Westie Obedience- “Is this an oxymoron?”

Westies, and the terrier group in general, are not commonly seen in the obedience ring. There’s a very good reason for this. Unlike sporting and herding dogs that were bred to work in close cooperation with a person, terriers were bred to work independently, often in packs. This independent nature is the antithesis of obedience training. That’s not to say it can’t be done; you just need to figure out how to make your Westie think the whole thing his idea, and keep the training sessions short and fun. With some breeds, you can repeat an exercise over and over to perfection. If a Westie does it right a couple times in a row, stop. Otherwise, he will begin to think, “I must not be doing this right, I think I’ll try it a different way”.

Some people think obedience training and competition can ruin a terrier’s spirit. I’m here to tell you this not necessarily the case. Raleigh is a perfect example. I tell people his obedience is “only ring deep”, like the expression “only skin deep”. As soon as he is out of the ring (and unfortunately sometimes even

before he comes out of the ring), he conveniently forgets all the training, commands, attention, and obedience. To me, one of the most rewarding aspects of obedience training, whether you score high or not, is that you are spending time with your dog, and if the training is not harsh, your dog will enjoy and appreciate the attention.

Having said all that, I must add, I know of one Canadian Westie, Leman Clodie, that has at least two perfect 200 scores in obedience. This dog puts boarder collies to shame. To every rule, there is an exception.

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