Separation Anxiety in Yorkshire Terriers
By George A Fox
A Yorkshire terrier is a very social dog. In your home, you are their fellow pack members and that means, when they are left alone as you go to work or run errands, they grow anxious and worried that you may not come back. However, just because a Yorkie is anxious that you are leaving does not mean that they should react so strongly. From barking and whining to destructive behaviors like chewing, digging, and tearing, a Yorkie with separation anxiety can be very hard to deal with.
The Root of Anxiety
It is natural for a Yorkshire terrier that they see you and your family as their pack. However, in some cases, a Yorkie may start to panic at the thought of being left alone. They feel as though they are being abandoned, and their survival instincts go a little haywire, causing them to bark, make messes, and even tear things apart as they lose general control of their faculties. When you return home, they might be frantic and unable to control themselves. At first, it might seem like they are very loving, but the messes, destroyed property, and angry calls from neighbors can be stressful for even the most dedicated Yorkie owner.
To start with, you need to rule out the possibility that your Yorkshire terrier is just bored. A Yorkie that doesn’t get enough attention or exercise will often behave in the same way – barking, destroying things, and overreacting when you return home. However, boredom is much easier to fix. It just requires a bit of extra attention and exercise for your Yorkie. Give them some extra walks, a few toys, and train them with some basic tricks to avoid destruction at unwanted times.
When it comes to anxiety, your Yorkshire terrier’s first symptoms will key in on your actions. They can tell when you’re about to leave by how you put on your shoes, grab your coat, or pick up your keys. In extreme cases, they will know you’re leaving as soon as you wake up, turning them into an utter mess before you even get to the door. To adjust for this, change your routine. Sit down randomly, put on your coat at different times, change when you feed you Yorkie. The less regular your routines, the harder it is for the Yorkie to associate them with leaving and the lesser that anxiety will be when you leave.
Solving Existing Anxiety
Without solving the anxiety issues you might face Yorkie health problems in the future. Here are some important tips to help reduce or stop anxiety issues early:
1. Leaving and Returning Home
When you leave and return home, it is vital that you don’t give your Yorkshire terrier too much attention. It can be hard, especially with a new puppy, but that extra attention only highlights for them the fact that you are leaving or were gone. For moderate anxiety, simply ignoring your Yorkie for a few minutes before you leave and after you return home will reduce their anxiety greatly. For severe cases, other steps will be needed.
2.Controlling How Long You Are Gone
This is a very complex process and can be hard for anyone that has a regular job and no one else to leave at home. But, it does work well so if your Yorkshire terrier’s case is severe enough, consider finding a way to do it. The goal here is to start by leaving your Yorkie for very short periods of time – only 1-2 minutes or even less if your Yorkie is extremely anxious. Your goal here should be to only go outside long enough to show your little friend you will return, before their anxiety builds. Don’t give your Yorkie attention when you return. Just keep everything quiet and wait for the dog to relax. Then, step back outside again and do it all over. Over the course of days, or even weeks, you will increase the time between these sessions, stepping outside for 5 minutes, then 10, then 20, and up to an hour or longer, until you can leave for an entire day and not worry about anxiety.
By far the most important thing for a Yorkshire terrier with separation anxiety is to be consistent with how you handle it. If there are multiple people in the household, they all must ignore the Yorkie when returning and leaving. You must maintain the behaviors over time to make them stick.
If things don’t click right away, it can take a little time to advance. However, if extreme cases of anxiety persist, you may want to consider talking to a behaviorist or even a vet. Otherwise the anxiety may lead to your Yorkie health problems (both mental and physical) which can be serious or even deadly. There are advanced solutions to severe separation anxiety in Yorkshire terriers (and other dogs) but they all require a professional to be involved.
About the Author