Why Is My Yorkshire Terrier Toy Aggressive?

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In most cases, you will need to purchase some interactive toys for your Yorkshire Terrier, especially if you’ll be leaving it alone. However, the Yorkie might become aggressive and start biting, snapping, and growling to guard the toys. So, why is my Yorkshire Terrier toy aggressive?

Why Is My Yorkshire Terrier Toy Aggressive?

Yorkshire Terriers are toy aggressive due to their natural territorial and protective instincts that make them unwilling to share what they consider to be their prey or food. Past trauma or depression can also make them toy aggressive as they think the toys will be taken away from them.

However, the toy aggressiveness still varies with the dog’s age, lifestyle, environment, and emotions. Some of the reasons why the Yorkie might be aggressive and ready to fight for its toys include:

An image of a Yorkshire terrier that is about to get aggressive with its toy

Natural Instinct

Since Yorkshire Terriers were originally bred for hunting, they have strong territorial and protective instincts. Like other hunting dogs that tend to guard their prey aggressively, Yorkies will try to protect their toys. Generally, this instinct makes Yorkies unwilling to share what they believe is theirs.

Usually, this nature is more prominent when the Yorkie is guarding interactive chew toys as they feel more like real prey when chewing and tearing them. Sometimes the Yorkie might even try to avoid disruption and intrusion by hiding in a safe place when chewing the toys.

Past Trauma

Yorkies can become toy aggressive if they have past traumatic and stressful experiences with the toys. In most cases, this happens if you have adopted your Yorkie from animal shelters where it might have been sharing toys with larger and more aggressive dog breeds.

This experience makes the Yorkie aggressive, thinking that other pets might try to take the toys away from it. Also, the Yorkie might have learned some techniques to safeguard its food and resources.

For instance, if there was competition at the animal shelter such that the dogs had to fight for space and food, the Yorkie might learn aggression as a technique of protecting its possessions such as toys.

Lack of Exposure

Even if your Yorkie is social and willing to share its food, it might behave differently if it has never seen or interacted with toys. For instance, if you have several Yorkies in your house, they might be sharing food and the blanket without issues.

However, if you introduce a single interactive toy that seems pleasing to the Yorkies, each will want to own it. In most cases, the most energetic dog will take it and try to protect it aggressively.

Close up picture of a yorkie


If you leave your Yorkie alone for too long, it might develop separation anxiety and depression. Since depression is a medical problem that negatively impacts how you think, act and feel, it can significantly impact the emotions of the Yorkie.

The resulting emotions are unpredictable and might be associated with a lack of interest in certain things and having excessive interest and attachment to certain things. For instance, the Yorkie might lose interest in you and gain excessive interest and attachment to the toys, making it protect them aggressively.

How to Reduce Toy Aggression in Yorkshire Terriers

Although toy aggression in Yorkshire Terriers might seem normal, it is risky, especially around small children. The following tips can help reduce this aggression and eliminate the potential risks.

  • Demonstrate the ownership: Since the toy aggression results from possessiveness, you can reduce it by ensuring the dog understands that the toy belongs to you and not its. You can do this by confidently withholding the toy until the dog sits and waits for it patiently.
  • Reward good behavior: You can reduce the aggression by rewarding the dog each time it allows you to take the toy without aggression. For instance, if the dog allows you to take the toy without aggression, return it with additional treats.
  • Teach the dog the drop it command: Before buying toys for your Yorkie, consider teaching it the drop it commands. That means the dog will be dropping the toy each time you command it, and you will not have to force the toy out of its mouth.
  • Limit the access: If the toy seems excessively interesting or addictive to your Yorkie, it is advisable to limit its access. For instance, you can keep the toys in a controlled or confined place such as a crate. Usually, limiting the access helps control addiction and the associated possessive aggression.
Yorkie sleeping in a girl's lap

Related Questions

How Can I Respond to a Toy Aggressive Yorkie?

The best way to respond to a toy aggressive Yorkie is to remain calm and then back away slowly. You can then try to speak to the dog in a soothing tone rather than yelling or screaming. You can also entice it with a more appealing reward.

Can a Yorkshire Terrier Destroy Its Toy in Aggression?

An aggressive Yorkshire Terrier can destroy its toys by biting, scratching, and tearing them. In most cases, the destruction of toys is a part of the destructive behavior a Yorkie develops due to separation anxiety.

Final Thoughts

Although many Yorkshire Terriers are toy aggressive due to instincts, learned behaviors, and depression, aggression is risky, especially around small children. Consider controlling the aggression by limiting access to toys and teaching your dog the drop it command.