Do Yorkies Like to be Held or Hugged?

Posted By Roger Wellington the Traveling Yorkie on Mar 6, 2021 | 0 comments

Do Yorkies like to be held? Do Yorkies like hugs? Keep on sniffing! 🙂


Posted 3/6/21

ARF, I know Yorkies like myself are born with cute teddy bear faces and soft brown eyes that will make dog lovers of all ages want to open their arms to a big loving squeeze. Hugging your dog (Yorkie or not) seems to be on the daily agenda of every dog pawrent. However, does that mean dogs actually like being hugged or held? Since Yorkies are small in size, they can only do so much to stop humans from hugging or holding them. Despite their classification as a “toy” breed, Yorkies (like any dog or animal) are NOT toys. Rather, they’re sentient beings who are more than capable of feeling human emotions

*For simplicity purposes, the gender of the word “dog” will be in the masculine form (“he” or “him”) throughout this post.
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So, I know you want to hug and carry your Yorkie – trust me, my humans do too! It’s pawfectly normal to want to show affection to your precious furry family member. But, before you bombard your Yorkie with daily hugs, perk up your ears and hear my alpha barks!

Holding and hugging a Yorkie

The short answer is NO, Yorkies generally do NOT like to be held or hugged. Whether you have a small dog like a Yorkie or a big dog like a Weimaraner, dogs typically do NOT welcome hugs. Yet you don’t need to be a professional dog behaviorist or dog whisperer to recognize the signs of stress or discomfort when you hold a dog who doesn’t wish to be held. Such signs include (but are not limited to) struggling to escape, licking his nose (when food isn’t in sight), turning stiff or still with a tense look, yawning, and/or tilting back his ears. If your Yorkie is trying to escape from your arms, please let him down immediately to avoid distress or built-up tensions. 


Based on their body language, we can tell that dogs do NOT like hugs, especially from rough children who treat them like toys. For dogs, hugs are uncomfortable although they learn to tolerate them from familiar people (because they don’t have a choice). Most dogs, myself included, run away from hugs whenever possible – even from my beloved humans!


Hugs from Children

children hugging dogs

The problem worsens when babies and children are thrown into the mix. Lacking respect and boundaries for dogs, young children love hugging or carrying dogs around like stuffed animals, but dogs dislike such treatment (like any other obnoxious prank) and rather be left alone. Growling is a warning from a dog to the human to STOP their behavior. When children cross the line, some dogs will snap out of extreme frustration. All of a sudden, the dog is deemed vicious and must be put down or surrendered. Does that sound fair at all? Therefore, parents need to look at both sides and first ask themselves WHY the dog behaved a certain way. Teaching children respect for animals is crucial for a healthy relationship.


Why don’t Yorkies like to be held or hugged?

Although a few dogs could enjoy hugs, the truth is that most do NOT. Unless proven otherwise based on their body language, it’s better to assume that your Yorkie doesn’t want your suffocating hugs. The reason is simple – dogs express love in different ways from humans. Dogs aren’t humans and humans aren’t dogs. For humans, a hug is a sure sign of affection. However, to dogs, hugs are not only uncomfortable but also confusing. Typically, dogs only get that close to one another to fight or mate. To a dog who’s not familiar with hugs or the person hugging them, a hug may be stressful initially as they don’t understand what’s happening. 

An adult holding and hugging a Yorkie

Now, with that barked, some dogs (including Yorkies) can learn to tolerate hugs and even like them – but only from people they are familiar and comfortable with. As with any dog training, the easiest way to make your Yorkie feel comfortable with hugs is through positive reinforcement. Give your Yorkie treats as you get close to him, then slowly wrap your arms around him, and finally, gently pick him up. If you want your Yorkie to like being held or hugged, then the key is to be GENTLE and SLOW. In case you’re unaware, it’s important to recognize that most dogs, particularly Yorkies, dislike sudden movements. Yet that is part of the reason why Yorkies notoriously tend NOT to get along with children. Therefore, before you pick up or hug your Yorkie, do so slowly to signal to him what you’re about to do. 

Again, if they are struggling to leave, just let them down! Ultimately, the hug should be relished by both the “hugger” and the “huggee.” Think about it – if you were hugging your mom or significant other, wouldn’t you want them to enjoy the hug as much as you? Since you should ensure your Yorkie’s comfort, please NEVER force yourself onto him. Just because YOU want to carry your Yorkie around like a teddy bear or baby doesn’t necessarily mean that he likes being held. 

Therefore, if an unfamiliar person (to your Yorkie) asks to hold or carry him, please do your Yorkie a huge favor and do NOT say yes out of politeness. Instead, you can perhaps tell them to slowly and gently stroke him on the back or shoulder. Remember, dogs usually do NOT like being touched on the head by strangers as they may view it as a threat or attack, which has been a common mistake of many children. Like humans, dogs are more comfortable with people they’re accustomed to versus people they just met. Nonetheless, some dogs will interact with strangers better than others. Hence. you must know your dog well – recognize what delights him and what stresses him out. 


What if you MUST pick up your Yorkie?

A child holding or hugging a Yorkie

Even though my humans have learned to respect my boundaries and refrain from picking me up at will, there are times when they must pick me up – whether it is to get in a car or onto the examination table at the veterinarian office. GRR, HELP! Of course, it’s not realistic to completely avoid picking up your Yorkie or dog. However, you should learn to do so with gentle care. Never yank him by the collar or harness (even if it’s choke-free) or grab him with force. As a valued family member, your Yorkie should feel as comfortable as possible throughout the process. 

WOOF, always prepare him by signaling that you would be picking him up with the same verbal cue, e.g. “HUGGIE TIME.” The verbal cue must be expressed in a positive, lighthearted tone (NOT in a demeaning, angry tone) so that he associates the action with something positive. As you gently pick up your Yorkie and place him in your arms, reward him with verbal praise and mouthwatering treats. Make sure you place your hands right below his hind paws for support. Over time, your Yorkie will tolerate (or may even enjoy) getting picked up as long as something positive follows. As barked earlier, let him down right away if he’s trying to wrestle his way out of your arms – but, again, be gentle as you put him back on the ground. 


What if you really want to hold or hug your Yorkie – just because?

With Yorkies craving attention from their humans, it’s best to let your Yorkie come to you instead of forcing your arms onto him. For instance, if your Yorkie is coming to you, licking your hand, or putting his paw(s) on you, that means he wants your attention! This can be a good entry to train your Yorkie to tolerate being held or hugged through chops-lickin’ treats and verbal praise. If your Yorkie is climbing on you, then it’s a sure sign that he may want to be held! 

Again, keep in mind that a hug is only worthy if it’s appreciated by both parties. A hug should never be one-sided!

Like all dogs, Yorkies have their own ways of displaying affection. As one independent Yorkie, I’m definitely no hugger! I simply like to lean against my humans when I sleep. Since I live a worry-free, spoiled life, I love sleeping on my back with all four paws up in the air. If my eyes aren’t completely shut, then I’d welcome a belly rub as I fall asleep. BUT, if I’m in deep sleep, then I prefer not to be bothered. 

Instead of trying to hold or hug your Yorkie all the time, try these pawsome alternatives to displaying affection and love:

Comb your Yorkie  – With long silky hair, Yorkies need to be brushed at least twice a day. So get combing! 

combing, brushing a Yorkie

Give your Yorkie a belly rub or massage – WOOF, I don’t know any dog (or cat) who would run away from a good ol’ belly rub from someone he’s truly comfortable with. I also love getting my ears rubbed!

Give your Yorkie treats – Don’t just give out treats for tricks! You can give your Yorkie a treat or two throughout the day just because. 🙂 

Sleep with your Yorkie – Sadly, I’ve heard this saying barked out over and over again – don’t let your dog sleep with you because he will think you two are at the “same” level. This goes back to establishing the outdated and potentially abusive “master-servant,” “human superior-dog inferior” perspective. Dogs who sleep with their humans establish a deeper bond period. Dogs and humans can both feel safer and warmer when they snuggle with each other throughout the night. If you’ve never tried sleeping with your dog, I beg you to try it one time and see how you like it. A sleepover is a super FUN and rewarding experience for both participants! Besides, your Yorkie will wag his tail to a comfy human bed over the typical dog bed any day.



Learn to recognize your dog’s emotional state!

Yorkie Dog sleeping, relaxed - don't hug or hold a Yorkie

Avoid creating unnecessary stress for your Yorkie by learning to recognize dog behavioral signs. If you have children, please educate them early on so they learn to respect dogs and give them the necessary space. Dog bites are largely preventable, but it requires knowledge, time, and patience to teach mutual respect to both children and dogs. 

*Note – lists are not all inclusive


Happy dog

  1. Relaxed body
  2. Relaxed eyelids and gaze
  3. Relaxed mouth (loosely closed or slightly open)
  4. Upright tail (exemplifies confidence)
  5. Wagging tail (bear in mind that it doesn’t always mean that they’re happy – it just means they’re excited)
  6. Sleeping on the back with paws up (worry-free as this is their most vulnerable position)

*If your Yorkie is enjoying the hug or embrace, they will look relaxed and lean into you.


Fearful dog 

  1. Flattened ears
  2. Stiff tail (between hind legs) or lowered tail
  3. Crouching down (in fear)
  4. Licking lips (with no food around)


Stressed or tense dog

  1. Pacing around
  2. Shaking (when it’s not cold)
  3. Whining
  4. Barking
  5. Yawning
  6. Drooling
  7. Licking lips (with no food around)


Sad or depressed dog

  1. Sleeping more than usual
  2. Sad eyes 
  3. Loss of interest in food and in general 
  4. Paw licking
  5. Withdrawal or in hiding
  6. Dropping ears (farther back)


Mad or upset dog

  1. Flattened ears 
  2. Turns back on you 
  3. Walks away from you
  4. Yawning
  5. Licking lips (with no food around) 
  6. Growling
  7. Showing teeth
  8. No eye contact
  9. Stiff body


MAIN TAKEAWAY: To Hug or Not to Hug? To Hold or Not to Hold? 

ARF, so do Yorkies like to be held or hugged? Although most Yorkies and dogs generally do NOT like to be held or hugged, they could learn to tolerate gentle embraces and even like them through positive reinforcement. Nevertheless, it’s imperative to learn and recognize your Yorkie’s behavioral signs to determine whether or not he is loving your arms around them. If he’s trying to escape, always let him go! Instead of forcing hugs, allow your Yorkie to come to you and show affection on his terms. 🙂


Hope you now recognize whether or not Yorkies like to be held or hugged! Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube Channel: Wet Nose Escapades by Roger Wellington for more fun dog videos, like how I trick my humans and hide from a bath.


Markin’ it up,

Roger Wellington a.k.a. The Doob

Traveling Yorkie, Wet Nose Escapades


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Do Yorkies like to be held or hugged?


World Traveling Yorkie: How to Travel with Your Dog

ARRRF, I’m Roger Wellington! After being rescued by two nomadic millennials in San Francisco, I left my miserable crate life and transformed into the world traveling Yorkie. Since 2016, I’ve set my furry paws in more countries than most humans on Earth! Besides sniffing out the best dog-friendly activities in the world, I teach dog pawrents how to travel with their dogs safely. As a true nomadic dog, I don’t travel for short vacations or the sake of collecting countries – I TRAVEL TO LIVEFollow my nomadic canine escapades and learn to travel with your dog!

Sniff HERE to learn more about Roger W., the Traveling Yorkie!

Keep your dog SAFE on international flights!

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