West Highland Terriers, commonly called Westies, those adorable little white dogs, are intelligent with strong personalities. While those are charming, desirable traits in a pet, it can make training your pet more difficult. Thorough and consistent dog obedience training while your Westie is a puppy or young dog will be essential in ensuring a happy and well-behaved pet as it matures.
Before you take the step into dog obedience training, it’s important to have background knowledge of your dog breed’s personality type. In the case of the West Highland Terrier, they are undeniably intelligent and stubborn to boot. They prefer to handle things their way, which can often manifest itself as aggression. Understanding that they can be bossy and look for opportunities to get their way, you can prevent any serious behavior issues like biting or barking from occurring with training. Dog obedience training will be able to help you manage their behavior problems like aggression or destructive tendencies.
Most dog behavior problems stem from a lack of activity, exercise, discipline or camaraderie. A strong willed dog like a West Highland Terrier should receive basic dog training as a starting point. At a minimum, a dog should learn five commands: sit, stay, down, heel and come. Not only will these engage your dog’s mind leading to a sense of purpose, they are useful in keeping your pet safe during a dangerous situation.
Furthermore, in addition to providing your dog balance and a healthy skill set, training will help you and your pet bond. The time spent working together on learning new skills and behavior builds a bond between you two and establishes trust. If you are consistent, calm, fair and assured, your dog will learn that you lead the relationship and trust you going forward. This trust helps minimize aggression and undesirable behavior like barking and snapping.
Based on a West Highland Terrier’s personality, it is encouraged that Westies and their owners attend a formal dog obedience training class. As they are more strong-willed than other breeds, they benefit from professional training and handling to learn the ropes of being a proper companion. No matter the age of your dog, training is always a good option to correct behavior issues such as barking, and build that bond that owners want with their pets.
One training class option is to contact your local humane society. Often, local humane societies or the ASPCA offer dog obedience courses and sometimes even based on breeds. Humane societies promote happy, health pets, even those who are not being adopted so the animal is happy and will be a functioning member of their current home. If your local humane society does not offer classes, perhaps they will be able to refer you to a reputable course provider in the area. Beyond your humane society, any breeder or veterinarian will be able to recommend classes. Most instructors will let you sit in on a class before you commit.
While your dog obedience training instructor will be able to provide formal training, here are a few DIY tips to keep in mind to help make your Westie the best pet it can be:
– Use positive reinforcements: Westies respond to praise better than scolding
– Balance training with regular affection, exercise and attention to keep your pet interested
– When negative behavior happens, such as unnecessary dog barking, respond immediately with verbal reprimands and reward positive behavior with food and praise
– No training program should use abuse or force so keep that in mind when selecting a course and proceeding with training
The time invested in your West Highland Terrier’s dog obedience training will go a long way to ensuring your pet is happy and a treasured member of your family. Use the time spent training to bond with your pet and enjoy every minute!