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Yorkie Exercise


The Yorkshire Terrier has a very athletic build and this dog breed is very agile.

Although the Yorkie is a toy breed, only weighing a maximum of 7 lbs. ( 3.17 kg) per AKC standards, this dog does require regular exercise to maintain good health.

Daily exercise has the following benefits:

1) Helps a dog release pent-up energy that may otherwise be directed in a negative way (excessive barking, destructive chewing, etc.)
2) Aides in maintaining muscles
3) Is good for the heart
4) Works to keep the metabolism working well
5) Can lead to a better night's sleep
6) Offers the opportunity to be socialized to outside elements (other dogs, people, traffic, etc.)
7) Offers stimulation in regard to sight, scent, sound and motion, which can help a dog feel balanced as opposed to bored. This goes a long way in having a happy canine family member. 
Yorkie dog outside on a sunny day
Beau, 10 months, 12 days old
Photo courtesy of The Stewarts 
Let's discuss how much exercise a Yorkie requirements, needs, ways to provide fun exercise and tips on training your Yorkie to walk nicely beside you.

The Suggested Amount of Yorkshire Terrier Exercise

There are 2 types of exercise that should a Yorkie should receive:
  • Moderate exercise - going for walks at a steady pace, but not fast enough that your puppy or dog breaths heavy.
  • Cardio exercise - short but more intense bursts of activity, such as running after a ball, etc.
How Much to Walk a Yorkie

A Yorkshire Terrier should be taken for a walk at least 1 time per day.  Taking two walks per day is best; with one in the morning and one in the early evening. It does not matter at what time during the day an owner chooses to do this, however it is best if the walks are taken at the same time each day. Yorkies, and just about all dog breeds for that matter, are happy and better behaved when they have a daily schedule. A Yorkie will soon catch on and know exactly when it is time to go for their walk.

Walking should be moderate and at a fairly brisk pace. Do keep in mind that what is a brisk pace to you is a running pace for a little Yorkie. The walk should be at a pace where the dog is moving along steadily; but not out of breath. 

You will want to walk your Yorkie puppy for a 15 to 20 minute interval.  Adults (over the age of 2 years) will do good with a 20 to 25 minute session.  If you do not have time in your schedule for this, it is recommended to do at least one walk of this timer interval and then other walk of the day (either the first or second) can be shorter.

Walking before being left home alone will help a dog release some energy and this may help him stay calm a bit longer than he otherwise would. Walking your Yorkie in the evening can help him sleep better at night.  However, any moderate to brisk activity close to bedtime can actually keep a dog awake. For this reason, have your 'after dinner walk' be at least two hours before bed.
cardio exercise Yorkshire Terrier
Cardio Exercise 

This should be short and a bit more intense. This should be provided at least 1 time per week, 2 times is optimal. You can choose from a variety of different ways to achieve this. Throwing a ball to your dog and having them run after it is always fun for a dog. This type of play is also an excellent opportunity to teach your Yorkie some command words, such as "Get" and "Return".

Yorkies love to simply run around. If taken to a park or open field, this breed will enjoy running free. Do, however, always keep your dog supervised and be sure that if you ever take your Yorkie off of their leash or harness that it is very safe to do so.

Some Ways to Provide Fun Exercise

Not only is exercise very important for your dog's health, but this is a great way to bond with your Yorkie.

Do keep in mind that the Yorkie, as with all small toy breed dogs, can be injured if jumping from too high of a height; especially when a puppy. This dog breed can develop a luxating patella, which is a dislocation of the hip socket and joint, so do limit their jumping from heights. 

There are some games to play with your Yorkie that will offer exercise at the same time.

Agility. You do not need to enter your Yorkie into a dog show event to enjoy the benefits of teaching your dog some agility moves. Do be wary of heights when your pup is young; however you and your dog can have great fun with a home made obstacle course.

You can teach your dog to jump through a hoop ( just hold up a hula-hoop at an appropriate height) or guide your Yorkie to maneuver around obstacles or weave back and forth between them.
Praise and a treat waiting at the end, along with your enthusiasm is often all that's needed for a dog to want to exercise in this way.
Frisbee. Most of us have seen professional dog disc events; those events when usually large breed dogs leap high into the air, catching a Frisbee with ease. Your Yorkie wants to join into the fun too! You may wish to purchase a "baby" Frisbee. 

Teaching your Yorkie to run after it, time it just right and then catch it mid-air can be a lot of fun for both of you and certainly a way to get their exercise! * Note Do be sure to never "rip" the Frisbee out of your dog's mouth. 

You can train your Yorkie to drop it on command. When first training for this, hold a small treat and offer a trade. Use the command word of "Drop" or "Give" and once your Yorkie offers it to you, reward him with the small treat and lots of praise.

Hide & Seek With Treats. Command your dog to sit and have your dog watch you "hide" treats all over the home. The treats should be very small and tucked into many different areas...under a cushion, behind a shoe, on the first landing of the stairs, etc. Once you give the command word of "Go!' or "Find", your Yorkie can then run around the home, gathering up the treats. 

Safety when Exercising

When walking, it is recommended to use a harness, as opposed to a collar, for toy breed dogs such as the Yorkie. These smaller dogs are much more prone to developing a collapsed trachea. 

This is a condition in which the structure of the trachea collapses and can cause pain and breathing difficulties. While a dog can be genetically prone to this, pressure injury due to the force put on the neck when wearing just a collar while on leash can cause this to happen. 

If the dog lunges ahead or the owner pulls back on the leash to hard, the cartilage rings of the trachea cannot support the force being placed on them and they can collapse inward.
Yorkie running


When first training your Yorkie to "heel" and walk nicely beside you, it is highly recommended to use a well fitting harness for small toy breeds.

Many owners complain of "the dog walking them". This does not need to be the case. By taking time to make sure that your Yorkie understands the meaning of "Heel" and with consistent training, you can enjoy nice walks where your dog actually strides right to the side of you.

When you set out for your walk, have your Yorkie to your left side and keep the leash short; with only enough length for him to be by your side and not able to walk ahead. Be sure to give the command word of "Heel" as you begin to walk. If at any time your dog tries to walk in a different direction, do not stop but continue walking where you want to, at a very slow pace. If your Yorkie stops, again do not stop, but continue walking at a slow pace. When you  have your Yorkie on a harness, as explained above, continuing to slowly walk will not cause injury.

At any time when your Yorkie is striding nicely beside you, say the command word of "Heel" to reaffirm that your puppy is indeed heeling and offer words of praise. With the tone of your voice, you must convey that he or she is doing something truly great.

If for some reason you choose to not use a harness, if your dog walks or runs ahead of you, do not stop and jerk on the leash. That type of training is not for toy breed dogs.

If your Yorkie gets ahead of you at all, steadily slow down. If your Yorkie still tries to get ahead of you, slow to a stop and then reverse directions. This shows your dog that any time he tries to run ahead, all he will find is that he will not reach his target and will instead have to go in the opposite direction. Once your dog walks nicely beside you, reward him by reversing again in the original direction.

When your walk is complete, if your Yorkie has correctly heeled the majority of the time, give a wonderful treat at the end of the walk. Do not give any treats if your dog was all over the map! With a bit of time, both of you will greatly look forward to walks together.
Exercise Issues
  • Stubborn Yorkies That do Not Want to Exercise With You
  • Yorkies That Refuse to Heel
  • Gaining & Keeping Control of Your Little Yorkie when He/She Behaves Out of Control
  • Behavioral Problems a Yorkie May Have From Lack of Exercise
  • All of this and much more is inside the YorkieInfoCenter Book. In both Print & eBook. Learn more.
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