The following is an excerpt from "The Complete Guide to Yorkshire Terriers" by Dr. Joanna de Kler, DVM. For more information visit the books Amazon Page.
Author Credit: Dr. Joanna de Klerk, DVM
Preparing Your Home
If you have not owned a dog before, you may be wondering where to start in preparing your home for your new four-legged arrival. There are obviously things to buy, but let’s start by making sure your home is safe for your Yorkshire Terrier and suited to the harmonious coexistence of dog and human.
Whenever you adopt a dog from a rescue shelter, you will be home checked. This is to make sure you live at the address you claim to, that you have thought about the implications of owning a dog, that the right dog is placed with you, and to flag up any alterations to your home that may need to be attended to before the dog arrives. The home check is not an exam or an interrogation, and is merely to facilitate a successful adoption and the safety of the dog. When you buy from a breeder, you may also be asked about the preparations you have in place for the dog, your lifestyle and working arrangements, how long the dog will be left alone, and your plans for the dog. These questions are because the breeder cares about the future welfare of the puppies. A vendor that lets their puppies go without any checks or questions is not being responsible, so you should expect some kind of checks to be made at the initial stage of acquiring a dog and regard them as being in the best interests of the dog and you, the new owner.
Top of the list must be the security of your home. You may feel your home is very secure, and it may take the eye of an experienced home checker to spot a foxhole under the fence, or a broken fence panel. Maybe the fence does not quite extend to the far corner of the yard behind the shed, or in places it is low enough for a dog to jump over. Maybe your gate has a gap underneath that a small dog could squeeze through. Does your back gate have a lock as well as a latch? If you are considering a pedigree dog, which has a financial value, you should be aware that dogs can be stolen from unsecured back yards. They may also fall into the wrong hands if they escape. So, you need to ensure your back yard is completely secure at the outset, and continue to check daily for any breaches that may occur.
Remember, even if you already have a larger dog, there may be small escape routes that a Yorkshire Terrier could find, especially as they like to dig. So, it can help to adopt the mindset of a small dog when securing your back yard.
Be sure to clear any potential hazards in your back yard such as broken glass, and if you have a garden pond or swimming pool, this should be fenced off. Yorkies are not naturally drawn to water, but they are not the best swimmers if they should fall in accidentally.
If your house is on or near a busy road, you will need to ensure the dog cannot escape when you open your front door. If you have a front gate, it needs to be kept closed, with a sign to remind visitors to close the gate behind them. But you cannot rely on the compliance of others, so the dog should always be kept behind a stair gate or internal door when answering the front door, to ensure he does not bolt. This is a particular risk during the early months of owning a new dog, before he is accustomed to his home territory.
When preparing the inside of your home, you will have to make a decision from the outset as to which parts of the house the dog is allowed to access. There is no right or wrong answer to this, it is purely a matter of owner preference. However, if the dog is not allowed the run of the house, this needs to be consistent from the start. You may need to buy stair gates to shut off certain areas. Stair gates that can be opened and closed rather than stepped over will be a good investment since they will be permanently in place while the dog learns the rules.
If you have hard floors in your home, you are well prepared for the inevitable accidents a puppy will have, as well as any mud he brings into the home. If you have carpets, however, you may consider that now is not a good time to buy new ones. You may wish to restrict the dog to areas of the home that are not carpeted, or if your dog is to be allowed in your carpeted rooms, investing in a carpet vacuum/shampooer will certainly save the potential stress of accidental toileting in inappropriate places. Thorough cleaning to remove odors will also deter the dog from repeat soiling, and keep your home smelling fresh.
You may consider crating your dog at the puppy stage, to assist with housebreaking, to keep him contained at night and when you are out, and to give him a safe space that he can consider his place of security. Think about where to situate the crate. You will not need a large one for a Yorkshire Terrier, but a metal cage is always preferable to fabric mesh if your dog is to be left alone to prevent the dog chewing its way out.
Shopping List for Your New Dog
As well as a crate, which may be used for traveling as well as in the home, and a carpet shampooer, if you have carpets in your home, there are other things to buy for your new arrival. But the pet store is so overwhelming! The vast array of accessories available show how much we love our dogs and want to spoil them. But how much is really necessary?
The first thing you will need for your new dog is a collar and name tag. In some countries, it is a legal requirement for a dog to wear an identity tag outside the home. In any case, it is a good idea. Your new dog should be microchipped, but if he should escape or stray, he may be immediately reunited with you if he is wearing an identity tag, which could save you a release fee if he otherwise ends up in the pound.
You will then need a leash. It is often possible to buy matching collar and leash combinations. Your dog, of course, will have no clue how coordinated his accessories may be, but it is part of the fun of dog ownership for many. In addition to a leash, it is advisable to get a harness for your Yorkie, for walking him near roads, as little dogs with small heads can easily back out of their collar, or the clasp may release; a harness is much more secure. It also saves the delicate bones of the neck from strain if the dog pulls or runs to the end of the leash.
Not everyone likes flexi-leashes, but they can give your dog more freedom walking in open spaces as long as they are used with a few precautions. Be aware that the lock on flexi-leashes may not always latch correctly and could fail with the result that your dog might run out in front of a car if he is being led on a flexi-leash near traffic. Short webbing leashes are recommended in town. Also, you should not let your dog be a nuisance by entangling himself in the legs of other people or the leashes of other dogs. When approached by other walkers, the leash needs to be retracted and the dog brought to heel. Used correctly, a flexi-leash can be useful to have until you are sure of your dog’s recall.
Your dog obviously needs a bed. You do not need to go large. Dogs actually like size-appropriate beds, as they enjoy feeling cocooned by the sides of their bed. For a Yorkie, especially a miniature, even a cat bed will be plenty big enough. You may wish to buy more than one bed, so that your dog can settle in various parts of your home.
If you are not using a crate in your car, you will need a travel harness. It is an offense in some countries for a dog to travel unrestrained, and in any case, it is safest for your dog not to be thrown around in the event of an accident, or to cause one by ending up in the driver’s footwell.
You will need a bowl, or a couple of bowls for food. However, ordinary plates or saucers are perfectly adequate for a Yorkie. You will also need a water bowl, preferably earthenware with straight sides to prevent tipping.
You might consider a Kong or Nylabone to give your dog a distraction and something to chew on rather than the furniture. Rope toys and deer antlers are also popular. Avoid poorly made toys, especially with plastic eyes that may be swallowed or where the stuffing may come out and be ingested.
A pooper scooper may be useful for your garden, and you should consider where you plan to put the waste. You should also stock up on poop bags ready to clean up after your dog in public spaces.
Before buying food, you should check with the breeder or rescue what the dog is already being fed. Even if you have particular ideas on what you wish to feed your dog, changing over should be done gradually to avoid upsetting the dog’s stomach, especially with the upheaval of a change in his living environment. Your dog may come with some of the food he is already being fed.
Likewise, do not go overboard with treats while your dog is adjusting. Treat him with his regular food in the early days.
If you are on a budget, do not feel pressurized by the list of things your dog may need. Most of these things do not need to be new. You may pick up secondhand items from yard sales, online auctions, or newspaper ads. Make sure you run all textile items through the washing machine to sanitize them and remove the smell of the previous owner, and thoroughly clean hard surfaces with sanitizer and soapy water. If you are creative, you may even make your own accessories such as bedding and nylon collars and leashes!
Introducing Your New Yorkshire Terrier to Your Other Dogs
If you already have a dog in your home, you need to accept that initially, he or she may not be as thrilled about the newcomer as you are.
If your dog is used to other canine visitors, such as friends’ dogs, he will have no initial concept that your new dog is here to stay, and if the new dog is an adult, such as a rescue, there is little likelihood of fireworks at the introduction stage. The dogs may also gradually integrate and learn the hierarchy without too much bad feeling. However, bringing a new puppy into the home of an older dog is going to be a totally different dynamic. Puppies have very little experience of other dogs apart from their own mother and litter-mates. They have no social skills and cannot read the intent of other dogs. Your adult dog will regard the newcomer as impudent and in need of being put in its place, whereas the puppy may just want to play. Many a bad start has resulted in the new dog being returned, or even worse, the old dog being sent to a shelter. But the early days are no indication of the relationship that will develop given more time, patience, and careful supervision. Do not panic if your existing dog growls, snaps, and bares his teeth at the newcomer. It is part of establishing the ground rules and things will settle down. Be prepared for a settling in phase of up to four or five weeks, and during this time make sure you always supervise your dogs around each other, giving them scheduled separation opportunities for time out to relax; your adult dog may be especially in need of it.
If you are adopting from a shelter, you may have had a “Meet and Greet” at the home check stage, and your existing dog may have already briefly met the newcomer. But now they need to acquaint themselves properly. Neutral territory is always best for first introductions, such as a park or neighbor’s yard, so neither dog is feeling defensive. If the area is not enclosed, introductions should be on a loose leash, accompanied by a distraction such as a walk. If you do not have a neutral safe space away from your home, it is better for the dogs to meet outside in the yard than in the house. This introduction should ideally be off-leash if the yard is secure. Call the dogs apart every few minutes to ensure they do not get overexcited, and if you already have multiple dogs, introductions should take place one at a time. The first time you take the puppy indoors, the resident dog should be kept outside. Resident dogs are more accepting if they enter their house and the newcomer is already there rather than the new dog entering their space.
Remember your puppy is learning to interpret the language of your adult dog, and your adult dog is teaching the puppy to know his place, so you do not always need to intervene if things are looking heated. But you should be on hand in case your unsocialized Yorkshire Terrier puppy pushes things too far. He is a small dog that does not know his own size and could be a danger to himself if he is particularly provocative.
Introducing Your New Yorkshire Terrier to Children
If you have young children, you should talk to them about how to behave around your new dog at the preparation stage before the dog arrives in the home. Children are naturally exuberant, inquisitive and often careless. These endearing qualities may be less attractive to a new dog and could result in the child getting bitten or the dog getting teased, either of which could have lasting effects on the relationship.
Before your dog arrives, take your children to visit other child-friendly dogs owned by your friends, especially if any should own a Yorkshire Terrier. Teach your children that they need to be gentle around the dog. They should respect its space, allowing the dog to approach them or approaching the dog slowly and calmly, stroking the neck or back, rather than the face. Conditioning the child in advance of the arrival of the dog will not only facilitate a calm introduction, but also, if the child is fearful of dogs, they will have had a chance to meet some friendly dogs before one arrives in their home.
Once your new dog has arrived, involve your child in every aspect of his care. This not only teaches responsibility to your child from a young age, but it encourages the bond between your dog and your child. It also shows the dog that the child is above him in the hierarchy. Problems can arise if a dog tries to assert his dominance above the child in vying for top dog position. If your child is involved in feeding, training, and walking your dog with you, the dog will learn to respect your child. If you have children in the house, it is always advisable to ensure your dog does not become dominant, by disallowing him into your personal space on the furniture and particularly on the bed, where he may perceive he is top dog and consequently become defensive toward your children, seeing them as beneath himself and to be dominated. If this situation should arise you may consider consulting a behaviorist before it gets too engrained.
The good news is children tend to love Yorkies because they are small, non-threatening, and look like teddy bears. Yorkshire Terriers may have a reputation for being an old person’s dog, grumpy and unfriendly, but this is not their natural inclination, and with respect, understanding, love, and discipline, they can be a great friend to your children, enabling them to grow up dog lovers themselves.
To read more from "The Complete Guide to Yorkshire Terriers" by Dr. Joanna de Klerk, DVM, or purchase on Amazon, visit the link below: