How to Train a Yorkshire Terrier to Sit

Training a restless yorkie to sit takes some patience, but it can be fun!
Training a restless yorkie to sit takes some patience, but it can be fun! | Source

Wondering how to train your yorkie to sit? You may think: "but wait, a yorkie is a dog, so you can train a yorkie to sit just as you train any yorkie to sit, right?" Well, it makes sense, but yorkies as other breeds have some breed specific traits that make them quite unique. As much as this sounds silly, I do train each dog breed differently.

Indeed, I am known in my area for 'customizing' my training classes to specific breeds. Seriously, I have like different protocols and guidelines for each breed! Yorkies for instance, have many terrier traits, short attention spans, they are small size and are balls of kinetic energy.

I train a Yorkie much differently than say a great dane or a greyhound -which needs a specific training protocol on its own!-. While of course each dog regardless of breed has its own unique and distinct personality, and it would be wrong to generalize, there are some trends you see time after time that help make the process smoother and knowing the breed you will be dealing with will really make a difference on the choice of rewards/methods/tools. Knowing the breed also helps set the right expectations in clients and I never start a class without being prepared in advance so I know what tools, toys, treats, methods I should employ and what issues I may encounter with a specific breed.

I don't think this is just me; why are so many books on 'how to train your Rottweiler' or "how to train your pit bull" being published and being purchased by dog owners? I have several of these books and none are the same; they are all different. Honestly, I would never use a book on how to train a pit bull and then use the tips on a Chihuahua! and that is because the book will offer different breed-specific approaches. The same I think applies to grooming; each breed has different coat types, textures and predispositions for skin problems. I can't see a cookie-cutter method for each dog! So how to train a yorkie to sit? Follow these easy-step-by step instructions!

How to Train a Yorkie to Sit

You know you own a Yorkie when you ask her to sit and must bend down to figure out if her little tushie is on the floor. Humor aside, this may be the most challenging part of training your yorkie to sit; the praise and treats will do the rest.

Step 1:

Find what treats really motivate your Yorkie. While yorkies are generally bright and eager to learn, they are always terriers at heart. You will need high-value treats to grab the attention of these spunky, feisty dogs boasting short attention spans.


What mostly motivates your Yorkie so her efforts are paid off? Does she drool at the smell of freeze-dried liver or does she beg for meat, string cheese or peanut butter? It is up to you to find out what is at the very top of your Yorkie's hierarchy of rewards so you can reward her for a well-done job.

Step 2:

Find a quiet area in your home free of distractions and skip the backyard; Yorkies are lively, inquisitive creatures and their excitable chasing instincts may be triggered by the occasional squirrel hunting for nuts.

Start by holding a small treat between your index finger and your thumb and let it protrude a bit. Get your Yorkie's attention. Bring the treat towards your Yorkie's nose and then lift it slowly towards her head. Her nose will likely follow the treat as a magnet. This training method is known as "luring" because the treat "lures" your Yorkie just as a lure attached to the end of a fishing line attracts fish.

Step 3:

Keep an eye on your Yorkie's rear. As her nose points upward, her tushie should automatically hit the floor. The moment this happens, make sure you praise and reward her immediately with the treat. Time is of the essence here.With this swift, energetic breed, being just a second late may make the difference between sitting nicely and hearing the pitter patter of paws on the floor as she walks away. If you praise and reward at the wrong time, you will have taught her how to effectively get up from a sit; not very helpful indeed.

Step 4:

Introduce the verbal command. As your Yorkie starts understanding the exercise, get her attention, say the word "sit" and then repeat the nose-to-head hand motion with the treat. As soon as her rump touches the floor, praise and reward. Repeat a couple of times keeping the rate of reinforcement high. The ratio should be one treat for each successful sit.

Step 5:

Fade the hand motion more and more. After you say "sit" just slightly move your hand upward. As a smart Yorkie, she should start anticipating you to a point where just hearing the word sit will make her sit with no more need to rely on your hand motion. At this point, you can also start making her guess by giving her treats randomly every now and then. This will increase the sitting behavior as she will never know when to expect a treat will be coming; in the same way you may enjoy the thrill of scratching off those lottery tickets in anticipation of a great prize.

Step 6:

Fade the hand motion more and more. After you say "sit" just slightly move your hand upward. As a smart Yorkie, she should start anticipating you to a point where just hearing the word sit will make her sit with no more need to rely on your hand motion. At this point, you can also start making her guess by giving her treats randomly every now and then. This will increase the sitting behavior as she will never know when to expect a treat will be coming; in the same way you may enjoy the thrill of scratching off those lottery tickets in anticipation of a great prize.



Yorkie Training Tips for Success

  • Keep training session brief and upbeat.
  • Always end your training sessions on a positive note.
  • When you start giving treats intermittently, always remember to praise lavishly.
  • Because many Yorkies love squeaky toys, you can also use them to reward her.
  • Train sit in different areas of your home and then gradually add distractions.
  • As you add distractions, you may need to temporarily revert to giving treats more often.
  • As you add duration, train your Yorkie a release command that tells her the exercise is over and she can now break the sit.
  • For convenience, invest in a treat bag that goes around your waist or clips to your belt or pocket.

Yorkie Training Warnings

  • Pick treats carefully for your Yorkie; this breed is prone to digestive issues.
  • Try your best not to get frustrated or your Yorkie will pick up your negative emotions.
  • Avoid keeping the treat too high with this small breed or you will encourage jumping.
  • Do not stop giving treats too early into training or your Yorkie may get frustrated and give up trying.
  • Avoid pushing your Yorkie's rump down to make her sit down; this breed is particularly fragile

Alexadry © All rights reserved, do not copy.

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Comments 9 comments

DrMark1961 profile image

DrMark1961 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

How would you suggest training a 60 kg one year old Fila Brasileiro that is not food motivated, is aggressive, and has never had any training? (If you have not worked with the breed, imagine a year old Cane Corso, or maybe even a year old Neapolitan Mastiff.)

I read a hub the other day where the author stated NEVER to force the dog´s hindquarters down. Is it better to just stand next to the dog and say "Sit, sit, come one now, sit."???


alexadry profile image

alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

I never had the honor to train one, they are not too popular here in the US. The only ones I admired (from a safe distance, lol) were from a breeder back when I worked for an animal hospital and they looked stunning. So I will imagine an aggressive rottie or mastiff which I am more familiar with. If not food motivated but aggressive it sounds to me like he is not accepting food because perhaps he is too nervous to? And when nervous, you know how that learning ability shut down. Of course, just making assumptions... If this is the case, a lot of things need to be evaluated. What is making him nervous? What triggers his aggression? What settings make him calmer? Nagging or pushing down the rump or showing the most tasty treats will not work if the dog is too worried about its environment and feeling defensive. In such a case, if this would be a dog I had, I would do everything possible to get him calmer and more responsive. I would perhaps ask the owner to skip the dog's breakfast, walk the dog for a good hour before class and then find an area where the dog is calmer, and perhaps train the slightest response through perhaps clicker/marking training (best if the owner loaded the clicker/marker at home prior to class) and then build up from there. Of course, I am just sort of giving this a blind shot, each dog is different/ responds differently, has its own individuality, so different approaches may need to be taken and I never dealt with this breed, so take my advice with a grain of salt. From what I have heard, this breed is not the easiest to handle, if I recall well, it's the one that in the show ring, judges avoid to touch, so perhaps keeping space may help if he is protective of the owner, or defensive. If the dog is nervous outside and reactive to outdoor stimuli, perhaps a private class may be better. There are really many factors to consider.


DrMark1961 profile image

DrMark1961 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

Not allowing the judge to examine them in the ring used to be one of the signs of a good dog! Can you imagine? I have not been able to convince the owners to walk the dog; I am giving him private lessons already and so far I have been the only person willing to take him for a walk. I will try to ask them to skip feeding the day before and see if that might help.

Thanks for your help. I am really stymied with this guy, and as of yet have not even been able to teach him to sit. I am hoping it will all become easier after that.

(Just a funny note. When I go over there to train a four year old boy comes out and watches a lot. The dog is fine with him and the family has no problem letting the kid play with the dog. Another strange thing about the whole situation.)


alexadry profile image

alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

Do they have freeze-dried liver in your neck of the woods? I use that when I have difficult cases, Ian Dunbar calls them the "ferrari of dog treats". Also sliced hot dogs works well for some. The value of treats can make a difference, if the owner has not tried them yet, it is worth a try. best wishes!


DrMark1961 profile image

DrMark1961 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

No, but I have not tried fresh liver chunks. It is a good idea. He was not interested in the hot dogs.

Thanks for your help. If anything good happens, I will let you know. If I stop publishing hubs, you will know something must have happened. (Just joking, I don't think any dog is that bad. Of course I have never worked with a Caucasian Shepherd...)


alexadry profile image

alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

There are recipes on the internet on how to make liver treats at home if you Google. Best of luck and stay safe- will keep an eye on your hubtivity;)


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida

Great Hub with lots of good advice. I have taught my miniature schnauzer to do lot of tricks. She is so easy to train. I just taught her to jump through a hoop about 3 ft off the floor. I love Yorkies, too. They are adorable.

I voted this Hub UP and will share.


alexadry profile image

alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

Thanks for stopping by Mary! I had a schnauzer in class last fall and he graduated in full colors and is now competing in Rally-o. Fun dogs to train!


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

Brilliant and thank you for sharing.

Here's to so many more to share on here.

Eddy.

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