Training a West Highland white terrier puppy

Training a Westie is a challenge. Sorry, I was laughing at the understatement of that first sentence. Westies are terriers. Terriers are very intelligent and have a lot of self-confidence. This makes training them more about training you to train them.

Potty training is pretty much the same with any breed. My Westie, Bugsy, had an older Golden retriever who was a wonderful role model. Bugsy had very few accidents. It’s really helpful to have an older dog when training a puppy. Maybe I could start a rent-a-dog business! Hmmm, I’ll have to think about that.

Beyond potty training, toss all the previous techniques out the window. I took Bugsy to puppy pre-school. He got a certificate of participation. He wasn’t an outstanding puppy. But, he was up against several Goldens, a Lab, and other dogs that don’t have that stubborn Scottish streak.

The trainer said never say no to your dog. I wondered how you could do that? She said to praise him when he was behaving and ignore bad behavior. Huh? That made no sense to me. So, I bought one of those training dogs for idiots books. It was very simple and easy to understand. Unfortunately, whoever wrote it had never met a Westie.

He was great about sleeping all night in his crate from the night we brought him home. That was a huge relief. He was so cute dragging my husband’s size 12 shoes around. He never chewed on them he just liked dragging them. He also liked dragging a decorative sheep across the floor and under the kitchen table. Like with the shoes, he didn’t chew he just liked dragging something larger than he.

You’re thinking, “What a cute puppy.” And you’re right. He was and is adorable. But, not perfect. He loved to chew on the large wicker baskets that had plants in them. I sprayed them with Bitter Apple. He thought it was a nice addition. So, I tried Tabasco sauce. He must have some Mexican in his family tree. No matter what I used, he still chewed on the wicker.

I looked in one of the many books I had, some of which were specific to Westies. Nothing. Okay that did it. I’m using the “N” word. When he started to chew, I very firmly said, “No, not for Bugsy.” Eventually, he stopped. Training manuals 0, me 1.

He also liked to knock over wastebaskets. My husband said to put them in closets or cupboards. But, I knew he had to learn what was not acceptable behavior. Bugsy not my husband. I gave up try to train him. At Bugsy’s next well-puppy check up, I asked the vet about the wastebasket. He said

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