DOES MY WESTIE NEED FORMAL TRAINING?
We encourage you to seek out a training school for your Westie. If you have a puppy, please consider going to puppy school as soon as he has his shots. And consider seriously, attendance in the next six-week session of obedience school. There are many reasons to do this and it is a rare dog and family that won’t benefit from it.
- If your Westie never learns a single command, school is a great place to socialize that youngster, both with humans of various shapes and sizes but also with dogs of many breeds and sizes. Socializing now will give your Westie a much better chance in life.
- If the puppy was purchased at a pet store, it came from a puppy mill. These pups are taken away from their mothers too soon and the mother does not have a chance to show them how to socialize. For example, these puppies often have not learned ‘bite inhibition’. This means it is something you will have to teach. Make sure your puppy stays with mom and the litter for at least 8 weeks. But if that didn’t happen, it is just another reason to get it into school so that you can work on socialization NOW.
- Westies are SO SMART! They LOVE to learn and they LOVE to show off what they can do. Give your little one a chance to learn and grow. You will be surprised at how much they can absorb.
- Most Westies who come into Rescue arrive with very little training. Perhaps they would have been a successful family member if the owners had committed the time and attention to basic training. Puppies don’t know how to behave. We have to teach them! Give your puppy a chance to be a great little family member. (On the menu, choose “Behavior” and read about ‘aggression’.)
- You might just get the ‘bug’ to take the training even further! On the Menu, choose “Fun Things” to find out what you can do with your Westie.
With permission from Helen a member of the WHWTCSEM…
A few weeks ago in Connor’s obedience class our instructor was teaching us how important the Leave It Command is. She said if you only taught one command that would be the most important. It could save your dog’s life. So we worked on it. Thank God we did! Connor being a curious and into everything 9 month old puppy somehow got into the closet and got my purse opened and took out a bottle of pills that were Alleve. I saw him out of the corner of my eye with something in his mouth. By then he had the cover off and several of the pills were out of the bottle. I yelled Connor Leave It which was enough to startle him, he backed up a few steps and sat I was able to get the empty bottle and all of the pills all over the floor.
Last night at class I was telling the instructor how grateful I was that I had taught Connor that command. The instructor who is also a Vet had me tell the story to the class. She also explained that it wouldn’t take many pills and the effect it would have on the dog. WE all worked the Leave It command last night.
So if you only teach one obedience command make it The LEAVE IT command.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A SCHOOL
- Find a school that uses only POSITIVE TRAINING methods.
- Find a school that does not use pinch collars or choke collars on your little friend.
- Talk to the trainer and make sure they LIKE TERRIERS!! Many trainers do not. It makes a difference!
- Observe a class before putting down your money.
- Commit to not only spending that hour a week in school but also to spending a few minutes every day in practice sessions. Understand that dog training schools are NOT training the dogs. They are training the human owners to train their own dogs. One hour a week is not enough to train a dog. You must practice daily.
- If you are unaware of a school in your area, talk to your vet or groomer or contact the closest breed club.
- Search the Internet for schools. You can go to the AKC site and look for schools there. Or use a search engine to find dog training schools in your area. Many school districts offer evening dog training classes. Some links in the Michigan area:
A dog is never too old to go to school. Rescue Westie Annie, who is eight years old, enjoyed school and did very well! She attended classes with Michael Burkey.
EVEN WITH FORMAL TRAINING, YOU CAN NEVER TOTALLY TRUST A WESTIE
While training is very important and may well save your Westie’s life in an emergency, there is only so much you can expect. For example, many people think they can train a Westie to respect their property boundaries. And it may work 99% of the time. It is that other 1% that can get them killed. Westies are hunters and have natural instincts. Training cannot overcome everything 100% of the time. See the following story for an example:
A couple days ago, I was taking Sarah outside and Annie saw a rabbit and was out the door and into the woods. I spent an hour hunting for her and because I didn’t take time to put a coat on, I was freezing as it was during a freezing rain. I was devastated and crying, fearing that we had lost her or that she would get hurt or her collar snagged on something. All sorts of scenarios went through my mind. As I was crying on John’s shoulder, he reached over and opened the door and in strolled Annie. She knows she is supposed to sit and stay when the door is opened; but, the rabbit and thought of getting it made her throw all reason to the wind. This is a perfect example of us being lulled in to always trusting her and forgetting that sometimes instinct is stronger than training.
YOU CAN NEVER BE “SAFE ENOUGH”!!! CHOOSE A PHYSICAL FENCE
When you read the story about Miss Molly’s big adventure, please understand that this is a Westie who has been in training for most of her life. She has Rally obedience titles and is soon to start competing in “real” obedience. She has a Senior Earthdog title which requires that she be recalled away from a cage of rats within 90 seconds. There is every reason in the world to think that she could be recalled in any situation at any time…..EXCEPT that she is a terrier!! She was bred to hunt and kill critters. When the “critter crazies” take over, her whole brain shuts down and her instincts take over. It is by the grace of God that we still have Miss Molly here on earth with us
Please read about her adventure and then think once again about your ability to protect your dog. Think again if you believe your terrier will not leave the electric fencing area. Think again if you really believe you can reliably train a Westie to stay within boundaries. Even if you take all the precautions, think about what can happen at the front door, especially if there is no screen or storm door as a double barrier.
Miss Molly’s sweet, smiling face is worth the expense of a physical fence. What is the safety of your dog worth to you?
A rolled up newspaper can be an effective pet training tool when used properly. For instance, use the rolled-up newspaper if your dog chews up something inappropriate or has a housebreaking accident.
Bring the dog over to the destroyed object (or mess), then take the rolled-up newspaper and hit yourself over the head as you repeat the phrase, “I forgot to watch my dog! I forgot to watch my dog!”