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Yorkies may be small but for all they are lacking in stature, they almost certainly compensate for with their voice. Known for barking more than some other breeds, there are plenty of situations that will cause Yorkies to make a racket. This can be especially frustrating when these situations frequently present themselves at night.
So, how do you stop a Yorkie from barking at night? Methods to prevent a Yorkie barking at night include:
- Provide them with a peaceful and suitable nighttime environment
- Give them lots of exercise to deplete their energy and anxiousness
- Train them to follow commands related to barking behaviors using positive reinforcement
- Make sure all their physiological needs (food, water, sleep, medical, bathroom) are met
- Give them distractions, such as toys, to give them something to do if they don’t want to sleep
The reason why some Yorkies bark at night may be quite specific to them and their environment. Read on to pinpoint what might be causing this behavior in your dog so you can implement a more tailored solution.
Why Do Yorkies Bark at night?
In general, Yorkies have a fairly yappy, high-pitched, and loud bark no matter the situation, however, the pitch and tone may change depending upon the cause, and there are many causes…
Whether it’s morning, noon, or night, Yorkies make noise when they are happy or sad and almost anything in between.
The key to finding an effective solution to your Yorkie’s barking is to understand the cause of this behavior. Here are some common causes of barking in Yorkies.
Most dogs are territorial, which is why they have historically been used as protectors.
Yorkshire Terriers in particular are very territorial dogs, despite being a little too small to actually do any protecting physically. Therefore, barking is their go-to tool when it comes to asserting their dominance.
Territorial barks are often in a lower tone to appear intimidating and keep their space safe. This often includes some growling.
Yorkies may try to assert dominance by barking and growling when they encounter other animals, humans, or even objects. Especially if they hear something at night, they may think that something or someone is trying to enter their space and will become quite vocal.
They may not be able to see the perceived threat at night but will often hear something that you cannot. This causes them to bark as a defense mechanism; in order to alert the rest of their pack (i.e. you) and to warn any possible intruders of their presence.
Yorkies are social animals, and they both need and enjoy the company of their owners. When they are not getting the attention they need, they will let you know.
Yorkies are great at letting you know when they want something. This attention-seeking barking is usually high-pitched and may include some whining.
There are multiple situations in which a Yorkie would want attention:
- It may be separated from family or lonely and want to be close
- It may need to use the bathroom
- It may have too much energy and be bored
Boredom can also be a major cause of barking in Yorkies. They do it to show their displeasure with being left alone or not being paid enough attention.
Not only are Yorkies social with their human. Dogs are social animals that historically lived in packs. When they are left alone, this goes against their ancestral instincts and can make them quite unhappy.
Anxiety or Fear
In some cases, the barking reaction may be out of sheer fear rather than standing their ground. However, it could also be a combination of both.
This could be fear of anything unfamiliar, including animals and other people. It can also include loud and unfamiliar noises, which are similarly tied to anxiousness.
Similar to what we mentioned regarding territorial behaviors, they may have a heightened sense of awareness due to the poor visibility at night. Both people and animals are scared of the unknown, and this can lead to excessive barking or noise-making in dogs.
Unfortunately, the types of noises a Yorkie can make in these situations can really vary. It may be in a lower tone or sometimes more high-pitched whining. It may also depend upon the situation that is causing the anxiety or fear.
There are multiple stressors that may lead to anxiety in your Yorkie:
- Separation anxiety: Yorkies are inherently social, and being away from their owners and those they live with can make them anxious or uncomfortable. This is the most common anxious behavior in Yorkies and can lead to excessive barking.
- Loud environments: A stressful home life with lots of noise and disruptions can make a Yorkie anxious. Some Yorkies may also be sensitive to noise and barking could be their way of acknowledging this.
- Fear: This can be associated with being in contact with unfamiliar people, animals, or objects, as well as loud noises. This could be a memory of a negative event in the past that triggers these feelings.
- Confined spaces: Dogs that are left in a room alone or in a small crate with nowhere to go may bark out of anxiousness.
- Aging: Anxiousness may occur as the dog gets older and may suggest health problems. This includes major changes in behavior and impacts their cognitive function. Change in behavior may also be the result of medication or physical ailments.
The point about confined spaces is particularly poignant in my Yorkie’s case and is usually the cause for her waking us up while crying at night. She will often wander off into the bathroom and then the door tends to swing shut behind her!
They Are a Puppy
Puppies are prone to barking from a very young age because they are in a new environment and now on their own. They are no longer with their mother or their littermates, which can be stressful to the puppy. Puppies will be quick to voice their concerns, and they do this by barking and whining at all times of the day and night.
Many of the reasons mentioned above can impact a puppy much more dramatically as they are in a new environment. These are some of the major reasons puppies may keep you up at night:
- Bathroom: Puppies are often not trained and are unfamiliar with bathroom protocol and additionally they have smaller bladders! They want to alert their owners and let them know there is a problem. Meeting their most simple needs will prevent them from barking. This is applicable to Yorkies of any age.
- Tiny living spaces: Yorkies are small animals, and as they are still being housebroken, they are often confined in smaller areas or even crates. This space could actually be too small and make them feel uncomfortable, leading to more whining and whimpering.
- Attention: Puppies, in particular, want lots of attention, and Yorkies puppies are no exception. The world is exciting and new to them and so are their new owners! They will bark and whine to get their new humans to focus on them!
As puppies mature and receive training, these barking behaviors can be controlled or stopped. Let’s go over the best ways to train your Yorkie in the next section.
How to Stop Your Yorkie From Barking at Night
Now that you know the reasons a Yorkie may bark and bark at night, how do you stop it! Changes to their lifestyle and your interactions with your Yorkie can help to eliminate the barking that is keeping you up at night. Each of these categories should be touched upon, and changes should be made, step-by-step to target and eliminate the cause of the noise at night.
Peaceful Nighttime Environment
Maintaining a peaceful and stress-free environment, especially at nighttime, is crucial for a dog to remain calm and not bark. Make sure your Yorkie is kept in a quiet room that is free from distractions, which could include other dogs (if they are not incredibly friendly and relaxed with them), street noises, or areas that will have lots of late-night human foot traffic nearby.
Minimizing these noises and distractions will help to keep them from becoming aggressive or scared in thinking there is an intruder or threat approaching their space.
This peaceful environment also includes their bed setup. Make sure they have a comfortable bed area where they can feel at home.
Because Yorkies are social and want to be around their owners, setting up their bed close to you at night may help them feel more relaxed and calm. This should help to prevent any excessive barking from another room but will also minimize any disturbances to your sleep. You’ll be less likely to have to completely leave your bed or bedroom to investigate.
This environment should also remain consistent. For the best night’s sleep for your Yorkie, they should have a bedtime routine to help them remain calm at night.
Some tips to create a peaceful nighttime arrangement for your dog include:
- Keep them in their own space: They should have the same sleeping arrangements every night. This will allow both of you to get better sleep and sets clear guidelines for which area is yours and which is theirs.
- Ambient sounds: To help them feel more comfortable and distract them from outside noise, playing a low ticking or ambient sound such as white noise may help them drift off more easily (it could help you too).
- Avoid excitement: Right before bedtime, you should try to avoid activities that will wind the Yorkie up. This means that playtime should happen earlier in the day, giving the dog a chance to calm down when bedtime comes around.
Following these routines will create a more peaceful and relaxed environment when it is finally time for bed.
Exercise Your Yorkie
Barking at nighttime could be the result of excessive energy that was not released throughout the day. Proper exercise can be one of the most effective ways to reduce barking. Yorkies are an athletic toy breed and require daily exercise to maintain their health too.
It is recommended to walk a Yorkie at least once per day but two times is best. These walks don’t need to be too long, they should total around 30 mins. If your Yorkie likes to play fetch this is also a great way to use up some of that energy and will help keep your Yorkie mentally stimulated.
For a complete guide on how to properly meet your Yorkie’s exercise requirements, please check out my article on the topic.
Exercise should not be overlooked when trying to reduce barking, and it also has other key benefits for a Yorkie:
- Better Night’s Sleep: If your Yorkie is sound asleep and peaceful, their tendency to bark at night will be reduced.
- Physiological Health: Exercise is linked to better heart health, metabolic efficiency, and muscle strength for a Yorkie. Keeping a Yorkie healthy through exercise will prevent some illnesses and diseases that can impact the Yorkie’s overall health. Barking may also be a result of discomfort from illness, and it is their way of communicating that to you.
- Decreases boredom: A consistent routine of exercise not only gives a Yorkie something to look forward to, but it also prevents boredom. Walks provide lots of stimulation, including new things to look at, smells, noises, and activities that keep them entertained.
- Socialization: They can meet other people and animals when exercised, and this can help with their attention-seeking needs as a breed, beyond what you offer them at home.
To prevent excessive barking and provide a variety of important health and psychological benefits to a Yorkie, exercise should be a key element to their lifestyle.
Train the Yorkie
One of the most effective ways to prevent barking at night, and during the day as well, is to train your Yorkie not to bark. There are different strategies you can apply in this training, but all involve being consistent and positive to increase rates of success. Training and commands should be assertive so that your Yorkie knows you are serious when giving instruction.
Training can transform a disruptive bark into calm communication from a Yorkie. This will contribute to an overall less stressful environment for both the dog and yourself. If possible, this training should be done at a young age before habits, and negative behaviors can fully form. Not only should you be training for barking behaviors, but for all commands to be obeyed.
To stop a Yorkie from barking at specific stimuli, you must:
- Give Consistent commands: When your Yorkie barks at something that it shouldn’t, you must use a command that will make them understand barking is not necessary. This can often be “No” or “Quiet.” This will require identifying the things your Yorkie barks at and determine if this is something you feel they should not react to.
- Positive Reinforcement: With the command you use, you will want to give the dog positive reinforcement when they stop barking to teach them that calm silence is the desired behavior. This can be a treat or affection. You should never use physical force, yelling, or other intimidating tactics to stop the behavior. This will only increase their fear and will not be an effective learning tool.
- Repetition: Every time the dog barks at the specific stimuli, you must use the commands and positive reinforcement until the behavior disappears. This will take consistent repetition.
- Limits: Sometimes, it will be okay for a dog to bark (we will detail this in the next section), but you want to limit the time they bark. Excessive barking can be incredibly disruptive and annoying, especially at nighttime. The amount of time they are allowed to bark at certain things should be consistent. Dogs are perceptive to time and routine and will recognize when they should stop based on the training and time allowance you give them.
Practicing these scenarios with them frequently can be an effective way to prevent the barking from occurring. You can create these scenarios by creating specific noises or presenting them with stimuli they may encounter that will lead to barking. This could be meeting new people, new dogs, or hearing certain noises they may perceive as threatening.
Early socialization with other animals and people is also an effective way to prevent excessive barking. If they become comfortable with others at a young age, they will be less likely to be scared or territorial around them
Some other effective training strategies for barking include:
- A Water Bottle: You can gently squirt water or mist at a Yorkie to prevent barking behaviors alongside a “no” or “quiet” command. This is not positive reinforcement but has shown to be effective without hurting the animal.
- A Noisy Can: Filling a can with coins or marbles can be a distraction from their barking and can be an effective audible tool to prevent barking. This is often not a pleasant sound and will deter the Yorkie from barking. This should be accompanied by your chosen command.
Bark collars should not be used to train your dog. These can often be emotionally and psychologically stressful to the animal. The strategies listed in this section have proven to be much more effective than using these kinds of technologies.
Ensure Physiological Needs Are Met
Because Yorkies use barking as a way to communicate, they may be trying to tell you something important about their needs. This can be during the day or the night. You must make sure their physical and basic needs are met each day in order to successfully stop some of their barking at night. If there are no distractions in the environment, this may suggest other problems.
You must make sure these items are taken care of as they can lead to barking:
- Diet: Yorkies should be fed a well-balanced diet, and this feeding should be consistent. Barking may be due to the fact that the Yorkie is hungry! Puppies should eat 3-4 times per day and it is recommended that adult Yorkies should eat at least twice per day.
- Medical Conditions: If a Yorkie has an illness, disease, or injury, this can result in barking or whining out of discomfort. Watch their behaviors to ensure that they are behaving normally in all other aspects of their lives and that regular visits to the vet are made.
- Sleep: Dogs may bark because they are sleep-deprived. While we addressed this in the previous sections, lack of sleep can be a compounding factor that contributes to their barking.
- Water: Make sure your Yorkie has enough access to water and that they are drinking enough of it. Dehydration can lead to many negative health effects and impact their behavior.
- Bathroom: Make sure you take your Yorkie to the bathroom before bedtime. Yorkies do not want to relieve themselves in their bed and may bark to signify they want to go outside. If these simple needs are not met, they will bark until they can relieve themselves. Otherwise, you may wake up to an unpleasant surprise.
Satisfying these basic physiological needs can rule out some of the reasons they may be barking and make it much easier to identify the true cause if these important things are being taken care of.
Distractions for Your Yorkie
While you may have exercised them and paid enough attention to your Yorkie throughout the day, their brains can still be hyperactive, and they will become easily bored. Providing the dog with a distraction at bedtime can help to keep them busy if they do not want to sleep.
This is most commonly done with a toy kept in their bed at night. I would recommend using toys that make less noise though! A dog chew of some sort can also be very effective.
The Yorkie should be presented with a variety of toys in their day and night routine so that it minimizes the chances of them becoming bored and barking. They can simply switch from one toy to the next. Bringing in new toys every once in a while (with good behavior, of course) will also keep them entertained as the old toys become less exciting.
When Is It Okay for a Yorkie to Bark?
While excessive barking should be prevented through good training, sometimes it is okay for a Yorkie to bark. This is a way for them to communicate with you after all. However, the tone of the bark is very important in determining what barking is allowed.
Low growls and barks are related to fear, and territorial behavior. This should be controlled as it will most likely occur anytime a new person or animal comes in contact with your Yorkie.
Higher pitched barking that is associated with playtime does not have to be limited unless it is a nuisance. Barking at night is usually characterized by whining, and this should be prevented.
You should not only prevent barking at night because it is annoying but because discouraging it will also help prevent Yorkies from barking at things they should not, regardless of the time of day.
Let them know that it is okay to bark if they are presented with real danger, injuries, or in an exciting playful situation.
Determining what is ok for them to communicate will help if a real emergency happens, then you will know that the barking is due to something serious.
How to Stop a Yorkie From Barking at Night
Barking at night can be particularly unpleasant to your family’s needs for sleep as well as your neighbors. Keeping your Yorkie quiet and calm at night can be achieved if you follow the steps pointed out throughout the article.
Following these steps will help to stop a Yorkie from barking at night. Once you try one solution and it works, you can keep the others in your toolbox to bring out if the problem arises again. Work your way through these steps to find the cause behind the barking and implement behaviors and environmental changes to stop the barking.
Stopping barking at nighttime for the Yorkie begins with consistency and assertiveness on your part. It will take time and effort to make these changes for your Yorkie to be more balanced and well-behaved at night but you can get there in the end.