands are the building blocks of training. When you start training, you should be in a quiet and isolated environment where your Westie can be focused and not interrupted by distractions. We suggest you base your training on rewarding them when they do something right. For instance, call them, and if they come, you give them a treat and praise; that way, you stimulate them to repeat their action whenever you call them.

A similar thing goes for the “sit” command. It would help if you held a treat above their head, and when they try different ways to reach it but can’t, they will probably sit down. Wait patiently and give them the treat when that happens. These commands are fundamental because they can prevent bad situations from happening. For example, training your Westie to come when called can prevent them from running away after other dogs or animals.

two west highland white terrier playing in the park
Image Credit: VKarlov, Shutterstock

4. Potty Train

Potty training can be exhausting for all dog owners, so it’s crucial to train your pooch properly. There are differences in teaching Westie puppies and adults because puppies have very small bladders that must be emptied frequently—we suggest using potty pads. With adult Westies, it would help if you took them out to the same spot every 2 hours or so, and as time progresses, they will get used to going potty in the same area Also, you can reward them with treats when they do it properly to reinforce future positive behavior.

5. Crate Training

Even though they are not the biggest dogs, Westies can cause a lot of damage to your house, especially when you are not there. The best way of solving that problem is to train them to use crates. Crates are specially designed and secured areas where you can put your dog for a short period. They are perfect for potty training and traveling, but most importantly, so they can feel safe and protected in their own space. It would be best if you put them inside the crate daily for a short period only, and as time passes, they will look at their crate as a place where they can sleep and feel safe.

silly westie puppy wriggling on his back in his crate
Image Credit: matthewcreid, Shutterstock

6. Leash Training

Proper leash training is a vital part of taking your dog outside. Because of their high energy and constant need to explore, you need to take your Westie for regular walks. When walking your Westie on a leash, they need to perceive you as a leader because otherwise, they will be walking you! You start by going for short walks and, over time, increase the duration of the walks. You should reward them with praise and treats when they start walking properly.

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Training can be challenging for every dog owner, especially with highly intelligent breeds like West Highland White Terriers—just make sure to stay consistent. We hope we’ve helped you solve your problems and eased some doubts about training your pooch. But if you still need help, you should consult with professionals to assist you in training.

Featured Image Credit: Dora Zett, Shutterstock

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