Life would be much easier if puppies could talk and express their bathroom needs, but until your Yorkie learns to communicate with doggie language, you will likely have to rely on subtle pre-potty signs. With time, consistency and patience, your Yorkie can be taught to "tell you" when potty time comes.
Wait until your Yorkie has fully obtained bladder and bowel control before training him to ask to go outside. By the time very young puppies realize they have to go potty, their bowels and bladders have likely already emptied. It is a good idea to wait a bit longer if your puppy has yet not attained sufficient muscle control. "Housebreaking is notoriously difficult with Yorkshire terriers," explains dog trainer and author Michele Welton. Waiting until your Yorkie has attained better muscle control sets him up for success and makes the house-training process much smoother and easier.
Acknowledge any signs that your Yorkie is asking to be let outside. When you catch your Yorkie looking at the door, pawing or scratching at it or whining by it, stop doing what you are doing. Say in a happy tone, “Do you have to go out?" and immediately open the door. Repeat several times. The fact you are letting him outside when he asks to reinforces these pre-potty behaviors and make them more and more prominent over time.
Attach a string to a set of sleigh bells and hang them on a nail by the door, low enough for your Yorkie to reach. The goal of the bells is to train your Yorkie to make them ring when he needs to be let out so he can easily grab your attention. Or you can instead place a hotel desk bell on the floor.
Train your Yorkie to ring the bells. The moment he is by the door ask, "Do you have to go out?"Smear the bells with peanut butter. When he licks the peanut butter off and makes the bells ring, praise him, give a treat and let him out. Repeat several times. Your dog may prefer to paw at the bells rather than nudge them with her nose. You can stop smearing the bells with peanut butter once your Yorkie masters the idea that ringing them causes you to open the door.
- Consult your veterinarian should your Yorkie exhibit any unusual elimination problems.
- Avoid hanging the bells directly on the door, which will make them ring anytime the door is open.
- Some clever dogs may ring the bells whenever they’d like go outside and play. Avoid playing outside with your dog when he rings the bells.
Adrienne Farricelli has been writing for magazines, books and online publications since 2005. She specializes in canine topics, previously working for the American Animal Hospital Association and receiving certification from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Her articles have appeared in "USA Today," "The APDT Chronicle of the Dog" and "Every Dog Magazine." She also contributed a chapter in the book " Puppy Socialization - An Insider's Guide to Dog Behavioral Fitness" by Caryl Wolff.