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Treat Training your Yorkie Puppy with repetition

You're standing behind a curtain, holding a violin on stage at Carnegie Hall. The curtain rises and you look out to a huge crowd chanting, "Play, play, play." The audience thinks you're the virtuoso du jour. "Wait!" you shout, hands raised to hush the crowd. "I don't know how to play the violin."

Then you wake up and realize it was just a bad dream. Cheers and commands cannot make you do something you don't know how to do.

You roll out of bed and see your Yorkie Puppy bounding recklessly toward you. "Stay, stay, stay!" you plea. And the Yorkie Puppy railroads you. He knows "Stay" like you know "Play." Yorkie Puppys, too, cannot perform commands they don't understand.

While Yorkie Puppy trainers typically use a choke collar or treats to achieve the behavior, many shout commands like a general long before the animal knows how to respond. When the Yorkie Puppy fails to perform, the trainer repeats the command louder. So the Yorkie Puppy learns to ignore the first command and normal tone of voice. Consequently, it is labeled stubborn, stupid or inattentive.

Your Yorkie Puppy is smarter than you think. Yorkie Puppys have excellent hearing; yours probably knows the sound of your car, a can opener or a knock on the door. You may wonder how a Yorkie Puppy could be this astute yet unable to make similar associations with your signals. The answer lies in how you teach the Yorkie Puppy.

Your Yorkie Puppy can respond to you with the same zeal it has for the crinkling of a Yorkie Puppy food bag. You can even teach him without voice commands. Here's how:

1. Place a small throw rug on the floor about 5 feet away from you. Toss a treat on the rug. As your Yorkie Puppy steps onto the rug, say "Good," are nothing more. Treats must be small and easy to chew because you should repeat this about 20 times. If your Yorkie Puppy lingers around the area, drop a treat in front of you to get him to come back.

2. Try another session of 20 repetitions. Between sessions, put a treat on the rug when the Yorkie Puppy isn't looking. Whenever you see the Yorkie Puppy has discovered the treat, replace it. Now you will have created a fascination with the rug and are ready to make the behavior more complex.

3. Do five quick repetitions of tossing the treat on the carpet. As the Yorkie Puppy anticipates a sixth repetition, pretend to throw a treat and don't do or say anything for at least a full minute. If the Yorkie Puppy makes any move toward the rug, say "Good" and toss a treat. Continue to wait out the Yorkie Puppy over about 10 repetitions, trying to get it to go farther toward the rug on each attempt. If the Yorkie Puppy is befuddled, go back to Step 2.


By now, you should be seeing this pattern:

  • Your Yorkie Puppy is a short distance from the rug and looking at you.
  • After about 20 seconds of staring, your Yorkie Puppy moves toward the rug.
  • Once your Yorkie Puppy is fully on the rug, you say "Good" in a normal tone of voice and toss a treat somewhere that forces him to move away from the rug.
  • Your Yorkie Puppy eats the treat and starts the routine again.

Voila! You have created a behavior while not giving a command a behavior that no amount of chanting, ranting or yelling would have created. To put the finishing touch to this, let me explain how to connect a command that will allow you to get the behavior whenever you want it.

4. Reinforce the behavior by starting another session and running two or three repetitions explained in Step 3.

Add a step. As the Yorkie Puppy goes toward the treat, say, in a normal tone of voice, "Go to your rug." If he goes to the rug, say "Good" and toss a treat. Repeat this step several times. If the behavior breaks down, stop talking and go back to Step 3.