Yorkshire Terriers

Discover the breed characteristics of the Yorkshire Terrier.

By Marion Lane |

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Grooming: If you didn't want the hair care, you picked the wrong breed. Training your Yorkie from earliest puppyhood to lay quietly in your lap, first on one side, then the other, then on its back, will make the grooming process easier on both of you while subtly reinforcing that you call the shots. Eyes, ears, beard, teeth and nails are all part of the job.

Socialization: This does the lion's share of making sure your Yorkie is confident and outgoing rather than fearful and clinging. Expose your puppy to every sight, smell, sound and sensation that you can. Introduce it to babies, toddlers, teens, seniors, other animals and pets, the city and the country. Take it to a party. Leave it home alone. If socialization opportunities don't present themselves, set them up.

Puppy playgroup: Many Yorkies have limited exposure to other puppies once they leave their litters and no experience at all with puppies of other breeds. A puppy playgroup meets the need of young pups to learn how to be with other dogshow to play, communicate and get along. It's also tremendous fun to chase and be chased.

Obedience class: When your puppy reaches 6 months of age, join a basic obedience class to learn how to train your dog in a group situation. Younger puppies can join a puppy kindergarten class. Your dog will learn to walk at your side, come when called and sit and stay on command. Most important, it will learn how to learn. This is the basis for any specialized training you may want to take up later on.

Teachable moments: Dogs are always in the learning mode, so we are always teachingwhether we realize it or not. Try to be aware of opportunities to teach your dog the rules you want it to live by. For example, when you come in from outdoors, have it wait while you wipe its feet. Signal the end of play by taking the toy from it gently but firmly, using the same words every time. Encourage goodwill toward birds, squirrels and cats that you see on your walks by speaking to it calmly or chiding it gently if it shows too much predatory interest (the more concern you show, the more excitement it will feel).

Teach courageousness by praising it for standing steady or moving toward whatever is new and threatening. Picking your Yorkie up to meet people, to avoid meeting people or other dogs, or when entering strange places, will teach it to be unsure of itself and constantly ask to be carried. Always praise desirable behavior, and ignore behavior you don't want to encourage.

Many people who own Yorkies attest to how smart they are, but at the same time, claim they are impossible to train. Chances are they are working against, rather than with, the Yorkie's basic terrier nature and temperament. To be sure, the working terrier qualities of boldness, tenacity and independence present challenges to anyone who is expecting the Yorkie to respond like a Labrador or Golden Retriever. Like all dogs, the Yorkie will perform best what it truly enjoys doing and what allows it to follow its natural bents. So spend time observing your dog. If its head is high and its ears and tail erect, it's enjoying itself. Experiment with many different activities, both games you invent as well as organized dog sports, and stick with the ones you both enjoy. Then, at the end of a 2-mile walk or a spirited game of tag with the neighbor's new puppy, feel free to tuck your pooped-out puppy under your arm and carry it home.

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