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Do Yorkies Make Good Therapy Dogs?

The world is stressful for most people. Individuals with mental health issues, like PTSD and anxiety, usually rely on dogs as their companion. Dogs can’t talk, but they sure can show you love, support, and hope.

Do Yorkies make good therapy dogs? Yes, Yorkies make excellent therapy dogs. They are friendly, manageable, and clingy dogs. As a matter of fact, the first therapy dog was Smoky, a Yorkie.

As you read this text, you will know the reasons why Yorkies are such excellent therapy dogs.

What Is A Therapy Dog?

Unlike service dogs, therapy dogs do not perform tasks. They are dogs that are always available to speak with, petted, and cuddled. A therapy dog doesn’t go through significant training.

However, they must be temperamentally suited to the role.

Therapy dogs must be friendly to both humans and other dogs, relaxed and, most importantly, unflappable.

Therapy dogs must be comfortable with strangers approaching them and giving them love. They must not show any hint of aggression.

Do Yorkies Make Good Therapy Dogs?

Yorkies possess qualities that can brighten anyone’s day. If you are not familiar with Smoky, he is the first-ever therapy dog.

Smoky is a Yorkie that spent his time in different hospitals during World War II. He roams around, comforting recovering and injured soldiers. They were really fond of him.

There are several reasons why a Yorkie makes an excellent therapy dog:

Yorkies Are Devoted

During earlier times, Yorkies were specifically bred to catch and kill rats in mines and factories.

But, as time pass by, they become the pampered-lap-dog everyone came to adore and love. Yorkies are now popular for small and cute physiques and how loving and devoted they are.

The Yorkies ranked 9th on the American Kennel Club for the popularly owned breed of dog.

They have been given so much popularity because of their natural personalities – loving and very loyal. They always look for love and attention, thus making them an excellent breed for companionship.

Yorkies Are Small

Some breeders point out how the size of the Yorkie creates problems adding up to their inherited fragility. But, their size also is the main reason why they are an ideal pet for most.

Yorkies do not need a huge space to feel comfortable, and they are also very easy to carry anywhere.

Their size makes them an ideal pet for people living in small spaces, senior citizens, and people with physical limitations.

They can go to places where other pets can’t. They can be placed in your purse as you do your groceries.

They can even sit next to you during flights instead of the dark and dangerous cargo hold.

As a therapy dog, they can be taken anywhere. It makes them more accessible to the public.

Yorkies Are Intelligent

Yorkies, despite their cute look, were bred to be working dogs. They even ranked above average in all areas.

They are easily trained since they have above-average intelligence results.

This dog breed can be easily trained without much effort. It gives more edge to the dog owner.

Anyway, all breeds were bred because of their unique abilities to respond to human cues.

The mere truth that Yorkies are good at following and responding to cues is an absolute plus.

Yorkies Are Never Boring

Life is full of ups and downs. Owning a Yorkie will be a great addition to your ups in life. Yorkies are full of energy all day long. They are always excited about new things and up to different challenges.

They are also naturally inquisitive.

Yorkies tend to follow their owner around the house. It will surely provide you with solace. They are always waiting for opportunities to play and run around.

If you’re having a bad day, a Yorkie will lighten up your mood as they create amusement. It also makes them excellent service dogs.

Yorkies Has No Issues With Other Pets

Dogs are just like humans. They are not all the same. Regardless if they are siblings, they would still possess unique traits from one another.

With that being said, some can be snappy, but most are friendly.

Therapy dogs mostly go in groups to hospitals and nursing homes. A trained Yorkie has little to no chance of going off another pet.

However, you must remember that Yorkies were originally bred to hunt for a rat and the sort.

It means that it might not mix well in an environment where Guinea Pigs or Hamsters are present.

Signs That Your Yorkie Will Make An Excellent Therapy Dog

If your Yorkie provides you with comfort, you might think of signing him up as a therapy dog. Signing your Yorkie to be a therapy dog is actually a great deed.

You would be able to let other people feel the comfort you get with your Yorkie.

Not all Yorkies are suited for this kind of work. There are traits that you should look out for;

Your Yorkie Ignores Other Animals

Therapy dogs, while working, should not socialize with other animals.

Everyone’s safety is involved, so your Yorkie must not get distracted and play with other dogs.

If your Yorkie is fond of playing and distractions, he might not be suitable to be a therapy dog.

Working therapy dogs are not there to play. They are there to provide comfort to those who need it. When one pup plays with another, this could cause a chain reaction.

Your Yorkie Should Be Attached To People

If your Yorkie seeks people’s attention more than other dogs, he will be a great candidate for a therapy dog.

Therapy dogs’ job is to provide comfort to people, so they must be okay with multiple strangers holding them.

Some of the people they meet may talk weird or move in ways your dog is not familiar with. Your dog must have a high tolerance towards actions he’s unfamiliar with.

Your Yorkie Should Be Comfortable Around Different Locations

Therapy dogs’ visits include hospitals and nursing homes. Upon visitation, your dog should practice a calm manner whenever they see something unfamiliar. For example, your dog sees a person in a wheelchair.

Your pet should not chew on it and cause damage.

In these two locations, your dog will meet with people in crutches and other medical equipment.

Your dog must be well-behaved. To help them get used to medical equipment, you can start by moving equipment such as a stroller.

Your Yorkie Must Love Children

Children are often visited by therapy dogs, especially children with disabilities and cancer.

Therapy dogs will visit places from courthouses to classrooms. Kids are energetic and can sometimes pull a tail or ear of a dog.

The energy from the kids must be absorbed by your dog, not reflected. Meaning your dog must remain calm with kids popping up and running everywhere.

Your Yorkie Must Have Good Manners

Obedience is the first thing practiced during training. Your dog must acknowledge basic commands, such as sit, stay, down, and come.

On top of that, your dog must have good manners and ethics.

Your Yorkie must be patient enough to sit for an hour while strangers hold and pet them. Most patients with therapy dog visits are sick and fragile.

Your Yorkie must be gentle enough and can resist the urge to lick or paw the patients. 

Your Yorkie Should Love Human Touch

I’ve mentioned earlier that it is important that your Yorkie loves other people. In addition to that, your dog must love human contact.

Children often tend to hold and pet them roughly or fast-moving, while elders are slow. They should react calmly in both situations.

Your Yorkie should also be comfortable with strangers picking him up and hugging him. Several dogs hate hugs from strangers.

So you have to make sure that your Yorkie is comfortable with strangers hugging him.

If your Yorkie shows one or more of these signs, I suggest signing him up for an Advanced Manners class.

Certification For A Therapy Dog

All sizes and breeds can be a potential therapy dog. Temperament is considered as the most important trait of a therapy dog. For a dog to be certified, he must be gentle, friendly, patient, confident, and calmly reacts to different situations.

They must also enjoy human contact.

Therapy dogs should be gentle with people, especially with old age. Most of them are fragile.

They will easily trip. Thus a therapy dog needs to be very gentle and avoid jumping, licking, or even pawing.

Several studies of the medical community have shown evidence of how dogs benefit humans. It reinforces the need for therapy dogs.

How Do You Get Your Dog To Be Certified?

Therapy dogs do not require extensive or specialized training for them to be an acknowledged therapy dog. The dog must simply be well-behaved and can be easily controlled by cues.

Some therapy dogs are trained in their household, while some are just naturally born for the role. Below is the process to certify your dog as a therapy dog:

  1. To become a certified dog, your pet must be friendly with people of all ages. All kinds of dog breeds can be trained to give affection, love, hope, and comfort to people in different settings. Your dog should be at least a year old to qualify for a therapy dog.

  2. Go to a certified dog observer or tester in your area. The tester will test your dog’s manners, demeanor, and skills.

  3. You and your dog will visit three medical facilities under a tester or observer’s supervision. When you and your dog pass this last step, you can go on and be a Therapy Team!


Overall, a Yorkie has the natural characteristics of a therapy dog. It is no doubt that a Yorkie can do the role of a therapy dog just fine. Anyway, dogs of all sizes and breeds can be a potential therapy dog.