When you bring home your new Yorkshire Terrier, there’s probably something you’ll notice pretty quickly: Yorkies are barkers. Here’s everything you need to know about Yorkie barking and training Yorkies not to bark.
Do Yorkies Bark a Lot?
In a word, yes. As you may or may not be aware, Yorkies love barking, perhaps more so than any other breed of dog. This can be extremely frustrating as an owner of a Yorkshire Terrier. You’ll find them barking day and night, sometimes seemingly at nothing. The AKC (the American Kennel Club) notes that the Yorkshire Terrier puppy will be “filled with energy and curiosity; always ready for a romp.” Put simply, they love people. You can probably start to tell that this might be where the issue begins.
Most Yorkie puppies will start to begin their vocalization around two or three weeks after birth, around the same time their eyes start to open. Just as with human babies, most noises you’ll hear out of your Yorkie pup around this time will be expressions of discomfort, hunger, or other needs. It’ll be a few more weeks yet until you start to hear fully grown doggy barks.
So, why do Yorkies bark so much when they don’t really need anything?
One big reason for the seemingly nonstop barking could be put down to the shape and positioning of a Yorkie’s ears. This makes their hearing especially acute, and it will allow them to notice all kinds of disturbances you or I would be unaware of. You can be sure your Yorkie will want to assert their dominance and let whatever is responsible for the noise, big or small, be aware of just whose territory they’re entering. As you can imagine, all this barking does bring with it a positive side: the Yorkshire Terrier breed makes for excellent guard dogs.
The good news is your Yorkie’s barking can be tamed with the proper training and understanding, however; so all hope is not lost. Ahead we’ll delve into the ins and outs of their barking habits and hopefully, you will be able to come out of the other side with a good idea of how to tackle any issues regarding your Yorkie’s barking habits.
Understanding the Noises Your Yorkie Makes
There are many noises that you may hear coming from your Yorkie, not all of which are actual barking. There’s a lot to be learned from the tone of your Yorkie’s noises. Learning to understand what your Yorkie is trying to tell you is the first step to take when you’re learning how to stop a Yorkie from barking. Let’s take a look.
Barking in a low tone
This will be your Yorkie’s way of warning you about a perceived danger, or what they see as a threatening change in the environment. Essentially, he’s saying “Hey, I see something new. It may be dangerous…?” You can also expect to hear a dog barking in this tone if their normal circumstances have seen a change. Yorkies can be very sensitive and they’ll bark even if they hear wind chimes, a passing car, or even birds.
Take this as a warning. You’ll usually hear any growls followed by a bark pretty low in tone, warning that there may be danger. You’ll notice the bark turn to a growl if any person, animal, or object, such as a passing car, for example, comes too close to their territory.
Growling is a very distinct type of vocalization which dogs use as a warning to others that they should leave. If you notice your Yorkie’s body is also in a lowered position, as if they’re ready to strike, then the growl is saying something along the lines of “watch out, if you don’t leave or if you hurt me, I’m gonna bite.” You might also hear what sounds like tooth snapping noises. This is their way of letting you know they have teeth and they mean business.
High pitched noises
This is your Yorkie looking for some attention. Maybe your Yorkie wants to go play outside or need you to attend to something.
Whining from your Yorkie indicates emotional distress. Your Yorkie might whine if he’s missing you, if he’s been confined and wants out, or if he’s nervous. Whining can also indicate pain, and this would be the case if your Yorkie wants to lay alone and doesn’t like being touched. If suffering from severe pain, your Yorkie may become aggressive, as it’ll start to consider everything a threat when they’re feeling vulnerable.
Similarly to whining, you can usually expect to hear your adult Yorkie whining and a Yorkie puppy whimpering. The puppy will be expressing distress, letting you know they’re lonely or sad.
You know the drill – dogs can howl at one another all day and night. Dogs seem to have a sixth sense for knowing when another dog is about, and howling is a classic example of how they communicate.
Hearing a quick, high pitched yelp is a clear indication that your Yorkie has just been injured. This will be much quicker and higher than any attention-seeking barking. The instant your Yorkie feels pain, the yelp will come out.
Most dogs will let out a quick, loud yelp but a few seconds later, after the initial pain has subsided, that’ll be it. You should absolutely investigate and see why your Yorkie has let out a yelp as it could be something serious.
Contrary to when we as humans may moan, usually dogs will have a low tone moan when they’re feeling happy. You’ll most often hear this when you’re rubbing your Yorkie’s tummy, scratching their ears, or rubbing some other spot that they find ticklish.
How to Train a Yorkshire Terrier Not to Bark
Obviously, we don’t want to completely eliminate barking all together. All dogs need to bark for important reasons, such as needing food, needing to visit the bathroom, or alerting you to danger. This is the closest they can come to speaking your language. Constant, unnecessary barking, however, can be a nuisance and we want to eliminate this and fine-tune the barking so that it’s only coming out when necessary.
Let’s explore how to train a Yorkie to stop barking.
So as we’ve already learned, Yorkshire Terriers can bark at almost anything, from sirens of passing emergency vehicles to something as simple as the weather. You’ll hear either a low-toned bark to warn you of something or a high-toned bark to get your attention. This is known as “disturbance barking.” Don’t forget that as disturbing as it is to you, it’s only because your Yorkie is highly disturbed himself.
Most dogs will have no issues following some desensitization training. The method behind this type of training is to ease your dog slowly into becoming used to whatever it is that is causing them alarm.
Many dog owners have suffered nuisance barking since the invention of the doorbell, so we’ll use this as an example. The endgame of this is to teach your Yorkie that barking will bring them no fun and no attention, whereas not barking will bring them all sorts of attention, fun, praise, and treats. You can imagine that they’ll swiftly catch on.
The Desensitization Strategy
Step One: You’ll need a family member or a friend to help you with this one. At a random point in the day, have your helper ring the doorbell once every 10 seconds, until you open the door. When your Yorkie starts to go off on a barking fit, command them to sit.
Step Two: In a quiet, calm tone, tell your Yorkie that everything is ok, letting them know to relax due to the lack of any imminent danger. Make sure to only say this once, however.
Step Three: Each time your Yorkie has stopped barking for at least 5 seconds, immediately give them praise, pat them, and give them a small treat. These small reward treats work perfectly.
Step Four: Each time your Yorkie starts to bark, stand still beside them and completely ignore them. This means no patting and no speaking. This should hopefully show them that their barking will bring them no attention from you, which in turn means no treats, no praise, and no fun. They should start to think that all this barking is a waste of time.
Step Five: Once your Yorkie starts to notice all the praise and treats they’re getting from behaving each time the doorbell rings, they should start to simply sit calmly and learn their lesson. Then, you can open the door, and make sure your friend or family member greets your Yorkie in a friendly, calm, and happy manner, and maybe – just maybe – they’ll have a special treat for them too.
What About Bark Collars?
If you do decide to use a bark collar, choose the collar carefully and only use it when appropriate. The bark collar should be used to target Yorkshire Terrier barking under supervision and only for nuisance barking — not separation anxiety.
Be aware that using a bark collar can have negative consequences. It may make some dogs more aggressive. Your Yorkie may associate pain from a bark collar with someone knocking on the door. If they’re shocked when barking out of fear, pain, or anxiety, they may act out in new ways like chewing their tail or paws, having accidents, or destroying furniture.
Why is My Yorkie Barking at Night?
Many Yorkies bark at night, seemingly for no reason. Barking is one thing in the daytime, but it’s a wholly different beast at night time when you’re trying to catch some sleep.
Often times, your Yorkie may have seen something or heard something that you have not, or perhaps if they’re howling, they may have sensed another dog is nearby. If your Yorkie barking or howling at night is becoming a real issue, giving your Yorkie some evening exercise may calm them down significantly and reduce any stress that they may feel overnight, ultimately helping them to sleep more soundly. Also, you can make sure that all blinds and curtains are closed, eliminating their night time access to the outside world. Your Yorkie will obviously be smart enough to poke his or her nose through and have a peek, but this will greatly subside any opportunities to notice anything out of the norm going on outside that they’ll want to bark excessively at.
Sometimes your Yorkie may just be barking simply because they don’t want to be without you. Try bringing them into the bedroom to sleep with you and see if this helps the night time barking subside. You may also try crating your Yorkie at night to help him feel safe and secure.
Why Does My Yorkie Bark at Nothing?
Yorkshire Terriers have an incredibly keen sense of hearing. Unlike dogs with long, floppy ears that will block out a lot of sound, Yorkie ears are V-shaped, sit on top of their heads, and are able to turn and focus attention toward any sounds they may hear. And as they are free of any obstruction, all that sound is picked up extra acutely, awake or sleeping. Yorkies also have a very keen sense of loyalty and protectiveness that makes them great guard dogs despite their size, or lack thereof). Even the tiniest of noises or pests could be enough to set them off, alerting you to the incoming ant invasion and attempting to scare them off in the process.
Their ears aren’t the only part of them that’s super sensitive. Their first-rate hearing ability is matched only by their smelling power. Dogs have as much as 50x the olfactory sensors in their noses as humans, along with the part of their brain dedicated to processing these smells being 40 times greater. So as you can imagine, along with hearing all sorts that we’re not hearing, they’re also smelling all sorts. With all of this sensory stimulation, the slightest unexpected change could set them off.
To the untrained owner, this might seem like the pup’s barking at absolutely nothing, when really it’s their natural guard dog instincts kicking in.