View Full Version : Aggressive toward my 9 month old daughter

11-01-2009, 03:30 PM
Hi. New member here (first time on any forum). A little background....I have 2 dogs, both from rescues. One is a 5 year old female Samoyed/Am Eskimo mix, the other is a 3 year old pure Great Pyr. We had the Sammy for 2 years before we got our Pyr when he was 12 weeks old and the two are inseparable. They are both very social and go to doggy daycare regularly to play with other dogs but mostly keep to themselves. They are indoor dogs with a medium sized backyard but we walk them nightly around our neighborhood. Our Sammy is dominant over him with his bowl food but licks and nurtures him like a mother. The pyr has shown food agression toward me and my wife a couple times but only when he has a bone (not bowl food or treats). When our sister's dogs have come to our house, he has shown dominance aggression toward them by towering over them and putting their head in his open mouth (but never biting). Once they submit, he plays with them just fine. In fact, the daycares we have used tell us they use both of our dogs as "intro dogs" for new clients because they are so well socialized. Other than that he has been the wonderful family member we hoped he'd be and very stereotypical of Pyr traits (barking, protective, patroling, gentle, docile, shedding, drooling...etc..). He has been gentle with our sister's kids (ages 7 & 8) since the day we brought him home. The other night, however, my 9 mo old daughter (who just learned to crawl) came up behind our Pyr as he was lying on the floor and without warning he attacked her. He didn't puncture the skin but left a teeth or claw scratch on her shoulder and obviously scared her (and mommy and daddy). Our daughter has pet him, tugged on him, layed with him and he has always been wonderful with her. I've had several pet throughout my life and have never given one up, but I'm a new dad now and very concerned about my family. I love my dog and am desperate to find a solution before looking for a new home for him. We hired a trainer when he was young to help with "off", "down", "stay", "come" and he is great with these commands. Would hiring another trainer be a solution for us? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

11-01-2009, 06:02 PM
Well Welcome to the GP forms first of all, Everyone on here has helped me a lot with owning my GP. Think you will find out the same Gp owners are good people.

Lot of information there lol but it sounds to me like your Gp didn't mean to hurt your little girl its not in there nature to do that.
I only know that because ive seen a coyoates and the end result after a Gp bite and its devesting and a terrible hard to look at. They have over 20,000 pounds per Square inch bite pressure.

Its more of your call though my friend any dog can be mean if your Gp is a rescue dog who knows what they have been threw your number one prority is your family so if you got a dog thats a threat to your family its time to find it a new home. I got attacked my a border Colli when I was that age so its something to take seriously.
Gps arnt known for responding to training is it making any difference with your's?

Ive got a 2 year old nephue and George my Gp treats him like a father licks his face and is gentle with him and my nephue pulls his hair and everything when George has enough he will go in the other room or right with me. but never growls or scraches or nips at the kid George loves him to death.

Hope things get better with that and hope that you don't have to find a new home for your PYR.

nick's spirit
11-01-2009, 06:23 PM
Welcome to the forum, but what a story!!
In your heart, do you think that your Pyr meant your daughter harm? As Raging bull said, a serious Pyr attack can be devistating. However, if he is being dominated by your female, it could be possible that he sees your daughter as something he can dominate. Pyr's usually show their true personalities somewhere around 2 or 3...which sounds just about right. If you can, I would look into a good dog temperment trainer, hopefully someone who knows the livestock guarding dog mentality and ask them for their evaluation.
the fact that he is good with your sister's kids, sounds like he needs something to dominate. You have to let him know, firmly, not hitting him, that your daughter is not to be dominated. It may mean keeping him on a leash while she is crawling and correcting him immediately if he makes any wrong moves. Watch his body language, you may even correct him before he makes a wrong move. Remember, be firm, use a low "growly" voice and a stern NO. No one wants to think about getting rid of a dog, and we hope you don't have to. Good luck, keep us posted.

11-01-2009, 06:56 PM
I have a couple of questions- what does your pyr normally do when he's startled? Has your daughter crawled behind him at any other time? You mentioned that your daughter started to crawl recently, since then, has her interaction with him been that of her sitting and playing with him, rather than him seeing her move about? It's possible that this may have been the first time that he saw her as a moving as a four legged creature (pardon the description, I'm trying to see from his point of view- I mean no disrespect towards your toddler) and she may have surprised him completely.
I hope that you find a solution to this pressing problem- and that you can keep your dog as part of your family! Please let us know how it is resolved.

11-01-2009, 07:00 PM
om, my gosh, that would have scared the heck out of me. if you are asking for our opinions, i say have a trainer come to your home TOMORROW or a.s.a.p. this is potentially devastating, but i think can be nipped in the bud. i have a trainer coming tuesday for my joy's possession-agression, i'm sure i have some fine-tuning to do as well. but surely you know that this behavior absolutely cannot be tolerated, so try to figure it out right away. peace.

11-01-2009, 08:38 PM
Thank you for the quick responses. Sorry my post was long winded but after spending the last couple days searching the web for a solution I felt like I'd get the best advice with as much info shared as possible. Obviously my wife and I love him very much and the thought of losing him has had her (and me when she's not looking) in tears.

He's never been aggressive toward our daughter before and what concerned me most about the incident was the lack of warning on his part. No growel, teeth or posturing; simply an instantanious attack. Usually when he's startled he tucks his tail and runs. (all bark, no bite....).

A few days ago my wife took both of our dogs down to her sister's for a couple days to play with their lab. She mentioned when they returned she thought he may have injured his rear leg because he was limping and not using his rear leg later that night. When I took him for a walk tonight I think I noticed the slightest favoring of one leg over the other. Really, it was barely perceptible. When we got home from the walk, I laid him on his side and massaged around his hind quarters and when I touched a certain spot he shot his head up and turned around to look at me but that was it. Maybe I'm reaching for any possibe explanation but could it be possible my daughter touched a sensitive area to trigger his response?

Again, thank you for your help and concern.

11-02-2009, 03:13 AM
Boomer, first of all, welcome to the forum. I think it is commendable that you have questioned what you saw with your Pyr and daughter. After reading your added post, it does sound like your dog was protecting an injury that your child crawled up on. It could very well be an isolated incident that was a reaction to your Pyr's pain but it might be a good idea to monitor any contact in the near future just in case......that would be my opinion of the situation. I had a neighbor who had a Rottweiler that was aged and arthritic. Her adult son was on the floor with him and went to hug him and the dog nailed him in the face.....the son unknowingly hurt him and the dog reacted, yet this dog would never think to hurt any member of the family under any other circumstance. It is fortunate that your Pyr recognized your daughter before breaking skin. I am sure it was very un-nerving for all of you and makes you question your dog's reliability. Maybe if you present the situation to a trainer they can give you more insight and help you decide how to handle it. Good luck.

11-02-2009, 05:55 AM
I'm not sore about the sore spot guys know that Great Pyrs take pain like no other breed.

If they are hurt youd never know it when i got George the previous owner didnt take care of him his Due claws were in grown but getting to the point I didnt realize it untill I got him to the Vet the next day.
His legs were hurt and my little brother bumped that area and he just pulled his leg away.

Everything that you mentioned is far from anything in this breed of dog something major wrong for you dog to be that agressive and I wish I could have ideas of what is wrong but i have no idea.

Kate you mentioned your friends Rottwhiler that is a breed that is known for being unstable. I was working a job a while back and this rottwhiler these people owned would be sweet and nice all day long then the next min hed show his teeth.

One of the main reason I bought a Gp because I researched and Reaserched my cus has 4 of them thell take a baby Goat and watch over them the baby wants to be around the GP more then the people.

I was thinking that your GP was maybe mixed up with a more agressive breed?

11-02-2009, 03:10 PM
Boomer, I think it is possible that if your pyr was sore that he could have been suprised by your daughter coming up from behind and he simply reacted. Did you notice if the dog knew the baby was crawling behind him? What about the dog's reaction right after he lunged at the baby? It seems to me that he if he didn't break the baby's skin, he must have been reacting only in warning, but becuase he reacted in a flash, it might have looked like an attack.

How has the dog behaved around the baby since the incident? I can udnersatnd it must be such a tough issue to face. I think that if you do keep him, you should address his resource guarding issue (even if it's just with a bone). Your daughter will only get more mobile each day and you don't want her to accidentally get in the pyr's face when he has a bone. I think a trainer or behaviorist would be a good idea to teach your pyr that the child must be respected and "untouchable." Good luck and keep us posted.

11-02-2009, 03:39 PM
Likewise- I agree with Jewel and that's exactly what I said in my earlier post-
I thought I would also point out that if a Pyr means to attack, they get the job done. It requires a great deal of control for a GP be startled and not gravely injure whatever it was that surprised them.

11-02-2009, 05:44 PM
Since the incident happened we have obviously not let our daughter crawl near him however when we have her in our arms, he is the same as he has always been: gentle & affectionate. (and generally disinterested in anything that doesn't involve patroling the backyard or finding the best vantage point inside the house to lay down and randomly bark at noises only he can hear).

My wife said his behavior after the incident showed that he was sorry for what happened because he tried to come up to us and sniff her and lick her and walked around for a while with his (usually curled) tail pointed down.

I did a LOT of research before we got him because we knew we wanted children and pyrs have one of the best recommendations for children of any breed. It makes me feel better to hear that everyone feels that although he reacted abruptly, he restrained himself from hurting her. I've found a lot of internet postings about pyrs being aggressive toward other dogs and animals and even showing warning signals toward people but never an aggressive attack toward people especially children.

To be honest we still haven't made a decision on what to do yet. Part of me says it would be irresponsibe to keep him. That we were given a "free-be" this time and the next time could be something I could never forgive myself for. The other side of me truly loves him and wants to believe it was an isolated incident, spurred by her touching an injured area and that he was only responding out of being startled and protective of an injury.

Anyway, my wife went to our vet today a picked up a couple cards of behavior trainers that we will be calling. Hopefully there is one in our area familiar with pyrs who can help.

fessus viator
11-02-2009, 06:29 PM
Your wife might be onto something.

Last month, I was feeding all three of my dogs and watching over them because Val is known to take the littler dogs' food. When she tried I gave her a sharp "NO" and she backed down... but a few minutes later she went back in. I went to correct her but she jumped back, knocking me into my wood shed. As I fell I got a gash (11 stitches) in my hand as I braced myself for the fall. She ran away because I yelled out (duh) but immediately after she showed the exact same behavior. For the next week or so, she would only approach me in that "I'm so sorry" way.

As to whether or not you should get rid of him, I can't answer. But my wife and I have 6 kids, ranging from 9 and down. Our youngest is about 4 months old and is in the "Im just gonna pull hair" phase. Val is very caring towards him. Vanni (other Pyr (probably) mix) is also affectionate towards him... sometimes too affectionate, she licks a lot. But nailing down the personality of a dog is like saying everyone from Detroit works on cars.

11-02-2009, 07:11 PM
hi,again--hoping the best for you and your family and pyr friend! tomorrow i have a dog behavior guy coming who specializes in agression--$75.00 for the eval. but worth it, because about 5% of the time i don't know what the hell my joy is doing re:food/posession agression and going after two of the cats after a staring contest between them.
i did a huge amount of research before i got her, a few years of reading, going to great pyr club meetings and watching owners with their dogs, visited her parents in virginia when her mom was a puppy, thought i had it all figured out. so i was interested when you told me how much you had learned prior. so i will share with you what i learn tomorrow; i love this breed so much, have learned alot from the friends on this form and hope to pay it forward in some way. peace.

11-02-2009, 07:26 PM
I actually read all of the posts on this site before I got my dog, I felt like a bit of a stalker though, since I only observed the conversations going on here but didn't yet make an account to reply. I'm lucky my fiance made me do my homework before we got a dog, or else I would have been very frustrated because of the lack of knowledge of what to expect in a GP.

11-03-2009, 02:35 AM
Hi Boomer....I'd say you're going in the right direction to take care that this doesn't happen again.

I hope it all works out safely and happily for your family.

With our female Pyr, she didn't take to well to being startled. Once when my nephew was small, she was fast asleep on the couch and he came up to her and she did a growl and a snap..not biting, but scared us, and he has never forgotten it.

She also had what i called a "hot spot" where when we had our other female dog they would get into their scuffs from time to time when Lyndsay would all day long ag Belle on (the pyr) on with her trying to be alpha, finally Belle would just let her have it, and it was always near the food dish. In that area when small children were around i always kept very close just to be safe.

I'll bet you'll be able to get it taken care of though.......
I am very careful anyway with small children around the big dogs because if they would romp the wrong way they could do internal damage on the child. I just never would let the child on the floor without me right there...........just to be always on the safe side, that's just me.

11-03-2009, 07:15 AM
I'm sorry to hear about the incident with your daughter. A couple of things I would want to know...what exactly was the circumstance that led to the incident? Was your Pyr asleep, and did he know that your daughter was on the floor around him? Also, did your daughter crawl on top of him, or did it happen before she touched him?

From your description of his behavior immediately after the incident, he was not stand off-ish, or exhibiting further aggression - this leads me to believe he was asleep and quite startled by your daughter. If he wasn't asleep, I would be a little more concerned. In either case, this behavior should be addressed with some desensitizing training.

The dominant behavior you described that your Sammy-mix displays and what seems to be being picked up by your Pyr is a little troubling. If this behavior in your Sammy was never addressed, it will make things more difficult later, if not addressed now. None of your dogs should display any possessive aggression (whether it be food, toys, or anything) or aggression toward the people in the household. I've found that letting this behavior go only leads to more behavior difficulties in the future. Our female exhibited dominant behavior and food aggression when we first brought her home - my wife and I had to over-emphasize and re-establish our alpha position for the first few weeks since she was a new dynamic to the pack. She no longer displays any of that behavior. I hope this was a one-time incident. Good luck.

11-03-2009, 07:32 AM
this is a cool little story i want to share--before i got my joy and was still talking to owners and breeders, my good friend heidi showed me an ad in the classified for great pyr pups on a farm a couple hours north of here. i called and the owner was nice enough to take some time to talk, and she said 'here's an example of our dogs' temperment. we have a farm and our bunny had babies. a few days later i noticed our male pyr laying out next to the bunny pen, and as the day went on i realized he had stayed in that same spot all day. i was busy and didn't go check on him, but at the end of the day i went out there. a baby bunny had gotten out of the pen, and he had been holding it all day between his paws to protect it! the baby bunny was fine--the pyr is 160 lbs. and guards the farm. great story--have a nice day.

01-03-2014, 02:02 PM
Re-joining the Great Pyr Forum for a different concern (and new user name), I thought I'd look up my original post and give anyone interested an update. The incident that prompted my original post 4 years ago never repeated. We still have Boomer and he's been a wonderful member of our family all these years. Our daughter is about to turn 5 next month and loves him dearly. We recently (last month) had another child and have no concerns at all with Boomer around him. Hopefully it's not too late to say thank you to everyone that posted their advice. And to anyone searching the web for advice on "Great Pyr aggression", I can only share our experience; it has been wonderful having Boomer in our family. If your concerned, please take the time to research, educate, ask for help and ultimately nurture your Pyr like you do your own children and the rewards will be too endless to describe.

nick's spirit
01-03-2014, 03:05 PM
BoomerRox....thanks for posting this message. We know you are going through alot with Boomer right now, hopefully you will get an answer soon. Your post reminds us that we need to assess the situation, watch & learn our dog's body language, and most of all, give them the time, patience and care you would any human child that needs direction.