Who are you guys?
10 week old west highland terrier
Dear Miss Jane,
We have a 2 year old Westie named Daisy. We have found lately that when the neighbourhood children hug Daisy, she turns and growls at them. In one instance, my husband was walking Daisy and a puppy Border Collie wanted to play - Daisy was not amused. At the same time, a neighbour's grandchild ran to pat Daisy and instead, stuck his hand in her face. She turned around, growled and snapped at him. Daisy is fairly timid and we are convinced the puppy encounter caused Daisy stress. This, combined with a strange child sticking his hand in her face caused her to growl and snap.
We aren't sure how to handle this situation. Daisy sees these children on a daily basis and looks forward to playing with them. We aren't sure why she is growling when they hug her. Nonetheless, we have instructed the parents and the children that when Daisy growls, that means stop what they are doing - she's telling them she doesn't like it. Should be discipling her for this? And if so, what should we be doing? The growling we can understand, it's her way of saying STOP DOING THAT but the snapping. I'd
like to teach her that's not acceptable (just like nipping or biting).
As I mentioned, Daisy is a timid dog and isn't really very friendly to other people or dogs when she is outside her home. Bring these people inside, and she is a very friendly dog. For example, my neighbour walked by with her dog and my husband asked her to bend down to say hi to Daisy, which she did. Daisy immediately turned her back and sat a few yards away. Having said that, there are a few neighbours that she is very friendly with regardless of whether they are inside our home or outside. Can you help explain her behaviour and is there some way to make her more social?
We are new to the Westie breed (we had a Golden before). We were so thrilled that Daisy didn't have the usual "terrier temperment" but now, we are starting to wonder if as a Westie ages, they can become nasty.
Thanks for any help.
Thanks for writing. No Westies don't become nastier as they get older, they usually carry over the same behaviours from puppyhood, which they were allowed to get away with, into adolescence and beyond. Also once adolescence passes at around one year of age, dogs settle into the kind of temperaments they are going to have throughout life. However, that does not mean they can't be corrected or retrained to get rid of nasty behaviours. Daisy was extremely overstimulated by the children, the Border Collie, the man saying hello, etc. She was giving stress signals such as eyes dilating and perhaps ears going back, but one has to be very observant to see those signals. The growling most definitely is a warning, but she should not be allowed to get away with it. I personally don't let children hug all over my Westies because Westies are not extremely tolerant of children, especially young children.
When you are out walking remember to take along a few treats for Daisy to have. Do not offer them to her around another dog or she will get competitive but let the children give her some treats and pat her on the head. It isn't fair to Daisy that the children grab her and hug her, if that stresses her out, and it seems that it does. You mentioned you had a Golden Retriever before. those dogs are great with kids, but terriers are not, so allow Daisy the room she needs to be able to handle the children. If you can find an obedience school who welcomes the difference in terriers, I would highly suggest you take her there. Obedience school not only helps you with formal instruction but gives the dog a chance to socialize and learn around distractions.
I hope this helps and feel free to contact me again if you need further advice.
Dear Miss Jane,
About 3 weeks ago, I purchased a 4 month old Westie named Bailey. He was happy to go in his home (crate) for the night until a few nights ago. He scratches at the door & won't settle down. In order to get sleep myself, I put him on my bed for the night. That's the only place he won't jump down from yet.
I do walk him in the morning, during my lunch hour & in the evening. I also spend numerous hours a day playing with him. He doesn't appear to have a problem staying his his home (crate) during the day. Why would this behavior begin all of a sudden?
Hello Lea, welcome to puppyhood!
Bailey has decided that you will give him the attention he wants if he makes a lot of noise and demands it. Puppies, like children, can figure out how to get what they want in no time. If you know all his needs are met, then ignore his attention-getting tactics. Yes, it's hard to do, but if you want peace and harmony, you must try. He will test the boundaries as he gets older so be prepared for a lot of behaviours that seem to spring up suddenly. It's part of growing up.
Establish a sort of bed-time for him, and I would recommend it is before your bedtime, only because dogs need to learn how to be quiet even when their people are still up and moving about. Bailey by now, will expect to sleep in the bed with you, so as you are preparing for bed, he may start barking and scratching. I would take a soda can with some pennies in it, or a small stainless steel bowl, and either rattle the can or tap the crate door with the bowl, and tell him QUIET. You may have to do it several times before he will actually give up. If that doesn't work, grit your teeth and ignore him. In a case like this, that type of behaviour extinguishes itself if ignored.
You have to have a lot of patience when raising a puppy but it is worth it to succeed.
Dear Miss Jane,
I brought my new 10-week westie home on Saturday and today, Monday, she threw up all day (5 times). She was also very active all weekend and now is sleeping all day and not eating at all.
She's going to the vet this afternoon. Any idea what's wrong? We fed her the same food as the breeder.
Thanks for writing. Well I always like to rule out medical problems in a situation like this but let me address a few things it could be. Number one, I think excitement played a big part in it. A ten week old pup is ON or OFF, in other words, plays full speed ahead and then crashes into a deep sleep. Change of water can play a big role in stomach upset as well as treats of any kind, such as rawhide chews, cowhooves, dog biscuits, people food, etc. Think of anything she could have gotten in her mouth, or was offered by the people in the family, aside from her regular food, that could have upset her stomach. Do you have a cat? Could she have investigated the cat litter box? It is like playing 20 questions when it comes to puppies, but hopefully your vet was able to rule out any serious problems.
Please let me know how it went.
Dear Miss Jane,
After losing our 12 year old Westie to cancer, we have acquired a female, 11 month old Westie from a breeder-vet in Oklahoma. She is a love and a joy to my wife and me. However, she has been very destructive since she was spayed about two weeks ago. She has chewed up several blankets, chewed on the wood legs of furniture, and yesterday she chewed up part of a living room chair (the cushion pillow). Could you please help us with this problem by telling us what we can do to stop her from being so distructive?
Jim and Karen Gardner
Hello Jim and Karen,
It sounds as though the hormone levels are getting back to normal and this behaviour should end soon. Some Westies almost resort back to puppy behaviour once spayed and neutered but don't worry it doesn't last long. It usually takes three to six weeks before everything is settled at which time you should see vast improvement in bahaviour.
I would suggest you confine her to a gated area or a crate where she can do little or no damage, while you are away from home. It would also be a good idea to provide her with some dog safe toys such as Vermont Chewman or something similar. Those toys are stuffed with faux lambs wool cover. You can also find a canvas covered stuffed toy too. It is better to give her toys that she can "legally" destroy than to lose more of your nice things to her destructiveness. Do be careful with stuffed animals, as tempting as it
is to just go to a dollar store to buy a bunch of cheap ones, those stuffed animals aren't designed for dogs. Go to a pet supply store for the dog friendly (and approved) stuffed toys.
If she is having separation anxiety, which can result from being away from home for a night or two, confine her, give her a safe toy, and leave music or the tv on while you are away. You can also give her a homeopathic remedy like Rescue Remedy which is available at health food stores.
Let me know how it goes.