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Are Westies Hard to Potty Train? Simple Steps to Success

Are Westies hard to potty train? Westies can be a bit challenging to potty train, as they are known for their independent and stubborn nature. Consistent and patient training, along with positive reinforcement, is key to successfully housebreaking a Westie. Early and consistent efforts can help establish good potty habits.

Westies are not difficult to potty train if you know what reward motivates your dog and you follow a consistent toilet-training routine. You’ll need persistence and patience.

Westies love to please and respond well to reward-based training and positive reinforcement. In that regard, potty training your Westie puppy is no different to any other training.

are westies hard to potty train

Westies are stubborn and like to think they’re in charge. That can make them difficult to train. But they’re also intelligent, which makes them easy to train.

Smaller dog breeds are known to be more challenging to potty train than larger dogs simply because they can find more places inside to hide when they want to go to the toilet. However, with consistent training, you should have success potty training your Westie, and in no time, he’ll be doing his business outside.

In this guide, we will show you some of the difficulties of potty training Westies and the steps you can take to potty train Westies effectively. 

Size and Personality Does Make A Difference When Potty Training

Westies are a smaller breed of dog, and smaller dogs are shown to be more likely to have accidents indoors when they are being house trained. 

In general, dogs will not go to the toilet in the space they consider their own.

However, many homes and apartments are large compared to the size of a Westie. Consequently, there is a greater chance your Westie 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.

A smaller breed, like a Westie, may need a little more patience and persistence to persuade them that everywhere inside is off-limits as a toilet, and they need to go outside.

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.

There are three main methods:

  1. Some dog owners choose to train their dogs to start using the bathroom inside their house on an absorbent potty pad or pieces of paper. They then slowly begin moving the potty pads outside to train the dog to start doing its business outside. 
  2. Other dog owners take their Westie outside right away and teach them that outside is the place where they potty. 
  3. While other 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. 

If you use a command such as ‘Potty’, ‘Go Potty’ or similar, make sure everyone in the family uses the same command.

If your dog has had her vaccinations and you have a suitable space to take her outside, try to take her outside to potty right from the start.

The danger with starting her potty training inside is that she’ll get used to going to the toilet inside, albeit on a potty pad, and it might be difficult to transition her to toileting outside where she may not feel as safe.

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. Dogs do not usually respond well to negative reinforcement to their behavior, and positive praise is much more effective. 

How Often Should You Take Your Puppy To The Potty Space?

Westie puppies only have small bladders, so you should look to show your puppy to the designated potty space every two hours during the day while training.

Take them to the potty spot when they wake up, after naps, whenever they eat or drink, and after walks and play. Make sure it is not too long between toilet stops.

At What Age Should You Start Potty Training A Westie Puppy?

You can start potty training your Westie puppy from around 12 weeks old. Much younger than that, and your puppy won’t have much realisation about their bladder or bowel movements and won’t understand what you are trying to teach them.

How Long Does It Take To Potty Train A Westie?

It should take around six weeks or more to fully potty train your Westie.

Your puppy won’t get it right immediately. Expect some accidents, but don’t give up. Your Westie will get it in the end. Calmly clean up any mess, and do not tell your puppy off.

Consistency, patience and persistence are key.

Know Your Westie’s Motivator

Once you have 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 in the potty training process is knowing what reward works best for your dog. 

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

Knowing what reward encourages your dog will help you potty train your West Highland Terrier quickly and successfully. 

Here are some possible motivators to use when encouraging your dog to potty train:

  • Healthy 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.

Avoiding Distractions

Westies are hunting dogs by nature and small animals and birds outside can easily distract a Westie who is ready to run around and play.

When trying to potty train, it is important distractions are kept at a minimum.

Make sure your Westie is well exercised so they can focus on the task at hand instead of having excess energy ready to explode.

Using Crate Training to Help Westies Potty Train

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

Using a crate is a good way to create a space your Westie feels she can go to relax when you are not there to supervise her.

Since dogs do not want to go to the bathroom where they sleep, they are unlikely to have an accident in their crate. Using a crate is a great way to train your Westie to wait to go to the toilet. But, of course, don’t expect them to be able to hold on at a very young age.

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

  1. Only put your Westie in the crate when they are calm, especially when first starting crate training. Otherwise, the crate could be viewed as a place for anxiety instead of rest. 
  2. As they learn to use the crate, use a treat to signal that going in the crate is not something to be afraid of. 
  3. Whenever you let the dog out of the crate, take them outside to use the bathroom straight away. 
  4. Place your Westie in their crate each time you need to leave or when it is bedtime.
  5. 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.


While Westies are 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 your 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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