and Family Fun
Like all working dogs, terriers are physically and psychologically suited
to their assigned jobs. That terriers were bred to hunt rodents poses
no surprise to Westie owners who have seen their dogs' reaction to passing
chipmunks. Swift and courageous with a powerful sense of smell and cunning
wits, the Westie is never happier than when plying his trade. So if you
do not have a barn in need of extermination, you may want to look into
Earthdog trials or Agility Games to keep your terrier in shape.
Obedience training will serve as the foundation for other activities you
can enjoy with your dog. From "Puppy Kindergarten" and adult obedience
classes to obedience personal trainers, a variety of resources are offered
in every virtually every community. Your dog will not learn everything
it needs to know in a one-hour weekly class for 8-10 weeks. The classes
are designed to teach you how to train your dog. The dog will need at
least 15 minutes of training every day to learn the basics: sit, down,
stay, come, etc. The dog learns by repetition, repetition, repetition,
consistency, patience, and reward/praise. Your training of the dog goes
on long after the classes are over.
Earthdog trials focus on hunting skills. Points are assigned for the dog's
ability to detect, ferret out, follow and capture prey. For further information
on this sport, see the AKC
Agility is a sporting event in which one dog and one human work together
so that the dog successfully navigates a series of obstacles arranged
in a random course. The course is usually about 180 yards long and snakes
around inside an area about 100 feet square. Each run is timed or scored
to so that the goal is to complete the course in the highest score or
the quickest time possible. Obstacles consist of tunnels, planks, platforms
and A-frames. Agility equipment is easy and inexpensive to build yourself.
Many good resources can be found on the Internet to acquaint you with
the sport and to help you plan and build your own course. Try http://www.dogpatch.org/agility.html
for a very comprehensive introduction to Agility.
Even if you do not have time to take part in organized activities, playing
with your dog regularly will be essential to his or her well being. Walking,
jogging, Frisbee throwing, playing ball or even chasing the dog through
a safe, enclosed space will keep both of you in shape. In the winter,
getting regular exercise is a little more difficult but not impossible.
Try tossing a ball up and down a stairway whenever both you and your dog
has cabin fever.