Yorkshire Terriers are one of the cutest small dog breeds in the world, if not the cutest. Yorkies are active, energetic, and playful by nature.
However, in order to get this playful nature out of them, you need to make them comfortable with the environment and people around them. This process of making a Yorkie comfortable with the surroundings around them is called Yorkie Socialization.
This can even include introducing your Yorkie to any dog of another breed, a cat, or your friends and family, neighbors, etc. It is really important to socialize your Yorkie during his puppyhood as that’s the time when Yorkie puppies learn the quickest and in the best way possible.
What actually is “Socializing a Yorkie”?
When it comes to Yorkies, socializing means developing a sense of values, behavior, norms, and social skills appropriate to carry yourself in social places.
The aim is to make your Yorkie familiar with all the aspects and situations that he will encounter in his lifetime. The main elements when it comes to Yorkie Socialization are:
- Different kinds of people (Neighbours, family members, strangers walking on the road/park, children, elders)
- Other dogs and animals (can be dogs belonging to large breeds as well/cats)
- Surroundings (crowded places, parks, markets, someone else’s house)
- Road sense (Traffic, cars)
Don’t worry as you don’t have to teach all these things to your Yorkie in one day or one week. This is a slow and gradual process and your Yorkie will learn to adapt and behave accordingly as per each and every situation when you teach him properly.
Slowly, your Yorkie will become familiar with that situation or person, and when he continuously spends more time interacting with that person or in that situation/place, he will learn to behave and act accordingly.
Read more: How much do Yorkies cost?
When do you think a Yorkie needs to learn Socialization?
Each and every dog will react differently to a situation where a situation demands a reaction from him. But if your Yorkie acts in a way that is abnormal or out of character, you should make a point that he or she may need to learn some social skills.
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For example, if your Yorkie is walking beside you and another dog owner with his German Shepherd dog also comes across the road, the German shepherd may bark and get aggressive at your Yorkie. This is a situation that demands a reaction from your Yorkie.
Here are the behaviors that most Yorkies will possess:
- Scared or Afraid
- Overly Shy
- Extra Alert
Is it really Important to Socialize your Yorkie?
Dogs do not know how to react in a situation and it depends purely on their nature on how a Yorkie will behave in a particular situation. Some Yorkies will be shy and some would be over-social and aggressive.
Their nature will change with time as well as a Yorkie matures with age. An overly-active puppy may become shy and lazy and vice versa as well. Many times, the owners do not even get to know that their Yorkie dog needs help with socialization as they have not exposed him to enough situations.
As an owner, you shouldn’t feel bad when your Yorkie embarrasses you with his lack of Social skills. Instead, you should focus on how you can improve and Socialize him more often.
3 Main Benefits of Socializing a Yorkie
- A Socialized dog is a Happy Dog: A dog with good social skills will be happier as he would be able to confidently behave in the world and interact with people in a well-behaved manner. This leads to everyone around loving and appreciating his behavior, which in turn means a happier pet Yorkie for you.
- Owner is Happy and Satisfied: How would you feel if your Yorkie barks constantly at any passing car or barks at every random person walking around at the park? Obviously, it would be more stressful and difficult as compared to a Socialized Yorkie who knows how to behave in every particular situation.
- You would be able to explore more places with your Yorkie: Once you have confidence in your Yorkie’s Socializing skills, you will be able to freely explore more places along with your dog and take him with you for vacations and tours as well. This means that you can enjoy life and journeys with your dog as well. Here are the Best Carriers for Yorkies in case you want to go out on a vacation in the future.
Read More: 12 Best Toys for Yorkshire Terriers
When is the right time to Socialize your Yorkie?
As I mentioned, a younger Yorkie is more inclined towards learning new things and is more curious as well. It is during this phase in his life that you should train your Yorkie and Socialize him as well.
However, if you have an adult Yorkie and you want to improve his Socializing skills and behavior, it’s never too late. This is a slow and gradual process and you as an owner will get cues when to increase the level of exposure to give to your dog.
Yorkies who have more resistance may take longer and stay in each phase for more time, but in the long term, they will show improvement in their Social skills and anxiety will fade away.
When it comes to Puppies, they will learn it fast. When Socializing, a Yorkie upon meeting a stranger will be very calm and composed. When a large dog comes near him, he will be playful and try to befriend that dog.
When a large dog barks at a well-socialized Yorkie, your Yorkie will try his best to stay calm and take a step back. Once a puppy is older than 3 months, he will start to learn to respond differently to different animals, people, noise, and surroundings.
In Adult Yorkies, if you change something drastic like going to new places for walks, shifting your house, etc, you will notice a change in his behavior and there will be some elements that will trigger him to change his behavior.
A Yorkie makes many habits by the time he turns 1 year old. Therefore, it is a little harder to change those habits and Socialize an adult Yorkie and will need more effort from the owner. But this doesn’t mean that your Yorkie won’t learn new skills and change his habit, that’s a complete myth.
If you have a Senior Yorkie dog in your house and want to Socialize him more or want to change any bad social habit of his, I would recommend you to let him stay like that. For example, if your Yorkie doesn’t tolerate noisy children around him and you want to change that habit, I would advise you to let him be like it.
This is because, in these kinds of situations, a senior dog can get very stressed due to years of that habit making a place in his mind.
How to Socialize your Yorkshire Terrier dog?
1. Take your Yorkie out for Walks at least twice a day
This is the first and the basic way to start Socializing your Yorkie puppy. When you take your Yorkie out for walks during his puppyhood, your puppy gets to learn how to properly walk beside you, not to bark at strangers around, encounter other pet animals, and deal with traffic and noise.
If you inculcate this habit of going for walk twice a day, you will experience that your Yorkie is gradually learning to deal with different social situations and scenarios.
2. Keep treats in your Pockets
Keep Treats in your pockets and reward the desired behavior. If another large dog walks up to your dog and your Yorkie sniffs curiously and then allows you to lead him ahead, that’s the desired behavior you want and you must reward this behavior by offering his favorite treats to him.
When a dog or stranger is about to approach your Yorkie, you can also show these treats beforehand when his attention is towards you. This can remind if that he needs to repeat the desired behavior he displayed the last time.
3. Training for a specific trigger
If there is something specific that triggers your Yorkie and you want to train him to stop doing that, you need to slowly approach that situation. For example, If your Yorkie barks a lot at your friends when they enter your house, you need to slowly introduce him to that friend and gradually increase the interactions.
Likewise, if there is anything else that triggers your Yorkie to bark a lot or react in a different way, be slow and gradual. Slowly increase the instances and your dog will stop reacting aggressively or wrongly.
Continual and safe exposure to these situations that trigger your Yorkie will slowly Socialize him and get rid of that anxiety in him. Do not rush things.
4. Train your Yorkie for different scenarios
If you put in effort in training your Yorkie in different scenarios, that will help broaden your Yorkie’s mind as well. For example, If you put in the effort to crate train your Yorkie, he will learn that the crate is his private area to rest, sleep and eat.
Likewise, when you Potty train your Yorkie, he will learn the etiquettes and habits to behave in his own house.
All these kinds of training develop his mind and brain to get smarter and pick up different cues quickly. He will quickly get what his owner wants him to do and behave. If you want a 10 times smarter Yorkie in just 21 days, Try Brain training for dogs.
Common Behavioral Problems in Yorkies problems due to lack of Socialization
Barking when outside for walks
There are some Yorkies who think that they need to bark as a response to any situation or person. This is a behavioral problem and needs to be changed with Socializing training.
Have your Yorkie on a harness and plan for 5 to 7 minutes of short walks. Make sure you have your pocket full of treats.
The leash must be short and keep your Yorkie to your left while walking. Walk slowly at a pace that is comfortable for your dog and if your Yorkie barks at something, just ignore it and keep moving. Ensure that the weight of the harness is distributed across your Yorkie’s body.
But there is an exception to this and that is when another dog is around and your Yorkie barks at him/her.
It could be that your Yorkie is barking at the other dog as he wants to approach and interact with that dog. One may mistake that behavior as aggressive and he wants to attack the other dog but that’s not the case in most cases. Your Yorkie wants to sniff and interact with the other dog.
In this case, you can introduce yourself to the owner of the other dog and then let your Yorkie interact with the other dog. This is an amazing way for you to Introduce other dogs to your Yorkie and Socialize him better.
Apart from this exception, if your Yorkie doesn’t bark at something that used to trigger barking in him before, take out some treats and offer them to your dog. Reward the desired behavior.
If you repeat this and slowly increase the time for each walk, your Yorkie will definitely stop barking at other people or situations when outside during walks.
You will soon realize that the triggers and situations that used to entice him to bark consistently were no longer impacting him in that way. Also, you taught your Yorkie that you will keep walking no matter what but if he stayed calm and kept his cool, he will be rewarded with his favorite treats. Soon, he will change his bad habit of barking.
Jumping or Barking at the visitors in the house
If your dog jumps on the visitor when he enters the house, start off with a short visit of 5 minutes and let the visitor and owner both keep some treats in their pockets.
You and the visitor must ignore any kind of undesired or bad behavior, which includes jumping, barking, or anything else to gain attention. Ignoring your Yorkie’s bad behavior consistently discourages him to repeat it.
Therefore, if he jumps or barks, you should not even have an eye-contact with him and avoid any verbal communication. However, if your Yorkie remains calm and keeps quiet around the visitor, reward the desired behavior with treats.
If you want to know more details, check out this post “How to Stop your Dog from Jumping on Guests or Strangers“.