When training your Westie always remember to have patience, keep a positive, happy tone and give lots of praise when your small white dog has completed their task.
When should you start training your West Highland Terrier?
Train your West Highland Terrier when they are still a puppy, if you want to have a reasonable amount of control over them. West highlander ancestors were very aggressive hunters who were raised to help track small game such as foxes, vermin and hares.
The hunting skills and aggression are still in the genes of these dogs. They sometimes see children as there brothers and sisters and might playfully bite them. They like to chase and play catch with other animals or peoples ankles. Westies are often territorial and like to mark their terriotory over items such as furniture. Training your West Highland Terrier as soon as possible is very important. Westies need to be taught to go against their hunting genes and instincts. West Highland Terriers need to be taught not to snap out at other animals, or chase other animals as well as children, not to dig, not to dominate, etc. Even though they are small dogs, they are very strong and can have a mean bite. You will end up regretting it if you allow your Westie to grow without any obedience training. They do not respond well to harsh training. Instead they will act uncontrollable and stubborn. Training Westies require alot of patience, high tolerance of any mistakes made and fast prises toward any accomplishments made.
The best way to train a West Highland Terrier is with the help of a crate. It is a proven method to teach the rules of a household to a dog or puppy that doesn't know any better. It will limit your puppies access to the house and teach them rules like what they can chew on and what they can't as well as the appropriate places to go to the bathroom. An average westie will love the crate from the start. Westies like to sleep when they are covered from all sides other then the front. They feel protected which is why a crate is perfect for westies and will become there favorite spot. Whenever they sleep make sure you put them in the crate in order to reinforce this feeling. Westies will think of their crate as a safe place and will be happy in it if they are trained to use the crate properly.
How do I crate train my Westie?
To start you need to a good size crate for your Highland Terrier. A dog's crate needs to be big enough for them to comfortably stand in, lay down and turn around in. If your Westie isn't fully grown yet buy a crate that will suit his adult size. While your westie is still a puppy block off an end in the crate so that they can't go to the bathroom at one end and lay down in the other.
Keep in mind that a crate should always feel pleasant for a dog and also training should be done in a progression of small steps. Don't train too fast.
Step 1 : Introduce your Westie to the crate - Place the crate in a place where the family spends a lot of time. Make sure the crate door is open and walk your westie over to the crate talking to them with happy tone. If your dog doesn't go in at first then try throwing some treats or their favourite dog toy into the crate. If this still doesn't work then it is okay for you place them in there manually and then give them a treat.
Step 2: Feeding your Westie in the crate - After step one is complete then you can start placing your dogs regular meals close to the crate to create a pleasant experience with the crate. If your Westie is already entering the crate then once they are in place their food dish in front of them. Allow them to eat for 15-20 minutes then remove the food dish and take them out to go to the bathroom.
Step 3: Adapting your Wesite to the Crate for longer time frames - If your westie isn't showing signs of fear or anxiety in the dog crate then your dog is ready for you to leave him in there for short time periods while you are home. Begin by calling over your dog over to the crate with a treat. Give a command to go into the crate and support your westie by pointing to the inside of the crate with a treat in hand. Once they are in the crate give them the treat and praise them then close the door and sit by it for 5 -10 minutes. Walk away and leave the room for a few minutes. Go back to the crate and sit down quietly for a few more minutes before letting them out. Repeat these steps a few times each day and each time extend the period of time that your westie is in the crate. Once they are able to sit in their crate without crying for at least 30 minutes with you not being in view for most of the time, then you can start tpo leave them in there for short periods of time while you go out and/or having them sleep in their dog crate at night.