Let’s talk about walking small dogs. Yorkies are known for their self-assured personalities, high energy levels, and playful natures. Most owners will admit that their Terriers are independent creatures that love to explore and chase small (or big) animals. The high energy levels are due to their original breed purpose and ensuring they get the proper exercise is essential.
Yorkshire Terriers need regular exercise to release pent-up energy. Yorkies, like most Terriers, are primarily working dogs and bred to hunt small animals such as rats and mice. To ensure your pet stays healthy, they need proper exercise; the recommendation is a 30-minute walk twice daily.
According to Barkercise, the three kinds of exercise Yorkies need are moderate, high-intensity, and mental stimulation. Each type of physical activity provides specific needs for the Terrier; intelligent breeds can develop behavioral problems if appropriate psychological and physical activity requirements are unmet.
Walking Small Dogs – Breed Information
We’re going to focus on Yorkies, but many small breeds require similar attention so the Yorkie will be our mascot for this purpose.
Yorkshire Terriers are a small, or more precise, toy-sized breed. According to The Dog People and various Yorkie owners, these Terriers are bundles of energy that can adjust to apartment living when given sufficient exercise. However, they tend to be difficult to potty train and can be loud. But since they are bright creatures, you can overcome these obstacles through patience and training.
Maintenance for these small but feisty fluff balls might seem overwhelming, but regular grooming can keep their hair and teeth in top shape. Invest in a good grooming brush to detangle their human-like hair and get them comfortable with a toothbrush from a young age.
Exercise: Moderate And High-Intensity
Yorkies need regular walks; you will soon realize what pace is comfortable for your pet but make sure they don’t slag. It doesn’t mean you should necessarily jog with your Terrier, but an excellent invigorating walk will burn off the excess energy. Two half-hour walks a day should be plenty; if you think it is needed, you can switch it up a little. An alternative option for the second bout of activity for the day is an off-lead walk in the park where your Yorkie can explore the world around them.
You might find that your pet is not interested in more than one walk or exploration a day, which is no cause for concern. You can alternate days between walking or going to the park; this will keep things interesting for your pet. Whether you go to the park or take a walk, you should stick to a routine as much as possible.
HIIT For Your Yorkie
As mentioned earlier, Yorkies are working dogs; they might require some fast pace activity that resembles hunting down a rat. While we do not think it a good idea to let loose vermin in your yard or house, there are games you can play with your pet to sharpen their focus and put their hunting skills to the test.
- Build a miniature agility course in your backyard for your Yorkie.
- Play fetch with balls and frisbees – you can get smaller versions for your Toy-sized pooch.
- Interactive toys that move on their own or make exciting sounds.
- Invest in a Flirt Pole to simulate chasing small animals.
Caution Against Too Much Activity
Always keep in mind that it is easy to overexercise your Yorkie. You might think they are OK to keep going since they show no indication of tiring or calming down, but you have to use your discretion for calling it time. Keep an eye out for the following signs:
- when your dog takes a long time to recover after exercise,
- stiffness that might indicate sore muscles or joint pain,
- excessive panting and thirst,
- confusion and lack of focus, and
- lameness or avoiding exercise.
If you notice any of the above, reduce the exercise and give your Yorkie a few days to recover fully before slowly returning to a less straining routine. If your pet’s condition does not improve, consult a vet, as there might be a health issue causing the symptoms.
Puppies And Exercise
Puppies cannot endure the same activity level as mature dogs. They are still developing, and overexercising a puppy can cause irreparable damage. Barkercise says puppies between 3 and 7 weeks don’t need actual exercise; exploring the world around them and playing with their littermates is enough.
8 weeks to 4 months is a sensitive age for your puppy. But you can use this time to get them used to the leash by taking them for walks in your garden or around the house. Since they are not fully vaccinated, it is wise to take them out once fully protected.
As my Labrador grew up, I followed the 5 minutes per month rule. With his first walk in 4 months, we did only 20 minutes. Rollo is turning one this April, and we do an hour’s walk in the morning. Note that this is a guideline only, and you should keep an eye on your pup while walking; if they sit down often or slag, they have enough and should not be expected to do more than their little bodies can handle.
Yorkies are intelligent creatures, and their brains need exercise as well. As with the high-intensity games above, other pursuits keep their minds sharp and bust the boredom. The best thing about these activities – as with the “HIIT games” – is that you and your Yorkie will enjoy the time you spend together.
Some stimulating activities include:
- Training to obey commands
- Puzzle toys
- Scenting games
- Chew toys or filled Kongs
- Use mealtime as training time
- Create a fun space for playing indoors
Benefits Of Daily Exercise For Your Yorkie Or Other Small Breed
As with humans, a dog’s good physical health depends significantly on exercise, and walking small dogs is not enough. Not all breeds require the same exercise level; some only moderate activities, while others require more vigorous routines. Regardless of the category, your pet belongs to, there are health benefits attached to regular physical efforts.
- Energy And Proper Sleep
Their tiny bodies are vessels for enormous energy; regular walks and runs provide a positive outlet for their natural drives. Terriers are known for continuous barking (which drives you and the neighbors up the walls); apart from training, wearing them out with a good walk may help tone the barking down.
It also promotes a good night’s rest, which is essential to humans and the Yorkies. Like many other pet owners, having your pet up and down at night instead of sleeping will tax your performance the following day.
- Muscles, Heart Health, And Metabolism
It keeps their bodies fit and healthy, aids in weight management and muscle strength, and keeps their little hearts healthy. There is little difference between exercise’s physical benefits for humans and animals.
One thing to consider is overall health issues. Nobody knows your pet’s behaviors as well as you do, so when they appear less enthusiastic to take their morning walk, it might be good to check in with the vet. Make sure all is as it should be, and if there is a problem, your vet will advise on any adjustments to your daily routine.
- Socialization And Stimulation
Yorkies – or Terriers overall – are commonly perceived as fierce little warriors. They have larger-than-life personalities and stand up to dogs triple their size. While this might seem cute, there are actual dangers that proper socialization and training can eliminate.
Using walks to train your Yorkie to be calm around other animals is safer than having your pet “challenge” bigger dogs that are less tolerant of smaller breeds nipping at their heels.
Your daily walks are also a great way to introduce your Yorkie to a world filled with exciting things to see, smell and hear. The stimulation has a two-prong benefit: it allows your dog to explore the environment and become comfortable with encounters while relieving boredom.
Final Thoughts On Walking Small Dogs
Exercise has many benefits for you and your fierce little rat-hunting friend, be sure they get enough but never too much. As your Yorkie matures, you might notice they need less stimulation and more lap cuddles; while you can tone down the activity, they should remain reasonably active to stay healthy.
- The Yorkshire Terrier Information Center, http://www.yorkieinfocenter.com/
- How to exercise a Yorkshire Terrier, https://barkercise.com/exercise-yorkshire-terrier/
- Understanding the Terrier Personality http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/understanding-the-terrier-personality