One of the best ways to keep your dog happy, healthy, and well-behaved is by making sure that they are getting enough exercise. This is especially true for high energy breeds like West Highland White Terriers.
Westies that don’t get enough exercise tend to be less healthy, misbehave more, and even bark more.
Westies typically require 45 to 60 minutes of exercise each day. Westie puppies will require a little more and older Westies will require a little less.
- Benefits of Exercise for Your Westie
- 9 Activities to Tire Out Your Westie
- Westie Exercise Final Thoughts
Benefits of Exercise for Your Westie
There are many benefits to exercising your Westie on a regular basis. For one thing, regular exercise helps to keep your dog physically healthy and fit – and avoid obesity. It boosts heart health, strengthens muscles and bones, and improves coordination and balance.
In addition, regular exercise can also help to reduce stress levels which leads to a calmer, better behaved dog.
Beyond these physical and mental benefits, regular exercise helps to promote bonding between you and your furry companion.
9 Activities to Tire Out Your Westie
From walking and running to agility contests and Earthdog competitions, there are an endless number of ways to tire out your Westie. If you are looking for new exercises for your West Highland Terrier, here are 9 ideas.
1. Taking Walks With Your Westie
The most obvious way to get your Westie some exercise each day is taking them for walks. To make the experience more enjoyable for both you and your dog, it is best to make sure they are properly trained to walk on a leash.
Before you begin, make sure that you have all of the right equipment – this should include a properly fitted collar or harness, as well as a sturdy leash.
When it comes to training your dog to walk nicely on the leash, patience and positive reinforcement are key. Try practicing in areas with low levels of distraction at first, gradually increasing the intensity as your dog gets more comfortable walking on the leash.
As you work with your dog, remember to always be calm, patient, and encouraging.
2. Playing Fetch With Your Westie
Playing fetch is a great way to exercise nearly every dog and Westies are no exception.
Westies instinctually love chasing small animals, and are more than happy to chase a tennis ball or toy. Getting them to bring the toy back to you may require a little bit of work, but once they get it down, playing fetch will become your go-to physical activity.
The first thing you’ll need is a toy that your Westie is interested in. Once you have the toy, start by simply playing with your dog with it. When they seem to be having fun, throw the toy a short distance away and encourage them to fetch it.
If they bring the toy back to you, give them lots of praise and a treat. If they don’t bring the toy back, don’t worry – just keep practicing and they’ll eventually get the hang of it.
Because of their size, some Westies may find it difficult or uncomfortable to fit a regular tennis ball in their mouth. I recommend the extra small KONG Air Dog tennis balls.
3. Playing Tug of War With Your Westie
Whether it’s with humans or other dogs, all dogs love playing tug of war. While some people think that it encourages aggressive behavior, it is really just a natural dog thing to do.
Playing tug of war with your Westie can help to improve their cardiovascular health, as well as increase their strength and coordination.
While playing tug of war with larger dogs may be difficult and tiring, playing tug of war with a Westie is a much more enjoyable experience.
A small rope toy that they can get their teeth around is the perfect way to get started playing tug of war with your Westie.
4. Playing Frisbee With Your Westie
Teaching your Westie to catch a frisbee can be a lot of fun. The key to success is to start out slowly and gradually build up to more advanced tricks.
First of all, make sure that your dog is comfortable with the idea of chasing after a flying disc. Experiment with different tosses and distances until you find the right one for your pet.
Once your dog appears to have mastered the basics of catching, you can move on to more difficult poses and movements – or just keep throwing them the disc.
Hard frisbees can be tough on a dog’s mouth, especially if the frisbee develops sharp edges from the dog chewing on it. I recommend the KONG rubber flying disc which is made of flexible rubber and is nearly indestructible.
5. Running With Your Westie
If you are a long distance runner, your Westie is not going to make a great running companion. However, they do like to run and can keep up with you for short distances.
For example, Murphy, my West Highland Terrier growing up, used to pull me on my Roller Blades around the block.
The Westie body with short legs is built for digging, not running. So, you’ll want to make sure that you aren’t overworking them on your runs.
6. Agility Training With Your Westie
If you’re looking to build your relationship with your Westie and give both of you an enjoyable activity to share, then dog agility training may be the perfect option.
This type of training incorporates a variety of obstacles and exercises that require your Westie to complete each obstacle successfully. Some common obstacles include tunnels, jumps, weave poles, and teeter totters.
Each individual obstacle has its own set of challenges for your dog, and working through these challenges helps to build confidence and strengthen bonds between you and your pup.
If agility training is something that you want to do, there are a variety of dog agility training kits that you can use at the park or right in your backyard.
7. Swimming With Your Westie
Westies aren’t known as water dogs, and some will take to water easier than others. But if you expose them to water as a puppy, they may end up loving it just as much as a Labrador Retriever.
As with running, the body of a West Highland White Terrier just isn’t built for swimming. That doesn’t mean that they can’t swim, but you should use extra caution when your Westie is around the water.
For more info, check out my blog post What to Know About West Highland Terriers and Water.
8. Earthdog Training With Your Westie
If you’ve never heard of an Earthdog competition, you’re not alone. These events are somewhat obscure, but they’re actually a lot of fun – both for the dogs and their owners.
The basic premise is simple: a dog is dispatched into a series of tunnels, and it’s up to the dog to find the “prey” (usually a rat or other small animal) that’s hiding inside. The dog’s progress is timed, and points are awarded for various accomplishments, such as negotiating obstacles and finding the prey quickly.
Westies naturally have a strong prey drive specifically for small animals which makes them great at Earthdog competitions.
To get started, check out this article from the American Kennel Club.
9. Mental Stimulation for Your Westie
Mental exercise for your Westie is just as important as physical exercise. While most of the above physical activities will also be mentally stimulating for your dog, there are plenty of simple ways to give your dog some more mental stimulation.
You can try teaching them new tricks. Westies are intelligent dogs that are capable of learning new commands in 25 to 40 repetitions.
Another easy way is to hide their favorite treats around the house or yard and let them “hunt” for them.
If you want to give them some mental stimulation while you’re at work, you can fill a treat toy with their favorite treats to leave with them. It will challenge them to use their brain to figure out how to get the treats out.
Westie Exercise Final Thoughts
You should strive to give your Westie 45 minutes to an hour of exercise each day. Of course, sometimes life gets in the way, but the more consistent you are with getting them their exercise, the more well behaved they will be.
A Westie that doesn’t get enough exercise gets bored easily and is more likely to bark excessively, dig up the yard, or chew on your favorite shoes.
I hope this article gave you some good ideas on how to get your Westie the exercise that they need. Mixing up their exercise routine will keep it fun and exciting for both you and your dog.