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Westies and Children

Regardless of the breed, whether a dog gets along with children rests primarily rests upon the parents of the children / owners of the dog. Any obedience-trained dog will reside successfully in a home with children prepared for the experience. Prepared children are guided by their parents on how to humanely treat an animal and are supervised at all times by an adult during their interaction with the dog.

Westies, in general, make good family pets. That said, it is good to note that small dogs tend to be nervous around toddlers who run toward them, pat them roughly on the head, or pull their fur, ears, or tail. Any dog may lose patience with a child who will not let it alone when eating or sleeping. Dogs, just as people, need to know that they have a place they can go to rest or get away from the action where no one, including children, will bother them. Dogs also need to be trained that a small person is not its peer to be bossed around. Terriers, in particular, will be in charge of the relationship, if you are not. So the dog must be trained in a positive manner what the rules of the home are. If a household provides such guidance for the children and training for the dog, the dog will get along just fine with every member of the family.

However, human babies are born into households with Westies in residents. With planning, care and attention to the initial meeting, Westies can bond strongly with the new family member. It is important to remember that even though the dog may love a child deeply, the relationship must be supervised. Small children will pull a dog's hair and poke its eyes without meaning any harm. A dog that is allowed to be hurt by a child will eventually strike back out of fear. Many sweet loving dogs have become homeless because of a momentary mistake caused by suffering ongoing abuse at the hand of a child.

To set the tone for the relationship between the Westie and a new child, it is advisable to introduce the dogs to the sights, sounds and smells of babies before the initial encounter. Use some baby powder or baby lotion on yourself. "Borrow" a used baby blanket from someone else. Offer to wash a load of baby clothes, diapers, etc.

New mothers are not kept in the hospital very long, but if you can possibly send something home that smells like the particular baby before he or she comes into the home.

If you are a new mother, let the hubby bring the baby into the house. When you come home from the hospital, greet the dog. Then take the baby to show your dog how much you love the baby. Let them know that this baby is the offspring of the Alpha Dog and Bitch. Often, in the wild, only the alpha reproduces. The rest of the pack takes the role of caretakers. It is usually the beta dog/bitch that takes this responsibility most to heart.

NEVER leave any of the dogs alone with the baby if they can possibly get to the baby in any way. Accidents happen. But if you monitor the relationship carefully and teach your children to be careful around the dog, the dog will bond with the child and become its most staunch defender.

Our program does not place Westies in families with children under 6 years old. It has been our experience in placing dogs that once most children are of school age they are able to fully comprehend the reasons and cautions for humanely caring for an animal. The squealing and giggling of a young child can remind the Westie of its prey and lead him to make a mistake like biting the child.

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