Yorkshire Terriers are a small and cute breed of dog that are generally good natured and fun pets – but like any dog they can experience behavioral problems if they aren’t treated correctly and trained well. This isn’t of course to say that whenever a Yorkie has behavioral problems it’s the owner’s fault – raising a puppy is a highly complex and difficult process and often it’s actually in trying to give the Yorkie what they want – in being too conscientious – that you end up causing the problems.
If your Yorkie is biting, barking, urinating in the house, acting aggressively to other dogs or particular members of the family, then there could be any number of reasons for this. While it can be many causes that are creating the problem, following the following tips should help to eradicate most problems.
Set the Balance of Power
Dogs are pack animals and as such they have a complex understanding of social interactions, of hierarchies and of the power balance. If your dog is misbehaving, if it is acting aggressively, and if it is refusing to follow instructions, then it might be that they think they are the dominant member of the family. It’s important that your dog know its place as your friend and equal, but ultimately subordinate. You might not enjoy acting superior to your pup, but don’t worry they won’t take it personally, this is just how their social structure works.
Little things can make a big difference. For instance whenever you walk your dog make sure that they walk behind you and not in front. When you get to a door that you are going to open, if the dog is in front then you should get them to sit down when they reach the door and wait for you to go through. Likewise you shouldn’t let the dog sleep in your bed (no matter how much you want them to), but rather to sleep on their own dog blanket or even downstairs. This way they won’t view themselves as your equal and they won’t view your bedroom as your territory. This can also prevent urination as they won’t need to mark the territory as their own.
Teach Them No
You also need to make sure that your dog knows the behaviors that aren’t acceptable. This means things like growling, biting, urinating in the house and generally disobeying. If your dog bites you for instance then you need to firmly tell it no while holding its gaze. Hold either side of its face to force them to look at you and then say ‘no’ harshly which will help to ensure that they take the message on board.
If the behavior is engrained in their behavior then you might find that just telling them off isn’t enough to get them to stop. In this case you will need to use something louder or more shocking that you can use to ‘condition’ them to associate their behavior with punishment. For instance a short sharp smack can do wonders, or alternatively you can use the sound of rattling keys. Of course one of the most popular options is to carry a water pistol and then to spray your Yorkie whenever they are misbehaving. Be consistent and make sure that the punishment comes each time they misbehave and this way they will be able to make the connection.
You also need to make sure that the punishment is obviously a response to the behavior. For instance if your dog urinates on the carpet, you come home two hours later and smack them, then they won’t be able to make the connection between their urinating and your smacking them. They will perceive this more as an unprovoked attack. Likewise don’t smack them that night for barking during the day – you can’t tell a dog why they are in trouble so it simply won’t help.
Of course catching your little dog in the act of urinating can be tricky, so if you notice a dark patch on your carpet, then make sure you show it to them by making them smell it when you smack them.
Don’t Reward Bad Behavior
Does your dog always jump up while you’re at the dinner table? Of course one perceived easy solution to this problem is to just give them what they want and hope they stop jumping. Doing so however is actually a bad idea because they will come to associate the jumping up with the reward. In other words if you feed them when they jump up you are rewarding negative behavior and teaching them that jumping up is a sure fire way to get fed. Of course they are going to keep doing it (even if you shout no). You need to be consistent and ensure that bad behavior does not get rewarded. Ignore it, or if necessary punish it.
Your dog of course also needs stimulation. Just like people they can become bored and restless and this will result in odd behaviors and destructiveness – they might chew at things or knock things over, or they might place wet toys in your lap. Your options are to play with them when they are seeking attention to ensure that that play is positive and not destructive, or to make sure they are worn out before they ever get to that point by running around with them and taking them for walks during the day. Fortunately Yorkies are quite small and will get easily tired out, but they still need activity so you should be sure to walk them occasionally.
Show Them Love
Your dog might also be acting up as a result of depression. This can be caused by a number of things – chronic illness being one of the major causes. Another can be loneliness or sadness (has another pet died or a family member left the home)? Be sure to show your dog lots of love and attention the rest of the time in order to keep them happy and this will help to reduce urination and destructive behavior. Likewise it is important that you provide a warm and loving environment for your dog to keep them happy and cared for and this will ensure that they are happy and good natured. Don’t be overly rough with your Yorkie, and make sure that you show them plenty of affection too. Likewise try to watch your behavior around the dog. If you are violent or aggressive within your home to other family members and housemates then this can cause your dog to pick up on the overall negative vibe and imitate the aggressive behavior.
Get Them Seen
Bear in mind that other psychological conditions and illnesses can affect your dog – including dementia and other problems. If you suspect your dog is suffering from a mental condition, then you should get them seen to early on. Likewise something like an urination problem might in fact mean your dog suffers from incontinence, so you should again get them seen to by a professional.