Among the Yorkie parents’ one of the most common complaints is the destructive or disruptive behavior of their dogs when they are left alone at home.
In other words – Yorkie separation anxiety.
The pets might try to escape, chew, howl, dig, bark, defecate or urinate.
Usually, the mentioned above problems are indicator that the pet should be taught house manners. But sometimes they are actually symptoms that the pets are in distress.
If these problems come together with other symptoms of distress, like, for example, if the dog is anxious when the pet parents are going to leave the house, this doesn’t mean that the dog isn’t properly trained or has no toys to chew.
this means that the pet suffers from separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety is a condition which is triggered when a pet is upset when it is separated from its pet parents, the people it loves.
There is no way to avoid leaving your dog alone at home (for a little while or longer).
Most of the owners have work to go to. And those who simply stay at home or work from home should go out even for simple errands – like paying the bills or shopping for food, thus, often leaving the dog alone at home.
No, the term includes strong (even overwhelming) emotional response to the feeling of isolation, and it is expressed by variety of specific behaviors.
That issue is a common one in all dogs, not only the Yorkies, but yes, there are certain breeds which are more prone to developing it.
The dogs can develop this at any age.
Usually, the separation anxiety starts at young age and persists, unless you take steps to help your pet.
But, sometimes, even older Yorkshire Terriers might show symptoms, even if they have been just fine before.
The dogs start to feel anxious at different time. The tipping point for each dog is different.
Some Yorkies might show stress and anxiety only after long periods of time spent alone, while others, for they are highly sensitive, may present symptoms and signs of separation anxiety after only 30 minutes alone.
The Yorkie might show signs even before its owner leave home, such as pacing, whining or exhibiting nervous behavior as an anticipation of isolation.
When placed in the area where they are left when the owner leaves, as their playpen, for example, some dogs might try to escape and run. They see this as indication that their owner is going to leave the house.
Common Symptoms of Separation Anxiety
Here is a list of symptoms which might be indicating separation anxiety:
Urinating and Defecating
If separated from their owners or left alone, some of the dogs might defecate or urinate. But, if your pet does this in your presence that probably isn’t because of separation anxiety.
The owners might sometimes wonder if this misbehavior is in purpose.
But should the dog be extremely upset, its body might “let loose” and this leads to elimination or urination.
Your Yorkie might bark for very long time, even until it’s completely exhausted, only to take a little break and start again.
Usually, since this happens when the owners aren’t at home, the neighbors might report this. The owners might hear the barking when they are approaching the house.
Excessive and/or destructive chewing
If your Yorkie has separation anxiety it can chew non-toy items as a coping mechanism and usually this causes damages since the pet rips them apart.
Many pets could chew every item they can reach, including food bowls, bedding and blankets, chair legs, etc.
The chewing somehow works as a method to calm the anxiety, thus, this serves as a protection of the stress.
That item destruction is done when the pet is fighting overwhelming emotions and, since the dog will be in panic, it is very difficult for it to summon the training of what to chew and what not to chew.
With the time flying, the dog will experience more and more stress, which eventually will turn into panic.
In the event of panicking, the Yorkie might start smashing, jumping or spinning around into walls or doors which confine it.
If the dog is extremely stressed, it can start drooling excessively.
If separated from their owners or left alone, some of the dogs might walk along in a fixed pattern along a specific path, which can be in circular patterns or straight lines.
Should this pacing behavior be for a separation anxiety, most of the time it won’t occur if the owner is at home.
Another nervous behavior which is used as a self-calming method, like the chewing.
If the dog self-licks itself excessively, this might lead to the so called hot spots, which are actually spots where either the hair thins, or there is a complete balding of the skin.
In turn, that might be a reason for secondary infections.
The Yorkie might whine in high-pitched vocalization while trying to look out of the window or curling in its bed.
The term coprophagia is used for a condition where the dog is “eating feces”.
This might be due a lot of reasons (one of which is if the dog is lacking proper nutrition), indeed, should the Yorkie do this only in the cause of being left home alone, then the dog might be exhibiting this behavior due to nervousness.
The pets might try and escape the area of confinement if they have separation anxiety and are separated from their owner or left alone.
For example, the dog would try to chew through windows and doors or dig under them. That behavior might lead to self-injury, like damaged nails, scraped or cut front paws, broken teeth, etc.
If that attempt to escape is not present when the owner is at home, then the behavior is probably due to separation anxiety.
What happens when the owner returns home
It is hard for the dog (or puppy) to quickly rebound when the owner returns home. It experiences a very intense response to the feeling of isolation when being left home alone.
So, in the event of the owner coming home, shall the dog has been really anxious, the pet might:
Have excitement urination
Since the body of the dog will release itself of the feelings of fear and anxiety and the dog will be over excited, it might have excitement urination.
Have a rapid release of pent up energy and emotions
Usually, the pets are very happy when their owner returns home.
But, should the Yorkshire Terrier has separation anxiety, its jumping up or all over its owner and circling around him again and again are presented in a way that shows that their emotional torture is finally over.
Become clingy, shadowing the owner
The dog might require extra attention and present behavior as it doesn’t dare to leave its owner’s side.
Signs of depression
Some people who own dogs think of this as if their dog is “mad at them” when they leave it at home, but that is not true.
There are Yorkies which have very severe separation anxiety. They experience a strong buildup of intense emotions and fear when being home alone.
Because of this, should the owner come back home, the dog’s adrenaline rapidly drops. This then causes the dog to show signs of depression – as being withdrawn.
Correlation between time and the level of Distress
Each dog has different reaction and emotions.
Many Yorkies will be fine for shorter periods of time – a couple of hours, for example – but since a specific time period they will start to feel fear and panic.
Other dogs might feel severe separation anxiety even if they are left home alone for a very short period of time. Whatever the case is, the same training is applied to help the Yorkie.
Why Dogs Experience Separation Anxiety? Reasons
If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, you’ll have to train it to build up its independence and self-confidence.
The dog’s environment must be set up is a relaxing way which will promote a calm emotional state.
Over the centuries, the Yorkshire Terriers have been bred to be companions. Its inbred traits are the desire to have a close bond with the owner and the need to be close to them.
In order to learn better coping skills and healthy new behaviors, the Yorkie must be properly trained.
An important fact we should note is that the rescued shelter dogs have higher percentage in the ranking of dogs experiencing separation anxiety.
This might come from the experience the dog have had in its puppy years. But the older dogs can also be learned how to cope with the separation anxiety and can get help via training.
Sudden Onset of Separation Anxiety
A sudden change might provoke a separation anxiety in a Yorkie when it is home alone, like:
A change of ownership
Whatever the age of the dog is, even if it is pretty confident and inhibits perfect behavior, it might start experiencing anxiety when it starts living with a new owner.
Moving to a new house
The puppy or older dog might not feel safe in the new home in the beginning before it comes to realize that this is its home now.
A change in schedule
If you’ve previously left your dog alone only during the night and not you leave it alone during the day, or if you’ve been gone for the weekends but now you’re gone during the week, that can be a reason for your dog developing social anxiety.
Another example is when the owner has previously worked at home, but now has to work out of home and leave the pet alone for more than six hours at a time.
Because of that change the dog may start to feel anxious.
That is so for the amazing internal clocks of the dogs which tell them exactly when to expect a specific thing.
So, if a dog is not prepared for a given change, it might start to feel nervous for its internal clock tells it that now isn’t the time when the owner should be going out of the house.
Loss of a Family Member
Not only humans experience complicated and intense emotions, dogs do, too.
So, should there be a loss of a family member – whether it is a human or a canine – the pet might get nervous.
This is even more valid if the dog loses its main caregiver or its animal playmate (for the Yorkie might form strong bond to another dog in the house or even to a cat playmate).
Medical Problems to Rule out First
Incontinence Caused by Medical Problems
Many medical issues might be the reasons for this.
That includes after spray surgery hormone-related problems, diabetes, urinary tract infection, Cushing’s disease, bladder stones, genital abnormalities, problems with the nervous system, disease of the kidneys.
All of them may cause the dog to experience urinary incontinence.
So, the first step when you see this symptom should be to see the dog’s veterinarian who’ll do a work-up for the medical issues and then you can try any behavior modification.
House soiling and frequent urination might be caused also by various medications.
If your Yorkie is on medications, you must get in contact with the vet and check if the meds might be a reason for the problems with the incontinence.
Other Behavior Problems to Rule Out
It is not always easy to understand if the dog indeed suffers from separation anxiety or not.
Many common behavior problems come with the same symptoms.
So, you have to rule out the mentioned bellow behavior problems before deciding that your Yorkie suffers from separation anxiety:
Submissive or Excitement Urination
During play, punishment, greetings or physical contact some dogs might urinate and they also do tend to show submissive postures in interactions – for example, they flatten their ears against their head, they roll over and expose their belly or hold their tail low.
Incomplete House Training
If your Yorkie occasionally do urinate inside, that you might not have trained it completely.
Probably the training haven’t been consistent.
Another reason may be that some punishment made it afraid of urinating with its owner nearby.
Scent marking might be a reason why some dogs urinate inside.
With small amount of urinating on vertical surfaces the dogs marks its scent and usually they raise a leg to urinate (not only most of the male dogs, but also some of the female ones).
Quite a few young dogs display destructive digging or chewing not only when their guardians are away, but also when they are at home.
Some dogs find it boring while staying home alone.
They do need mental stimulation and since they want something to do, they might display disruptive behavior, but won’t usually appear anxious.
Excessive Barking or Howling
Many environmental triggers might provoke howling or barking in response.
For example, unfamiliar sounds or sights, but this can be seen not only when the guardians are away but when they are home, too. Should you want more information for this problem, check the articles Yorkie barking and How to stop it.
Training and Help for Yorkie Separation Anxiety
If you want your Yorkie to be alone for long time during the day, you have to train it properly and set the perfect environment for it to cope up with the loneliness.
The dog should be more confident and capable of handling itself well in the absence of the owner while having a healthy attachment to him.
Everyone might be in distress if they were placed in a small room with nothing to keep them busy, so we are going to show you some tips how to provide your Yorkie with safe environment which has enough items necessary to keep the dog busy and soothed.
1) Place your Yorkie in a gated area or an indoor canine playpen. That areas must be of appropriate size and have enough room for the necessary items, as well for the dog to move and play.
2) Experiment with the placement of this. There are dogs who will cope better if they have a window view (an example of this are the kitchen’s sliders off).
Still, this might trigger others to bark. You’ll have to experiment with different places and choose the one where your dog seems most comfortable.
3) The area should be in a warm comfortable room. You have to make sure that the cold A/C air isn’t directly going to the Yorkie during the summer, while the heating vents shouldn’t be too close to the pet in the winter.
4) Leave a light on. If you leave a light on, your dog won’t have to stay in a darkened house if you come back at night or the clouds have rolled in in your absence.
If the Yorkie should stay in the dark, it will feel more stressed and isolated.
5) Leave on a radio or TV. The dog might not feel the isolation so much if it has some calming TV shows or nice music. There are even dogs who love to watch television.
The studies say that the programs with animals are more interesting for the dogs than the programs that do not show animals.
Items to Have in the Area
If we presume that you have got a good spot for the gated area or playpen, now we should move to the next step – the set-up of the right environment for your Yorkie to cope well when home alone.
It is a good idea to have:
1) Toys – We cannot put too much emphasis on the vitality of the toys for the Yorkie to cope up. Some of the dogs might have a favorite toy that they have access to only when being home alone.
They might be so attached to it that they’ll look forward to being alone and having access to the toy.
You should use durable and strong chew toys in different textures and colors so that they can attract the Yorkie and present it with good chewing options.
2) Water and Food – You should keep the water in a dispenser. You might use treat release toys -as Kongs, for example – to give the food and the snacks so you can keep your dog occupied for a long period of time.
Many dogs become so occupied with this method of food retrieval they forget about being alone in home and focus only on retrieving the treats.
3) A quality canine bed– A quality dog bed and well-cushioned bed should be placed in the area. This way the pet will feel secure while sleeping or simply resting.
4) Pee-pads – If you have house trained your Yorkie to go outside to urinate and defecate, it cannot know out of a sudden how to use pee-pads.
If you set those in the corner of the area, the Yorkie will have the chance to eliminate away from the areas for sleeping, playing and eating.
5) Companion toy – The isolation might be resolved with a companion toy. It is a lovely choice for Yorkie separation anxiety. You can find stuffed animal toys for canines which the Yorkie can snuggle with.
It has been shown that these toys are amazing for soothing the dogs which are afraid of being alone. When not alone, the Yorkie might not be interested in the toy; it can use it only when being alone.
All dogs understand that their owner is going to go out of the house, no matter if they show you that they do or are calm and quiet when you walk out.
So, before you leave, you can do some changes.
Consider the actions you do and the sounds you make when preparing to leave. Some of these (but not all) are:
- You probably put on your coat and shoes
- Maybe you handle the keys of the car
- Or you open the door to see what the weather is
- Or, if you don’t have time do drink your coffee, you may pour it in a “to-go” cup
- And etc..
When starting the training, the first step you should take is showing the dog that if you do these things, you might still not leave for a long or leave at all.
When you are planning to stay at home, do one or more of the actions at any given time of the day and then just continue what you’ve been doing.
Let’s say, for example, that you’ve been planning to watch a movie, then simply go to the door, open it to see what the weather is, close it and continue watching the movie as if nothing’s wrong.
You have to do this many times during the days when you are planning to stay home.
That is a part of desensitization which should be done practically forever for the Yorkie not to learn again how to read these specific “cues”.
When your pet doesn’t become nervous anymore when you are performing these tasks, do just one every day when you are staying home.
1) You must not put the Yorkie in the area designed for it right before you go out of home. The pet should have time to enjoy the area and mustn’t associate it with something “bad”.
You can easily use an enclosed indoor area or playpen, since they both do awesome job. When you’re home, you can leave its entrance open and show your dog that it can find toys and treats inside it.
It is better to put the Yorkie in the designed area about 20 minutes before you go out.
2) You might want to make a better morning schedule – better meaning that you have time not only for the Yorkie’s bathroom needs but 15-20 minutes for outdoor play.
The dogs can release energy when they have a morning walk or run around for a while. Thus, they will probably have a nap or rest later and they will be calmer after the playtime.
3) The human instinct makes the owners to hug, kiss and promise the dog to return when going to leave, but this way the dog will sense that their owner is going to leave for quite a long time.
If you really want to do this, you’d better make it 20-30 minutes before you leave.
Your departure should be done in a matter-of-fact way.
Do not go back in to soothe the dog if it shows symptoms of separation anxiety when you close the front door.
There are steps of the training which will help the Yorkie to become more confident and reentering to soothe it counteracts them.
4) If your Yorkie shows bad behavior because of its separation anxiety, DO NOT scold it. That particular behavior is not controlled and, by using the tips and the training methods, the dog will overcome it.
However, if you scold the pet, it (having been already stressed) will become even more nervous.
If your Yorkie has severe separation anxiety, you’d better start the training with small steps.
Use the guidelines above (these for “Pre-Departure” and “Environment”) and start training the pet to be by itself using the guideline bellow:
Do Not Actually Leave: Use the “Departure” and “Environment” guidelines on the days when you are not going out and still stay in the house, but to another room.
Place your pet in the designated area and provide it with all the necessary items. Then go to another room where the Yorkie can’t see you but CAN hear that you are there.
Stay out of the room for about minutes, no matter if the Yorkie cries, paces, whines or jumps, and then reenter the room in a matter-of-fact way.
You can let your dog out of the designated area after you’ve been in the room 3-5 minutes.
After a while the pet will be fine during these 5 minutes and you can increase the period to 10, at first, then 15, 20, etc.
You can go to Step 2 when the pet doesn’t show any symptoms of separation anxiety.
Do Leaving but only for Timed Periods: Again, according to the Departure and Environment guidelines, when you are at home, leave for only 10 minutes.
It would be better if you do drive away for the dogs are very smart creatures. This should be done at random for about a week.
Increase this period for 15 minutes on week 2, to 20 minutes on week 3 and to 30 minutes on week 4.
You should stick to these periods as much as you can and that way you are showing your dog that it CAN stay alone without being panicked for 10 minutes.
The Yorkie will gain self-confidence of this – you’ll really help it if you set the right environment – and will understand that if it is capable of doing fine for 10 minutes, it can do it for more.
Tip – The dogs are very different from each other and so you have to keep an eye on your Yorkie to see when it is okay to increase the period of being away.
For some of the pets, this increase can be done every other day, but others may need couple of weeks.
Yes, indeed, the training might take a long time, but in the end you’ll have a confident dog that can stay alone at home.
When You Arrive Back Home
It is normal that you’ll want to hug, kiss and give attention to the pet when you come home after work.
But should your Yorkie have separation anxiety, you’d better lower this attention.
Providing it with a lot of attention when coming back home can be counterproductive if your Yorkie has separation anxiety.
If you come home and rush to kiss and hug your pet, the Yorkie can read this like you can’t believe that you’ve made it back home and you can’t believe that it is here, and this is some king of miracle worth celebration.
That way the dog will think it should, indeed, be worried.
What to do?
Do NOT greet the dog straight after you enter home, no matter how hard it can be after you are used to doing it.
The best thing you can do is enter casually, go drink some water, check the mail and, after 1-3 minutes have passed, approach the Yorkie calmly and say “hello” in a matter-of-fact way.
Afterwards, take your Yorkie out to go to the bathroom and then you can play, kiss and hug it.
You also can spend some time playing with your pet outside, for this will help it release the built up energy and strengthen the bond between you.
Additional Help for Yorkshire terrier Separation Anxiety
When using desensitization for whatever type of fear, you must make sure that the pet won’t experience the exact version of the thing which provokes the fear and anxiety.
It is essential that the Yorkie experiences a version of low-intensity which won’t frighten it. If you don’t ensure this, the pet won’t learn to stay calm and be comfortable in the upsetting situation.
So, the dog shouldn’t be left alone while treated for separation anxiety except to the sessions of desensitization.
Should you need to go out for a long time, it might be good for the Yorkie if you give it a break. For example, if you can get home during one of your breaks and provide the pet 10 minutes of bathroom time and play, this might really help the dog.
Should you be unable to do this, ask a neighbor, family member or a friend to visit the Yorkie once during the day.
Some older family members, friends or neighbors might be more than happy to do it for they’ll can be delighted to spend some time with the pet.
If you do this, make sure they know the rules of “Departure” and will know when to leave and will take care for the dog to have all the necessary items in the designated area.
You can also hire a dog walker if you are usually out for long.
When you choose a person for the job, ask them in your place when you are home. Usually, 3 to 4 times on different days will be enough for the Yorkie to get used to the person.
Ensure that they know the rules and give them your phone number for emergencies.
If someone can come over to your house and play with the dog, give it a bathroom break and offer it some exercise even for 30 minutes will be really helpful for stopping the issues with the separation anxiety.
Many of the Yorkies’ owners wonder if the Doggie day care can be helpful.
It absolutely depends on your dog. Some dpgs love to be with other dogs, while other don’t enjoy play time or are more stressed in the day care than being alone at home.
Supplements & Additional Safe Aids
Calming collars – You can’t use this for an answer to all the stress issues. But, indeed, it can be quite helpful as a supplemental aide which will keep your dog calm.
That break-away collar is non-medicated and without any chemicals. It releases chamomile/lavender fragrance – this is known to be a natural aid for the dog to relax.
Supplements – Some dogs will have separation anxiety even if you’ve tried everything on our list. Should your Yorkie be one of them, then the natural and safe supplements can help with calming it down.
Do pay a lot of attention while searching for the right product. There are safe and amazing supplements which contain colostrum and L-theanine.
The L-theanine actually is an amino acid which possess relaxing effects. This supplement doesn’t cause any drowsiness.
It increases the dopamine (an organic chemical which the brain releases to regulate the relaxation and mood). The colostrum reduces stress thanks to its relaxing properties.
Other helpful tips
Provide Plenty of “Jobs” for Your Dog to Do.
When training for different behavior problems – including the anxiety ones – you should provide a lot of mental and physical stimulation to the Yorkie.
The exercise will enrich the life of your dog and will help for decreasing the stress. It shall also help the dog inhibit the normal dog behaviors.
Plus, if your Yorkie has been exhausted both physically and mentally, there isn’t much energy to be spend while left alone. Here are some suggestions for keeping your Yorkie happy and busy:
Provide at least half an hour daily of some aerobic activity, like running or swimming. It can be good to exercise the dog exactly before you have to go out and leave it alone, because the exercising can help your Yorkie to rest and relax while alone.
Engage your pet in interactive and fun games – for example, tug-of-war or fetch.
Provide the Yorkie with daily walks on different routes or to different places. Of course, sometimes you’ll have to take an old route, but as often as possible do change it so your dog can experience new sights and smells.
Let the dog out of the leash to play with its canine friends – should it like this.
Get some food puzzle toys. With them you can feed your Yorkie or just stuff the toys with yogurt, peanut butter, etc. You should give the pet not only edible things but also inedible stuff to chew.
The chew items as well as the puzzle ones encourage your Yorkie to lick and chew – this is shown to calm the dogs down. Give these types of toys to your pet every time when you are leaving it alone.
You can hide small piles of the dog food around the yard or the house, so your dog will be able to “hunt” them – something that most of the dogs love!
What NOT to Do
Neither punish, nor scold your Yorkie.
It is not because of disobedience these anxious behaviors are presented. That behavior is actually as a response to distress. The dog is upset when you leave it alone. It tries to cope up with a lot of stress.
The problem might get worse if you punish the Yorkie and the pet might become even more nervous and upset.