The West Highland White Terrier, affectionately known as the Westie, is an iconic dog. When people think of terriers, the white, curious face of the Westie usually comes to mind. This spunky, intelligent, hardy, and happy little terrier is a favorite for families of all sizes, as long as early and consistent training is used to mitigate possible negative breed traits.
The Westie is an excellent family pet. The breed is curious, impulsive, athletic, and bossy. Westies crave attention and touch. You must train him to interact with small children, or it may be nippy with them. A Westie will run away after any other animal. Complete fencing and leashing are a must.
The Westie is an adorable dog that loves interacting with humans. A Westie is interested in everything that is happening in the house and loves the fascination that children and visitors bring into the home. However, it does need some special care and training to become the good family pet that makes the Westie a loved family member.
Westies and Children
Westies and children get along well, as long as the Westie is trained to respect them as elder pack members. However, the same goes for children! You must teach kids, especially young ones how to behave around pets. And explain that it is not okay to pull the dog’s tail or ears and emphasize they can’t be rough, especially not with a Westie.
An adult Westie or an untrained Westie may be more aggressive with children. Westies lack patience for lower orders of animals. Children will fall into that category in the Westie’s mind if it is not trained immediately to respect children.
- Westies may guard their toys aggressively to keep children from touching them. This can result in nipping, growling, and other unwanted behavior from the Westie toward small children.
- Westies get easily offended by small children who cause them bodily discomfort. Tail pulling, tripping over the dog, and other behaviors that tend to accompany small children can be met with aggression from an untrained Westie.
- Westies who are not trained to respect younger family members will be uncooperative and disobedient to them. The Westie is a bossy dog. It must be trained to cooperate and obey all members of the household.
- Westies love to be the center of attention. For a family that wants a dog who can give entertainment, be present with family members at all times, and become an integral part of the family, the Westie is a wonderful choice. Westies are happiest when attention and affection are focused on them.
Westies trained from puppyhood to obey all household members are loved and treasured for their athletic prowess, hardy constitution, and inquisitive nature. Westies love to play and are adept at playing many games. Their sturdy frame enables them to play with children in a way that other small breed dogs can not.
Depending on a westie personality, many of them are excellent companion dogs for children because they love to be petted, and they love to be involved in activities both inside and outside the home. Children who can exert dominance over the Westie’s strong personality will find that the Westie is a companion who is caring, protective, smart, and loyal.
Westies will reach senior adulthood and begin to slow down. The mania of puppyhood energy calms down, and they enjoy time resting with family members. But, no matter their age, they always enjoy being the center of attention and being included in every activity.
Westies in the Family Yard
Westies were bred as rodent exterminators in the West Highlands of Scotland in the time of King James the First. The earliest ancestors were known as “earth doggies,” and were bred to have a single-minded focus on exterminating the rats that were ruining grain crops, grain stores and bringing disease throughout the Highlands.
This breeding characteristic persists to this day, for better or worse. Westies have a passion for digging and chasing other animals. They were bred to dig rodents out of holes and kill them. This efficient extermination breeding is not gone from Westie’s DNA.
The Westie will take off after squirrels, rats, mice, cats, raccoons, opossums, skunks, marmots, chipmunks, birds, rabbits, other dogs, and any other animals that it runs across. If your Westie is in the yard, it will run through the neighborhood, and as far as it needs to go to get the animal it is chasing, with no thoughts of home. It has a singular focus on chasing small animals.
- Fence the yard completely so that the Westie can be outside without the risk of running away.
- Plug holes that are under the fence, and recheck loose fence panels or gaps in fencing frequently for signs of loosening or gapping.
- Check along the fenceline frequently for holes where the Westie is digging out.
As a Westie ages and hits senior adulthood around seven years old, it will begin to slow down. These mildly destructive behaviors will also begin to slow down, but the Westie will never lose that urge to chase small mammals and even birds. Family play is perfect for keeping that energy going in a positive direction. Playtime is the perfect way to wear out an inquisitive Westie as well as energetic children.
A secure yard is a wonderful place for a family to enjoy the Westie. The Westie loves to get out and romp around with toys, which they are especially adept at chasing. Their body type is very sturdy for their size, making them fun for kids to include in outdoor play. Even as the Westie enters senior years, playtime is essential to keep them in trim shape and mentally sharp.
Westies on a Family Walk
Westies love to walk, and they need the exercise that neighborhood walks bring. When they are young, they are full of seemingly boundless energy, and this energy is well-directed when exploring the outdoors. This makes them an excellent family dog, especially for older children who can take the dog for daily walks and romps in the park.
Westies will want to see everything, smell everything, and chase everything. Yes, they will want to chase everything, so a sturdy leash and harness are non-negotiable. The Westie is not a breed that will learn to walk off-leash. The Westie will behave well until the instincts take over, and it runs after a cat or squirrel, oblivious to your calls, traffic, fences, and everything else.
- Never walk a Westie on a retractable leash and collar. This can harm a dog who suddenly takes off running and then is jerked backward by the leash and collar. Instead, invest in a well-fitting harness and a sturdy leash that gives the Westie enough room to explore without losing track of how much leash is left.
- Westies will bark at absolutely everything. As a breed, their first instinct is to bark at everything unfamiliar, threatening, or exciting. They are watchdogs, so they want to notify their owners about the presence of anything unusual. It is perfectly normal, but you should include bark training in your daily schedule.
- Westies, especially males, will have a dominance issue with every other dog on a walk unless they are trained to respect you and others. Respect training helps the dog to obey you when you say that another dog or cat on the walk is okay. Socialization helps them learn to react appropriately to other animals.
- Socialize a Westie puppy with other people from day one. The more exposure they have to people of all colors and all ages, including small children, the better. Find people wearing clothing that looks different, big hats, canes, wheelchairs, et cetera. This training helps them feel more secure and friendly with others.
- Socialize them with a wide variety of animals from day one. The more animals they have friendly encounters with as puppies, the less aggressive they will be as they grow up toward animals they meet in the community. This training helps them to learn that there are more options than simply barking and chasing.
A well-trained and socialized Westie can be so much fun to walk around the neighborhood, take to the park, and bring on road trips. This little dog is a fun companion for people of all ages.
Westies are an adorable terrier that has won the hearts of people for untold centuries. These little dogs make fantastic pets for families that are looking for a dog who can be an active member of the family. This dog will see itself as a family member, and the family needs likewise to view it as an integral part of the family.
You must train the Westie from puppyhood to interact well with children, people of all kinds, and animals of every kind. This will help the Westie to be more well-balanced and sociable in all situations.