Yorkshire Terriers are small, intelligent dogs known for being curious and energetic. They have a strong prey drive that comes from being bred to eliminate small vermin in factories.
These attributes make Yorkies a fun companion. However, they need daily exercise and play time to keep their energetic behavior and curiosity in check.
Games that mimic their ancestral need to hunt prey will be a favorite. Here are a few games for dogs that you can play with your Yorkie.
In this guide:
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Best Yorkie games
Puzzle toys are a useful way to keep your Yorkie busy and provide mental stimulation. Some puzzle toys, like the Nina Ottosson Dog Brick, require dogs to make certain movements with the toy to earn a hidden treat. They keep dogs busy until they obtain their reward.
Other captivating puzzle toys, such as the Hide-A-Squirrel toy, can be used with treats, but the plush, squeaky squirrels hiding in the log are usually enticing enough on their own. You can learn more about these toys, as well as other options, in our guide to the best toys for Yorkies.
The treasure hunt game is a fun game for this breed. It helps satisfy their predatory instinct to root out rodents.
To play Treasure Hunt, grab your pup’s favorite toy. Our Yorkie, Max, loves the Hyper Pet Doggie Tail interactive toy that mimics a live squirrel. Begin the game by showing the toy to your dog. Allow them to play with the toy for a few minutes to build interest before hiding it somewhere in the house.
For beginners, hide the toy behind your back or under a pillow nearby. Ask your Yorkie, “Where is your toy?” or another cue phrase you choose. When they find the toy, reward them with praise and physical affection.
After your Yorkie has this game down, tell them to stay in one room while hiding the toy in another. Ask the cue phrase again and send your Yorkie near the hiding location.
We think it’s fun to have another person make the Doggie Tail make noise to hint at its location. Our dog usually transforms into a seriously adorable hunting machine when he hears the taunting sound of the toy.
In the beginning, you should make the hiding places fairly easy. As your dog becomes more advanced, the hiding places can become more challenging. Pretty soon you may notice your Yorkie is actually quite good at the hunt.
Yorkie’s love tug-of-war. There are a variety of rope toys designed for tug-of-war, like the ZippyPaws Monkey, but it can be played with pretty much any durable toy you have. Your pup will be most likely to play the game if the toy happens to be one of their favorites.
Add variety to the game by intermittently throwing the toy for a game of fetch or hide the toy for a game of hide and seek.
Hide & Seek
Playing a game with your dog, like hide and seek, is one good way to build a positive relationship with them. The game provides mental stimulation, and it’s also a way to reinforce the commands (e.g. “sit” and “come”) that you may have been training your Yorkie to obey.
Begin by giving your dog a command to “sit” and then “stay” in a location where they won’t be able to see where you go. This command alone takes some time, but that’s okay—do your best with your pup and have fun.
Once your Yorkie cannot see you, pick a spot and hide. When you are ready, give your dog the command “Come!” and see how long it takes your pup to find you.
If your dog needs a little assistance with the “sit” and “stay” commands, try playing the game with the help of a friend who can sit with the dog. Add in a reward treat if an incentive is needed.
Fetch is a great way for your Yorkie to get some exercise. Grab a favorite ball, plush toy, or erratically bouncing toy and give it a toss. We think your Yorkie will like the light-up, squeaky Gnawsome ball, which is small enough for her little mouth. Try a ball launcher to save your arm and back during a game of fetch.
A great way to get rid of extra energy is with a homemade obstacle course. Have your kids build it and—Voilà!—all the small members of the family will be occupied and burning energy! You’re welcome.
Get creative and use things like pillows and blankets to build small tunnels that your Yorkie needs to navigate through to reach a treat or favorite toy. Include obstacles that require your Yorkie to jump over. Just keep in mind that obstacles shouldn’t be too high as Yorkies are prone to injury.
Yorkies love to chase. Some tend to chase other dogs at the dog park, while others like to chase family members. As long as it’s done playfully and not interfering with house rules, this game can be a great way to get blood flowing and get rid of extra energy.
Are any games dangerous for my Yorkie?
Yorkshire Terriers are an incredibly small and fragile breed. In fact, physical trauma is one of the leading causes of death for the breed. Games that include roughhousing need to be done with care. Yorkies should not jump from distances too high off the ground as they can easily break a leg.
Even though Yorkies are small, they are good chewers; so, their toys should be durable, not easily broken, nor should they have small, removable parts that could become choking hazards.
One more thing. Yorkies tend to be easily excitable. And sometimes, just like children, they can take things a little too far in their excitement. If you find your Yorkie getting too excited or rough, give them a command, such as “gentle,” or have them take a break until they are calmer.
What other things do Yorkies like to do for fun?
Yorkies love daily walks
Or, maybe we should say that Yorkies love to be outside. Because, honestly, many Yorkies tend to be stubborn on a leash, stopping every so often or refusing to walk altogether.
While this may be true, you still need to get your pal outside at least once a day, if not twice, for at least 20 to 30 minutes a day.
The fresh air, smells, and physical exercise are all good for dogs (and you too!). I read once that a dog’s smell is similar to the complexity with which our human eyes see. The bright colors, lighting, tones, and highlights—we can see it all. Dogs’ sense of smell is similar and so much more complex than ours, and being outside lets them experience this kaleidoscope of sensations.
As for walks, I’ve noticed that if I change my neighborhood route to one that is on an unpaved nature trail with lots to sniff, my Yorkie is not just content but thrilled to get out, walk, and explore.
Yorkies like to play with other pups
Yorkies are a social breed and enjoy being around other dogs. But, they don’t always play nicely. Early socialization and consistent training are the best way to combat this unkind play.
Be aware that Yorkies tend to have small dog syndrome, snapping at bigger dogs when there doesn’t appear to be a reason. If this sounds like your Yorkie, it may be best to introduce them to a gentle giant so they can adapt to being around bigger dogs. Or, keep them away from bigger dogs altogether to prevent them from getting injured.
Yorkies love to trick-or-treat
These guys will do just about anything for a treat. This is great because we need all the help we can get from this often stubborn breed.
So, use treats to help curb barking or train a particular behavior. We recommend offering your Yorkie bite-size, healthy treats that are no more than a few calories each. This will help keep their already minimal calorie count down to an appropriate amount.