In rescue shelters there is a trend for the older dogs to often be passed by in favour of a younger dog. There is a common misconception that the older the dog, the less you can teach it but the reality is that any dog can learn at any age. In fact older dogs are often easier to train than young ones as they have a longer attention span and more self-control. Westies, being a highly intelligent breed are very quick to learn but can learn bad habits just as quickly as good ones and so it is up to you to decide what you want to train them to do.
The level of success you achieve depends of course on the methods you choose to train them. Reward based training means that they will be far more likely to repeat the good behaviour again. The key to training is the relationship you have with your dog. If there is a mutual respect your Westie will be more inclined to want to work with you but remember that you can’t force your dog to respect you, you must earn his respect and then there is no limit to what he will do for you. Forget all about ‘dominance’, ‘alpha’, ‘pack leader’ and similar terms and work on your dog seeing you as someone who can be relied upon and trusted instead.
Timmy, an eleven year old westie rehomed by Westie ReHoming is a typical example of what can be achieved with an older dog using patience, understanding, mutual respect and a liberal sprinkling of love. Timmy was adopted by Fiona who lives in beautiful Angus, Scotland and has lived with her for almost two years. He had received no formal training in his first home as the family’s busy lifestyle left little time for Timmy. Eventually he was relinquished to the charity which set about looking for the ideal home for him. Fiona is no stranger to training a dog as her last dog excelled at agility competitions into an advanced age. She understands the importance of bonding with a dog before teaching it new behaviours and was an ideal choice of home for Timmy. In a very short time there was an obvious chemistry between them which has got stronger as time goes by.
Not long after adopting Timmy, Fiona decided that they would try Obedience Training and Timmy took to it like a duck to water, just loving to please and enjoying every moment. He soon worked his way through the Kennel Club Good Citizen Award Scheme and they planned to ‘go for Gold’ until Covid-19 brought the competitions to a halt. Hopefully they can take it very soon now and we look forward to seeing his KCGC Gold award certificate.
Just before lockdown Timmy’s proud ‘mum’ booked a photographic session for her boy with award winning Craig Cantwell who was voted ‘Scotland’s Best Pet Photographer’ no less, and here he is seen posing proudly by Broughty Ferry Castle.
This remarkable lad is just an example of what can be achieved with an older dog and should be an inspiration to anyone considering adopting a westie. What a wonderful partnership he and Fiona have, which is surely what rehoming is all about