West Highland White Terriers, nicknamed Westies, are energetic, adventurous, and sturdy little dogs who love to be in the middle of everything. The classic Westie face has piercing, curious black eyes and a little black nose framed by fluffy white fur and perky ears. The size and stature of this dog make most people want to pet and cuddle it right away.
Westies like to cuddle, but not all the time. They are energetic, and they much prefer exploring the outdoors, digging holes, and chasing squirrels to sitting quietly on an owner’s lap. When they are tired, they love scratches and cuddles. A Westie loves to be the center of attention.
Westies may be the perfect size for cuddling, but they are not typical lapdogs. They are more of the adventurous, cavalier sort of dog that wants to be doing something interesting at all times. Westies that are not able to get enough exercise and mental stimulation will resort to excessive barking in their boredom. There are situations where a Westie loves to cuddle, so do not worry and keep reading.
Some Westies Need Cuddle Training
Cuddling does not come pre-wired in the DNA of most dogs. In fact, this behavior can make a dog feel very vulnerable. Dogs usually have some personal space needs that help them feel protected. Cuddling can take time to develop in some dogs, and Westies are no exception. Their natural posture is one of curiosity and watchfulness, even when it is time to relax. This does not mean that the Westie is immune to loving cuddles:)
Westies need to feel very familiar with their owners before they want to show affection by cuddling. Owners who got a Westie as a small puppy will have an easier time with cuddle training the puppy as it grows. By the time it is grown up, cuddling will be a way of life. There is nothing so sweet as a snoozing Westie on the lap or curled up nearby on the couch.
For older Westie dogs, cuddling may be a foreign concept. Previous interactions with humans may compound this uneasiness about physical proximity and vulnerability. You can overcome this reluctance with loving patience.
Also, keep in mind that older Westie might prefer being left alone even if he liked to cuddle before. That was our case. For example, Tasha used to demand scratches by pushing her head under my arm, but she doesn’t do it anymore nor enjoys it as much as she got older.
- Never force a dog to come onto the lap or cuddle. This is invasive and will sow further seeds of distrust in the dog. Westies are independent and need to feel that they are in control of their own bodies.
- Give the dog as much love as possible, but on their own terms, while being available for closer contact. For instance, the Westie may prefer to curl up next to his owner rather than sit on the lap. Being willing to love on the dog’s terms leaves the door open for closer cuddles when the dog feels ready.
- Westies love to be the center of attention. A Westie who receives additional attention while cuddling is more likely to repeat the cuddling to receive more attention.
- Westies do love to touch. Owners who take time to give Westies a pet and scratch frequently usually find that the Westie seeks them out for more touch and cuddles when it is time to rest and relax. Never corner a Westie to give it affectionate touching. Let the Westie indicate a desire for contact and then give it.
- Cuddle time is a good chance to calm owners and Westies alike. The act of cuddling releases oxytocin in both dog and owner. This makes both feel happy and satisfied. Dogs can get hooked on oxytocin, just like people do. When an agitated dog feels the relaxation from cuddling, they are bound to want more.
- Westies do not like to be handled. This is not a universal statement, but a general truth. Westies will prefer to jump into the lap but usually do not like being physically picked up and placed on the lap. It is important to let the independent Westie choose the time and place for cuddles.
- Westies live for praise. If a Westie gets praise for doing a thing, she will do it again and again. This goes for cuddling too. A Westie that shows a step toward affectionate cuddling can be happily praised for doing so. This will encourage her to continue coming closer and spending a longer time in restful enjoyment.
Westies are so playful and curious that it is easy to assume that they may not like to cuddle at all or that they do not like to be lapdogs. Of course, it can be true for some Westies because it also depends on each dog’s personality.
But they can be trained to enjoy the cuddle times just as much as their human owners do. A Westie that receives praise and attention for cuddling will be much quicker to adopt cuddle time as one of their favorite times of the day.
Sleepy Westies Like to Cuddle
Westie owners usually report that even the most energetic ones like to get close and relax together when they are tired. A Westie who has plenty of exercise to wear it out during the daytime is much more likely to appreciate cuddle time, especially before bed.
- Exercise routine. Make an exercise routine with your Westie. Give it plenty of time to play and explore. Long walks and games of fetch are always favorite ways to work those energetic Westie wiggles out.
- Rest routine. Make a resting routine with the Westie. Take the time to encourage closeness and cuddling before bed. As this becomes an established pattern, the dog will come to enjoy it and look forward to this time of relaxing together.
- Praise the Westie for coming closer. Encouraging the desired behavior is the surest way to get the dog to continue developing that behavior. Never urge or become impatient with a dog who does not want to cuddle. This will only reaffirm to the dog that it is not safe to come closer to its owner.
A Westie who is loved, secure, and respected will seek out its owner to receive pets, hugs, and cuddles. Owners who are careful to allow time for the Westie to exercise away extra energy will enjoy this time more frequently with the dog.
If the dog wants to play, owners should make time to play. These times can be as much fun with your dog and helps to further establish a mutually beneficial relationship. When playtime is over, the Westie will feel much more like cuddling and napping, and the owner can enjoy that time with him too.
Some Westies are Born to Cuddle, Some Are Not
Just like people, there are Westies with many different personalities. No two dogs are alike. Breed characteristics will manifest in every individual Westie, but the personalities are very different. Future and current owners need to recognize individual personalities and respect personal space needs for each dog.
- Some Westies are natural cuddlers and love to get as close as possible as often as they can. It seems to be as natural as digging for them. These are the Westies that will climb in bed if their owners let them.
- Some Westies like to be close, but not on the lap. These dogs enjoy laying close and placing their head or paws on the lap while they receive petting and scratching but may not like the feeling of being on the lap. This could just be a matter of preferring a couch cushion underneath them.
- Some Westies like to be near and get belly scratches or love and cuddles for a time, but then they like to move away and nap in peace.
There is no difference between male and female Westies when it comes to cuddling. There are natural cuddlers of both genders and naturally independent personalities in both genders. Also, the cuddle situation can change as your Westie gets older.
Westies are so energetic and fun to have around. They are adventurous, sturdy, athletic, and intelligent dogs. They are self-confident little dogs who do not need cuddles to feel good about the world, and we love them for it. However, with calm, patient training, they can learn to love cuddles as much as their human owners do.
Westies are the perfect size to be lapdogs, but whether they will turn into lapdogs depends on the individual personality and the amount of cuddle training they get as puppies.