Home Health Checks and Handling
You can do a lot to maintain your Yorkshire terrier's good health by conducting regular exams, observing your dog's eating and bathroom habits, and recognizing changes in behavior. All of this can offer early clues to medical problems, often making resolution easier, quicker, and less costly.
Additionally, whether you've adopted an older Yorkie or found yourself a puppy, you need to accustom the dog to being handled. Of course you can overpower a Yorkshire terrier, but that's not fun for anyone, and you're not going to be able to examine the mouth of an agitated, snapping dog.
While your puppy is young, take some time each day to look in ears and eyes, open the mouth, examine paws, and generally feel all over. Encourage the pup to roll on his back for a belly rub. Check his hind end. Keep all of this positive and upbeat, making it a game between the two of you. If you are always calm and upbeat while doing this, most puppies will soon learn to relax and let themselves be handled.
If you have a dog that's very reluctant to be handled, you may want to learn about clicker training. This positive training technique has proven particularly useful with behavior modification. Good books on the subject are available.
If you've adopted an older Yorkie, you still need to accomplish all this, but may have to move more slowly. For a dog reluctant to let you examine his mouth, for example, scratch under the ear, down the side of the face, flip up the lip on that side for a quick peek, then go back to scratching or even give a treat. As the dog becomes more used to the procedure, actually stick a finger behind the canine tooth and pry the mouth open for a second. Don't insist on holding it open, or you'll encourage the dog to fight you. Remember to reward with scratching and a treat.
Photograph by Jean Fogle
Performing regular home health checks on your Yorkshire terrier ensures a better life for your pet.
When you're able to at least open the mouth for a quick peek, start using a cue for the behavior. Use something positive and cute — “Toothies” or “Open wide” — to help keep it upbeat and remind the dog that he is not in any danger. Apply the same idea to any body part the dog is reluctant to have you handle. Move slowly and keep it positive — you'll get there eventually.