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Yorkshire Terrier Sleep Habits

Two Yorkies sleeping together
Charlie age 5 & Bo Bo age 9 months
Photo courtesy of Nikki Bloum

Sleep for the Yorkie Puppy

Puppies will sleep a lot…anywhere from 16 to 22 hours per day. This includes both night time snoozing and naps taken throughout the day. As they grow older, you will notice that each month, they sleep a bit less. When they are awake, they often take full advantage of the time. They want to explore, eat, chew on things, play with you and find out about their world.

Owners should take advantage of this time as well. To begin, the first thing that an owner should do any time that their Yorkie wakes up, is to take him or her to the designated area for bathroom needs. This is a key element for housebreaking. 

It will take a bit of time for a puppy to adjust his body to staying awake more during the day and then needing a full night’s sleep. 
So, owners must be patient…as pups may awaken at any time wanting to play, have a drink of water, etc.

It will help if you offer a good bout of exercise just about 2 hours before bedtime. If you do this too close to the time that you wish to go to sleep, it can actually cause them to have more energy and be “rev’d up”. Therefore, about 2 hours before you wish to call it a day, bring them for a brisk walk, play fetch or do any other activity that will stimulate them for approximately 20 minutes.

Now, it will be time to relax. Lights all over the home should be dimmed. TV’s and any other devices that make noise should be lowered. While no one needs to whisper, voices should be calm and on a quieter level. Then, one should give the command word “Sleep”. 

Do keep in mind that no dog will simply go to sleep on command…However saying this word will help your Yorkie learn that when the word is said, play time is done, a walk is not expected, no one will be grooming him or her, etc.

And a Yorkie will learn that their human family members are about to lie down on their beds and activity will pause for a while. When a dog knows what to expect, they are better about accepting a situation. Therefore, a puppy may whine and beg for attention at first.

If your pup will not wind down, and nothing seems to console him, there are steps you can take to help stop a Yorkie puppy from barking or crying a lot at night

Sleep Habits of the Adult Yorkshire Terrier

Adult Yorkies will be very active when awake and will sleep deeply when they allow their bodies to rest. A healthy, active adult Yorkshire Terrier will sleep anywhere from 13 to 18 hours each day, and this includes naps.

It will be normal for a dog of 1-3 years to sleep well through the night and to also want to take 1-2 short naps each day. 

Naps generally last from 10 minutes to 1 hour….Much of this will depend on the environment and what is happening at the moment. 

For example, if your Yorkie is sleeping and 10 minutes later you are nearby in the kitchen and begin to prepare dinner, he or she will most likely wake up….They will be interested in the smells of the food and wonder if they are going to get any! 
Yorkie in his bed getting ready to sleep
Boots, 1 year old
Photo courtesy of Dee Slade
Alternatively, if the house is quiet and they have a peaceful area in which to retreat that is away from foot traffic and household noises, they will be able to sleep longer. By now, an older Yorkie should be sleeping through the night. Occasionally a loud noise from outside may awaken them…Or some random event, however most will slumber well for 7-10 hours. 

Many Yorkies sleep in tandem with their owners. They have learned to train their bodies to shadow their human’s schedule. Therefore, it is common for a Yorkshire Terrier to wake up just at just about the same time as people do. 

They may wake up, check things out and then go back to sleep…if they still need another hour or so. 

While even adult, fully house trained dogs need to go to the bathroom in the morning, you may want to put off any walks or exercise for at least 30 minutes. Most Yorkies need a little bit of time to adjust to the new day, to feel settled in, to feel comfortable that all is well and having the security that everything is as it should be, they will then be ready to take a nice walk. 

Sudden Change in Sleeping Habits

There are a wide range of reasons why a Yorkshire Terrier may suddenly begin to sleep a lot more than usual. 

Sleep apnea - This is a condition in most often seen in overweight dogs, but can happen to any breed of any size. The dog has short bursts of breathing obstruction which leads to waking up many times over the course of the night. Signs include loud snoring and being extra sleeping during the day.

Age related issues - Most assume that an older, senior Yorkie will sleep a lot more than his younger counterparts, and this is generally the case. However older dogs also have issues such as arthritis that can make getting comfortable and falling asleep very difficult. Prescribed medications and supplements for joint health can help a great deal. And the older Yorkie needs a quality orthopedic bed that will offer proper support and for a tired body.

Comfort - We might not think about it much, but dog beds do wear out. Even high quality canine beds have a typical life of 4 to 5 years. It's always a good idea to access the condition of your Yorkie's bed and obtain a new one if it seems to have lost its support and is worn out.  Also, check for any cold drafts or issues with the bed being too close to heating vents. 

Health issues - Any time a puppy or dog is ill, this can interrupt normal sleeping patterns.  A dog may sleep less due to discomfort or more as his body tries to fight off an illness.  Issues can range from worms to liver issues to heart problems.  For this reason, if your Yorkie has a troubling, chronic sleep disturbance, it is always best to have him checked out at the veterinarian's office. 

Revved up at bedtime - It's a good idea to exercise your Yorkie in the evening to allow him to release pent up energy and tire out a bit in anticipation for nighttime, however if a puppy or dog is walked or has moderate activity too close to bedtime, he can have a hard time settling down. It's best to bring your Yorkie for a walk no closer than 2 hours before bed. This way, the energy is released, but he has time to relax and unwind before it's time to retire for the night.

Additionally, bright lights and/or loud noises can make it hard for a dog to relax. If it's Sunday night and you're watching Game of Thrones (and cheering or screaming at the TV), you can't expect your dog to be calm and go to sleep. So while there may be exceptions when the house is a tad noisy, it's best to dim lights and offer a peaceful environment at least one hour before you want your Yorkie to go to bed. 
Yorkie sleeping under blanket
Brooklyn, 3 year old female
Photo courtesy of Krystal Leonard

Reader Q&A

Question: My Yorkie Insists on sleeping in my bed with me...ALL the time. I love my Yorkie, but this is interfering with time with my husband. What can I do?

Answer: This is actually a common problem. Among married dog owners, 34% have stated that having their dog in their bed has been an issue when it comes to husband and wife spending "quality time" together.

This is usually due to allowing the dog to develop a habit. When owners have puppies, they often love the idea of snuggling up to their dog at night. However, a dog is a creature of habit. It does not take long for a Yorkie to learn that their human's bed is the most comfortable area to sleep and they also feel safe when sleeping next to their owner. 

This is just fine for some people. However, this does become a problem when the dog refuses to sleep anywhere else and a couple is never able to have time alone. 
As with any dog habit, things will be easier if you allow your Yorkie to slowly get used to the idea of a change, as opposed to suddenly trying to enforce new rules. Here is what you can do, to train your Yorkie to stop sleeping on your bed and actually enjoy snoozing in his or her own area:

1) It is suggested to obtain a high quality dog bed. Since your Yorkie is used to your bed, choose a semi-nestling bed or one with deep walls to mimic the safety and security of your own bed. You may also want to go up a size, opting for a small breed size as opposed to a toy sized one. This way you can have room to layer in some baby blankets.

2) Place that on top of your own bed. Please be sure to have it in an area in which it cannot fall onto the floor as your dog could be quite injured. If your bed rests against a wall, you will want to place it in the corner, against the wall and the headboard.

3) When it is time for your Yorkie to sleep, encourage him to rest his own mattress, it can help to place a new interesting toy on it.

4) Lay close and give some gentle pats, while you each lie in your own bed.

5) For each 10 minutes that your Yorkie stays in his or her own place, give rewards of praise and happy words.

6) If your Yorkie crawls out and tries to slowly creep onto your pillow, gently place him back.

7) After a week or so, place the dog bed on the floor, very close to you. Again, put a new and interesting toy into the doggie bed, this will keep your Yorkie focused on the toy and not on his location.

8) Your Yorkie may show resistance. He may beg or whine. Ignore this behavior as much as you can. After a while, he will become tired and just give up. This may be a "game" of who can last the longest...Do try to have it be you...If not, this could take much longer to do. Once you are the one to win out, it is at that point that your Yorkie will retreat to his sleeping area. When your dog is lying quietly, do not speak excitedly or loudly, as he or she may mistake this for you trying to get his attention and come to join you.

Remember to always praise good behavior and to ignore negative behavior. That is the key. Your Yorkshire Terrier will soon learn that sleeping in their own area = praise, treats & toys and that trying to get back into your bed = being ignored, having no treats and not receiving praise.
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