For most people, the most challenging part of owing a Yorkie is housetraining. For Yorkies, housetraining can be very difficult. Yorkies are very smart and very stubborn. Without consistent training, Yorkies can take an extremely long time to train. I have had many frustrated Yorkie owners ask me for training advice. Most of the time problems stem from inconsistent training. If your job requires you to be away from home for 9 hours a day, unless you take some vacation time to focus on training, your Yorkie will take a very long time to learn the rules of going potty. So, if you are reading this before bringing your new Yorkie home, do your best to plan on having a week at home with your new addition in order to get training off on the right foot. If you are reading this as a frustrated owner of an untrained Yorkie, do not despair. All it takes is time, patience, and consistency, and your Yorkie can be trained.
First and foremost, Yorkies respond very well to positive reinforcement. They will basically do whatever you want them to if they know they will be rewarded. So, when your Yorkie goes potty in the proper place, give lots of praise. Use treats, petting, a “good boy” or “good girl,” and lots of hugs and kisses. It won’t take long for your Yorkie to catch on to potty training is enthusiastic positive reinforcement is used. Do not let up on the praise or treats until your Yorkie is fully trained. On the other hand, scolding and punishment for accidents are a major no-no for any Yorkie owner. Scolding is counter-productive and will only make your Yorkie confused and upset. Do not hit your Yorkie or rub his face in the spot where the accident occurred. Be patient and kind and very enthusiastic when he “hits the mark.”
As far as where your Yorkie will go potty, there are a number of typical options. Here is a short list:
- Inside on puppy pads or newspaper
- Inside in a special dog litter box
- Inside with an indoor potty system (like sod or fake grass, similar)
- Outside on a harness and a leash (not a collar)
- Outside in a fenced yard
- An inside/outside combo
- outside except when your Yorkie is home alone or the weather is bad
- crate training
Which ever method you choose, be consistent. Predictability is the key when it comes to training a Yorkie. Setting up a schedule is paramount. If you are using a puppy pad or newspapers, place your Yorkie on the designated area on the same schedule you would if you were taking your Yorkie outside. Also, remember to put the pad or papers in a place that is easy to clean up and is far enough away from your Yorkie’s food that he will be comfortable eliminating. If you will be employing an outside method, take your Yorkie to the same place every time you go outside until he “gets it”. Pick a good spot like a nice patch of grass or a tree, or something similar. The smell of his urine in the same place will also help him to associate the spot, and eventually outside in general, as the place to go potty. Do not walk your Yorkie until he is accident-free. Go to the spot you want him to go, and stand there until he goes. It may take forever the first few times, but if you go in and out without your Yorkie going potty, then he will think outside is for play. Once he starts going consistently outside, in the same place, then you can start taking him to different places.
For puppies around 12 weeks old, the typical schedule would be to take them outside or to the puppy pad about 6 – 8 times per day: first thing in the morning, about 15 minutes after the first meal, then every three hours during the day, after the evening meal, just before bed, and possibly once over night. As your Yorkie starts to get a handle on the potty schedule, you can slowly increase the time in between breaks.
While you are potty training your Yorkie, there will be accidents. It is important for any new Yorkie owner to try to minimize the accidents. An untrained Yorkie should not have the full run of the house. Instead, create a puppy-proofed place in your house for your Yorkie to stay until he is trained, or, you can use crate training.
You can create a Yorkie puppy safe area in a place that is easy to clean if there are accidents, such as a bathroom, laundry room, or kitchen. Restrict your Yorkie to this area using a baby gate or exercise pen. Make the area comfortable with your Yorkie’s food and water, toys, bed, and puppy pad or newspapers.
If you will be employing crate training, start with the right sized crate. Your Yorkie should have enough room to stand up and turn around, but not enough room to go potty in the crate and be able to get away from it. Gradually introduce your Yorkie to the crate by feeding him in it with the door open. You can also put toys in the crate to encourage him to go in. Over a few days of your Yorkie eating in the crate with the door open, you can start to shut the door while your Yorkie is eating for a few seconds at a time. Gradually increase the time that the door is shut each day until your Yorkie is comfortable in his crate. The idea is that your Yorkie will not potty in the crate, so you can take him out to his appropriate potty area as soon as you let him out of the crate. Many Yorkies find the crate to be a very calming a relaxing place to “get away” from noise and stress, but it can take some time for Yorkies to get to like the crate. Remember: a Yorkie should not be crated for more than 4 hours at a time without a potty break. So, do not expect to crate your Yorkie while you are gone all day at work. Yorkies have small bladders and need to be able to use the bathroom fairly frequently. If you leave your Yorkie in the crate too long, he will eventually have to go potty, and then any crate “training” will be lost.
The most important things to remember when potty training a Yorkie are: positive reinforcement, consistency, and patience. Remember these keys and you will have a properly trained and well-mannered Yorkie in no time.