How to Train a Westie

Updated November 21, 2016

The West Highland White Terrier, or Westie, as it's often called, is a feisty, confident little dog that is fairly easy to train, according to the Dog Breed Info Center. This dog breed should be given leadership and training from a young age to prevent it from developing unwanted behaviours, such as being aggressive toward people and other dogs. Raise your Westie to be an obedient, balanced dog with the use of positive reinforcement training, rules and exercise.

Toilet train your Westie by taking it outside on a leash after every meal, immediately after waking and before going to bed. Puppies must be taken out every two hours. Praise your Westie enthusiastically when it passes waste outside, and introduce the command "go potty." Say "no" in a firm voice if you catch your Westie in the act of excreting inside. Lead it outside immediately and praise it if it manages to finish off outside. Avoid scolding your dog if you do not catch it in the act; this is ineffective.

Use positive reinforcement to train your Westie to follow basic obedience commands. Wait for the dog to practice the action you're looking for, and then introduce the relevant command, such as "sit," "lie down" or "come." Praise your Westie enthusiastically and give it a treat, such as a small piece of cheese or chicken. Practice obedience training for 10 to 15 minutes every day until your Westie manages to associate each command with the desired action. Be patient and consistent to help your Westie progress. Introduce the dog to agility training classes to help this lively breed burn energy.

Train your West Highland White terrier to walk correctly on a leash by starting out in your backyard. Walk with the dog on a loose leash. Encourage it to walk along beside, and slightly behind you, and give it verbal praise and treat when it walks correctly. Take your Westie out for a walk every day, and always walk slightly in front of it. This will encourage the dog to see you as its leader rather than it follower. Correct the Westie for pulling or trying to overtake you by saying "no" in a firm voice and giving a quick sideways tug on the leash.

Show your Westie that you are the pack leader, as this breed can become snappy and untrustworthy if it sees itself as the alpha dog. Feed the dog only after the family has finished a meal; the dog knows that alpha dogs eat first and subordinates eat second. Make your Westie sit and stay before you give food or affection. Don't allow the dog to sleep on your bed or jump up on furniture, and don't pick up the dog if it's demanding attention from you. Pick it up only when it's calm and quiet.

Teach the noisy Westie to stop barking on command. Do this by first triggering the dog's barking. Close your Westie's mouth and hold it for a few seconds. Introduce the command "quiet," and then praise your dog for having stopped barking and give it a treat. Repeat the exercise until the West Highland stops barking without you holding its mouth closed. Gradually increase the amount of time you expect the dog to be quiet before giving the treat.

Things You'll Need

  • Treats
  • Leash
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