Are Westies Easy to Train?

By John Martin - May 7, 2021

Westie being trained at the park with big stick in it's mouth.

Any dog, however big or small, requires training. It is something that keeps them mentally and physically active to maintain optimum health. 

Although first-time pet owners may overlook training as unnecessary, or even harsh, this is a major misconception.

Training is also important to make sure your pet is well-behaved and doesn’t become troubling to manage. We may love our pups, but without training, they can be a handful!

Since Westies are no exception to this rule, it’s important to be knowledgeable on the topic of Westie training requirements.

Are Westies Easy To Train?

In short, Westies are relatively easy to train.

However, the simplicity of training depends on taking the right precautions and following certain guidelines. Not to mention, the ease of training can also be highly subjective.

For first-time pet owners, training can be quite an ordeal, and contrary to their expectations.

You may think you’re adopting a little cuddle-bug, only to find out that they require significant upkeep!

That is not to say that Westies aren’t worth every second of your time, but you should naturally be prepared.

Thus, read up on your new Westie’s, or soon-to-be Westie’s training needs, patterns, and preferences in advance.

Are Westies High-Maintenance Dogs?

West Highland White Terriers are not as high maintenance as most people think.

Although they are small and often grouped with high maintenance lapdogs, Westies are more active and independent in nature.

West Highland White Terriers are even considered a great companion and family dogs. They are sociable and loving with family members, children, guests, and even other pets.

Not to mention, Westies can easily adjust to both rural and urban modes of living. However, they are not comfortable with living outside.

You will have to make room for your pet within your home, whether it is an apartment or a house. This is where house-training will become exceptionally important.

Lastly, their manageable maintenance isn’t an excuse to skip out on training. If anything, it indicates that these dogs should be better trained due to the relative ease of the procedure.

Are Westies Smart Dogs?

Some breeds are naturally sharper than other breeds. This is often because of their genes and historical evolution.

Westies, too, are intelligent pups. This makes it easy to train because they pick up instructions very fast.

While training your new pup, keep in mind that you don’t tell them off too much. Westies are independent thinkers and will disregard training if they feel their personal interest isn’t catered to.

In many ways, then, Westies are, in fact, too smart for their own good! So during training sessions, always ensure you use positive reinforcement techniques and act with firmness and constancy.

Why Do Westies Need To Be Trained?

New pet owners often wonder why training is so necessary for the upkeep of physical and mental health.

Firstly, it provides both mental and physical stimulation. In the absence of this, your pup won’t be able to broaden their horizons or enhance their abilities.

Not to mention, being trained in also a part of their natural instincts.

In the particular case of Westies, their evolution has been from hunting dogs who were later domesticated. This is why they are smart, show individuality, and are obedient once trained well.

Without the training they naturally require, a Westie will have too much unspent energy. But with focused training, they can become great therapy dogs, rescue dogs, competitive show dogs, and so on.

When To Start Training Your Westie?

Training for any dog should start when they are young. The best period for training is the imprinting phase of a pet.

The training they receive in their initial years is what shapes their adult personalities. This is why pet owners have a great responsibility when it comes to training in the correct manner.

Trying to train your puppy after they have already picked up certain behavioral patterns means they won’t be as receptive. This can cause frustration and ultimately become a useless exercise.

Although it is best to train a puppy, it is also challenging because young pups are hard to handle. As they grow older, with consistent training, they become wiser.

How Long Should You Train Your Westie?

Training is important for expending pent up energy, but overburdening is undesirable.

Your puppy will be healthiest if you train them a few times during the day for 5-minute sessions. Beyond that, your Westie is sure to saturate their attention span.

With time, these sessions can become longer and more frequent. However, even for adult Westies, it is recommended that 10-minute sessions are not exceeded.

How To Properly Train Your Westie?

You can follow this framework to give your Westie proper training. Additionally, remain attentive to their responsiveness and specific needs.

  • Begin with only one command for your Westie to follow to keep their focus and avoid overwhelming them. Once your pup learns this, you can teach them new commands or build on the old one.
  • Provide positive reinforcement for their efforts through praise and treats. This will encourage good behaviors to be repeated.
  • Avoid distractions by training in an empty area. This will keep your Westie focused on you and help them avoid their desire to chase after small prey.
  • Teach them only the three most basic commands to being with. These are the commands of ‘come,’ ‘sit,’ and ‘down.’

A strong ‘come’ command will help keep track of your Westie and train them to always return even if distracted.

With a ‘sit’ command, you can make mealtimes easier to manage and keep them in check when guests visit.

Lastly, a ‘down’ command ensures easy house-training, so your Westie knows to stay off the furniture.

Indoor Training For Westies

Indoor training involves crate-training and house-training. This is to accustom your pet to their new setup.

For starters, make sure they are comfortable in their crates and have a safe space to retire to every day. The crate is also meant to be their regular sleeping station.

House-training will require patience as your pet may cause some destruction initially. However, they will be quick to understand instructions, especially if they are simultaneously trained outdoors.

House-training is important for teaching them to stay off the furniture and go to the bathroom in the right place. It is also important that your Westie learns to stay off visitors when indoors.

No matter the damage or misbehavior, always ensure you remain calm with your Westie.

The first few weeks of training can be tough, but showing anger will make your pet feel alienated.

How Can Training Benefit Your Westie?

Training can benefit your pet by weeding out destructive tendencies. It is not that they want to misbehave, but they simply don’t have an outlet for their energy until trained.

Your Westie requires a minimum of 45 minutes of exercise regularly. Thus exercise is also an important part of training and keeps your pet fit!

Through training, you will also eliminate problematic behavioral traits.

These can include the need to chase after prey, stubbornness or disobedience, and sometimes even neediness.

In Summary

Every Westie and every owner has different training methods and preferences. While the specifics can alter, the major format should remain intact for the best results.

Since Westies are naturally inclined to be trained, they can truly benefit from proper guidance. As a responsible pet owner, you will also be providing several health benefits to your Westie.

However, ensure that you know what you’re doing and remain dependable when it comes to your pup.

By making use of this information, you can be sure to do just that!