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Thread: My Pyr bit me

  1. #1
    Puppy (New Member)

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    Default My Pyr bit me

    I have a beautiful spayed female pyr. I got her 2 and a half years ago from a reputable breeder. She is the 1st pyr I have had and worked very hard to train her. During the 1st year I do not know where I would have been without the encouragement of the breeder and my vet. I have trained 2 big dogs before, but pyrs are very different as all of you know.

    Anyway, I have been very aware of dominance aggression so she has never been allowed on the bed, eating scrapes from the table, jumping on the furniture, etc. She is friendly and fun. It is a hoot to see her play tug of war with my little rat terrier, who actually wins every once in awhile. Also she plays well with the cats and they love to curl up beside her when it is cold.

    With all of that said, there is growling and "positioning" at times which I quickly end. Today we were outside in the yard and our new neighbors had their dog out. Their dog is a lab that was just running in his yard. He started barking and suddenly Sophie runs at the fence(7foot wood fence) snarling and barking. I walked over and strongly said No and took her by her collar. At that moment she whirled around and grabbed my wrist. I stated OFF, and she completely ignored the command, and grabbed my forearm drawing blood and then lunged at my chest(which now looks like a rake went across it).She was on her hind legs and I was staring at a mouth full of teeth. So now my arm is bruised and wrist is still bleeding some. I blocked her but did not meet aggression with aggression. I got her in the house and she immediately came down to her normal self. I avoided her.

    What happened? What did I do wrong? I want to keep her, but is this something that will continue now?

    She has never ignored my commands.

  2. #2

    Flock Guardian (Moderator) Terry's Avatar


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    Quote Originally Posted by ingenuity
    . I got her in the house and she immediately came down to her normal self. I avoided her.

    What happened? What did I do wrong? I want to keep her, but is this something that will continue now?

    She has never ignored my commands.
    murphy is 6 months and he did do this once.
    i think its natural for them to do this? he calmed right down when he realized the "threat" was gone.
    which there was really no threat just an eating thing with my other dog.
    BUT he did lose it and it was very scary for my wife...

  3. #3
    Old Dawg (Senior Member)

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    that kind of incident is so scary when it happens. i've had a couple of episode with joy (20 months) who is generally gentle and good-natured, but has food agression/guarding issues that have not been completely resolved.
    the couple of times she bit me and was inappropriate, i ignored her for 2-3 days except for basic needs. no eye contact or affection. but i bet the folks on this forum will have more 'advanced' advice due to more experience with this breed. but that's where i started with joy. peace. p.s i took her with me to so many places today; my church (not mass), bank, pet store, home depot, wal-mart. she is so calm and gentle with everyone in public, was so proud of her.

  4. #4
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Jewel's Avatar

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    ingenuity, I think what happened has been referred to as "transferred aggression." Sophie was in full agression mode, heading for a fence fight with the lab. What you did was to stick your hand right within biting range when she's was full on ready to bite -- the lab. Since she couldn't get to the lab who was the target of her aggressio she basically transferred her aggression towards you, especially as you had "challenged" her with aggression as well (with the strong verbal "no" and the grabbing of collar).

    In that situation, you will need to redirect her attention by other means. Options include calmly walk to the fence and body block her and tell her (in a calm but assertive tone, with no anger or frustration) to disengage; make a loud noise to get her attention, or throw something to break her focus. The point is to get her attention, even for a second, for you to make eye contact with her and maybe break the heat of aggression. The best thing to do I would say is to consult a trainer or behaviorist to find the best way to disengage her from the fence aggression.

    I often see people let their dogs fence fight at the dog park (the fence between the big dog and the small dog parks). They think it's funny to see the small dogs on one side and the big dogs on the other snarling, snapping, barking and running up and down the fence. It is really a stupid thing to do because that's allowing the dogs to practice being aggressive. I don't see a reason EVER why a dog should practice being aggressive.

    You mentioned in your post that Sophie at times growls? Is that growling directed at you? If so, you will need to continue training with her because she's not giving you full respect. You should strive to work with her until she stops growling altogether. These dogs are much too large to use aggression to get their way. Good luck and please keep us posted.

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    Old Dawg (Senior Member)

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    Any dominant behavior toward a human by a canine companion should not be acceptable, or tolerated, especially aggressive or attacking behavior. It sounds like you had previously identified incidents of dominant behavior. These smaller incidents are the ones that need to be immediately addressed. It really is the smaller behaviors that often make the biggest difference in training and dealing with a strong personality or dominant dog. More times than not, if these smaller behaviors are not addressed proactively (the humans proactively establish the alpha role through consistent training on your terms)...larger incidents like the bite and further escalation that you described will often happen. "Ending" a situation is a little more reactive in that the dog exhibited a behavior, and then you reacted. Being proactive means that you do the behvior initiation and not let the dog act out.

    My dogs will bark at the fence if the neighbors' dogs are on the other side, but I can go up to both of them while they are barking and give them a verbal command or physically pull them away and they will immediately submit to me and stop. For me, this is vitally important for safety reasons in case I am on a walk with them, or if a creature (skunk, racoon, etc.) enters my yard, I know I can safely restrain my dogs and keep myself and the dogs safe.

    Please be safe out there...there aren't too many things scarier or can do as much damage as an aggressive giant breed dog.

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    Puppy (New Member)

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    Thank you. I have worked with her on a consistent basis. Also on a lead she is excellent. This was a surprising move as she is non plussed by the dogs in the other yards. I did the wrong move, but now know better.

  7. #7
    Young Dawg (Member)

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    I think the only thing you may have done wrong is interfere when Sophie went in to attack mode. If she doesn't know the neighbor dog and can't see it she wants to repel a predator that is a threat to her flock.You need to introduce her to the neighbor dog if possible so she can see it is not a threat to you guys. You are not going to overcome 6000 years of breeding.
    You own a lion in sheeps clothing. But most of the time we will never see that side of them. She could really hurt you if she wanted. She didn't!

    As you have seen these are gentle dogs with their family/ flock. Some reactions you will not train out of them. You may have suprised her when you grabbed her collar/ neck. Very vulnerable area that they will do anything to protect. Maybe put her on a leash when you take her out in the back yard so you aren't so close to her, but you can keep her under control. If the other dog is barking and she starts to get excited reassure her things are OK. I think telling her NO won't be effective.
    It sounds like you have taught her what her place in the pack is. This reaction was the protective instinct I think.

  8. #8
    Old Dawg (Senior Member)

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    just wondering as this a matter of concern to me as well when i was training my pair of pyrs. in terms of "pack heirachy", i obviously defer to my husband but for long time he didnt take an alpha role wit the pups, rather he spoils them like our human children. it took a lot to make him "dominant" and understand pack behaviour including subtle dominance acts. is this applicable to others here too?

  9. #9
    Old Dawg (Senior Member)

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    Quote Originally Posted by BK-47
    I think the only thing you may have done wrong is interfere when Sophie went in to attack mode. If she doesn't know the neighbor dog and can't see it she wants to repel a predator that is a threat to her flock.You need to introduce her to the neighbor dog if possible so she can see it is not a threat to you guys. You are not going to overcome 6000 years of breeding.
    You own a lion in sheeps clothing. But most of the time we will never see that side of them. She could really hurt you if she wanted. She didn't!

    As you have seen these are gentle dogs with their family/ flock. Some reactions you will not train out of them. You may have suprised her when you grabbed her collar/ neck. Very vulnerable area that they will do anything to protect. Maybe put her on a leash when you take her out in the back yard so you aren't so close to her, but you can keep her under control. If the other dog is barking and she starts to get excited reassure her things are OK. I think telling her NO won't be effective.
    It sounds like you have taught her what her place in the pack is. This reaction was the protective instinct I think.
    Unfortunately, the bite and subsequent attack is a culmination of a lot of prior behavior miscues...not just the one thing. Instincts are not the same as behavior...in my opinion, it would be a serious mistake and potentially dangerous to view our dogs as instinctual automatons and excuse that behavior, or feel that you cannot, through training, correct aggressive behaviors, especially toward members of your household. They are, for the most part, very intelligent dogs and are very trainable. I believe if you take a proactive role in training your dog, you can address this type of dangerous behavior. Both of my Pyrs would dart, charge and react to other dogs when we first brought them home, but both now ignore other dogs and show no interest on leash, and only bark on occassion when they are in their own backyard, and they are always under control. I don't have the liability insurance for them not to be under control.

    As far as the breeding, the Pyrs were gaurdians that stayed with the flocks, not attack dogs, seeking out other animals; nor did they have much, if any, contact with humans. So, I just don't think we have to give up on training or addressing specific behaviors, and use breeding and instincts as an excuse or crutch. I would ask you to take an active training role and not chalk this behavior up to breeding or instincts. Good luck.

  10. #10
    Puppy (New Member)

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    Thanks to all. This was an aggressive move and I was injured. I am extremely concerned and will consult with the breeder and get the name of a good behaviorist. I love this dog and have worked very hard with consistency including giving up a job to be able to keep consistent hours. When looking for a house, Sophie was always considered making sure the yard was sufficiently fenced and large. I run and walk her everyday and go through a training session everyday. This was shocking and scary. I felt like a failure today. But now I can move forward. I am so glad I found this website.

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