Are Westies Hard to Potty Train? Simple Steps to Success

Are Westies hard to potty train? Westies are known for having strong, stubborn personalities – characteristics that could make it more difficult to potty train. They are also a smaller breed of dog, which can sometimes cause challenges to potty training. But with a consistent training regiment, there should not be any challenges in potty training a Westie. 

When getting ready to train your Westie, it might feel a little overwhelming at first. But if you follow some basic steps, you are sure to have success training your Westie to do his business outside.

Keep reading to learn about the difficulties of potty training Westies and steps you can take to potty train Westies effectively. 

are westies hard to potty train

Are Westies Hard to Potty Train? 

Westies were bred as hunting dogs and were trained to hunt rodents and small mammals. They are known for their stubbornness, independence, and a strong desire to chase and hunt. They are also small dogs which make them more susceptible to using the indoors as their bathroom. 

But as with many dogs, if you are consistent with a training regime, there is no need to worry about the personality of the dog. Your expectations, positive reinforcement and dominance will give your Westie a good foundation for success in potty training. 

Size and Personality Does Make a Difference when Potty Training

Westies are a smaller breed of dog, which makes a difference when we are potty training Westies. This means they have a better chance of having accidents indoors if they are not properly trained to do otherwise. 

In general, dogs will not use the bathroom in the space where they live. However, many homes and apartments are large compared to the size of the Westie. Therefore, there is a greater chance that they will be able to find a corner or a place behind the furniture where they can do their business without interfering with their living space.

Westies are also well known for their terrier personality. Some of these personality traits include: 

  • Alert
  • Independent
  • Stubborn
  • Active
  • Intelligent

With these personality traits in a dog, it can sometimes become difficult to train breeds of dogs that are independent and stubborn. Westies often feel that they should be in charge and take action as if they are the dominant one in the house. It takes strong, consistent training to train them successfully. 

Using Crate Training to Help Westies Potty Train

Having a safe place for your Westie to go when they are sleeping or home alone is a great way to prevent indoor potty accidents.

Using a crate is the best way to create an environment where your Westie can go to relax when you are not there to supervise when they need to use the bathroom. Since dogs do not want to go to the bathroom where they sleep, they are unlikely to have an accident when they are in their crate. 

Here is a great way to begin the crate training process: 

  • Especially when first starting crate training, always put the dog in the crate when they are calm. Otherwise the crate could be viewed as a place for anxiety instead of a place of rest. 
  • As they are learning to use the crate, use a treat in the crate to signal that going in the crate is not something to be afraid of. 
  • Whenever you let the dog out of the crate, take them outside to use the bathroom right away. 
  • Place your Westie in their crate each time you need to leave or when it is bedtime.
  • Make crate training fun. Play games with your Westie and make the crate a calm and relaxing place to be when you are away. 

As with any type of dog training, keeping it consistent and positive will make a huge difference.

Once your Westie is used to using a crate during unsupervised times during the day and night, it will be much easier to train them to potty in their designated space. 

Decide What Potty Training Method to Use

When getting started with the potty training process, it is important that there is a designated spot determined as the potty space.

Some dog owners choose to train their dogs to start using the bathroom inside on either a potty pad that absorbs liquid or pieces of paper. They then slowly begin moving the potty pads outside to train the dog to start doing its business outside. 

Other dog owners start getting their dog outside right away and teach them that outside is the place where they potty. 

Still, other dog owners will train their dog to potty only in a designated area outside. This often makes it easier to clean up and can protect certain parts of the yard from dead spots in the grass from dog urine. 

There is no right or wrong choice for your Westie, but the method should be consistent and be one that works for you, your dog, and your lifestyle. 

Know Your Westie’s Motivator

If you have already begun crate training and determined where you want your Westie to be trained to use the bathroom (whether starting indoors on a potty mat or outside), the next step to the potty training process is knowing what works best for your dog. 

Westie dogs are known to have stubborn personalities, but that does not mean that potty training has to be difficult. If you know what motivates your dog and what might distract him, you can use this knowledge to train your dog quickly and successfully. 

Knowing what motivates your Westie will help you decide which tool to use when encouraging your dog to potty train. Here are some possible motivators:

  • Treats
  • Positive praise
  • Positive touch (petting, scratching, belly rubs)
  • Dog clicker
  • Favorite toys

Basically, whichever method you use for all your other training, you can also use for potty training. You just have to know what works best for your dog.

Remember that Westies can be stubborn and independent, so training them means you have to show them what is in it for them. 

Avoiding Distractions

Westies are hunting dogs by nature so when trying to potty train, it is important that distractions are kept at a minimum. 

Small animals and birds outside can easily become a distraction for a Westie that is ready to run around and play. It is important that your dog is well exercised so they are able to focus on the task at hand instead of having built up energy that is ready to play.

Toys can be a great motivator for training. But they can also become a distraction when trying to potty train. Make sure that if you are using a toy as a motivator to train your Westie, it is not becoming a distraction that hinders the potty training process. 

Consistency is the Key to Successful Potty Training

No matter what method you choose or where you choose to have your Westie potty train, consistency is absolutely the most critical part in achieving success with potty training your Westie. 

Your dog should be able to anticipate what is coming next before you even do it. Your ability to stay consistent with a training routine will give your Westie confidence and ensure success in your potty training efforts. 

I recommend sticking to regularly scheduled bathroom breaks, consistency in commands, and a positive reward routine when potty training a Westie. 

Please note that negative reinforcement should never be used with your Westie or with any dog. Dogs do not usually respond well to negative reinforcement and it is much more successful to use positive means of praise. 


While the Westie is sometimes given a bad reputation for their strong-willed and stubborn personality, that should be no reason to think that a Westie is difficult to potty train. 

It is important to take any dog’s personality into account when training. However, consistency, crate training, and use of motivators will make the potty training stress-free and successful. 


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