Supplies You'll Need or Want
Before you bring a Yorkshire terrier home, be sure to have several basic supplies in the house. You can certainly add more toys and treats later, but start out with at least a collar or harness, ID tag, and leash; food and water bowls; nutritious food; a crate and/or exercise pen or baby gates; and a few grooming supplies.
Collar or Harness
Because Yorkshire terriers are prone to problems with collapsing tracheas, many breeders recommend the use of harnesses rather than collars to avoid pressure on the windpipe. On the other hand, a Yorkie in full show coat is not going to be fastened into a harness that could ruin the coat. The choice really depends on your circumstances.
Whichever you choose, just be sure it's made of soft, nonirritating fit well, and if your Yorkshire terrier is a pup, check the fit at least every week, as your puppy will grow quickly. If you choose a collar, buckle and quick-release snap-ons are both good choices. Harnesses and collars come in a dazzling array of colors and prints, but always check that they meet your dog's comfort needs first, before worrying about fashion.
Have an ID tag engraved for your dog to wear on her collar or harness. You can find tags at veterinary offices, pet-supply stores, and trophy shops. Consider exactly what information you want to appear on the tag. Common choices are dog's name, owner's name, address, and phone number. But if you're wary of providing any personal information, a phone number alone will suffice if your dog is ever lost.
Trainers disagree on whether dogs should wear collars (or harnesses) at all times or only when going out with their owners. Those who don't support constant wearing of collars and harnesses might advocate the microchip method. Both sides have merit. Though microchips offer identification that's always with the dog, as the chip is implanted between the dog's shoulder blades, an ID tag is immediately accessible to anyone who finds a lost dog.
A microchip is a small chip that contains a unique identification number. It is injected between the dog's shoulders, and the owner's information is submitted to the chip registry. When a scanner is passed over the dog, it reads the ID number and, in turn, identifies the owner. The downside to this method is that not everyone knows that it exists. A microchipped dog with no ID tag could easily be taken as a stray.
Those who argue against leaving collars on dogs worry about the dangling tags getting caught in crates, fences, or decks, or dogs playing together getting their teeth caught in collars. To make your own decision, simply think about your lifestyle and the life you have prepared for your dog. A breeder might also be able to offer guidance in this area.
Leashes come in at least as many colors and styles as collars. It's nice to have something pretty, but again, consider utility first. When choosing a material, be sure it's kind to your hands. Even the pulling of a five-pound Yorkie can quickly become annoying if the leash is cutting into your hand. Next, make sure the clip is securely sewn onto the leash and the handle will not fall apart. The weight shouldn't be too heavy for a Yorkie to drag around. Then think about what length you need. Most training classes recommend a six-foot leash. Some cities specify the length of leash on which you can walk a dog within their limits.
Once you've taken care of all those considerations, you can think about appearance. You can have leashes embroidered with your dog's name. You can find patterns from floral to wild animal print. You can even find leashes with reflective material that are highly visible at twilight or after dark in car headlights. This is definitely a great safety idea if you walk your dog along roads after sunset or before sunrise.
Because the dog has to apply pressure to pull out a retractable leash, attaching the leash to a harness rather than a collar may be a wise method for Yorkshire terrier owners. Keep this in mind when you purchase your basic supplies before the dog comes home.
Retractable leashes provide an added degree of freedom while still keeping your dog safely attached to you. Most of the leash coils inside a molded plastic housing with a handhold. The dog can pull out line to a maximum of sixteen to twenty-four feet. As the dog comes closer, the line automatically retracts back into the handle. There's also a brake to stop line from playing out. Retractable leashes may make walks in the country or around parks more fun, but they won't be welcome in training classes, and they may be longer than some cities allow.
Bowls and Food
Buy bowls the appropriate size for your Yorkshire terrier. After all, you don't want her walking through her food or taking a bath in her water. You can find aluminum, stainless steel, plastic, or ceramic bowls. If you have a dishwasher, check that the bowls are dishwasher safe, so you can thoroughly clean them once a week. On a daily basis you can wash them by hand.
In general, the material you choose for a bowl depends on preference. Metal may be a little noisier if your pup likes to push the bowl around. Ceramic bowls are breakable, but they're also heavier and not as easy to push. Lightweight plastic can be easily chewed, and heavier plastic can develop scratches that are difficult to clean.
If you bought your puppy from a breeder, find out from this person what food the puppy has been eating. With a pup from other sources, you may or may not be able to learn this information. If you do know the food to which your dog is accustomed, continue to feed it for at least two weeks, while your pup settles in. Then if you want to change foods, do so gradually, mixing a little more of the new food and a little less of the old food every day.
When choosing a food for your Yorkie, keep the size of that small mouth in mind. You don't want kibble so large that one piece will fill your Yorkie's mouth. Many manufacturers now make foods specifically for toy dogs, with small pieces and optimum nutrition. Read ingredients panels and information from manufacturers, and talk to your breeder or veterinarian when choosing a food for your dog.
Dogs as small as Yorkshire terriers have more choices when it comes to crates. Because people love to carry their Yorkies around, there are travel bags of all sorts in addition to the more usual molded plastic or hard-sided wire crates. Of course, puppies may chew the various cloth varieties if left in them and unattended.
Your dog's crate should only be large enough for the dog to stand up, lie down, and turn around comfortably. This size crate can be difficult to find for such a small dog. But don't give up until you've found the perfect one; your crate will assist with house-training (as described in Chapter 7), serve as sleeping quarters, be a safe place when you can't supervise your Yorkie, and perhaps serve in the car as well. If you plan on flying with your Yorkie, you'll need a crate that fits under the seat. Sherpa bags and other soft variations serve this need well.
You'll be having plenty of grooming sessions with your Yorkshire terrier, so be ready. You'll want a pin brush with metal — not nylon — bristles, a long-toothed metal comb, and perhaps a fine-toothed flea comb. For baths you need a good dog shampoo (a tearless one may make bathtime less stressful for both of you) and a conditioner. You might also want to pick up a hair dryer meant specifically for dogs.
For tooth care, buy a canine toothpaste and a child's tooth-brush or a finger brush, which slides over your finger like a thimble. Canine toothpastes come in a variety of flavors that your dog will like, such as chicken, liver, and beef. Brushing your dog's teeth regularly will keep them free of plaque and decrease the need for professional cleanings.
Whatever you do, don't take the easy way out and use human products on your dog. Human shampoos have the wrong pH balance for dogs. Human toothpaste foams up, since dogs don't rinse and spit, and doesn't taste good to dogs. Human hair dryers can only be used if they have a good low-heat setting. (See Chapter 8 for details on grooming.)