Little Dog, Big Bark
Yorkshire Terrier Barking
By George A Fox
Every Yorkshire terrier barks occasionally – whether to exhibit excitement or to tell you they are bored. The problem is that some Yorkies get carried away and do not stop barking. They grow agitated at any sound they hear inside or outside the home or they simple bark for the sake of barking. In these cases, an owner will quickly grow impatient, as will their neighbors. So it is important to take action sooner than later, communicating to your Yorkie that barking is not permitted for the sake of barking.
Why Your Yorkie Barks
To start with, know that your Yorkshire terrier was bred to bark. All Yorkies were bred to make noise in some form or another especially to alert their masters to the fact that they found something. Also Yorkshire terriers may bark naturally as a sign of excitement or aggression. I could outline what all of Yorkies’ barks mean, but you likely have a good idea based on the tone and body language of the animal – they are just communicating.
Minimizing Yorkshire Terrier Barking
The real goal then, rather than stopping your Yorkshire terrier from barking completely, is to minimize that barking. There are very few situations in which your Yorkie should bark endlessly, even when communicating to you. But, at the same time, you want your little friend to be able to warn you if there is danger, communicate when it needs to go outside, and keep other animals away if it is uncomfortable or afraid.
Exercise – To start with, make sure your Yorkshire terrier gets the exercise they need to release any pent up energy that could be leading to excess barking. Often times, barking can be the result of boredom or anxiety – exercise will help to reduce that.
Don’t Reinforce the Behavior – The number one reason Yorkshire terriers continue to bark, after energy level problems, is simply that their owners reinforce the behavior. They feel bad for their Yorkie when they whine or simply want them to stop barking when they are angry. So, they give them attention, give them their food, or take them outside. Your goal should be to never give your Yorkie what they want when they bark. If you need to wait them out, do it – giving them what they want when they bark at you will only teach them to continue doing it.
Anger and Shouting Causes Confusion – Yelling at your Yorkshire terrier or getting angry will only cause
confusion. As with most behavior, they don’t know they’re doing something wrong, and they will only get confused if you start yelling at them. Along these same lines, avoid any punishment laden treatments like shock collars. They are inhumane and most Yorkies will try to learn how to get around them.
Training – Simple training can be very helpful in minimizing barking behavior in your Yorkshire terrier. Teach them to sit, lie down, or shake as well as to speak and be quiet. These simple commands cause them to shift focus to you and away from whatever they are barking about. Additionally, teaching them to bark and stop barking on command gives you more control over their vocal habits.
Controlling their Outdoor Behaviors – If your Yorkie barking continues outside, they will never learn to stop inside. Rather than yelling from the back window, go outside, attract their attention and divert it whenever they bark. Your goal should be to teach them that there are other ways to communicate with you and that their focus should be on you and your home, not whatever is beyond your fence.
Barking is one of the harder things to control in a Yorkshire terrier, largely because of how natural it is for them to do it. However, with proper training, exercise, and attention to what might be causing your Yorkie’s outspoken behaviour, that barking can be severely reduced or even stopped.
As a side note, for those considering extreme measures like de-barking surgery, please think twice. The surgery does not actually stop the barking behavior – it just quiets it. Additionally, it is unsafe to ever put an animal under anesthesia and into surgery, and to do it for cosmetic reasons is unnecessary. If your Yorkshire terrier is barking so much that you’re considering a surgery, the odds are that they have a greater, deeper laying fear or anxiety issue that needs to be dealt with anyway. A veterinarian, behaviorist, or dog trainer can all be more helpful in addressing your concerns than a medical procedure.
For those who would like to learn about house training a Yorkie go to house training a Yorkie.
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