Picking the right dog breed can take a lot of time and effort. Some potential pet owners are looking for a companion while others are looking forward to the challenge of dog training. One of the most impressive tricks a dog can perform is skateboarding, but some breeds are more suited to these kinds of activities than others.
I once saw a video of a small dog doing this almost effortlessly and I thought it was a cool and fun dog skill – plus the dog looked like he was having the time of his life! So, as a Westie owner, I’ve been wondering: can we teach our dog Sami to skateboard? Since Westies can be energetic chasers and incredibly independent, I wasn’t sure this would be a skill I can teach him, but here’s some research I’ve compiled.
Can you teach a Westie how to skateboard? In short, yes. While it may take some time, Westies are highly intelligent and loyal to their owners, making them fantastic dogs for this kind of training. So long as you have patience, teaching your Westie to skateboard is more than doable.
So just how do you go about teaching your dog this trick? What kinds of challenges are you likely to encounter? Keep reading for more detailed answers to these questions and more.
How do You Teach a Westie to Skateboard?
One of the first things you need to do before teaching your Westie how to skateboard is assess their health and physical condition. Some dogs don’t have the strength or build to balance and move properly on the board. If your dog is older, you may not want to subject your dog to risks that could result in serious injury.
Once you’ve determined that your dog is in good shape, think about the type of skateboard you want to train them with. Your personal skateboard may work well for you, but if it’s too heavy or high off the ground, your dog may not be enthused during training. Since westies are smaller dogs, make sure you have a skateboard appropriate for their size and strength.
After you’ve selected a board, make sure your westie gets to spend plenty of time around it. If your dog doesn’t show interest, consider giving treats whenever they sniff or otherwise interact with the board. This could be especially useful for more nervous or skittish dogs.
Next, have your dog routinely step onto a surface the height of the skateboard. While it can be the skateboard itself, it doesn’t have to be, and a more stationary surface may be the best bet. You want your dog to become familiar with the motion of stepping up onto the board. Since Westies are so intelligent, your dog will likely pick it up in no time. You can guide your dog onto the board with treats, and then tell them to stay. Make sure you give them praise as you go!
Even if your dog doesn’t have trouble following these steps, be careful not to rush the process or try to put your westie through a long training session. They will be more likely to get tired, bored, or lose focus.
Before teaching your dog to move the skateboard, move the skateboard yourself so your Westie can get used to the movement. Get your treats ready, then place two paws on the skateboard while you move the board slightly. Tempt your Westie with treats until they realize they can use their paws to move the board towards you and the treat.
Getting the Most Out of Your Training Sessions
As mentioned above, don’t train for long stretches of time. Consider taking a break for about twenty minutes if neither you nor your dog are tired or frustrated with the process, then continue. While good treats help boost motivation, gradually reduce the amount you give, just like when teaching any other trick. A carpeted area can be safer and easier to control than hard surfaces or parking lots. If your dog manages to slide into something and get startled or hurt, your pup may be less enthusiastic to jump back on the board. You also don’t want to risk letting your dog roll onto a busy street by accident.
Finding the Right Skateboard
If you’re not very familiar with skateboards to begin with, this part may take some experimenting. In addition to finding one in a size that is suitable for your dog, you should also be looking for boards that give your dog room to stand naturally, otherwise they may be uncomfortable. Also, look for older ball bearings. If you don’t want your dog to go flying along without you, look for a board that doesn’t typically reach higher speeds.
Consulting With Your Vet
As one of the most important beginning steps to this process, it’s not one you should skip, even if you think your dog is in perfect health. Though many different sizes of dogs can learn to skateboard, you want to make sure your dog’s legs and joints are in good health. You should also have your vet examine the paws, since the textures of certain skateboards on softer pads could cause pain. Your vet may even have some extra training tips!
How Long Should it Take to Train my Westie?
The answer to this question depends largely on the dog in question. Westies can be difficult to train from time to time because they enjoy chasing things and are largely independent. However, their intelligence makes them great candidates for this type of trick, especially if they are already bonded with their owners.
Where Can I Find the Right Skateboard?
Once you’ve determined your dog’s needs in a skateboard, you can begin to narrow down your specific search results. There are many places you can find a skateboard, including toy stores, eBay, other online sellers, and larger stores like Target and Walmart. You might want to see products in person, however, since it can be difficult to judge certain aspects of skateboards online.
While it may take some time, patience, and hard work, you can most certainly train your westie to skateboard. There are some safety precautions to keep in mind, but a motivated owner and dog can master this trick in no time.