Separation anxiety in Yorkshire terriers

Separation anxiety in Yorkshire terriers

The Yorkshire Terrier is a very social dog. In your home, you are their packmates and that means when they are left alone while you go to work or run errands, they become anxious and worried that you may not return. However, just because a Yorkie is worried about you leaving doesn’t mean he has to react so strongly. From barking and whining to destructive behaviors like chewing, digging and tearing, a Yorkie with separation anxiety can be very difficult to deal with.

The root of anxiety

It is natural for a Yorkshire Terrier to see you and your family as his pack. In some cases, however, the Yorkie may begin to panic at the thought of being left alone. They feel like they’ve been abandoned and their survival instincts go a bit haywire, causing them to bark, make messes, and even tear things up as they lose general control over their abilities. When you return home, they may be distraught and out of control. They may seem very loving at first, but messes, destroyed property and angry calls from neighbors can be stressful for even the most dedicated Yorkie owner.

To begin with, you need to rule out the possibility that your Yorkshire Terrier is simply bored. A Yorkie that doesn’t get enough attention or exercise will often behave the same way – barking, destroying things and overreacting when you come home. Boredom, however, is much more easily remedied. It just requires a little extra attention and exercise for your Yorkie. Give them a few extra walks, a few toys and train them in some basic tricks to avoid destruction at unwanted times.

When it comes to anxiety, your Yorkshire Terrier’s first symptoms will influence your actions. They can tell when you’re leaving by how you put on your shoes, grab your coat, or pick up your keys. In extreme cases, they’ll know you’re leaving as soon as you wake up, turning them into a complete mess before you even get to the door. To accommodate this, change your routine. Sit randomly, put on your coat at different times, change clothes when feeding Yorkies. The less regular your habits are, the harder it is for the Yorkie to associate them with leaving, and the less anxious he will be when you leave.

Resolving existing anxiety

Without addressing anxiety issues, your Yorkie may face health problems in the future. Here are some important tips to help reduce or stop anxiety problems in time:

Leaving and Returning Home – When leaving and returning home, it is vital that you do not pay too much attention to your Yorkshire Terrier. It can be difficult, especially with a new puppy, but this extra attention only highlights to them the fact that you are leaving or gone. For moderate anxiety, simply ignoring your Yorkie for a few minutes before you leave and after you return home will greatly reduce their anxiety. In severe cases, other steps will be required.

Controlling how long you are gone – This is a very complex process and can be difficult for anyone who has a regular job and no one else to leave home. But it works well, so if your Yorkshire Terrier’s case is severe enough, consider finding a way to do it. The goal here is to start by leaving your Yorkie for very short periods of time – just 1-2 minutes or even less if your Yorkie is extremely anxious. Your goal here should be to go outside long enough to show your little friend that you’ll be back before their anxiety builds. Ignore your Yorkie when you get back. Just keep everything quiet and wait for the dog to relax. Then go back outside and do it again. Over days or even weeks, you’ll increase the time between these sessions by going outside for 5 minutes, then 10, then 20, and up to an hour or more, until you can go all day and not worry about anxiety.

Consistency – By far the most important thing for a Yorkshire Terrier with separation anxiety is to be consistent in how you deal with him. If there are several people in the household, they should all ignore the Yorkie when they return and leave. You have to maintain the behaviors over time to make them stick.

If things don’t click right away, it may take some time to progress. However, if extreme cases of anxiety persist, you might consider talking to a behaviorist or even a vet. Otherwise, anxiety can lead to health problems for your Yorkie (mental and physical), which can be serious or even fatal. There are advanced solutions for severe separation anxiety in Yorkshire Terriers (and other dogs), but they all require the involvement of a professional.

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