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  1. #1
    Puppy (New Member)

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    Default Struggling first time Pyr owners

    Hello, our family got a pyr back in early spring 2016. We got him from a breeder and brought him home as a puppy. His name is Duke. We own five acres but have no livestock. Duke has a large dog house in a fenced back yard and is an outside dog. We do occasionally bring him inside in the evenings to have family time. Duke is a loving and playful dog that shows us lost of affection.
    That being said there have been many growing pains and challenges for us these last 15 months or so. He started off with a bad food aggression but we have since worked through that by standardizing his feedings.
    There have been several incidents where Duke has shown aggression to my son, wife and me. Every case is different and honestly we were to blame in some of those cases. I made the mistake of trying to show him dominance as a puppy and since learned that was incorrect. I never beat the dog or so much as struck him in the face but rather used strong tones and physical correction under the jaw. He seems to have major trust issues now.
    His aggression can be random but currently our major struggle is when he is all fired up about something. For instance, he charges our fence at passers-by and barks. When I try to step in to calm him down or get him back up to the house he turns aggressive towards me. There are cats in the area and when he tree's a cat if I try to get him he turns on me. He has two types of growls. One is more of a warning moan. The other is a full on growl with teeth showing. I have gotten that second one probably a half dozen times or more in the last 9-12 months. It is unsettling to say the least.
    We don't know what to do. We have had a behavioral trainer out that worked on us more than the dog, learning to be better owners. We are beginning to feel hopeless because we can not control our dog when we need to the most. He chased a cat over our fence and it took me 45 minutes to coax him out from under a neighbors truck while we was aggressively growling and barking at me. We cant imagine giving up but we are begging to worry about or 7 year old son. We work with our son constantly on his demeanor around Duke and they truly are the best of friends. But there is still that fear deep down inside that something bad could happen. It is a sinking, horrible feeling. We don't trust the dog, he doesn't trust us, and we treat him with kid gloves as if he rules the roost. He will listen to commands occasionally, but if he doesn't feel like listening then he is just flat out not gonna listen. If anyone has any input please, please respond and share your thoughts. Thank you

  2. #2
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Tsunibear's Avatar

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    First thing is first take him to the vet and get a full blood panel test done on him. You want to eliminate medical issue as a cause. Next thing is you start implementing the NILF program meaning he gets nothing unless he does something for you. I am talking if he wants to eat you make him sit and stay put his food down and he can't touch it until you tell him to. The same would go for going outside and so on and so forth. Then I would look into a new behaviorist because, you need one who will help you all learn to trust each other again. Talk to your vet and see if they can recommend one.

  3. #3
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Jewel's Avatar

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    The first easy question is, is Duke neutered? If not, you really need to consider getting it done.

    When you are truing to "calm" him from car chasing and cat hunting, how are you doing this? Do you try to reach for his collar/grab him? If Duke had previously been physically punished by you hitting him on the chin, you trying to grab for his collar could set off an aggressive reaction now that he's older, bigger, and more assertive. Have you tried using reward based positive reinforcement type of training?

    With the issues he's showing, things aren't likely going to turn around right away even if you are doing the right things. But I think you will need someone who knows how to do this to guide you. The person you used before may not have had the right knowledge or skills to deal with Duke's particular issues. I would encourage you to try and find another behaviorist and try again.

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

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    I agree with everything Jewel and Tsunibear have said, and will elaborate in a minute.

    If it's possible, I would also recommend reaching out to Duke's breeder, to see if s/he has any knowledge of similar problems cropping up in Duke's parents or any of his littermates. How old was he when you brought him home?

    I have an embarrassing amount of experience in working with trainers and behaviorists here in Dallas, and I can say that they are not all the same. Anyone can call themselves a Behaviorist and charge exorbitant consulting fees regardless of whether or not they have any actual knowledge of dog behavior or effective methods of treating it when it becomes problematic. Some of them are simply expensive but ineffective. Others can take a bad situation, apply some junk science, and make the dog far more dangerous. That is why I'm going to suggest that you have Duke evaluated either by a board certified Veterinary Behaviorist or a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist. Chances are, there is not one close to you. There are some who will do remote consultations. I know for a fact that the Veterinary Behaviorist in Austin, Texas does. I have worked with a CAAB here in Dallas, and the difference between her skill set and that of your average trainer-type behaviorist was like night and day. Her rates, however, were comparable.

    http://www.animalbehaviorsociety.org...-directory.php

    http://www.dacvb.org/about/member-directory/

    If you are looking for a quick fix or someone to do the work for you, I'm afraid there are none. If Duke can be helped, it is going to be a lengthy process of relationship and trust building. It is going to require 100% commitment from everyone in your family, and there will be days when you will likely be putting Duke's needs ahead of your own and making decisions based on whether or not doing this or doing that might help or hurt Duke.
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  5. #5
    Puppy (New Member)

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    We are so appreciative for everyone's responses. Duke was neutered shortly after he turned one. We have contacted the breeder and are still consulting with them as well. They claim that none of their dogs have had aggression issues and that his parents do not exhibit them either. When Duke is in defense or cat hunting mode I try to calm him with toys or treats but it doesn't work. He doesn't wear a collar because he wont let us put one on him. In the past he wore one but ever since the bathing incident he wont let us put a collar on. He will let my wife put a slip style leash on him but that's only after she sits with him and brushes him. If I have the leash he becomes very apprehensive. We have all but given up controlling his urge and need to protect the property by chasing passer's by. They are usually well past the property by the time I can make it out to the fence to try to retrieve him. If he tree's a cat the only action is to go get our Yukon and drive out to the field and he will jump in because he loves car rides. He used to sleep out in the front of our house at night and really only went into the back when we weren't home. Due to these issues, along with the fact our neighbor has a horse (something else we are still working through) he now lives in the back yard 90% of the time. He is only out when under our supervision. I will contact our vet about a blood test. Last time he was there for shots it was a pretty intense situation and the staff had a very, very hard time with him. They asked if we could muzzle him next time but there's no way that's gonna happen. We cant take him to a groomer to get bathed and we are too scared to bathe him ourselves. Right now we basically just hope that nothing bad is going to happen when he is out and deal with the barking at night. It is a very miserable situation right and if it weren't for that fact that our sons whole world is this dog, then he would have already been re-homed to a large farm with livestock. Which is were I think he is better off. We failed as owners early on. I truly believe we made a mistake and are now in over our heads. I guess I just need to step up as a parent and do what's best for our family and Duke. We have invested a lot of money into this dog and just can not afford an absorbed amount of money for a behaviorist. It was a stretch to afford the one we had already and she came with a folder of accreditations. Thanks again to everyone that commented and any further comments would be welcomed.

  6. #6
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    I understand your frustration, but let me stress again. A trainer-type behaviorist can have a folder a mile thick full of "credentials" and still not be worth an ounce of you-know-what when it comes to treating a behavioral problem this complex and severe. Unless the woman you worked with was a dACVB or a CAAB, she was not qualified to treat Duke's issues, no matter how great a dog trainer she may be. I understand that this is all very expensive. I have literally spent thousands of dollars that I don't really have trying to help one of my dogs, who was the perfect storm of bad genetics and a rough start. It finally took the CAAB (PhD in Experimental Psychology with a focus in Animal Behavior, then an additional post-doctorate Fellowship afterwards to earn her certification) to give me the tools I needed to save his life.

    Failing the CAAB/dACVB route, I would suggest returning him to the breeder, or if the breeder can't or won't take him back, trying to secure him a spot in rescue. No matter where he ends up he needs someone with some experience to evaluate him and make sure that he is safe for rehoming and rehabilitation.

    I do wish I had better and more encouraging news.
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  7. #7
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Jewel's Avatar

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    Are you letting Duke out to run free???! Unless he's running in your own paddock that is completely escape proof, he really really really shouldn't be out where he may have access to other people, people's livestock, etc. If you cannot control your own dog's aggression, it is your duty to make sure the dog doesn't have any access to hurt anyone, human or non-human.

    You can't redirect a dog with treats when it's on full out reaction mode. Redirection only works before the dogs gets totally engaged. You can only work on redirection if you can start by establishing basic foundation of attention and focus. The really troubling issue is you can't even put a collar on this dog. This is pretty much complete loss of control. I don't think you have the ability to try and work with him on your own.

    You have to be honest with yourself and ask if you and your entire family have the commitment and the willingness financially to try and rehabilitate Duke with the help of a competent professional? Unless there is absolute 100% commitment, the best thing, the kindest thing, is to turn Duke to a pyr rescue. There is one right in your general area: http://www.nwgreatpyrenees.com/site/...renees-rescue/

    Duke is young, and based on what you've posted, he's not had a human bite history. Those things play in his favor right now for him to go to rescue. If you wait until he's bitten a human, then his chances of surviving diminish greatly. Please do not hand Duke over to a farm/ranch in his current state. He is likely to attack livestock which is likely going to get him shot - that's what happens to pyrs that chase livestock round here in Texas.

    If you decide that it's best Duke find a new home with someone who knows how to deal with him, please contact the rescue and hopefully they would be willing to take him.

    If anyone else knows of other pyr rescues that would cover Duke's area, please post.

  8. #8
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) snow0160's Avatar

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    I have some experience with aggression. When he is up barking against the fence at strangers and you came in and he redirected it at you, this is 100% displaced aggression. I've had this happen with my previous dog, Sahara. It can be dangerous if you interrupt at the wrong time. I've gotten bitten like this. What you want to do is to counter condition. So if you see a stranger coming by your house give get your dog's attetion with lots of treats and positive rewards. The idea is for positive assoication.

    A lot of aggression is based on fear and what you need to do is to train it out of him until he is confident that what he is afraid of does not happen like the way he sees it. A stranger at the fence is happy times with praises and treats. For food aggression/ resource aggression, you need to teach him that resources aren't scarce and there is no need to guard it. This one is tricky because I never fully trained Sahara out of it.

  9. #9
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    This story popped up in my news feed today. For what it's worth, this is exactly why I never give out training advice or urge people to go it alone in cases of aggression against humans - especially when there is a child in the home.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crim...icle-1.3378375

    Make no mistake. This poor child is not dead because the dogs were pit bulls. This child is dead because his grandmother knew that her dogs had serious behavioral problems and did not take responsible action.

    I think that there are a number of differences between Sahara and Duke. For one, Duke is still an adolescent puppy. This level of aggression against humans in a dog with a fully-formed adult personality is frightening. To see it in a dog who is still so young is bone-chilling. This is not something that can just be trained out of him with tutorials on Pinterest. This is a dog who cannot currently go to the vet because he is so out of control. He can't even wear a collar. This dog's adult personality isn't due for another 6-12 months, and that's when they usually get a little grumbly/less tolerant of things.

    The other gigantic difference between Sahara and Duke is that Duke lives with a seven year old child in the house. I understand that the child absolutely adores Duke, but the child's safety has to be top priority. If assessment and treatment by true behavior experts (NOT dog trainers) is not a possibility, then the kind and responsible thing to do is to try to find Duke a spot in a Pyr rescue. Duke doesn't want to behave this way, and he needs treatment, not banishment in the yard. I get that treatment can be very expensive and time consuming. I've been there.

    It's also important to consider that Duke's family admit that they are in over their heads. I believe the OP when he says that. This is, by no means, an ordinary case. Rehabilitating this dog is going to be a long, difficult, and both financially and emotionally draining process. There is absolutely no shame in Duke's family admitting that they aren't able to make that commitment - so long as they are willing to turn him over to an organization who will get him the help that he needs.

    It's a terrible situation for everyone, and it's nobody's fault. Having been in a situation where I had reason to believe that I might lose a dog I love with all my heart due to behavioral issues, I can imagine the toll that this is taking on his family, and I feel bad that I can't say or do anything to make their pain go away. But this is about Duke. As much as it hurts, Duke deserves the chance to get better. I hope his family will find a way to give him that chance before it's too late.
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  10. #10
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) snow0160's Avatar

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    It is going to be expensive and tedious to fix Duke. If I had a young child, I would return him to the breeder or place him in a home. This was how we got Sahara. One good thing is dogs that come out of rescues do find loveing homes. Sahara did! I loved her with all of her flaws because we are in a position to care for her. She lived to a ripe old age of 16 years and had a great life.

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