West Highland Terrier Puppy Training

Image taken from www.pawsandkisses.net

Image taken from www.pawsandkisses.net


Hello everyone!

This is Sharda again for another West Highland Terrier Puppies newsletter.

Today let’s discuss about West Highland Terrier puppy training!

Usually very high on the list of training priorities for a Westie puppy or a dog is the issue of house training.

Teaching your Westie to avoid eliminating in the house is important for several reasons – the most obvious of which is the odour and mess that a non-house broken dog will make.

In addition, there are health concerns for the humans, dog and other animals if there is fecal material in the same area that food is prepared or consumed.

Often dogs will eat their own waste, so keeping the animal away from this material is also important to prevent bad and unsafe habits from forming.

The concerns with coprophagia (fecal eating) will be discussed in a later section.


One of the most successful ways to train a puppy is to use the crate training method. The crate is seen by the dog as a safe area or den that he or she can use to sleep in, or just to spend time.

There are several benefits to crate training your puppy that will continue to be useful as your dog matures.

A crate provides an excellent environment for transporting your Westie, a comfortable yet confined place when you are not at home, a method to control challenging behaviours such as digging and chewing, as well as a tool for scheduling toileting, sleeping and other activities.

It is important to allow your Westie puppy to adjust to the crate and to learn that the crate is a good place to be, not a punishment.

  1. Start by placing the crate on the floor, and place inside some dog treats and toys.
  2. Close the door, and let the puppy sniff around the crate. The puppy will soon realize the treats are on the inside, and will whine or scratch to get into the crate.
  3. Praise the dog for wanting in, and open the door. Leave the door open, but don’t praise the dog for coming out. The puppy needs to learn that inside is better than outside.
  4. To get the puppy to go back into the crate have a few more treats and toss them towards the back of the crate.
  5. Positively reward the puppy for walking in and eating them.
  6. Gradually begin to close the door behind the puppy. If the puppy does start to whine or bark make sure that you do not let him or her out until there is quiet, or you will be reinforcing the whining behaviour.
  7. Always have a treat or two inside the crate, and start saying “Crate” to alert the puppy to go in for a treat.
  8. Never force the puppy into the crate or it will start to be seen as a punishment.
  9. Increase the time in the crate but do not exceed thirty minutes to avoid any accidents or stress on the puppy.

Puppies can sleep in the crate, but should be taken outside if they cry or whine and need to toilet. If they are whining or crying for attention, do not take them out, or it will cause this behaviour to increase.

Crate training can also be used when you leave the house. Once the puppy is comfortable in the crate, they will be happy to remain in there while you are away. Avoid any excessive amounts of time in the crate, as this can make housetraining more difficult.

Watch for any signs of separation anxiety while you are gone, and address these with a trainer to correct this situation as early as possible. Soiling the crate, excessive drooling or panting, or frantic behaviour when you return may be signs that the puppy has some separation anxiety.

The crate can also be used to housetrain your Westie. This method is based on the premise that the natural tendency of the puppy or dog is to avoid soiling its own area or den. The key factors involve being able to confine your puppy to the crate for short periods of time, so that the puppy is able to hold their urine or feces.

Remember that puppies have very small bladders, and that their control is not as good as a more mature dog. After a short period of confinement, the puppy must be taken immediately to the area that it is to use to relieve itself. Once the puppy does urinate or defecate in the selected area, it should be immediately praised for the positive behaviour.

If your Westie is kept in the crate for longer than the time it can control its bladder, it will begin to mess in the crate. This creates a bad habit and will seriously affect the ability of the puppy to learn to eliminate only when outside or in a designated area.

To start the crate training process, take the puppy out of the crate every hour and allow them access to the outside area. As soon as the puppy does urinate or defecate, provide immediate praise and attention. If the puppy does not do anything, return them to the crate and try again the next hour.

Keep a journal of when the puppy eats and when it needs to go to the bathroom. You should be able to see a pattern develop. Allow the puppy to have free run of the area until about an hour before they usually need to urinate.

At this time put the puppy in the crate to prevent any accidents. At the appropriate time take the puppy out, and if the mission is successful, provide rewards and let the puppy have free run again.

If the puppy doesn’t go to the bathroom, return him to the crate and try again in 5-10 minutes or so. Watch for any changes in food or water intake that might indicate that the puppy will need to go outside more often.

As the puppy gets older and has better control of bowels and bladder, the time between crating will increase. Usually in two to three weeks after starting crate training the puppy will be basically housetrained.

Be aware that mistakes and accidents will happen, despite the best scheduling and planning. Try to clean up the mess as quickly as possible. Avoid punishing the dog as this will lead to anxiety and more accidents. Make sure to reward and praise the dog for the next successful outing, instead.

Crate training should only be used if you are able to get to the puppy to allow them out when needed. If you are unable to be with the puppy at this time, crate training may not be the best method.

Avoid using crate training techniques if the puppy is vomiting or has diarrhea, or if they have any difficulty controlling their bowels or bladder. Check with a vet and get medical support before deciding if crate training is right for your puppy if it is having control problems.

Crate training can also be used as a quick 30 second time out area if the puppy is overexcited or not listening.

Avoid using the crate too often or for long periods of time as a punishment, as it will no longer be a positive and secure place for the puppy. Too much time in the crate will limit the socialization of the puppy, and will also decrease the amount of exercise the puppy has.


Paper training is a great option if you are not able to be at home with your puppy to crate train. Start with a small area that you can confine the puppy to. It is important that there be no carpet in the area, and that the floor be easy to clean.

Place a layer of newspaper or other paper over the entire floor area. The puppy will simply go where the urge strikes him, but he will always be eliminating on paper. Clean the paper every morning and evening, or more often if possible.

You should begin to notice that the puppy only messes in certain areas of the room. Begin taking up the paper that is in areas that the puppy does not mess in. Gradually decrease the amount of paper in the room until you have a small, manageable area.

If the puppy messes outside of this area, simply cover that area with paper and start decreasing the size again.

Once the puppy is only using the paper that you have placed down, you can begin gradually moving it to the area of the house that you would like to use. Avoid allowing the puppy out of confinement until it is using the paper all the time with no mistakes.


This method is effective with small breeds of dogs, such as the Westie. Dogs, unlike cats, will not use a litter box naturally; so will need to be taught.

Start with the puppy in a confined space, and use the same method as the paper training. Spread the litter on the floor and have the puppy become accustom to feeling the litter under its feet when it is eliminating. Gradually decrease the space the litter is spread in the room or area.

Move the litter to a box when the puppy is ready. Make sure that the litter box is the correct size for the puppy, as they may not be able to get in and out of the box. This method is practical, but may be more difficult to manage in the initial trainings stages.

Hope you learned a lot from today’s West Highland Terrier newsletter.

Sharda Baker