How To Crate Train A Yorkie
Crate training is one of the most common practices among dog owners of all breeds and of a variety of care preferences. If you are new to dog ownership, you might wonder why dogs are crated, or you might not like the idea of crating your dog at all. This article will help you learn what you need to know about crate training your Yorkie to determine if you want to do it and it will help you get started.
Why Should I Crate Train My Yorkie?
Crate training is beneficial for many reasons such as:
By training your Yorkie to use a crate, you have a safe place to leave your Yorkie when you need to contain him or her when you leave the house.
Personal Space and Bite Prevention
Many dog bites occur because a dog feels cornered. By giving your Yorkie a designated personal space to retreat to when they feel overwhelmed where no one will bother him or her, you may prevent dog bites.
Crating helps keep dogs house trained. Most dogs will not spend time lounging, eating or drinking where they relieve themselves. By confining a Yorkie to a crate, you are keeping them in a smaller space where they will be lounging and most dogs will not relieve themselves in that smaller space since they cannot get away from it.
If a Yorkie is given the freedom to roam in your home unsupervised, he or she will find a place to go to the bathroom and another place to be comfortable, drink, eat and hang out.
How Long Can A Yorkie Stay In A Crate?
The first thing to know about time spent crated is that dog crates are meant to contain a dog safely for a few hours while you are at work or running errands. Dog crates are not meant to be lived in constantly, similarly to how a hamster lives in a cage.
There is not a universal amount of time that all Yorkies should be crated for. Individual dogs have different needs, which dictates how long they can be crated. For example:
- A Yorkie puppy should be crated for very short periods, gradually increasing, to help him or her acclimate to being crated and to perfect their potty training.
- An adult Yorkie with no health conditions that increase the frequency of necessary bathroom breaks could be crated for approximately six (6) hours.
- A senior Yorkie should be crated for less than five (5) hours; they often need to relieve themselves more, and being confined for long periods of time can exacerbate arthritic joints.
- A Yorkie with certain medical conditions may need to be crated for very short periods of time due to an increase in urine production or digestive upset.
However, no Yorkie or any other breed of dog should be crated for an extended period of time such as over eight (8) hours.
While an emergency may arise that prevents you from returning home promptly, excessive crating should not occur regularly. If your Yorkie will be crated for longer than six (6) hours, ask a trusted friend or family member to go to your home and let your Yorkie out to relieve himself or herself.
Keep in mind that if a Yorkie is consistently crated for an excessive amount of time, he or she will most likely lose their house training skills as they will have no choice but to relieve themselves in the crate.
Can I Crate Train An Adult Yorkshire Terrier?
Yes you can! With patience, positive reinforcement training methods and lots of treats, an adult Yorkie can learn to be crated.
What Size Crate Should I Get For A Yorkie?
Though most Yorkies use extra small or small crates, the size of the crate depends on the size of the Yorkie. This is a little like Goldilocks and the Three Bears. For example:
- If a crate is too small, your Yorkie will not be able to be comfortable and will be stiff.
- If a crate is too large, your Yorkie will have space to relieve himself or herself in the crate, negatively impacting their house training. Some owners may intentionally get a giant crate for their Yorkie to allow space for a potty pad and dog bed, however, many dogs will shred the pads and not use them properly in this situation.
- The right size crate will allow your Yorkie to stand up, lay flat, and turn around to allow him or her to become fully comfortable when crated.
What Type Of Crate Should I Get For A Yorkie?
There are many types of crates on the market. I will discuss the three most common crate options and their benefits to help you decide what the best choice is for your Yorkie:
Metal crates are metal grids that fold into a box shape with a plastic tray in the bottom. They are easily collapsible for storage. They do not offer privacy to dogs because all sides are easily see through because of the metal grid design, but this design offers good ventilation. If a dog is apprehensive to being crated, the open design can help them feel more comfortable. However, if a dog has an accident, the mess can easily get onto your floors or walls through this open design.
Plastic crates are made of two plastic pieces with a metal grid door, the bottom piece is solid and the top piece has some holes on the sides for ventilation. They are light weight and offer dogs lots of privacy and security, making them ideal for anxious dogs. They also containment if a dog has an accident or vomits; the mess stays contained because the plastic is solid on the bottom, as opposed to a metal crate which would allow the mess to spill onto your floor or walls. These crates are also easy to clean; the plastic can easily be wiped off if a mess occurs or if they need general cleaning.
Crates made of canvas are like the convertible tops on Jeep Wranglers; they are canvas and mesh stretched across metal bars. The biggest benefit of canvas crates is their portability; they can easily be collapsed for storage or travel. They are also light weight and the canvas can be easily removed for washing on most models. The draw back to canvas crates is that if you have a Yorkie who tries to scratch or chew their way out of their crate, the canvas poses the greatest potential for escape of these three (3) designs.
What Else Do I Need For My Yorkie’s Crate?
To crate your Yorkie successfully, be sure to add the following items to your shopping cart:
Safe food toys.
To help keep your Yorkie occupied in his or her crate and to make crating a positive experience, provide a safe food toy when they go into their crate. The most common safe food toy is the classic Kong.
To occupy your Yorkie for the maximum amount of time possible, fill the Kong with treats then freeze it, removing it from the freezer right before your Yorkie is ready for it. If your Yorkie is over weight, fill the Kong with some of their meals to prevent adding excess calories to their diet from treats.
Should you choose to fill the Kong with peanut butter, be sure to check the label for xylitol first to keep your Yorkie safe. To be on the safe side, consider purchasing the Kong Stuff’N treat instead of peanut butter, available in bacon and cheese or peanut butter flavors.
Your Yorkie will need some bedding to keep their joints comfortable while he or she is crated, but safety is key. Use blankets or a crate pad to keep your Yorkie comfortable, not a stuffed bed. If your Yorkie gets bored he or she may shred a stuffed bed and ingest the stuffing, which poses the hazards of choking or intestinal blockage.
How Do I Train My Yorkie To Use A Crate?
Crate training is fairly simple but it takes time and patience. Let’s discuss how to do it:
Set up the crate.
Begin by setting up the crate and making it an attractive environment to your dog. Pick the location wisely; it should not be in direct sunlight or right on top of or beneath an air vent to protect your Yorkie from over heating or getting too cold. It should not be in a high traffic area; it should be in a quieter part of the house to help your Yorkie relax when crated. Add cozy blankets to make the crate inviting to your Yorkie. Hide treats and his or her favorite toys in the crate for them to find to help your Yorkie associate the crate with positive things. Be sure to remove any unsafe toys before crating your Yorkie unsupervised.
Choose a command and begin teaching it.
Choose a command that tells your Yorkie to get in his or her crate such as: “Get in your bed” or “Kennel Up”. Point to the crate and say your command, throwing your Yorkie’s favorite treats inside. Once he or she goes in after the crate, praise and offer more treats. Repeat this three (3) times a day until your Yorkie understands the command.
Do short practice runs.
To help your Yorkie become comfortable with being crated, do short practice runs of crating. For example, use the command, the treats and praise to get your Yorkie into his or her crate, then leave for a quick errand such as picking up lunch and dry cleaning. When you return, let your Yorkie out and praise him or her.
If your Yorkie is very apprehensive to be crated, begin these short practice runs by just crating your Yorkie for five (5) or ten (10) minutes while you walk outside to the mailbox or do chores in another room. Play relaxing back ground noise such as water sounds and put a blanket or shirt you wore to bed in the crate with your Yorkie, because the smell of their trusted owner may be comforting.
Gradually increase these practice runs until you have reached three (3) hours of crate time. If your Yorkie is still handling it well, then he or she is ready for longer periods of time.
Crate Training Tips
Keep the following tips in mind:
- Keep the training positive, short and sweet, always ending on a good note.
- Always use special treats for training; do not use your dog’s kibble, use something extra yummy, referred to as “high value treats” by dog trainers.
- If your Yorkie is uncomfortable sweeten the pot; add higher value treats to the crate and praise as much as possible when your Yorkie does something right. Celebrate every victory no matter how small.
- Never force your Yorkie into his or her crate.
- Never allow anyone to be cruel to your Yorkie ever, but especially when crated. If your Yorkie associates cruelty with his or her crate, crate training will be more difficult and may even become impossible.
- To help your Yorkie become comfortable with his or her crate, keep it in area where he or she will always have access to it and put treats and toys in it to encourage them to use it even when they do not have to.
Crating your Yorkie Safely
The purpose of crating your Yorkie is to confine him or her to a safe space. To ensure your Yorkie’s crate is a safe space, be sure to adhere to the following tips:
Collars and dog tags can become stuck in crates, which causes dogs to panic and strangle themselves. Before leaving your Yorkie unsupervised in a crate, be sure to remove all collars, harnesses, etc to prevent this tragedy.
Only Offer Safe Toys and Bedding.
In an effort to make your Yorkie comfortable, you may want to leave a plush bed and his or her favorite plush toys in their crate with them. However, leaving plush items in the crate poses the risk of choking or intestinal blockage occurring from the plush stuffing. Only leave your Yorkie with very safe toys such as the classic Kong rather than a plush toy, and with blankets or a crate pad rather than a plush bed.
To keep your Yorkie safe while crated, never place the crate in direct sunlight, in the direct path of an air vent, or outdoors even in a shaded area. If your dog is exposed to an excessive amount of heat, he or she could suffer heat stroke. If your dog is exposed to extreme cold, he or she could suffer from hypothermia.
You may see water bowls or bottles designed to be used in dog crates while you are shopping. It is not recommended to leave water in your dog’s crate because it can negatively impact house training; as he or she will drink it, then need a bathroom break. Also, the water bottles that look like the water bottles used for rodents can cause serious dental issues in dogs, most commonly seen in puppy mill survivors who have lived in crates.
Crate training your Yorkie gives you peace of mind in knowing that your favorite furry friend is confined in a safe space when you are not home with him or her. Many dogs come to love their crates and do not mind being crated. By crate training with patience, positive reinforcement training methods and lots of yummy high-value treats, your Yorkie can also come to like his or her crate.