Yorkshire Terriers are small and cute and so are kids. It seems like they would be a perfect match! But how well do they actually mix? If you are at all considering bringing a Yorkie into a home with small children, here is what you first need to know.
Yorkshire terriers tend to get flustered around small children and may growl or snap at well-intentioned children looking to play with their pet. While children can get along with Yorkies, it is important they have clear boundaries.
What boundaries do you need to set in order to ensure that your children get along well with your Yorkshire Terrier? How can you foster friendship between an over-zealous child and an easily offended pup? While it isn’t easy it is possible. In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know.
Yorkshire Terriers and Kids
I’m sure you have adorable kids. They are loving and energetic and although they sometimes get into mischief, at the end of the day they always seem to show you how sweet and lovable they really are.
Yorkshire Terriers are much the same way. Anyone who has owned a Yorkie will readily tell you that they aren’t short on attitude, but man, do they always seem to be able to get on our good sides.
Yorkies and kids. It seems like these two troublemakers would be a match made in heaven. Why not bring them both together?
What could go wrong? Right?
Well, actually, a lot of things.
What Could Go Wrong: Yorkshire Terriers Have Big Personalities
For dogs that are you so little, it seems like this can’t be true. But it is. Yorkshire Terriers demand attention and their personalities could fill up a whole room. A lot of this personality comes from the breed’s history.
Yorkshire Terriers remind me a lot of Rocky Balboa. They seem very sweet and innocent, but they won’t let themselves get pushed around.
Yorkies are known for their loyalty, sweet demeanor, and hilarious hijinks, but behind all that fluffy cuteness, a fighter lies dormant. Yorkshire Terriers are actually very fierce dogs and won’t let themselves get pushed around. An answer as to why can be found in the dog’s history.
Yorkshire Terriers, long associated with rich Victorian women, fancy dog parks, and other such hoity-toity pursuits, actually have roots that are purely blue collared.
In the mid 19th century, the Northern English industrial counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire had a problem with rodents. Rats infested the mills and mines of worker and in addition to being gross, were generally a real pest to work around.
Thus entered the terrier. Scottish mill workers, tired of working in rat-infested facilities, imported hearty Scottish terriers to kill the vermin that lurked in the recesses of the textile mills.
The Scottish Terrier was mixed with several other breeds (including the Skye Terrier, the Dandie Dinmont, and several other terriers that are now extinct.) to create the small and lovable Yorkie that we know today.
The Yorkie was an instant hit among mill workers, who joked that the dog’s silky coat was a product of the looms that it protected. Its diminutive size made it easy for the Yorkie to squeeze into tight spaces to chase its prey and its tenacious terrier attitude made it determined to pursue rats all day long.
Ore miners all over the country quickly saw the effectiveness of this tough little dog and the Yorkie was soon employed in mines all over England.
In 1886, the English Kennel Club officially recognized the breed and soon the inevitable followed. As soon as aristocratic English ladies saw this adorable little breed, it was whisked away into the lap of luxury and the rest is history.
Today, Yorkshire terriers find more work as adorable house pets than they do as skilled ratters, but that doesn’t mean that the instinct isn’t there.
If a Yorkie feels like they are being pushed around, they won’t take it lying down. Any child that handles a Yorkie a little too rough, may find themselves on the receiving end of a swift, sharp bite.
What Could Go Wrong: Yorkshire Terriers are Pipsqueaks
For all their heartiness and bombast, there is still one undeniable fact about Yorkshire Terriers.
They are small.
According to the American Kennel Club standards of excellence, Yorkies shouldn’t weigh any more than 7 lbs. That’s one tiny dog.
Children ages 2-6 could weigh anywhere from 30-45 lbs. That is a lot bigger anyway you slice it.
Children often struggle to understand the difference between a toy and an animal. If your child decides to treat your pet Yorkie like a toy and rough house a little, your dog could be seriously injured.
Of course, your child could be bitten and be injured as well.
While it isn’t impossible for your dog and your kid to get along, it can be difficult especially for young children and toddlers. It is recommended that your children be at least 5 years of age or older before you introduce a Yorkie into the mix.
What Could Go Wrong: Yorkshire Terriers are Easily Stressed
If being small and proud wasn’t enough, Yorkshire Terriers are also easily stressed.
Are you the type of person that freaks out when things don’t go your way? Do you tend to get anxious when everyone is shouting and things are chaotic? If so, then you will have some idea of how your Yorkie feels when things get out of control.
Yorkies are very tuned-in to the world around them. When things are smooth an calm, these little pets seem to behave the same way. However, when things get hectic, Yorkies tend to get a little… frazzled.
It never ceases to amaze me how much commotion one child can create. If you have more than one child in a household, the noise and confusion only seem to multiply.
Yorkshire Terriers tend to get swept up in the cacophony and go a little crazy. An anxious dog is an aggressive dog. A Yorkie may get defensive, start barking like mad, and may even take snaps at nearby children in order to defend itself against perceived “threats”.
Not all Yorkies act the same, however. You may find that you have a rare Yorkie that revels in noise and enjoys chaos. But, in general, it is best to keep yorkies in peaceful environments if you want them to stay calm.
How to Foster Peace Between Yorkshire Terriers and Children
We have learned that kids and Yorkies may not naturally be the best of friends but that doesn’t mean that it is impossible for them to get along. In fact, with the right precautions, you can foster loving ties of friendship between dogs and children in your household.
Let’s take a look at the best ways to make sure that your kids and your pets behave kindly and treat each other with respect.
Circumvent the Problem and Wait Until Your Children are Mature
There is an easy way to make sure that both pets and children are at ease in your household, and that is to wait until your children are old enough to be responsible pet owners.
If you have ever seen a toddler interact with a dog before, you will understand what I mean. Toddlers lover dogs. They want to love and play with them but they tend to get a little… over-zealous.
Let’s just say they often try to ride the dogs like miniature horses and the dogs don’t appreciate that. Older children, however, can understand the difference between a toy and a pet and there will be fewer problems caring for a Yorkshire Terrier.
But how old does your child need to be to make the distinction?
While that answer varies from child to child, I would generally say Yorkshire Terriers should not be handled by children younger than 5 year of age.
If you must get a Yorkie while your children are young, there are still some things you can do.
Properly Train Your Yorkshire Terrier
A tame animal is much easier controlled than an undisciplined one. If you are keeping young children and yorkies under the same roof, make sure your yorkies are properly trained.
You can start training right away, the moment you adopt your Yorkie.
If you are adopting from an animal shelter, inquire what kind of home your Yorkie is coming from. Not every shelter will know, but it is a good place to start. Any dog that comes from a household with young children, will already be better equipped to deal with them than other dogs.
Once you have found the right dog, establish boundaries as soon as you bring it home.
Yorkies need to have their own space, especially in homes with young children. Show both your dog and your kids where it is ok to interact together, and where to go when you need some personal space.
Yorkshire terriers need to be properly socialized if they are to get along with young children, especially children outside of the family.
To socialize a dog means to familiarize them with people and animals that aren’t members of the family. In order to do that, you need to frequently take your dog outside and introduce them to new people animals.
Dogs that aren’t socialized tend to freak out when any new person or dog comes knocking at the door, and they can become aggressive.
Train your Yorkie to stop undesirable behavior at a moments notice. Remember, these dogs are friendly animals anxious to please their owners; shouting and yelling often provoke yorkies to more aggressive behavior and do little to curb negative actions.
Instead of shouting, remain calm and call your Yorkie. If your Yorkie ignores you, a gentle tug on the collar to get their attention may be necessary if they are engaged in aggressive behavior.
The best way to train a dog is to motivate them to be better instead of discipline. Use treats as a motivator for good behavior. It’s one of the easiest concepts for your Yorkie to understand.
Have Your Children Participate in the Training Process
Your kids and your pup won’t grow any closer together if you keep them separated all the time. Have your kids participate in training to strengthen friendly bonds between them and their dog.
A great activity is to let your kids walk the dog. Walk beside your child while they hold the dog’s leash. As they lead the dog, teach them that they need to be gentle while guiding the animal but also firm enough to lead.
There are a lot of other things small children can do to get along with your Yorkie:
- Help your child feed your Yorkie. Everyone loves being fed and if your dog sees that the child is bringing food, good feelings are sure to increase.
- Have your child play fetch, tug-o-war, or some other activity with your Yorkie. Physical activity is a great way to build healthy, positive relations and it is a lot of fun too!
- Let your child give your Yorkie a treat. I have never met a dog that will say no to a treat! When your Yorkie does something good, have your child deliver a treat. Dogs love the people that give them special rewards.
Remember that gentle physical contact build trust. Encourage your child to gently pet your Yorkie. This will build trust between them.
Also, remember that your best teaching tool with children is your own example. If you are kind to your animals, your children will follow in your footsteps and try to do the same.
Tips for Restoring Peace When Your Yorkie and Your Child Fight
No matter how hard you try, disputes between your Yorkie and your children are inevitable. Here are a few things you can do when tensions are rising between kids and animals:
- Have special separation zones for when things get tense. I briefly mentioned this earlier but I think it is important enough to reemphasize the point. Sometimes your Yorkie will need time apart from your kids. If your dog starts growling and acting aggressive, remove him to his alone space to calm down. I recommend a spot close to his bed or food.
- Recognize signs of aggression and put a stop to the conflict before it begins. Your Yorkshire Terrier will behave in certain ways when he feels anxious or annoyed. If your dog is growling, seems stiff or tense, or is anxiously wagging his tail, these may be signs of aggression. Immediately and calmly remove your dog before his aggression elevates.
- Always remain calm. Remember that yorkies tend to be flustered by a lot of commotion and shouting. Your well-intended yelling may actually send your Yorkie over the edge and she may begin to bite or display other aggressive behavior. It is best to ignore your Yorkie when things get tense. If your Yorkie is being aggressive, try to remove him from the situation as fast as possible.
Animals, just like humans, have their own distinct personalities. What may work for one Yorkie will not necessarily work for all. See what works best for you by trying a variety of tactics.