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Almost without exception, breeders will advertise that their favorite terrier, westies dogs, are good with children. However, terrier enthusiasts, and westie rescue organizations, tell a different story. Before you bring your terrier into a home with small children, be sure you understand the westie personality, and how they might react to your children's behavior.
Like any terrier, a westie can have what is called a high 'prey drive.' Any breed of terrier, westhighland terriers included, was originally bred to hunt down small prey, chase into its den, and then aggressively, or even viscously fight the prey until it was caught in the dog's jaws. Because small children's high, squealing voices sound like the squeals of fleeing prey , a westies' prey drive may be triggered by these sounds.
To compound the confusion the dog will see children running from them in the same way the see prey running to escape. It will give chase.
Among the breeds of terrier, a westie is one that will not tolerate manhandling. Trainers advise that unlike some dogs, which can be desensitized to the ear-pulling, and poking and prodding that small children are likely to inflict, westies will react adversely to this treatment. The more you or your child annoys your little terrier, the more likely it is to become aggressive or nip.
From the point of view of a terrier, it will see small children as an inferior member of the 'pack.' This is true of many dogs. Being strong-willed west highland white terriers have an inclination to be bossy in the first place. Small children are incapable of countering this behavior.
If you have your heart set on a terrier, westies can still be your dog of choice if you have children. First train your children, then train your terrier. Teach your children how to properly approach, handle, and play with your westie.
This is wise for any child, even if you do not have dogs, because at some time in their lives they will encounter a stray, or a dog tethered in its yard, and will need to know what to do to avoid aggravating the animal.
Obedience training is highly recommended for any westie that will be around small children. Also, give your westie an escape hole, a place that only it can reach, where it can feel safe if the children do manage to annoy it. Even if you have had obedience training for your terrier, they should never be left alone with babies or toddlers. This is true of any dog.
Playful, friendly, and loyal, westhighland terriers are good pets. If both are properly supervised and prepared, can truly be good dogs for children.
(Disclaimer: Any information contained in this site relating to various medical, health and fitness conditions of Westies or other animals and their treatments is for informational purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for the advice provided by your own veterinarian. You should not use the information contained herein for diagnosing the health of any animal. You should always consult and check with your own vet or veterinarian.)
I do hope that you have found the article of use to you.
Good health and happiness
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Happiest and Most Well Behaved Westie You
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