When it came walking a Yorkshire Terrier, I had no idea what I was doing when I adopted my Yorkie.
I got into a lot of bad habits as a result that put us back a few months when it came to obedience training with our little guy, Winston. Here’s a picture of our little Yorkie:
I didn’t have a lot of knowledge before adopting him–how much exercise does a Yorkie need, anyway? Was there some sort of Yorkie exercise sweet spot, or a Yorkie walking guide somewhere to tell me what to do?
When it comes to walking a Yorkshire Terrier, it may seem like a really basic concept but there are important things to note that can improve your dog’s health, prevent the need for surgery, and reduce behavioral issues with your Yorkshire Terrier.
So read on, and learn 7 tenants of Yorkie exercise to help you give your Yorkshire Terrier the wonderful life he deserves!
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1. Your Yorkie is not any less of a dog because he’s so small–he still needs some good Yorkie walking time!
A common misconception about small dogs is that since they’re so tiny, just walking and running around the house is exercise enough, and walks aren’t really necessary.
Nope. Dogs were created to walk long distances, to roam in packs in search of prey. Yorkies, even if they’ve lost almost everything from those far, distant ancestors they come from–still have that innate need and desire. Staying cooped up in a house for days or even weeks on end with just the backyard to run in can be depressing for your dog and can increase dog mood and behavioral issues.
When it comes to dogs, walks are not optional. Make sure you’re giving your Yorkie exercise on top of playing in the house!
2. Walking a Yorkshire Terrier should never be done with just a leash and a collar
Unlike larger dogs, your Yorkie has a very delicate trachea. By pulling too hard on her collar, she can actually cause her own trachea to collapse, which can lead to neurological deficits since it can cut oxygen off from the brain.
To protect your pup, make sure you are using a harness when walking a Yorkshire Terrier. Here are some ideas of harnesses that might work for you:
3. Yorkies, even more than other breeds of dogs, will chase squirrels.
And birds, and chipmunks, and cats, and rabbits, and pretty much anything else that dares to cross its path.
When it comes to walking a Yorkshire Terrier, stay alert! If you can recognize potential issues before your Yorkie does, you can avoid them or distract your dog until they are no longer an issue. After a while, your dog may start to learn to leave other critters alone!
4. Yorkie walking in winter can be difficult
Yorkies are tiny dogs that get cold easily, but they still need the exercise in the winter!
Some of the issues you may find with walking a Yorkshire Terrier in the winter are that they get cold and want to turn back before they’ve gotten enough exercise, and their feet can crack and get damaged because of the salt used to melt snow and ice on sidewalks and roads.
Investing in some great yorkie accessories like a winter jacket for your dog and a good pair of boots that will offer them protection in winter is vital to ensure that your Yorkie walking days don’t come to a halt as soon as snow hits the ground! Check out these adorable options we found:
5. Anxiety-prone dogs need more exercise, not less!
Many owners with anxious Yorkies opt to spend more time cuddling on the couch and less time on Yorkie exercise. In reality, though, exercise like walking a Yorkshire Terrier can help him calm himself and feel relaxed at home. If your dog struggles with separation anxiety, for example, going on a 20-minute walk before you leave is much more helpful than cuddling for that 20 minutes!
By walking your dog, she is getting quality time with you in her element while expending a ton of energy. Then, when you leave, she’s in a much more relaxed state because she’s just had a workout! There’s less energy pent up which means less anxiety while you’re gone.
When we were working on Winston’s separation anxiety when we first adopted him, walks were an integral part in teaching him that home is a safe, calm place. Leaving him alone after a walk was much easier on him than if we hadn’t had any real Yorkie walking time yet that day!
6. Walking a Yorkshire Terrier gives his owners a unique time for obedience training
Use your Yorkie walking time to your advantage! Practicing loose leash walking and stopping periodically to do some tricks like “sit” and “lie down” or “stay” can act as a fun game for your dog while also solidifying the obedience responses he has learned.
Practicing obedience training while you’re out of the house, at the park, where are tons of distractions takes it up a notch. If your Yorkie obeys you at the park, that’s much harder to do than in your kitchen where he was trained!
You can gradually increase the difficulty, too. Introduce another dog, or other people in the area while you do obedience training. As he conquers one “difficulty level,” throw something else in the mix or make the tricks more complicated. Yorkies are smart dogs and they are eager to please, so use the times you’re walking your Yorkie to your advantage with training, too.
7. There is no one-size-fits-all answer for “How much exercise does a Yorkie Need?”
Pay attention to your dog. When do you see behavioral issues come up? Does your dog bark less when you’ve walked for more than 30 minutes a day consistently? Is your dog not strong enough yet for long walks, but loves multiple short walk instead?
In general, a good rule of thumb is to walk once in the morning right after getting up and once after dinner, and stick to the schedule! Your dog will be happier, more at peace, and comfortable in a routine. Ideally, Yorkies should get about a 20-minute walk each time. Some dogs, however, with joint issues or other health issues that make exercise difficult for them may require less time.
Remember, your dog was made to walk! Walking a Yorkshire Terrier shouldn’t be seen as optional–it’s important that your Yorkie exercises regularly. He will be happier, better behaved, and in better shape to boot!
What are your favorite tips for walking a Yorkshire Terrier? Let’s talk about it in the comments below!
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