West Highland Terriers are our favorite breed. Despite their small size, these dogs are mighty, and have a lot of energy to burn. Westies were initially bred to hunt small rodents in Scotland, so they still have a working prey drive, and are born to run, hunt, search and play.
If you have got a Westie because you think that they won’t need walking often, or much mental stimulation then you are wrong! So, how much do Westies need to walk?
How Much Do Westies Need To Walk?
Due to their small size, Westies can be prone to obesity. This is why exercise is so important in keeping your Westie fit and healthy. Not only will exercise burn off calories and energy, but it can also strengthen the muscles and bones. Westies are very modest and small dogs, but they do have a lot of energy.
These dogs will need around two walks per day, along with lots of play time. Walks may not simply be enough, as these dogs need mental stimulation too. In terms of walks, up to one hour of exercise is needed per day. This can be split into two walks, morning and afternoon or evening, or one long, stimulating walk.
It is best to let your Westie run off leash- as long as they have good recall, because they will love exploring and sniffing around. Westies are not dogs with a lot of endurance, they tend to have shorter bursts of energy. They can play for hours, but really long walks should not be the daily norm.
A short hike is fine, but they will need to rest afterwards. Westies will also love a squeaky toy, an energetic play session and playing fetch, which can also be part of their exercise and enrichment routine. Depending on the age of your Westie, you will need to alter the walk duration.
For example, younger dogs and puppies require much shorter walks as their bones and muscles are not fully developed yet. A general rule of thumb is 5 minutes per month of age. Therefore, if you have a 6 month old puppy, 25-30 minutes of exercise per day is plenty.
As they become fully grown adult dogs, 60-70 minutes of exercise per day is great for a Westie. This can include walks, running, training, and playing games- not just the walks. If you have an older Westie, then you will need to limit their walks a little, as they could struggle with joints, muscles, and mobility issues as they age.
Try to cut down the duration of the walks, or do shorter walks but more frequently. This doesn’t mean walking them all of the time, but instead of the usual 60 minutes, you could do 30 minutes per day, or two 15 minute walks to spread out the exercise across the day.
If you are unsure how often to walk your Westie, depending on their age and exercise needs, then you should speak to a veterinarian for advice. They will know more about the particular diet and requirements your dog needs.
How Far Can A Westie Walk?
Westies can even be great companions if you love hiking. Small hiking trips can be beneficial for your Westie, and they can easily keep up on hikes of four miles or more. Some Westies have even run a half marathon before, which is just over 13 miles. This is incredible, but shouldn’t be part of your daily routine.
If you walk your Westie off leash, then they will likely walk and run more miles than you, but when they get tired, they will typically come back and walk by your side or at your pace.
How To Tire Out A Westie?
There are many ways that you can keep your Westie busy and stimulated. Stimulation is almost as important for your dog as exercise. Of course, they need physical exercise to keep them healthy, but you also need to ensure that their brains are mentally exercised.
This can include things like puzzles, interactive toys, treat toys and more. Some of our favorite ways to keep our own Westies busy are by interacting with them. Westies have a lot of high energy levels, so keeping them busy can help reduce unwanted behaviors such as chewing, biting, destroying things, and anxiety.
The best ways to keep a Westie busy is by playing fetch, or with a frisbee. You can increase the bond between you and your dog, by encouraging fetching and bringing the toy back. These dogs love retrieving balls and toys, and you can teach them how to ‘drop’ and ‘leave’ their toys.
Training can be a great way to keep your Westie stimulated. You can also try agility courses or you can buy your own dog agility equipment. You can train your dog to run through tunnels, through posts, and jump over obstacles.
You can also implement puzzle toys and treat toys to keep your Westie active. Our personal favorites are snuffle mats. These can help your dog use their noses, and search for treats as a reward. Sniffing is one of the most interesting and mentally tiring things that your dog can do.
Just 20 minutes of sniffing can equate to an hour’s walk in terms of stimulation and enrichment. Alternatively, we love using treat dispensing toys such as dog balls that make it harder for your Westie to get at the toys. They have to really work at it for the reward, and can keep them focused and busy.
While treat dispensing toys and interactive toys can really wear out your Westie, these are best for keeping them busy if you work from home, or have tasks to complete. It is far more beneficial to actually interact with your dog yourself, through training and playing games with them.
How To Tell If Your Westie Is Too Tired?
Westies do have a lot of energy, but you can overwalk them or overstimulate them. When a dog is tired or overstimulated, they may show signs of this. Some could include frequent panting, excess thirst, lethargy, inability to keep up, inability to focus, laying down more often, or they can become restless.
When a dog is overtired, they may demonstrate unwanted behaviors such as biting, vocalization, enlarged pupils, chewing, or hypervigilance. If this is the case, then it’s time to finish your walk, take your dog home and get them settled ready for a big nap!
To summarize, a Westie’s size can be deceiving. They are high energy dogs that need ample exercise and enrichment. While they won’t need the exercise routine of a large dog breed like a Labrador, they will need around 60-70 minutes of exercise per day. This should include training time, walks, off-lead running, stimulation and enrichment.
If you want to tire out your Westie, then you can try interactive games and puzzles or agility training to keep your furry friend calm, mentally and physically stimulated and happy…which is the most important thing!
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