Desperate for help with our Westie- repost

Posted by westofcool
Jul 25, 2008
Hi guys,
I have a West Highland White Terrier (6 years old) that we adopted from a family 2 years ago. We all love him but he seriously lacks training and it has become a chronic issue- You see, besides the dog being generally agressive due to insecurity around bigger dogs, exhibiting food agression, begging, leash-pulling and ignoring a command unless he "feels like it", he is far worse with me, an 18 year old boy with cerebral palsy. He completely ignores me when no one else but I am home, and has snapped at me whenever I've tried petting him, even in situations where he'd let my brother or parents pet and play with him. He is never excited to see me and I have a strong hunch he doesn't see me as an alpha and thus doesnt care. I have limited mobility so I've never walked him and the ways in which I can play with him are limited ( when trying to play fetch, unless you chase him, he will get bored- he WILL NEVER return the ball to me so it is impossible for me to play). Even feeding him for me is difficult. All these issues combined with his insecurity ( his previous owners were keeping him alone a lot ) makes even petting him scary for me and I am sure my fear of him only adds to his agression.
Knowing my limitations, what can I do to show that I TOO am an alpha, even though I am less involved in his life than my other family members?
I have the book but I cannot do many of the things on my own.
Please get back to me with any suggestions you mayhave.
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Jul 25, 2008
Hi westofcool,

I am glad that you are now trying to rebuild a relationship with your 6 year old Westie. I wish you and your family started the training 2 years ago when you first adopted. But I don't think anything is too late, it will just take longer to fix it. Lets get to the point!

I don't think you can gain your dog's trust and confidence only when you are the "Alpha" and physically strong. You can still try to understand your dog's needs and to communicate even if you have limited mobility. I know someone on an electric wheel chair who walks her 2 dogs every day and the dogs behave nicely. This won't happen overnight but if you are consistent and patient you will get your Westie's trust some day.

Foods and treats work well usually so can you feed the dog every meal? Instead of put the whole portion in the bowl, put maybe 1/4 and just sit next to him as you throw in a few more kibbles from time to time. When he becomes comfortable having you close to you while he eats, you might want to offer him some kibbles from your palm. I don't know how long this will take cause every dog is different but this is the first step - make your dog think you are a nice person who gives him food every day.

The next step is to train him basic commands using treats but I am not going to write how now because I want to wait your dog to become really comfortable being alone with you.

Let us know how this goes. Good luck!