Westie owners often say that their dogs bark too much. They’re barking because they’re trying to communicate something important to their human companions.
Westies are not classic yappers, but they are vocal and like to express themselves. Westies also differ widely in personalities, so your Westie might be much quieter than my Westie.
Appropriate calming measures and training can go a long way to ensuring barking does not become a problem for you (or your neighbors).
Easier said than done, right? Especially when you are not sure why your Westie is barking.
So why do Westies bark so much? Well, the top two reasons why your West Highland Terrier barks are:
- Loneliness and boredom, particularly when left home alone
Let’s dive into both those reasons and see what you can do to reduce your Westie’s barking.
Westie Barking When Left Alone
You may have been told by your neighbors that your Westie is barking when home alone – but you don’t notice problem barking in your Westie because it doesn’t happen when you’re there.
This type of barking is actually the easiest one to fix.
The first reason for your Westie barking can be boredom. Westies are social dogs and like company and action in their daily routine. They enjoy digging, chasing, playing fetch with their human, and so on. If you leave them home alone for a long time, they can suffer from loneliness and may vocally express their unhappiness and boredom by barking.
How can you fix this?
Firstly, if at all possible, do not leave your Westie alone for an extended period of time.
If you are stuck at work or your busy schedule does not allow you to spend as much time as you want with your Westie, you could consider the following options as alternative care for your dog.
- Hire a dog sitter or hire a dog walker to take your Westie out during the day.
- Leave your Westie at a dog daycare where he will have plenty of company.
- Take your Westie to work with you if possible.
Another way to keep your Westie occupied while you are gone is to leave him with interactive toys. And oh boy, let me tell you, there are plenty to choose from! Chewing toys that dispense treats as your Westie plays with them, dog puzzles, and many more.
You may also leave some treats around the house for your Westie to look for while you are gone. Sniffing around and investigating, and yummy treats involved? That is a pretty good activity for curious Westie.
Or buy a hollow bone and smush some goodies in each end – anything your dog likes. It will be so time-consuming and entertaining for him that there won’t be any time left for barking.
And my final tip for Westies who don’t like being home alone – don’t make a big deal of leaving the house. Don’t let your Westie go to the door with you and try to leave when he is not looking. And, when you come back home, don’t make a big deal of that either. I know you are excited to see your furry friend too, but try not to get your Westie overexcited.
Westie Fear Barking
As I mentioned before, barking is how your Westie talks to you. If you understand why he is barking, you have a much better chance of being able to fix it. The previous reason for barking was boredom, but the next one I want to mention is fear.
You might have experienced this when watching TV, for example. Has your Westie barked at the TV for no reason? Or does your Westie bark when he hears another dog outside or when the mailman rings the bell? Maybe your Westie barks when the trash truck drives in front of your house, or he hears the noise of drilling tools.
There are so many examples of fear barking. My Westie used to bark in a high pitch when she saw moving windshield wipers while riding in the car. It was crazy, and every person in the vehicle had to cover their ears (except the poor driver)!
How to prevent Westie fear barking
If you know what triggers your Westie to bark, try to minimize those situations. I know there are things you can not control, like road work on your street. But what you can do is minimize the impact. You can close the windows to reduce the noise, and leave your Westie in the furthest room. You can also soundproof his dog house or kennel.
You can also try calming soft chews, but I would call a veterinarian first to ensure it is safe for your dog. Perhaps, you have a friend willing to offer his home during the day. There are many other options; you just need to decipher what your Westie fears and then try different solutions until you find what is best for you and your Westie.
How Do I Stop My Westie Barking?
At the end of the day, the best way to stop your Westie from barking as often is training. Although, I know some Westies are stubborn and do not like to be told what to do, especially if there is nothing in it for them. Nevertheless, you should definitely try training because it will make life easier for both of you.
I have another fantastic tip for you – a little-known gem for stopping your Westie from continuing to bark. When your Westie barks and you want him to stop, do not shout.
You might think your Westie is too occupied and excited, and he probably won’t hear you over his barking unless you shout, but it doesn’t work that way.
With all that noise around and the dog’s ear sensitivity, he won’t recognize your command. Your shouting is like another dog’s barking, and it just excites your Westie more. It would be best if you were calm, physically and verbally, as that will help calm your Westie down. Maybe then involve some treats as positive reinforcement for the good behavior.
Anti-barking devices are available, particularly for use outdoors in your garden although indoor versions are also available. These low-cost devices emit an ultrasonic noise in response to your dog’s barking. Humans can’t hear the sound, but dogs can, and they find it unpleasant. Your dog will eventually work out that the unpleasant sound only happens when they bark, and he/she will learn to stop barking when near the device. The noise is just annoying to the dog, it doesn’t cause it any physical pain.
Training a Westie to do anything can be fun but also challenging – it depends on his or her personality. But following a training program can help enormously, especially for first-time Westie owners.
Old Westie Barking
Westies can change with age. The once very vocal dog can turn into a calmer and quieter one, or the other way around. I remember my Westie Tasha, used to answer every dog barking outside. Now, she doesn’t hear them, and she doesn’t really care either. It’s no surprise because, with age, her energy levels went down, her hearing ability too, and her attitude of I don’t give a damn raised enormously!
To sum it all up, Westies bark because barking is their language. So whether it is an excited, “there is a squirrel in the garden” bark, or frustrated “my toy is stuck under the bed, do something” bark, it is our job (as proud Westie parents) to understand and translate what is behind this behavior. Responding and providing what you Westie is asking for will go a long way to reducing problem barking in your Westie.
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