Today’s the big day! You’ve been searching and waiting for that new puppy for months, and the little furball is finally in your arms. Now what?
There are a lot of things to think about when bringing home a brand new, 8-week-old Yorkie puppy, but don’t panic. We’ve outlined the essentials of Yorkie puppy care in this guide, so read on to learn how to take care of your new friend.
In this guide:
- Bringing new Yorkie puppies home
- Feeding your puppy
- Tips for training your Yorkie pup
- Bathing your Yorkie puppy for the first time
- Taking care of your Yorkie’s hair
- Taking your Yorkie to the vet
- How to take care of a Yorkshire Terrier’s teeth
- Make sure your Yorkie gets enough exercise
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Bringing new Yorkie puppies home
First things first, you’ll want to take your new puppy to the vet for a quick checkup. You’ll make a number of visits to the vet over the next year for checkups and puppy vaccinations, but this first visit is very important.
Now might also be a good time to check out a veterinary discount plan like PetAssure or a community-based pet health sharing plan that offers wellness coverage, such as Eusoh (Tip: Get Eusoh’s pet health sharing plan free for two months with code “HEAT”)
Even if the rescue or breeder that you picked up your puppy from stated that they had a recent checkup, take them anyway. This will help catch any serious health conditions very early on and helps your little pup get off on the right paw.
Once you’ve got your puppy’s basic health squared away, you’ll need to get them settled into your home.
Gear to puppy-proof your home
Yorkie puppies come with cute, irresistible faces and not much else. On day one, you’ll want to have a few important items on hand.
It is very tempting to have a new puppy sleep in your room and maybe even in your bed, but to kick off puppy training the right way, your new puppy will need a place to call their own. It is a good idea to have a spacious, sturdy dog crate available from day one, so put that at the top of your puppy gear list.
A crate will be a valuable asset for house training and for keeping your pup safe from small children and other pets. Make sure to select a crate that is going to be big enough for your Yorkie when they are full-grown and ideally one that’s large enough to make space for both a dog bed and a pee pad. This will make potty training easier (more on that later).
That crate won’t be very comfortable without a dog bed inside, so look for a comfy stuffed or foam-based dog bed that will give them a good place to sleep or nap. We know your tiny Yorkie puppy will fit into a cereal bowl right now, but they will grow fast, so make sure you buy a dog bed that will accommodate them when they are fully grown.
Along with a crate for crate training and sleeping, having a pen is helpful as well. Puppy pens give a little more space to roam and play while still keeping your puppy in a safe enclosed area. They are perfect for times that you are working nearby but can’t keep a close enough eye on your puppy.
Eventually, your intrepid little explorer is going to want to roam the house, and chances are you’ll want them to stay out of certain rooms (especially before they’re fully potty trained).
A dog gate helps keep certain places off-limits, protects your new puppy from stairs they can’t navigate yet, and can help keep them from being stepped on when you have multiple guests.
Make sure to buy a dog gate that has non-marking feet, or consider installing a permanent one if you know you’ll want your pup to stay out of certain places all of the time.
Chew toys and bitter chew spray
It won’t be long before your puppy is exploring the house and getting into things they shouldn’t be, so puppy-proofing your home is an important part of Yorkie care.
Pay special attention to anything toxic, like cleaners, certain human foods, and even plants that might be accessible to your pup. Also, be sure to put small objects out of reach that might be swallowed. Legos, decorative stones or marbles, and any other small knick-knacks can be a choking hazard.
Providing an alternative outlet for chewing is important, so make sure you have a collection of chew toys available. Try to gather a small basket of toys that vary in type and texture. Your pup will appreciate the variety and it will help you narrow down which are the best distractions for your dog.
For things you don’t want your puppy to chew on, a bitter dog chew spray can help. This can be a good training tool if your pup has decided they prefer shoes to toys, and can also be used on potentially dangerous materials like toxic plants and electric lamp cords.
Part of being a good dog parent is not allowing your dog to languish in boredom all day. Aside from exercise and playtime, another great tool for this is puzzle toys. These toys usually have a compartment for a treat and provide a stimulating challenge as your pup tries to get to the prize on the inside.
One of the most common causes of injury among Yorkshire Terriers is being stepped on. A great way to reduce the likelihood of this happening is a dog bell. These little bells tinkle gently (but not obnoxiously) as your pup moves about and also help you keep track of them in the early potty training days.
You pup will need fresh water available as well as a dish to eat from. We recommended (and use) this ceramic set of dog dishes that won’t easily tip over and that is dishwasher safe. Stainless steel also works, but avoid plastic because scratches on the surface can harbor bacteria and lead to infection.
Training your pup to look for food in their dish from day one will help get them into a regular eating schedule and will help discourage begging at the table.
Feeding your puppy
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” said Hippocrates, and in many respects, the same holds true for healthy dogs. Good quality food is particularly important for a growing puppy, and starting out on the right paw, so to speak, is absolutely crucial.
A balanced diet is a building block for good health, but so many of the dog foods in today’s market are not providing what your dog needs.
Take some time to research a quality puppy food and always feed a new puppy food with a balanced ratio of protein and fat to support rapid growth, such as Halo Holistic Puppy Food. Avoid food full of meat meal blends, preservatives, and fillers.
If you want a few additional suggestions, we’ve researched and reviewed the best dog food for Yorkies here.
When your pup first arrives, transition to new foods carefully, blending the old brand they were being fed previously and the new brand gradually for a few weeks until you have phased out the old food entirely. This will help your dog acclimate to the new taste and will prevent major digestive issues that could come from switching to a new food.
At a minimum, feed your Yorkie puppy three to four times a day on a consistent schedule. Many young puppies are light eaters and are prone to hypoglycemia, so they do best with free-feeding at this stage of their life. Our guide to how much to feed a Yorkie puppy and the included feeding schedule outline appropriate amounts in more detail.
For very nervous Yorkies, use mealtime as an opportunity to hand feed some kibble from their dish, building trust while also setting a good pattern that will prevent food aggression later in life.
Be careful about treats
Not showering your new puppy with loads of treats might be one of the hardest things you do this year. And that includes taxes and sticking to that 6 AM running schedule.
The reality is that dog obesity has become an epidemic in our country, and bad habits often start in puppyhood.1 Establishing good habits early is going to help your puppy live their best life and avoid a host of health issues down the road.
For Yorkies in particular, giving appropriate amounts of healthy treats is important. Yorkies tend to suffer from hypoglycemia, pancreatitis, collapsed trachea, and several other health problems, all of which occur more frequently in overweight Yorkies.
Half the battle is simply limiting your puppy to a healthy number of treats. Yorkie puppies require only 175 to 200 calories per day, and adult Yorkies need even less. The calories in treats add up fast, so overfeeding your Yorkie is extremely easy to do.
The other half of the battle is finding healthy Yorkie treats with real nutrition. Many of the big-name brands are full of fillers and junk, which won’t help your pup stay healthy. Feed them treats with high quality, whole food ingredients that are as nutrient-rich and low-calorie as possible.
Try dividing full-size treats into bite-size chunks to help them stretch further during repetitive training sessions. Also, consider a healthy homemade treat like diced, dried sweet potatoes, which are low in calories and high in nutrition.
Regular checkups will help you keep an eye on your puppy’s weight, so be sure to consult with your vet if you have concerns about your puppy’s weight and calorie needs.
>> Read more: Yorkie Weight Chart: How Big Will My Yorkie Get?
Tips for training your Yorkie pup
Training your puppy starts on day one, and that can feel a little overwhelming for new puppy parents. It’s important to have a plan in place for the different stages and types of training your dog will need. We’ve broken down the most critical parts of training for you, so read on for a puppy training overview.
Puppies typically have enough bladder control to begin housebreaking at around 12 weeks of age. However, we recommend beginning as soon as the puppy enters your home, as long as you keep realistic expectations.
There are many strong opinions around housebreaking, with some advocating a diehard crate training approach and others insisting that the practice is cruel, advocating for pen training or giving the puppy free range of your home. You’ll also need to decide if you want to train your dog to go outside, on pee pads, or both.
We recommend something in between these approaches. The most important points of housebreaking your puppy are: frequent potty breaks, constant supervision, and lots of positive reinforcement for good behavior. You can read our step-by-step guide to potty training Yorkies here.
Along with this approach, a few tools will come in handy. A good crate is a must, especially for naps and sleeping at night. A play pen or dog yard is also a handy tool, providing some play area without giving your pup too much space to wander out of sight, and pee pads are advised even if you plan to train your dog outdoors, since they’ll have to eliminate at night. Healthy training treats should also be kept close at hand to reward good behavior every chance you get.
Lastly, there are a few things you should never do when house training your pup. You’ve heard it recommended a thousand times from old-timers, but never rub your puppy’s face in urine or feces after an accident.
Dog behaviorists and trainers universally agree: this practice doesn’t help your dog learn, and actually inhibits the housebreaking process. A pup disciplined this way will simply associate fear with elimination, and the only behavior this encourages will be hiding when a potty break is needed.
Never yell at or hit your puppy for an indoor accident. Like the previous point, this behavior will only confuse your dog and cause them to associate negative consequences with using the bathroom, regardless of where that occurs. Positive reinforcement for good behavior will be vastly more effective than negative consequences for unwanted behavior.
Finally, be consistent. If you take a start-stop approach to housebreaking your dog, it simply won’t work. Inconsistent expectations will result in inconsistent results. Find a pattern and arrangement that works for your pup and your schedule and stick to it.
Consistency and patience are key. Housebreaking rarely happens quickly, and some Yorkies can be particularly slow in this area; expect this process to take time. Your patience will be rewarded and your pup will be happy and well-trained in the end.
In your new Yorkie puppy’s eyes, you are more than just a source of food and cuddle time. You are your puppy’s new pack, and as pack leader, you have some big responsibilities.
It’s a big scary world out there, and your puppy will look to you for guidance on all sorts of behaviors. The bar you set now will influence the rest of their life, so it is important to start training your Yorkie puppy early and often with modeling, feedback, and habit setting where your puppy’s behavior is concerned.
One of the most important steps you can take in shaping your puppy’s future behavior is proper socialization. Time spent around humans (other than those living in your household) and other dogs is critical to helping your puppy grow up to be a healthy, well-adjusted citizen of the canine world.
Early socialization is a balancing act between your puppy’s immunization schedule and exposure to other dogs and people, and you don’t want to miss this window of opportunity to teach and shape your Yorkie’s social skills.
Too much too soon can expose your pup to dangerous diseases against which they have not yet been immunized. But lack of proper socialization may lead to very aggressive and territorial behaviors later on in life.
Be careful to not socialize your pup with other people or dogs until at least seven days after they have had their first round of immunizations and a deworming. Even then, avoid public outings that involve large gatherings of dogs, such as dog parks. This is a good time to introduce them to friends’ healthy dogs or enroll them in a small puppy behavior class where the environment is clean and dogs’ interactions are more controlled.
Once your puppy has had their full complement of vaccinations—typically between the ages of 4 to 6 months—then you can venture into the dog park for more group socialization.
Asserting your authority
A dog is a pack animal by nature, and every pack has a leader. That leader needs to be you. If your dog senses a vacuum in leadership, they will instinctively step up to fill it. This is especially true of some smaller breeds like the Yorkshire Terrier, which can be particularly assertive and stubborn.
To combat this, make sure you are always gently assertive with your pup. Calmly enforce the house rules, such as no chewing on non-toys and no begging or feeding at the table. Never yell and, most importantly, don’t give in. If your dog senses you will give an inch, they will often take a mile. Once bad puppy habits are in place, they can be difficult to remove.
Certain natural behaviors like chewing should be expected to a degree but not allowed to go unchecked.
It is a simple fact: dogs are going to chew. They explore the world around them through taste and scent. Some dogs are more prolific chewers than others, but any pup is capable of destroying just about any household item if they decide it needs a good chewing.
Combat chewing by providing alternative chew toys that are interesting. We recommend accumulating a basket of toys and putting half of them away for a week or two and then rotating the available toys to keep things interesting.
Any time you catch your pup engaging in destructive chewing, give them a stern “No,” remove the tempting item from their space, and immediately provide an alternative chew toy. Once they begin chewing the new item, encourage them with lots of positive praise for the improved behavior.
Expect chewing while teething
If your pup is teething, they will be particularly keen to chew on things to relieve some of the discomfort caused by teething.
Your puppy will experience a first rounding of teething between 3 weeks and 6 weeks of age, as their baby teeth come in. A second round will follow, usually between 12 weeks and 6 months of age, as your Yorkie’s baby teeth fall out and adult teeth grow in.
Provide teething toys during this period, especially those that can be frozen. The cool temperature will provide some relief from teething pain and are a great distraction for a pup intent on chewing everything in sight.
Barking is another natural behavior that can be tricky to control. Your dog communicates through vocalization, and it is often their only means of asking for what they want or need. No barking at all is simply not a realistic goal for most dog parents, so set your expectations accordingly.
Excessive barking should be addressed immediately, before it becomes an entrenched habit. This may include barking at a particular household appliance that makes noise (whirring dishwashers and beeping microwaves) or constantly barking at every movement outside of the living room window.
But you do want your pup to warn you of something or someone that they don’t feel is right, so use your judgement and make sure only to discourage barking for inappropriate reasons.
The correction process is similar to chewing. Give a stern “No,” when the behavior is unwanted, divert their attention to another activity, and praise them generously when the positive behavior takes place. This is a great time for some training treats to help reinforce good behavior. You can learn more in our guide to how to stop Yorkie barking.
>> Read more: 4 Best Bark Collars for Yorkies
Preparing your Yorkie to spend time alone
If your pup will regularly be left home alone during the day, it is a good idea to begin introducing the idea of quiet alone time as early as possible to avoid unnecessary separation anxiety later on.
Start by determining where your pup will spend their alone time while you are away. Some pup parents use crates, but unless you have a very large crate with plenty of room to roam, we usually recommend using a doggy gate or fenced play yard to create a safe, contained space for your pup while unsupervised.
Start by setting up the space but leaving the gate or door open, so your puppy can explore the area. Place a treat inside each time you do this, to create some positive anticipation regarding the space.
After several sessions of this, begin placing your pup in the space with the gate closed while you are nearby and within line of sight. Continue providing a treat for each of these sessions and be sure to lavish lots of praise anytime your pup is calm within the space.
Slowly lengthen these sessions by a few minutes each time and begin moving in and out of your puppy’s line of sight while you go about your normal day at home. This will reinforce that you are coming back at the end of each session. Continue this pattern until you are able to leave your calm pup in the space for 30 minutes or longer.
Lastly, begin leaving your pup in the safe space for sessions during which you are physically out of the home (some yard work outside, a quick run to the grocery store, etc.). This will acclimate your Yorkie to periods of time in a quiet house and your return each time will reinforce that you are always going to come back for them. During these longer periods away, you may want to play some soft music or leave a quiet television on for some comforting, ambient noise.
This gradual build up of time in their safe space should help create a sense of security for your dog while you are away for longer periods of time, and will help reduce any anxiety from being left alone.
Bathing your Yorkie puppy for the first time
It won’t be long before your new puppy needs their first bath, and there are a few steps you can take to make bath time a little smoother.
Bathing should not occur more than every few weeks, and your pup will often be able to go longer between baths if they are not getting messy on walks or backyard romps. Take care not to over bathe, as that can dry out their skin and cause irritation.
Be careful to use only slightly warm-to-lukewarm water. A dog’s skin is very temperature sensitive, so err on the safe side if you are unsure of a water’s temperature. Always test the water temperature on a sensitive part of your skin, like the inner forearm, before placing your pup in the water.
It is likely your pup will be nervous about the water at bathtime. There are a few breeds that tend to love water, but most dogs don’t. Only fill the tub or sink deep enough to just reach the bottom of their belly. This way they don’t feel like they are being dropped into the ‘deep end’ and their head and face will have plenty of clearance from the water. This will also help you avoid accidentally getting water into their ears, which can lead to ear infections.
Lastly, make bath time as positive an experience as possible. Give your pup a small treat right before and after bath time, and in time, your pup will look forward to the treats they know are coming. You could also consider getting a slow treater mat to distract them during the bath.
Always lavish lots of praise on your pup while they are remaining calm, and most of all, be patient. Some dogs are more nervous than others, but bath time is rarely a favorite among small breeds like Yorkies, and it will take some time to establish a routine.
You can read about more bath time tips and tricks and some important things to avoid in our detailed Yorkie bathing guide.
Warning! You can’t use baby shampoo on a Yorkie puppy
You should not use baby shampoo on your dog. Unfortunately, an enormous amount of misinformation exists on the internet regarding dogs and baby shampoo, but the truth is, it can be bad for your dog’s skin.
Many owners believe baby shampoo, human shampoo, and even dish soap are safe for their dogs. However, these products are not made for dogs and can disrupt their delicate skin pH balance.
You’ll need to look for high-quality, natural dog shampoo. We tested and reviewed a bunch, which you can read about in our in-depth guide to Yorkie shampoo.
Taking care of your Yorkie’s hair
Try to make brushing a daily or at least a several-times-a-week event, and the earlier you start your puppy on this routine, the better. If your puppy can grow accustomed to being brushed on a regular basis, they will be far more likely to sit still and show patience during grooming sessions when they are older.
Because of their fine hair and lack of undercoat, regularly brushing a Yorkie is a must. You’ll want to grab a few specific brushes and tools to help with this task, including a double-sided pin and bristle brush, detangling comb, and some detangling spray. Check out our Guide to the best Yorkie grooming tools for a more detailed list of items you will find helpful when taking care of your pup’s coat.
Taking your Yorkie to the vet
During the first 18 months of their life, your puppy will probably have more vet visits than the subsequent several years combined. From an initial checkup to vaccinations and dewormings, your pup will see your vet at least four to six times during those initial months in your home.
That’s why now is probably a better time than ever to look into a pet insurance plan that includes the option for wellness check coverage, such as Pumpkin Pet Insurance. Or, if you want to reduce costs without spending quite as much on monthly premiums, consider a veterinary discount plan, such as PetAssure, or a community-based pet health sharing plan, such as Eusoh (Tip: get your first two months of Eusoh free with code HEAT).
So many visits might be a bit daunting for some new pet parents, but helping your Yorkie pup start out on good footing will pay dividends down the road as they grow into a healthy, active adult.
Yorkie puppy vaccination schedule
Vaccinations are crucial for your Yorkie puppy and most of them will occur during the first year of their life. Your vet will administer these vaccinations on a specific schedule starting at around six weeks old and wrapping up between 12 and 16 months old.
Dog vaccinations prevent potentially deadly diseases like Parvovirus, Bordetella, and Rabies, so it is important that you don’t skip any of them. Consult with your veterinarian and check out our vaccination schedule to keep your puppy’s vaccinations on track:
|Puppy’s Age||Recommended Vaccinations|
|6 – 8 weeks||DHLPP (Distemper/parvovirus/Adenovirus/parainfluenza/Leptospirosis)|
|9 – 11 weeks||DHLPP|
|12 – 14 weeks||DHLPP, Bordetella, Giardia, Lyme|
|16 – 17 months||DHPP, Rabies, Giardia, Lyme|
>> Get reimbursed for 4 puppy vaccines with a Pumpkin Preventative Wellness Plan
How often do Yorkies need to go to the vet?
Yorkie puppies need to visit the vet three to six times for vaccinations during the first year of their life, and then one to two times per year after that.
Any responsible breeder will require an initial visit to the vet immediately after adopting your pup, to validate the health contract and ensure there are no surprises or disputes regarding the puppy’s health.
As your pup ages, you will only need to visit the vet for annual checkups or to address common Yorkie health issues like luxating patella, collapsed trachea and pancreatitis, or typical Yorkie allergies and injuries.
We want our pups to be as healthy and well-cared for as possible, but those vet bills can really add up. If future health risks and vet visits are a financial concern, you may want to consider pet insurance or a community-based health sharing plan like Eusoh to help save you money in the case of a major puppy health emergency.
How to take care of a Yorkshire Terrier’s teeth
One of the more common health issues that Yorkies are prone to is tooth decay. Dental issues are prevalent among Yorkies due to their tiny jaws and sometimes-overcrowded gums. This makes daily brushing of your puppy’s teeth an important part of routine care, and the earlier you start your puppy, the better.
Check out our guide to Yorkie teeth problems for more info about keeping those puppy teeth healthy.
Make sure your Yorkie gets enough exercise
Yorkies acclimate well to many living arrangements and can thrive in small living quarters, but they do best with the physical and mental stimulation of daily exercise. While Yorkshire Terriers do not have high exercise needs, one or two daily walks in the fresh air are best for this small, active breed, and they’re important if you want your Yorkie to live out their full life expectancy. Aim for walks of about 30-minutes in length.
Yorkies can be stubborn leash walkers, so be prepared to put in some patient training. Let your pup take their time to sniff and explore on walks, but make sure they know you are in control and gently insist they move along when you begin walking again.
Another benefit of such a small dog breed is that Yorkshire Terriers can also log some exercise playing fetch in the living room or a good round of tug-of-war on days that long outdoor walks are not possible. Other games like ‘hide the treat under a blanket’ or some gentle roughhousing are also great ways to help your pup release some pent up energy and to stimulate them mentally.
Note: When walking your pup, make sure to attach the leash to a Yorkie harness and not directly to their collar to avoid the risk of neck trauma and collapsed trachea.
Yorkie puppy play: mouthing and biting
A quick word about puppy play. One of the most commonly misunderstood and mishandled aspects of raising a puppy is how they mouth when they play. A natural aspect of puppies playing with their littermates is gentle nipping or mouthing. Puppies do not, after all, have opposable thumbs, and using their mouth and teeth is an important survival instinct that puppies develop through play.
When with their littermates and mother, puppies will receive important feedback while playing if things get too rough. When a nip goes too far, a sibling will ‘yip’ in pain or the mother will give a quick nip, and the puppy will immediately know they have done something wrong. In this way, puppies learn the difference between gentle play and predatory use of their jaws and teeth.
When a puppy is removed from their mother and placed in your home, you must continue to provide that playtime feedback.
Opinions differ on this topic, with some insisting that absolutely no mouthing of human hands should be allowed, while others allow it to a point. It is our opinion and experience that closely monitored mouthing with feedback is a far better teacher than constantly saying “No!” every time a puppy attempts to play in their natural way.
The key to teaching healthy puppy mouthing and play is to allow the puppy to mouth your hands as you tussle and play but as soon as their bite pressure becomes anything close to painful, give a loud hiss or “shhh!” sound and say “Gentle!” or some other basic command each time. When you give the command, don’t pull your hand back but simply freeze until your pup releases or backs off the pressure.
At this point—and this is critical—praise your puppy verbally and with physical affection as soon as they respond positively to your command, letting them know they are on the right path. If they do not respond correctly and continue with painful bite pressure. Simply set them aside and ignore them or turn your back, signaling that playtime is over for a bit.
This cycle of play-nip-correction-praise will take time and patience, but before long you’ll notice your puppy playing more gently and carefully. Teaching these habits now cultivates important bite pressure control which will greatly reduce the chance they will hurt someone or someone else’s pet in the future.
Taking care of a Yorkie puppy is hard work! (But it’s worth it)
A new puppy is a big commitment. Long hours of training, chewed-upon shoes, and 1 AM potty breaks may cause you to question your sanity more than a few times. However, provided you don’t slack off during puppyhood, you will reap the benefits of a happy, well-behaved adult when your pup is all grown up.
We’d love to hear from you! Tell us about your favorite puppy training methods and stories in the comments below and be sure to check out some of our other great Yorkie potty training and grooming guides.
- Downing & Williams. Obesity in Dogs. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/obesity-in-dogs