Yorkie Barking: What It Means and How I Solved It
Ah, the Yorkshire Terrier. A regal, little dog with the most humble of bloodlines. I have long loved the breed and am honored to share my home with a Yorkie.
And it is those big, bold personalities that endear the Yorkie to their owners. I know that’s what connects me to mine. But with their big personalities comes a big mouth. If you’ve ever known a Yorkie, then you know that they are notoriously noisy. The modern Yorkie had become a popular dog with the purse-puppy crowd because of their tiny size and unfortunately, many owners have not been terribly diligent in properly training their dog. Ultimately, that has given the breed a bit of a reputation for being high-strung or yippie. No one appreciates Yorkshire Terrier barking and that can be especially true when Yorkie barking takes over an apartment complex.
Why do Yorkies bark?
I suppose this question can be posed of any breed of dog. Why does a dog bark? Well, the simple answer is to communicate. Listen carefully to any dog and you will quickly hear different tones in their bark. Dogs bark to ask for something, like food. They bark to tell us they need to go outside. They bark with joy when we come home. They bark to tell us all about the squirrel in the tree outside of their favorite window. They bark to stake out their territory.
Understanding that Yorkie barking is a well-developed adaptation can help understand why they are doing it. Going back to the Victorian era, the Yorkie had to be a territorial dog. It was bred with a rough-and-tumble mentality meant to encourage its instinct to protect its master’s territory. By nature, the Yorkie barks as the first line of defense. They lack the size to defend against larger animals so they developed their voice. The sound should scare off mice and rats. The bark says to other animals, “This is my turf, back off.” And given their former work in the mines and mills, Yorkie barking had to be loud enough to be heard or felt over the rumble of machinery.
When Do Yorkie Puppies Start Barking?
Most Yorkshire Terrier puppies begin to vocalize around the time their eyes open, about two or three weeks after birth. Like any baby, these pups are most likely expressing hunger, discomfort or other needs. It’ll take a few more weeks before a Yorkie pup will begin to let out full-grown barks. Figure on them starting to bark around six to eight weeks old. This early barking is perfectly normal and should be occurring when the puppies are playing with their littermates and parents.
It is important for any puppy to get the opportunity to bark and play. They are learning how to be a dog. Barking is an important part of their learning how and when to use social skills. Like human children, they are testing their boundaries and developing an understanding of what their voice can do for them. Of course, it is easiest to help guide a dog’s habits when they are young. Taking the opportunity to train your dog when it is still a puppy offers great advantages. I’ll discuss some great training techniques a little later. But take heart if your Yorkie isn’t a puppy, an old dog can learn new tricks. It just takes a bit more effort on your part and a little bit of patience.
Why Do Yorkies Bark so much?
Your neighbor might tell you that your Yorkie is barking all the time. Of course, that’s not necessarily true. But a Yorkie has a keen sense of hearing. Her V-shaped ears stand atop her head and can turn to focus her attention towards sound. She uses those sensitive, little ears to listen for the pitter-patter of tiny feet. Unlike folded ears or long, floppy ears, her ears are free of obstructions so that sound reaches her whether she’s awake or asleep. They help her maintain vigilance at any hour, all the better to protect you and your home. So, the Yorkie barks when her territory is being invaded, even by the tiniest of interlopers.
Equally sensitive is the Yorkshire Terrier’s nose. According to an article I read, a dog has 50 times the olfactory sensors in their nose as humans. And the part of a dog’s brain dedicated to processing the sense of smell is 40 times greater than ours (proportionally speaking). So, our little Yorkie friend is picking up the scent of everything in their life and analyzing it in great detail. They know your smell better than they know your face. Given this amount of sensory stimulation, the slightest unexpected change will trigger your Yorkie to bark. It is again, meant to express to outsiders—whether they’re other dogs, other animals or people, to establish them as the top dog in charge. You’ve certainly noticed that your Yorkie can even recognize when you’re cooking his favorite dishes.
To the untrained dog owner or nosy neighbor, all this barking may seem like much ado about nothing. Indeed, it may seem like your Yorkie is barking at nothing, but these relatively itchy trigger fingers make a Yorkie a really good guard dog, despite their diminutive size. No potential intruder is interested in entering a property that comes with such a commotion. So, be proud of your Yorkie’s barking, just help them understand when it isn’t appropriate.
Why Is Your Yorkie Barking At Night?
Probably the most frustrating time for a Yorkie to bark is at night. Seemingly unprovoked barking can be a difficult any time of day, but at night it becomes a nuisance. The very same triggers your Yorkie experiences during the day are amplified at night. Knowing that her family unit is back in the home, she is on heightened alert. That awareness is amplified when her pack is sleeping. Annoying, yes; but keep in mind that your Yorkie is barking to protect you.
How Do You Stop Your Yorkie From Barking?
Obviously, our intention is not to completely eliminate barking. Your Yorkie barks for any number of reasons, most of which are very real concerns for him. From asking for food or water to needing to go outside and do their business, the communication a dog provides has meaning. But it can be a nuisance if they are constantly barking, so I’m going to try and help you with some advice that I’ve found beneficial. Let’s start with some simple ideas that can indirectly quiet your Yorkie.
First, exercise your dog regularly. Taking your Yorkie outside for a regular walk can work wonders on their tendency to bark. Remember that a Yorkie is a little dog, so you’re not going to want to go on a two-mile run with a Yorkie, but a brisk walk around the block will give you the opportunity to connect with your Yorkie. It also helps to regulate their sleep pattern and keep them healthy. A regular game of fetch will keep their terrier instincts sharp and give them an appropriate outlet for their energy.
Next, keep a journal of their barking episodes and note what quiets them in each particular situation. I found that my Yorkie was trying to communicate some very specific needs most of the time. After a few days, I was even able to distinguish between her different barks. A pattern quickly developed, and I came to know when she was asking to go outside and do her business or when she was hungry. Knowing what she needed meant more quickly addressing those needs, thus ending her need to bark.
At night, I keep the curtains to her favorite window closed. Without her favorite location to watch the outside world at night, she has been less concerned with the other dogs on the street, the squirrels in the trees and the birds on the wires. She’s smart enough to poke her snout between the curtains and take a look outside when there’s an unfamiliar sound and that always elicits a yip or two, but she’s much less prone to going berserk at the sight of the neighbor and his Labrador going for their late walks.
One of the best bits of advice I ever received was from a breeder. He was quite adamant about people learning how to discipline their dogs without hurting them. As he put it, there is absolutely nothing to be gained from beating a dog. The only thing a dog that is hit learns is to fear people. That makes for a really sad life. Dogs are man’s best friend for many reasons, and if you have ever had a dog that really loves you, you know this to be true.
His advice to stop a seemingly unprovoked barking jag was brilliant. He kept a glass jar with a few coins in it. Just a couple of quarters, a couple of nickels and pennies. He had a couple of old jelly jars the he cleaned and capped. When his dogs’ barking gets out of hand, a quick shake of the jar would snap them out of their episode. It doesn’t hurt their ears or anything, the sound just gives them a quick, little jolt. Enough distraction to get their mind off whatever started them barking in the first place.
Some chew toys can be helpful, but I would strongly advise against rawhides, bones and other edibles. It is fine to encourage your Yorkie to chew on appropriate toys, but edibles should be reserved for rewarding good behavior. And too many rewards can quickly lead to obesity. Remember, Yorkies are little dogs and when you weigh less than ten pounds to begin with, extra snacks add up fast.
I am not a fan of ultrasonic or electric shock collars. With a little bit of consistency and diligence, almost anyone can adjust the behavior of their dog. You’ll find that using tried and true positive conditioning, you will connect with your dog and develop a great relationship. Remember, Yorkies are a very intelligent breed and they love to feel a sense of importance. If you make them a part of your family and establish their position in your household, they will want to please you. Thank includes understanding when their barking is being a problem.
You can also read my other article about training a yorkie not to bark.
Points To Remember….
Training a dog isn’t for everyone, I get that. But it is simply impossible to have a dog that will listen to you without some level of training. If you have given your dog a fair try and find yourself unable to get your dog’s behavior to a place that you’re comfortable with, do not give up on the dog. That is the worst thing you can do. A well-trained dog is a happy dog. It gives them a sense of purpose and allows them to know they are loved.
Before giving up, there are some excellent trainers out there that can help. And many of them offer introductory courses that are not expensive. Check with your local pet supply store or even the local shelter, the YMCA or other community groups. Your local SPCA and humane society really are interested in helping their local community with their pet needs. They can offer assistance and advice at discounted rates.
The Yorkshire Terrier is one of the proudest, most well-recognized breeds in all of the dog world. Their tenacious instinct as a protector and hunter made them indispensable companions to some of the hardest working, blue-collar people of northern England. But their dashing good looks and wonderful personalities made them equally revered by the aristocracy of Victorian England.
Today, the Yorkie is a great companion for adults and families with older children. They’re playful, bright and loyal. They are the perfect size for an apartment or small home and don’t require a big yard to run around.
And, like all terriers, they don’t shed—making them a great choice for someone with a pet allergy. As long as you establish proper boundaries and healthy routines, there’s no reason why your Yorkie should be a barking nightmare.