Yorkshire Terriers may be tiny in stature, but they are definitely not short in personality. Yorkies are a territorial breed, wanting to protect you and themselves from danger. And too often, excessive barking accompanies this alert, bold personality.
If your Yorkie barks too much, it’s not a lost cause. There are several methods you can attempt to put a damper on this yappy behavior. And the earlier you begin training a Yorkie not to bark, the better control they’ll have.
In this guide:
- Do Yorkies bark a lot?
- How to stop a Yorkie from barking
- Other tips to stop Yorkie barking
- How to interpret your Yorkie’s barking
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Do Yorkies bark a lot?
Yes, Yorkies are a vocal breed. They have a lot to say and will bark at everything from an unfamiliar noise to when they want to play. Incorporating training measures early on in your Yorkie’s life will help stifle a bad barking habit before it becomes fully engrained.
How to stop a Yorkie from barking
Before we begin, it’s important to know that not all barking is bad. Your dog’s vocal habits are a part of their natural instincts and body language, so the goal is not to completely eliminate barking. Barking is a Yorkshire Terrier’s way of communicating important messages, like alerting you to danger or telling you they need to go outside.
The goal of this guide is to help you teach your Yorkie to bark only when necessary. Your consistency in implementing the following techniques will greatly determine how successful the training is—that coupled with the stubbornness of your Yorkie… and they can be stubborn!
First things first: Become the alpha dog
Establishing yourself as your dog’s pack leader is foundational to any training technique.
This means they need to follow your commands, not the other way around. For example, on a walk, if you want to go one way, but your Yorkie wants to walk another direction, the dog needs to comply. Or, if you say “Sit” before giving a tasty treat, the dog needs to sit.
If you fail to establish this authority early on, your dog will assume that position, and you’ll have a hard time getting them to obey you in general. So, don’t give in and give rewards before your pup complies. You will be sending mixed messages and lose your authority.
The bark collar technique
The bark collar works by way of negative association. The Yorkie barks and it receives some type of stimulation: a sound, vibration, spray, or static shock. Because of the discomfort associated with shock collars, many dog owners do not feel they are a humane option.
Some bark collars have two modes: 1.) no shock, beep or vibrate only; or 2.) shock. These collars are an option for those owners who want to avoid shocking their pup, or at least reserve it as a final alternative.
There are other options that avoid shocking altogether; some work with a beep and vibrate sensation that simply distracts or annoys your pup, and others release a spray of citronella, which is an unpleasant but harmless scent to most dogs. And if you don’t like the idea of physically attaching a bark collar to your pup, you can also get a collarless ultrasonic remote that emits a negative or positive tone toward your pup when they do something wrong or right. We cover all of these options in our guide to the best bark collars for Yorkies.
While many dog owners have success with training collars, It’s possible that using one could have an undesirable effect.
Some people have reported that their dogs have become more aggressive after collar training, or that they associate certain events (like a sudden loud voice, outside noises, or a knock at the front door) with negative emotion, such as frustration or fear. Keep an eye out for the effects of this method and use common sense to determine when it needs to be stopped.
The coffee can technique
This method attempts to redirect your Yorkie’s attention away from whatever is causing them to bark and on to you. Fill a coffee can with coins or other items that will make a loud noise when shaken. This noise may be just as annoying as your Yorkie’s bark, but if it helps train your pup, it’s worth it.
You’ll want to have the can handy at the times your Yorkie is most likely to bark. For my little Yorkie, it’s on walks—Max loves to bark at the big dogs. When your pup starts on their barking spree, begin shaking the can to divert their attention back to you. When they pause, calmly give them a command, like “Quiet.”
If they do not continue barking after a few seconds, give them a small bite-sized treat. If they continue to bark, repeat shaking the coffee can and try the command again.
Tip: You don’t have to use a coffee can; I snap my fingers close to Max’s ear, which seems to work moderately well. After all, I always have my hands with me, but not always a coffee can.
The spray bottle technique
Spraying your Yorkshire Terrier with water also associates barking with a negative consequence. You can use either a small spray bottle or your kids’ squirt gun. When your pup begins barking, spray them and give the command you’ve chosen to silence your dog.
Again, keep treats that are good for Yorkies handy and reward and praise your pup when they are quiet for a few seconds.
The desensitization technique
The idea behind desensitization training is exposing your Yorkshire Terrier to the trigger repeatedly until they become accustomed to it. Whether the trigger is the doorbell, the vacuum, or other dogs, the more you introduce your pet to these things, the less likely they are to be bothered by them. If you incorporate rewards and verbal praise after positive behavior, your pup will be even less likely to bark at these triggers.
>> Get real-time barking alerts with the Furbo Dog Camera
Other tips to stop Yorkie barking behavior
Figure out why they are barking
Figuring out why your Yorkshire Terrier barks may help alleviate some of the noise. Are they bored? Are they lonely? Do they have too much pent up energy? Are they nervous? Once you determine why they are barking, you can take measures to remedy the problem. We’ll talk more about deciphering the certain reasons Yorkies bark below.
Provide lots of exercise
A tired Yorkie is a quiet Yorkie—at least quieter, anyway. Giving your Yorkie plenty of exercise will get rid of excess energy, making them less likely to exert energy on endless barking.
At a minimum, your Yorkshire Terrier needs one 20-minute walk every day to bring down their energy level and stimulate their brain. But you may find your Yorkie, like ours, needs a bit more playtime to wear themselves out. If needed, consider hiring a dog walking service to give your pup some exercise mid-day when you’re not home.
Alleviate separation anxiety
If your Yorkie has separation anxiety, addressing it could help prevent excessive barking while your dog is home alone. This is important if you live in close proximity to other people, such as in an apartment building.
Some options include stimulating puzzle toys, interactive cameras, a second dog, a midday walk, or soothing treatments, such as lavender or CBD chews. You may also want to consider using a doggie daycare or hiring a dog walker.
Give positive rewards
Positive reinforcement will go a lot further than negative reinforcement. So, when you have the opportunity to reward your dog for a good job—do so!
Never hit or shout at your Yorkie—a firm and forceful voice should suffice. You want to build a trusting relationship. Instilling fear in them won’t develop this relationship.
>> Read more: Training a Yorkie Puppy: Tricks & Secrets
How to interpret your Yorkie’s barking
Dogs use barking as a way to communicate. By learning the types of barking, you can better understand their needs and take steps to prevent the issue.
- High-pitched barking: Used to get your attention to indicate the desire for something—a toy, a potty break, or playtime
- Low-tone barking: Evidence of a perceived threat; used as a warning; This often increases with a change of place or unfamiliar sounds
- Growling: Used as a warning to other people or animals to stay away from the dog’s territory
- Howling: A response to other dogs
- Whining: May be used to show emotional or physical distress, but also used to get attention to indicate something is wanted
- Yelping: Used to indicate injury or pain
Does your Yorkie bark a lot?
A barking Yorkie can be stressful—I’ve been there. Don’t give up. Try something new. Sometimes it will take testing one or two strategies before things click with your dog.