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Canine Behavior/safety of my 1 year old Yorkie


I brought a 12 week old German Shepard puppy ans also took in a 14 week old Yorkie pup. They have lived together in our house for 1 year and play very nicely together all day & night. My question is do you think if we left them at home alone for 4-5 hours,in your opinion would the G/S turn on the yorkie and hurt her or kill her. When we go away for a few hours we always put the yorkie in a cage so that we don't have to worry about her being hurt by the G/S.   Thank you.   Fred Penny

I can't answer this without observing these two dogs. It's a very individual thing. When they play, does the GSD respect the Yorkie's space, back off if the Yorkie tells him too? Does he ever rough-house and bat the Yorkie around or pounce on her or roll her over? Do you worry about their play style when they are supervised?

It is possible that the GSD is gentle and respectful enough that you can leave them unattended together for periods of time. Do you ever leave them unattended while you're just in another room - taking a shower, watching a movie, engrossed in emails? Are they OK for those periods, or do you sometimes have to tell them to take a break? Most dogs will just hang out and nap while they wait for their people to return. But, the size difference could be a potential problem if their relationship with each other is anything less than totally stable.

If you have any concern at all about the safety of one of the dogs, then for everyone's sake, it's best to separate them when you leave. If you want the Yorkie to have more space than a crate, you can give the Yorkie a room, perhaps the master bedroom, while the GSD has the rest of the house. Or you can switch off, so one day the Yorkie is in a bedroom, while the next day the Yorkie has the house and the GSD is in the bedroom. So long as they each have something interesting to occupy them, and you pick those high value things up before they come back together, they'll be OK unattended. In fact, you are at something of an advantage by separating them when you leave the house. If they're comfortable with this, it's a great way to help reinforce their ability to be OK while alone. So often we see dogs who live together (especially dogs who came in as puppies together) develop such a tight bond that they can't bare to be separated from each other for even a minute. This is a problem in an emergency situation or if one is sick/injured and must go to the vet. So, having them have separate time for a few hours per day is actually a very good thing for their mental stability.

In the end, I would err on the side of caution. I'd rather the dogs not get to hang out together when I'm not home, than risk coming home to a totally preventable tragedy.

If they're great friends, there's no reason to believe that the GSD would suddenly look at the Yorkie and decide to kill her. But since I can't observe your dogs in this forum, I can't tell you if I see any red flags that would make me nervous. So, I repeat... err on the side of caution.

I hope this helps. Good luck.

Los Angeles Behaviorist  

Canine Behavior

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Jody Epstein, CPDT- KA, APDT


IF YOU BELIEVE YOUR DOG IS ILL OR INJURED, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LOCAL VETERINARIAN IMMEDIATELY. THIS IS NOT THE FORUM TO ADDRESS URGENT MEDICAL ISSUES. I AM NOT A LICENSED VET AND HAVE NO DIAGNOSTIC SKILLS. ***I have been answering questions on All Experts for over 5 years now. I enjoy being able to offer assistance in this forum. I do need to be clear, though. If you’re looking for free advice about a specific behavior question, you MUST submit your question to me via All Experts. If you bypass All Experts and write to me directly through my website, I will ask you to submit via All Experts. On the flip side, if you’re local to Los Angeles and you wish to speak to me privately about an in person consultation, please go through my website. I appreciate your assistance in keeping my volunteer work on the volunteer site.*** I can answer questions about the following canine behavior issues: obedience, timid/fearful & fear-based aggression, nuisance behaviors, families that are expanding with either new human or new animal members. If you have potty training questions please first read my trio of blogs at If you still have questions after reading the blogs you can post your specific questions here. PLEASE be as specific as possible when asking a question. Give me a detailed example of the situation - dog's behavior, body language, circumstances surrounding the issue, what the consequences are (another dog's response, your response), etc. I can only provide insight if I can get a picture of the whole scenario. If I ask for further details, please provide them. In person I would normally observe for at least 90 minutes to assess the situation and the dynamics before offering tools and suggestions to modify it. In writing it is ever so much more difficult. Thank you for your participation in the process.


I have been professionally modifying behavior and training obedience for 7 years. I have owned dogs my entire life. I have just changed the name of my business. It is no longer Good Dog! Dog Training. The new name is Nutz About Mutz!. If you see previous questions with the Good Dog! website information, that is my response.

I am a Certified Profession Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA), #2133301 ; I am a member in good standing with the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), #77763 ; I am an AKC certified Canine Good Citizen evaluator (CGC), #71253

Publications ; ; Multiple articles in the local pet magazine Pet Press (found across Southern California)

I have a graduate education in animal behavior and learning. (While I completed my coursework and did the requisite research, I did not defend a dissertation. I am qualified, but not certified and so technically not a doctor. This is commonly referred to as Ph.D.-ABD which means All But Dissertation.) My educational focus was with non-human primates, but my personal interest is with domestic dogs and their relationships with humans and other animals. I continue to educate myself to canine-specific behavior through extensive reading, online interactive workshops, vidoes and attending canine behavior conferences.

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