How Much Exercise Does a Westie Need?

By John Martin - May 7, 2021

Young woman jogging with Westie

They say good things come in small packages. Westies are perfect, or rather ‘pawfect’ example!

Wouldn’t you agree? They are feisty little dogs quite popular for their energetic and lively personality.

Westies may be small, but they need sufficient exercise to remain healthy and happy.

Do you have your own West Highland White Terrier at home? Are you wondering how much exercise your furry friend needs?

Read on to find out more about the exercise and activity requirements of Westies!

What is the Minimum Level of Exercise Westies Need?

A Westie is like a little firecracker. Westies may seem to be tiny and petite, but their appearance is deceptive of their energy levels! If you have a Westie, you will be able to vouch for this.

Even though they are small, Westies need a minimum of an hour of exercise each day.

While an hour is only the bottom limit, you can always let your flurry pooch have more exercise than that as it will make your dog happier.

There are many ways for you to exercise your Westie. You must make sure you engage your pooch in a well-rounded exercising session every single day.

Here are the three components of a wholesome exercise and activity routine:

  • Daily walk
  • Mentally stimulating exercises
  • Short bursts of high-intensity exertion

Before you dive into that, however, take a look at some important things to know about Westies and their need for exercise.

Related: Are Westies Good for Hiking?

What is the Temperament of Westies Concerning Exercise?

Westies are adored all over the world for their lively and charismatic temperament. They are incredibly friendly and full of energy. This means that they are social as well as highly active.

They need exercise to keep their moods up but also to spend some quality time with their humans.

Westies were originally bred to be hunting dogs, which is why they need to spend time outdoors and burn their energy.

Did you know that some people like to call Westies ‘big dogs in a small body’?

This is an accurate description, no doubt about that! They are virtually tireless.

You could make your Westie run around and play all day, and your doggo would still return to you, asking for more.

Related: Are Westies Good Family Dogs?

Do Westies Need Mental Exercise as Well?

A major part of the exercise requirements of a Westie is mental stimulation.

Since Westies are known to be quite independent with a mind of their own, they need adequate mental exercise too.

If they do not receive enough mental exercise, they will begin causing mischief and display problematic behavior. They are not above destructive actions if left to be bored.

Dogs are quite intelligent and social beings and need occasions to exercise their mental strength.

Westies are generally cleverer and smarter, so it goes without saying that mental exercise is even more important for this breed.

Benefits of Exercising Your Westie

It is a universal fact that exercising is beneficial for all living beings. Even so, take a look at the benefits of exercising for your Westie:

  • Longer lifespan
  • Improved and sound sleep
  • Lower risk of heart and bone diseases
  • A deeper connection with their humans

What Happens if Westies Do Not Get Enough Exercise?

Westies always have tremendous amounts of pent-up energy. They require an opportunity to burn all this energy. Of course, the best way to do so is through exercise and activity.

A lack of such opportunities can cause these jovial dogs to develop behavior and temperament issues.

Healthy exercise and socialization are a way for your Westie to release their energy, and if this doesn’t happen, it can take the form of frustration.

A frustrated Westie is nothing short of a small and sharp machine of trouble!

Frustrated Westies who lack physical and mental stimulation will most likely resort to digging and chewing. They may even try to escape their homes and go out to explore by themselves.

Low exercise levels can also foster aggressive behavior in some Westies. Such doggos can become snappy and disobedient. Terriers are known to be stubborn in general, and this will only make it worse!

What Are the Best Ways to Exercise Your Westie?

As you have already learned, Westies need three types of exercise in their routine.

Daily Walks

A daily walk is crucial to the physical and mental health of your Westie. Outdoor walks will not only provide physical exercise, they will also stimulate your doggo’s senses. Your Westie will be able to exercise their mind through the different sights, sounds, and smells they encounter.

While a single walk per day is sufficient, two walks scheduled in the morning and evening, respectively, would be the best path to take.

You can decide the length of the walk as per your preferences since your Westie is not bound to get tired too easily.

The ideal duration of a daily walk is about 30 minutes on the lower side and 60 minutes on the higher side.

Your Westie needs to have a set routine. This helps in structure and mood. Try to take your rascal out for a walk at or around the same time every day.

Walks are also a good way for your Westie to socialize with other dogs. You can take your dog to the park or schedule a time when other dogs are out as well.

Related: Best Dog Harness for Westies: Top 5 Picks, Types, and Measuring Tips

Mentally stimulating exercises

Westies need mental stimulation. Rather, it is important for all dogs to engage in proper, mentally stimulating exercises.

Here are some ways you can mentally enrich your Westie:

Puzzle Toys

Can humans be the only ones who get to solve puzzles? Of course not! Dogs also enjoy solving puzzles in their own capacity.

Westies have been found to be especially inclined towards puzzle activities. This is a great way for them to work out their minds and stay busy.

There are different types of puzzle toys available for dogs. Westies are clever canines, so puzzle toys with a slightly challenging nature may be suitable for them.

You can try giving your Westie an easy puzzle at first, and increase the level as it begins getting easier for your furry friend.

Additionally, Kongs are an excellent way to challenge your Westie’s mind.

Training Exercises

You may be familiar with the fact that Westies tend to disregard their training if it is not refreshed from time to time. This is because of their independent nature.

While it is important to train your Westie, for this reason, training also acts like a mentally enriching activity.

You can teach new tricks and commands to your dog to stimulate your canine companion’s mental health.

A popular routine amongst dog-lovers is to teach the names of certain objects to their dogs. You can try doing this with your Westie!

Environment Enrichment

Have you heard about environment enrichment for animals? It first originated as a concept for animals in Zoos.

Westies must live in an enriching environment that does not bore them. A challenging and stimulating environment keeps them physically and mentally healthy and alert.

There are many ways through which you can create an engaging environment for your Westie. It will boost your doggo’s growth as well!

You can start by creating certain barriers your dog will need to cross while moving around the house.

Here are some other ways to do so:

  • Place a mirror in an accessible location for your Westie to interact with since dogs react differently to seeing their own reflections
  • Provide chew toys to your Westie
  • Create a dog enrichment box
  • Take your Westie to a place where your dog can dig with no risks
  • Play scenting games
  • Use automatic moving toys

Food Enrichment

How about turning mealtimes into an opportunity for exercise?

You can engage your Westie in food enrichment activities by making your pooch work to eat. This means that you can place certain challenges instead of simply pouring food in a bowl.

Short Bursts of High-Intensity Exertion

Westies have great stamina and an impressive capacity to exert. Their little legs can take them shooting from one place to another in no time!

While walks and mental stimulation are necessary, intense workouts are needed too. Short bursts of high-intensity exertion are a good combination of physical and mental exercise.

Activities such as fetching, running, tug of war, and others, improve the strength and flexibility of your dog as well.

Here are some high-intensity exercises:


Playing fetch with your dog is perhaps a classic. Westies love playing fetch and can go on for throws upon throws! It will wear their energy down too and keep them busy.

You can play fetch with your Westie using a ball, a stick, or a frisbee.

Frisbees are a little more challenging to play with, but are more rewarding and fun for your Westie!

Obstacle Course

If you have a backyard or garden that is spacious enough, you can set up an obstacle course for your Westie.

You already know that Westies were bred as hunting dogs. They often had to go through wild obstacles. Mirroring such a path is a great way to exercise your Westie.

You can include tasks such as climbing platforms, hurdle jumps, tunnels, and more.

Tug of War

Terriers adore playing tug of war. It also wonderfully works out their muscles and strength. It helps them build control too.

How Much Exercise is Too Much Exercise for Westies?

Westies may be extremely energetic but they too can become overexerted. While an hour or two of continuous exercise is safe for a Westie, it is also possible that this energetic flurry breed may reach their limit but not know when to stop.

Here are some signs of an over-exercised Westie:

  • Labored breathing
  • Excessive panting and drooling
  • Unnatural color of gums and tongue
  • Trouble walking or standing
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Tremors
  • Lack of urine
  • Injured or cracked paw pads

If you notice any of the above signs in your Westie, you must cool your dog down.

Make sure there is enough chilled water for your Westie. Use cold but not freezing water to bring down the temperate of their belly and head.

You can take your Westie to an air-conditioned room and have them rest there.

If you feel that your Westie may have exerted to a faulty extent, contact your veterinary, and get help. It is always better to be safe than sorry!

Related: Do Westies Like to Cuddle?

Exercising Senior Westies and Puppies

The exercise requirements of Westies are different as per their age. The above descriptions are mainly for healthy, adult Westies.

Older dogs and puppies have a variation in their energy levels and exertion needs.

If you have a Westie puppy, you must remember that your puppy’s bones and muscles are still developing. As for older Westies, you should know that they are weaker than healthy adults.

Make sure you do not overdo the exercise sessions for seniors and puppies. You should use simpler and easier ways to engage them.

Strenuous exercise is not necessary. Activities that may be heavy on the joints should be avoided.

Some examples of such activities include jumping onto and down from platforms and running an obstacle course.

You should also avoid playing a rough tug of war. Do not pull too hard because it may jerk your puppy or senior dog.

Puppies who are below the age of three months may not have had all their vaccinations, so make sure you don’t walk them in public.

Older westies and puppies need about 45 mins to an hour of exercise. Their walks can be anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes long.

Summing up

With a Westie in your life, you are bound to remain on your toes. The energetic and active nature of these dogs will ensure that!

All dogs need a good amount of exercise for their physical and mental health. Westies are especially feisty, so you must tend to their requirements.

An hour of exercise separate from a daily walk is ideal.

Remember that genuine attention, stimulating exercise, and your love form the recipe for a happy Westie!