by Miss Jane

Volume Two, Issue Four


Photo by M. Duffy

     
   

Dear Miss Jane,
I got a westie puppy last month! I am so happy about it....she is terrific! We are currently crate training her, teaching her to "come" and "sit." Yes, she bites....but we are working on that with her toys. She makes a "psycho" growl though when we are cleaning her eyes or picking her up when she is tired. We have accomodated to her for when she is tired, but how do we teach her not to do this psycho growl? (She throws her body around and tries to bite at the same time.) Also, what would be a fun way to teach her to stop barking when I say so? Thanks for your help! .

Michelle H.


Hello Michelle ... thanks for writing!
Welcome to puppyhood! Pups express themselves solely with their mouths, which is how they explore their new world too, in exactly the same way as a crawling baby or toddler. All the fussing or correcting in the world is not going to change the puppy and besides it's not a good idea. Even though she needs to learn that there are things which must be done to her whether she likes it or not, doesn't mean she can't learn to enjoy it. It's important to take small positive steps with the puppy, get out the brush, give her a treat, run the brush down her back, give her another treat, soon she'll be standing still for longer periods of time and you can treat accordingly. Ignore the growl, that is simply a puppy tantrum, keep on working on her, don't ever give in to the growl. Growling is a warning and if you continue to stop each time she growls you are taking more and more steps DOWN the ladder of authority. She will learn that her world won't come to an end just because you pick matter out of her eye or cut her nails.

Welcome to puppyhood! Pups express themselves solely with their mouths, which is how they explore their new world too, in exactly the same way as a crawling baby or toddler. All the fussing or correcting in the world is not going to change the puppy and besides it's not a good idea. Even though she needs to learn that there are things which must be done to her whether she likes it or not, doesn't mean she can't learn to enjoy it. It's important to take small positive steps with the puppy, get out the brush, give her a treat, run the brush down her back, give her another treat, soon she'll be standing still for longer periods of time and you can treat accordingly. Ignore the growl, that is simply a puppy tantrum, keep on working on her, don't ever give in to the growl. Growling is a warning and if you continue to stop each time she growls you are taking more and more steps DOWN the ladder of authority. She will learn that her world won't come to an end just because you pick matter out of her eye or cut her nails.

As far as the barking goes...get a spray bottle and fill it with water. Put it on stream and give her a good shot of water whenever she barks, and the same time put a command with it like NO BARK or QUIET. If she decides she likes the spray bottle then use something that makes more noise than her, a soda pop can with a few pennies or pebbles in it. Rattle it hard and loud each time she barks, again putting the command with it. Give her verbal praise (Good Girl) each time she stops. These puppy days are frustrating put pass all too quickly so try to be patient and before you know she'll have outgrown many of the things that make you so crazy.

~Jane


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Dear Miss Jane,
We are the proud owners of a 4 month old female westie. Any suggestions for stopping the digging and eating of the grass and dirt? When we are not watching her in the backyard for a minute...next she's pulling up the grass by its roots and eating it, or digging a hole in the grass and making a muddy mess!

Thank you,
Nancy C.


Thanks for writing, Nancy!
Did you happen to do some research on the Westie breed before you got your puppy? The research would have warned you about the digging. Westies, and all terriers, were bred to dig. More accurately, Westies are bred to "go to ground" (go under the ground) after vermin and digging is an inherent trait in earth dogs, as part of their job as exterminators. Your puppy is exploring her world as only a puppy can and at the same time practicing her natural born terrier talents.

What I would suggest is to offer her a "legal" place to dig. For my own group of Westies, I bought a sandbox, filled it with sand, hosed it down to give some resistance and let them go at it. Alternatively, you could get a child's wading pool and do the same thing, or build your own. You could fill it with dirt instead of sand, but I found sand to be cleaner. Keep the sand dampened so she can really feel like she is digging. Dry, loose sand doesn't work as well. Insert a few small toys halfway in the sand so she has treasure to uncover. A proper digging pit will save your sanity, but you will have to patient while she learns to use it. The key rule is to keep it interesting to her.

Dogs love to eat grass and contrary to popular belief, it does not always mean they are sick to their stomachs. If in doubt, purchase some Barley Dog supplement at a pet supply shop.

The thing to remember is, your Westie is only a very young pup, and right now everything is fascinating to her. Most annoying puppy habits work themselves out once the dog becomes fully mature, in Westies maturity occurs at about 15-18 months of age. To help you get a handle on puppyhood, see if you can locate a puppy socialization class a.k.a. Puppy Kindergarten. Check with local veterinarians, pet supply shops or grooming shops to see if a puppy class or obedience class is offered in your area.

Most importantly, have fun with your puppy, these days are gone before you know it.

~Jane


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Dear Miss Jane,
We have owned our Westie for about a year and a half.

What a great dog. Our family couldn't be happy with our Westie named Cali. I do however need some advice. Whenever there is a thunderstorm, our dog goes ballistic. It seems to always happen around 2:00 a.m. Any ideas on what we should be doing?

Thanks,
Frank


Hello Frank,
Thanks for writing to Westie Wisdom.

Storms affect dogs in two ways; they hear the thunder and physically feel the change in atmospheric pressure. Dogs who are afraid of storms usually pant, pace bark, and feel the desire to hide or ground itself from the static electricity. Dogs who are sensitive to static electricity will try to get in bath tubs or anything damp to achieve the grounding effect. Dogs tend to "feel" storms more than just react to the sound of thunder. I personally have had two "storm" dogs and what worked best for my dogs was to give them a dose of the Bach flower essence called Rescue Remedy. Rescue Remedy is not a drug but a homeopathic preparation which helps soothe animals and people alike, by using the essences of calmative flowers. I give it to my "storm" Westie whenever she begins showing signs of nervousness and within less than five minutes she is virtually back to normal. You can get Rescue Remedy at most good health food stores (not GNC) or a holistic vet office.

Remember that young dogs have an enormous tendency to over exaggerate their emotions. Fearful reactions to things like storms lessen as the dog matures and ages but your response to the dog's reaction is equally as important in teaching the dog that things like storms can be dealt with without going ballistic. If you coddle a fearful dog, that just reinforces their fear. Humans have a natural innate tendency to want to cuddle fears away, which is fine for children but has the opposite affect in dogs. Just be calm yourself without getting angry, put her in a dog crate where she will feel secure and play a soft music radio channel to give her a little background noise which can help to block out the loud claps of thunder. I have found that the desensitizing audio tapes available, which produce storm sounds, don't work in most dogs because, again, it's not so much the sound the dog is reacting to.

Good luck!
~Jane


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Dear Miss Jane,
Our Westie "Hamish" sleeps in the laundry room with the door closed. When he was a puppy he was always carried in. My husband has spoiled him! Now we are trying to get him to walk in on his own. When we tell him it is night night time he hides under the table and will snap at us or run away if we try to get him. My husband has tried coaxing him in with food, which I disagreed with, as he took the food and then did not go in. Please help!!

Jane W.


Hello and thanks for writing to Westie Wisdom,
Westies are experts at getting their way and don't mind using their large teeth to express their desires, if necessary, and since you have already experienced this with Hamish, now is the time to start laying some ground rules. Terriers are not an easy breed to live with once spoiled and if allowed to remain the "ruler of the roost" you can be in for more serious trouble later on down the road. That does not mean that you need to use force, but you do need to lay down the law and be consistent. Dogs are very much like children in that if they can get away with delaying something they don't feel like doing, they will do so

It really isn't the end of the world if Hamish is carried to bed but it is a very good idea to teach him that when you say it is bedtime, he willingly goes in the laundry room. At first you will probably need to command authority by reaching in and pulling him out from wherever he has gone. I would advise wearing a pair of men's canvas work gloves to do this, since he has bitten before. Have a special bed time treat ready, something he will only get at bedtime such as a Kong toy with a dab of peanut butter inside. What he initially hates will soon be turned into something he looks forward to. As each night goes by, make a big deal about preparing his special bedtime "snack". Don't make it much because you don't want him to have to poop unexpectedly during the night. Size isn't important, it's the randomness of the treat that he will enjoy. A raw baby carrot, a tiny piece of hot dog, stuffed Kong, something that he can enjoy, then go off to sleep. Similar to putting a baby to bed with a bottle. I don't recommend raw hides, chew hooves, pig ears, or the like because he could choke on it during the night. Choking is a common occurrence with raw hide so I never, ever recommend those. In a few short weeks, you will be able to say "Hamish, bedtime!" and he'll beat you to the door. Remember, his habit wasn't created overnight so it will take some time to reverse and if he balks and refuses, don't give in and don't bribe, simply go get him and put him to bed. He will soon learn that he has to go to bed no matter what his behaviour and the more willing he is to go on his own, the nicer the outcome.

Let me know how it goes,
~ Jane

   

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