How to Train a Yorkie

By Sally Gutteridge | Breeds

The Yorkshire terrier is a wonderful breed. Small in size and stature but large of heart and personality the Yorkie is a great little dog. There is something special about the shining eyes and button black nose of the Yorkie. When you have experienced this breed of dog for any length of time you will certainly be hooked. Many Yorkshire terrier owners have multiple dogs and consistently have at least one Yorkie in the household.

Yorkie by type

Unlike many other breeds of dog the Yorkie varies. Originally a working dog bred for rat catching and more recently bred as a small toy dog to be a pet. In recent years the teacup Yorkie has been introduced. This tiny dog is part of the handbag dog generation and unfortunately, due to this irresponsible fashion breeding, can be very unhealthy.

How to train a Yorkie according to his instinct

How to train a Yorkie really is based on the size and breeding of your dog. The standard sized dog, which is about the size of a West Highland terrier, is hardy and can be preoccupied with the chasing of wildlife. The main issue to deal with will probably be recall. If you see someone shouting a dog’s name fruitlessly in an area of high wildlife, they are probably calling a terrier of some description. Often a Yorkshire and by this point the instinct driven dog is way beyond effective recall. Carrying a typical terrier nature this Yorkie can be indifferent to any request.

Recall verses Wildlife

When learning how to train a Yorkie to return on command, the most important thing to remember is his instinct. If you are teaching your dog to come back, do not take him to a place that is full of wildlife. Rabbits and squirrels will always take precedence over a leash and biscuit to this dog. Beware of rabbit holes as the incredibly driven Yorkie is not beyond a dig and tunnel for his quarry.

How to train a Yorkie to return is by being completely consistent. Never give a terrier the chance to run away. The Yorkie is so intelligent that he will learn to ignore recall from the first time he manages to get away with it. Begin recall on the lead then a longer line and always give food reward.

Practice recall in areas of low distraction and imagine an invisible circle around you. This will be the dog’s instinct circle and will move with you. Within the circle, your Yorkie will return on command if you are using sufficient reward. When he passes the invisible perimeter he will probably no longer listen to you. So it’s your job to learn his response distance and keep him within it or on leash.

A whistle is a great idea for a terrier as they can become oblivious to a shouted name. You must associate the whistle with something the dog really wants for it to be effective or it too, will be ignored. Many terriers love squeaky toys and they can be used as an effective recall tool.

The Toy Yorkie

A toy Yorkie is often not at all concerned about chasing wildlife. They often live happily amid other dogs, cats, hens and rabbits. Biddable and loyal, it can be surprising how different the toy Yorkie is from his larger standard Yorkie relation.

Medium energy the toy Yorkie will happily exercise itself around the home and garden, yet is happy to do much longer walks. This little dog often stays close to its owner when out walking and is friendly to strangers.

How to train a Yorkie out of believing that he owns the sofa

A toy Yorkie can develop a bossy nature and reactive response if not trained effectively. Trainers and behaviorists are often approached for advice on how to train a Yorkie not to guard the sofa or other furniture. A Yorkie that guards furniture may growl or snap if asked to move. If this is the case a thin house line attached to the collar is a much better option than direct physical touch of the dog. Keeping the house line on at all times, then taking the end of it to remove the bossy dog gently from the furniture, without paying him any attention will achieve the desired result whilst removing any need for direct confrontation. He should soon learn that guarding is fruitless.

The Yorkshire terrier generally has an awful lot of self-belief which can become a problem if not channeled properly. Because a dog so small as the toy Yorkie can be picked up and moved easily it is tempting not to train them at all. This is a big mistake, all dogs regardless of size need guidelines and positive reward based training to know their place in the family home.  How to train a Yorkie effectively involves breed research, reward and positive reinforcement.

Trained and stimulated properly, the Yorkie is a brilliant little dog. He is amusing, intelligent, complicated and sometimes challenging. He will teach you a lot about small dogs and regardless of his sometimes, frustratingly indifferent nature the Yorkie will be a dog that stays in your heart forever.

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