With its long silky hair, the Yorkshire terrier has one of the most distinctive coats in the canine world. And while this luxurious coat is beautiful, it can also be quite a job to care for.
The Yorkie's hair is almost identical to human hair, which makes the breed a good choice for those with pet allergies. The downside is that like human hair, your Yorkie's hair continues to grow, and without attention, can become easily matted. To keep your pooch looking spiffy, he needs regular grooming and daily care.
The long and short of Yorkie grooming
How frequently your dog needs to be professionally groomed depends on the length and texture of his coat. A soft coat or cottony coat is much more difficult to maintain than the smooth silk coat. Soft hair mats more, is more difficult to keep clean, and breaks more easily. If this is your Yorkie's coat, consider having his hair clipped into a short puppy cut to keep your home grooming chores to a minimum.
While the long flowing coat is the style you typically see in breed books and at dog shows, it takes patience and constant care to achieve that look. Floor-length manes require monthly visits to the groomer. And, if you want to keep that long silky coat tangle-free, daily brushing and weekly shampooing is up to you. Let it go and your dog will end up a snarled mess.
Think short for Summer
Like all toy dogs, Yorkies may become overheated in extreme temperatures regardless of whether they have a long or short cut. If your dog is a pet rather than a show dog, a short summer cut may be a smart idea. Likewise, as a "single-coated" breed, Yorkies don't have an undercoat to protect them from the cold. So remember, he may need a sweater when the temperature drops.
Tips for smooth brushing
Never brush your dog's coat while it is totally dry. For smooth going, mist him with a mixture of water and conditioner before brushing.
Use a good pin brush with a rubber back--natural bristle brushes can break the fine hairs of your dog's coat. Avoid brushes with small balls on the end of the pins, which can pull at the coat and break it. After brushing, use a wide-toothed grooming comb and comb the coat to remove any stubborn snarls.
Treat any knots or mats gently. Don't rip through the hair. Gently pick as much apart with your fingers as you can and work from the ends up to get the mat out.
Be sure to check the hair surrounding the anus-it can become matted with feces. If your dog is professionally groomed regularly, this should not be a problem.
Whichever style you choose for your Yorkie, just be sure to keep him clean and brushed. Since this breed loves attention, grooming can become an activity that your dog learns to enjoy with you. And that can make it worth every bit of effort.
Playing and having fun helps to eliminate stress from your life—and the same holds true for your dog. In fact, incorporating various forms of play into your dog's daily routine is vital to helping him develop a healthy, loving personality.
The benefits of play
Here are some of the ways that playing and having fun is important:
Physical health. Active play helps keep your dog's heart healthy, keeps the joints lubricated, and improves his overall balance and coordination.
Mental health. Games with rules force your dog to use his brain, not just his body. This can help keep his mind sharp and focused.
Social skills. When your dog plays with other dogs and other people, it helps improve his overall social skills. He learns basic rules and how to play by them.
Bonding. Even if it's only for a few minutes a day, playing with your dog helps strengthen the bond between you.
Your health. What better way to alleviate the stress of a busy workday and get a bit of exercise than to come home and play with your dog? It's a win-win for both of you.
How to play with your dog
There are right ways—and wrong ways—to play. The most important thing to remember is that you're the boss. You decide what games should be played and you set the rules. This helps establish your credibility as the pack leader. It also helps keep your dog from getting overly excited and out of control while you play. If your dog does become difficult to manage, simply put a stop to the game until he calms down again.
When you're teaching your dog a new game, reward him when he does well. Remember, rewards don't have to be just treats. You can also reward him with his favorite toys or lots of hugs and praise.
When you start out teaching your dog a new game, keep it simple and go through the game slowly, until your dog fully grasps the rules. Also, wait until he fully understands one game before you teach him a new one, otherwise it will end up confusing him.
Avoid games like keep away, wrestling, or tug-of-war. Those games encourage biting or dominant, aggressive behavior.
Stay in control of the game at all times. Show your dog that you're the pack leader, not just another member of the pack. Retrieval games are good at teaching control.
Don't include your body or clothing as part of any game.
Incorporate the SIT or DOWN and STAY commands in every game.
You decide when it's time to end the game, not your dog. The best time to stop the game is when your dog is still eager to play.
If, for some reason, your dog doesn't seem to understand the game at some point, go back to the beginning, or simply leave it and try again a few days later. Don't get angry if you're dog isn't "getting it" right away. Remember it's supposed to be a fun experience for both of you!