Barking and Growling Pyrenees. NEED IMMEDIATE HELP!
Alright so I guess I'll start from the beginning. First of all my parents and I (age 21) just moved into a new farm out in the middle of nowhere. We were talking about picking out a Labrador Retriever shortly after we moved there for some minor protection, as large dogs help in that category. My sisters husbands brother had this Great Pyrenees which, him and his wife could no longer take care of due to an over crowded house. It was kind of a pushy situation, so we ended up taking her. She grew up with 3 children around her ages say, 4 8 and 11. BUT she also grew up with the brother, and I knew from watching him play with dogs in the past that he played rough. Tackling them, picking and poking their butts, and holes. Apologies. Grabbing their butts. I know for an absolute fact that she was hit by baseball hats. It's simply the way she reacts around them whenever she feels, perhaps, cornered? Worried?
And I do apologize for the long ill properly worded story. But thank you ever so much for your time.. Back to it.
Knowing these possible problems we still wanted her. We just didn't know exactly how she was, skittish at times.. she got used to us touching her butt and her face and she'd jump back when trying to give her a pet on the head. Conquered that. Now as I said, we got her in a hurry. I don't know if anyone would consider this an impulse decision but it was a free dog and she's absolutely wonderful minus a few flaws. She's playful with one of my shih-tzus and with the other she tends to stay away as shes up in the ages and at times will clamp onto her neck or leg.. Evil little Chloe. I did manage to get some research in before we ended up picking her up and bringing her home, and I did know that Pyrenees are guardians of the land, be it flowers or our chickens (which she barks at) besides that. Being an inside dog (which I do know isn't the greatest lifestyle for a Pyr) She NEEDS a job, and that job in mine and my parents eyes, is protecting me. Even if it's with a growl or a few barks. Here's an example, I'm sitting on my living room with my mother on the couch Izzy is laying down on the opposite side of the couch, in her typical location. My father will sit at the table with his back against her, she doesn't really do any growling or barking at this point in time.. but when night falls (as they are nocturnal dogs, I did imagine this happening) instincts kick in. He's highly efficient around the house and at work, so he'll do all he can to keep on the move throughout the day. Once he stands up, walks to the end of the kitchen and has his back turned doing some dishes or even in the refrigerator, she decides well. I can no longer see who it is in the far end of the house. I believe it's time to pipe in and let out a couple of growls then barks. which, when this happens my two little shih-tzus chime in and amplify it. (Learning bad behaviors from other dogs) That's one major problem I have with her, the growling/barking when backs are turned. Even if lights are on.
Another problem I have as I briefed on earlier was the wearing of baseball hats. Now, my father wears a hat all day no matter what, just the way it goes. She doesn't seem to have such a terrible problem with this at times but others she gets all freaky on him until he takes the hat off. Now, I was playing a game with my nephew the other night and his computer started making a strange noise. We listened for a few minutes and he decided to kneel down and listen to it. Which then my Pyr got all growly and vicious sounding (worse than I've heard before) not too bad, but she seems scared or something. Took me a quick second told him to take off his hat and she lightened up. Even so, she was still freakish after this point. His fear kicked in and she CLEARLY took advantage of that. I'm at the point of possibly finding an appropriate home for her (which would be extremely difficult). I have NO CLUE how to kick either of these problems. Especially the growling/barking when backs are turned. Is there something I should do or say to slowly curb it?
Say she barks, get a hold of her collar (of course not pull tug or yank, I'm not one to train with hatred and pain), firmly say No? And anything else?
I'm truly at a loss, I know this may be too much information but I'm currently in recovery going to programs and staying sober. I feel as if this dog has helped me immensely down the path of sobriety. Most people give up on their dogs around the age of 10 months (which I totally forgot to say up until now). I DON'T want to be that person. I love this dog to death she has been my absolute favorite dog I've ever owned.. I'm stuck and need some major guidance. So, once again
1. Baseball hat problem, skittish around them when taking them off near her she cowers a little bit. Perhaps I should wear one for a week or two and help her realize that it's okay? Not a soul will hit you.
2. Growling/Barking when back is turned. This is a major one right here. Besides saying Izzy - NO - .... wait a few seconds. - THATS ENOUGH - I have no idea what else to say. Maybe I'm messing this dog up in a way I Don't understand.
Absolutely ANY tips and tricks would be helpful at this point. I don't want to lose my only friend. I love her to pieces.. Already feel a wave of depression hit me today, slept for 6 hours when I told my parents I believe the best option at this point is to get rid of her. Please help me.. Thank you ever so much.
Old Dawg (Senior Member)
Hi Nickolas and welcome to the forums. First thank you for taking her in and giving her a far better home than she had before. All is not lost and there are certainly things you can do, and things you shouldn't be doing to help her understand what you want her to do. FIrst Pyrs do not respond well to negative. Instead of telling her NO when she barks, get up and investigate and tell her something like, its ok thanks for warning me. When she is barking at your Dad, have him turn around and acknowledge her. You want to have treats, and anything she does that you like you need to positively reinforce, like laying quietly on the couch for say 10 minutes, or playing gently with the little dogs. You also may want to get her playing outside with something like a flirt pole to drain some excess energy and then do some simple training things with her, such as sit, lay, come but always be positive. It is not a matter of you messing her up at all, its a matter of a better way to approach this kind of a dog. You can look up Patricia McConnel, she has wonderful advice and can help put you on a good path with working with her.
I am not the most advanced owner here, and I am sure others will offer advice as well.
Old Dawg (Senior Member)
Nicholas, welcome to the forum, and yes, thank you for giving this sweet girl a chance. Pyrs aren't always the easiest dogs to live with if you are used to more biddable dogs. I am so glad you found this group!
I also want to take a chance to congratulate you on your recovery. I have a close relative who started the path to sobriety a few years ago, and they amaze me every day. May you and your sweet Pyr continue to help each other for a long time to come.
My first questions for you are, 1) How old is your Pyr? and 2) How long have you had her?
I agree with Christi about reading Patricia McConnell. Her website, patriciamcconnell.com, features a wonderful blog, as well as an archive of articles she has written on a wide variety of topics related to dog behavior. There are three of her books that I think might help you-
The Other End of the Leash - this book is about building a better relationship with your dog through mutual communication. She not only talks about using body language and verbal cues in ways that convey more meaning to the dog, she also talks about dog body language, and the messages your dog is trying to convey through visual cues.
For the Love of a Dog - I am in the process of re-reading this one right now. She actually touches on the issue your girl is having with the hats. The main focus of the book is on dogs' emotions, and how they manifest in body language.
The Education of Will - This is her most recent book. To be honest, I really wasn't all that excited to read it, as it is billed as her memoir. For some reason, I downloaded it while it was slow at work yesterday, and finished it last night. It is very personal, and touches on some very sensitive subjects as it tells the story of how she learned to face the demons of her own past during a time she was trying to help one of her dogs recover from a number of behavioral issues. There is one part of the book where she talks about a dog she helped recover from an intense fear of people wearing sunglasses - an issue which is similar to what your girl has going on with hats.
At home, the first thing I would suggest implementing with your girl is "Nothing in Life is Free", also known as NILIF, Say Please, or Learn to Earn. This is a positive way to establish the human role of leadership, by teaching the dog that humans control the resources the dog wants (food, treats, petting, trips outside, etc.), and that the best way for the dog to get those resources is to respond to a simple cue. For example, if you have a treat in your hand that the dog wants, she has to earn the treat by sitting when she is asked (provided that she has already learned the "sit" cue).
When she is barking at your father, does she seem to be barking at him more because his back is turned, or because he is out of her line of sight? I have some ideas here, but want to make sure I have a solid understanding of the situation before I say anything.
Oh, and there is nothing wrong with keeping a Pyr as an inside pet! Most of us here have inside dogs. They seem to enjoy the soft sleeping surfaces and summertime air conditioning!
sometimes time takes time. you may know the feeling of people giving up on you. you cant change behaviors that took months and years to develop, overnight. work with your dog. develop a bond and trust. it is not and alpha thing with a great pyr, it is a companionship. ODAAT
Hi, I just got a puppy Pyrenees. She is barking at me all of the time. I have not gotten her to stop. I have given her time outs. I put her in the bathroom for 3-4 min. I have been watching "Doggie Dan" he is very helpful with issues. It is a site that I found before I got her. He suggests to give time outs. Not for long periods of time but a few min. She is good while in the timeout. Not a peep from her. Now when she barks, I say "timeout?" She stops but starts again. She looks over at the bathroom. Lol.. she is funny. I'll get her to stop but they are known for barking.
I hope you continue to work with her, it sounds like you and she are good for each other. I am also in recovery so it was nice to see that you are too. I have 27 almost 28 years sober. I am very active in AA. My dog brings me a lot of Joy! I got her "Snowflake" because my border collie died at Christmas and I had her for 13 years. She was a sweetheart but a lot of energy. She needed to be busy all the time. Snowflake is much calmer and I know I can work with her to get her to do what I need her to do. She is teachable just like we are. It just takes time as you know. It's hard to break bad habits; right?
Old Dawg (Senior Member)
There are a few problems with locking your puppy in the bathroom when she barks. First, by the time you actually get her to the bathroom, she will have lost the connection between her barking and you locking her in the bathroom. Second, you are teaching her that being away from you is punishment, thus putting her at risk of developing Separation Anxiety. Third, you are punishing your dog for behavior that is not only a trait of her breed, but an integral part of how she does the job that thousands (yes, thousands) of years of selective breeding have created her to do. Finally, you are using the "time out" in a way that is the polar opposite of how it is supposed to be used. The time out is a redirection tool, not a punishment. You put a dog in time out (usually in a crate or in a down-stay) to give her time to settle so that she can focus on listening to what you would like her to do instead. For example, when Sebastian was a puppy and we would go for a walk, if he started playing the "Kill Mommy" game, I would put him in a down-stay until he was settled to the point where he could walk somewhat like a gentleman again. I wasn't punishing him, I was refocusing his energy.
Originally Posted by Snowflake
I went to Doggie Dan's website so that I could see what you were talking about, and truth be told, I saw several red flags. First and foremost is the fact that you don't get to see any of his tools and techniques until you give him your credit card number. Just as important is that this guy has no formal education in animal behavior, and is not accredited by a single professional organization. He talks about being the "pack leader", as if eating dinner before your dog does or always insisting that you go through the door before your dog will automatically eliminate any unwanted behaviors (it won't). Doggie Dan may use gentler methods than other proponents of "Pack Leadership" (Or maybe not. Locking a puppy in a bathroom for barking seems pretty aversive, to me), but his theories and methods are based on the same widely discredited theory.
I also tend to be wary of trainers who adopt a "one-size-fits-all" mentality when it comes to training techniques. Behavioral variances both within and between breeds need to be taken into account when formulating a training plan - particularly when the plan is for behavior modification. The most effective behavior modification plans address the underlying emotional state which produces the unwanted behavior - not just the behavior itself
Snowflake, please know that none of what I have said is anything personal against you. There is a whole lot of conflicting information on the internet, and with dog training and behavior modification being such an unregulated field, it can be very difficult to figure out who legitimately knows what they are talking about, and who is selling snake oil. Judging from his website, complete with new "How to be a Dog Trainer Like Me!" section, I have a strong feeling that Doggie Dan is in the latter category.
If you are looking for advice from true experts in animal behavior, I would recommend checking out Dr. Sophia Yin's website, as well as that of Patricia McConnell. Dr. Yin was a board-certified Veterinary Behaviorist, while Dr. McConnell is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist. Both websites are full of wonderful, backed-by-real-science information, and both websites provide that information free of charge.
Also, if barking is a behavior that you absolutely cannot tolerate, a Pyr is not the breed for you. The barking can be managed, but not entirely trained out (not without doing some serious psychological damage, at least).
Tags for this Thread