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  1. #1
    Puppy (New Member)

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    Default Terrified Pyrenees

    Jack is our Great Pyrenees; he is about 25 months old. We obtained him from the local shelter about 15 months ago. We just had our third bout of dealing with total freak-out. Something has him absolutely terrified and for the life of us we cannot figure out what it could possibly be. Within the past hour he was outside in the fenced-in back yard, where he visits many times per day. Suddenly - third time in the past 5 or 6 days - he's outside whimpering and slamming (not TOO hard) against the back door to get inside. This breed will take off chasing full-sized bears without a second thought. So this is very odd behavior. Our ritual is to give him a treat whenever he comes in. This time he had no interest in it. He just kept pressing up against my legs and he wanted to go to his favorite "shelter" spot - under my big oak desk. He's still breathing very fast; only now he's starting to calm down a little, almost an hour later. I went out as soon as we saw his state; I could see absolutely nothing. He refused to go back out with me - again, very odd behavior; normally if he sees I'm going outside into the back yard, he'll push his way by me to get out there. He's got the best conceivable home here. He is rarely scolded and NEVER hit (we don't hit dogs, ever, for any reason). He gets more love and attention from us in a day than many dogs get in a lifetime. We really don't have any behavior issues with him. I read up a lot on this breed and he seems to be pretty normal in all respects, as the breed goes. So naturally when something terrifies him like this, and we have absolutely no clue what could possibly do it, we worry. He hates thunder; that terrifies him and he runs under my desk. But I have never seen anything else scare him like this. I'm talking defcon 5 upset. He is fearing for his life. VERY upset.

    I'm hoping that maybe somebody with more experience than us could shed some light on what could possibly put him into this state. Something happened outside - the fence is that "wire squares" stuff; a small section looking out onto the majority of a long, skinny 1-acre lot. So he has a wide view and it's open land to the DOT "yard" that borders our lot. He is completely respectful of boundaries - he has never tried to push through even the most flimsy boundary in our house. We had to run across the street for dinner 5 minutes after letting him in; I hated doing it, so I wolfed my food down in 3 minutes and got back here. I couldn't find him at first. He was in the master bedroom. We keep that door shut; somehow he got in there, and he pushed the door shut behind himself (it wasn't latched, but he still didn't have enough room to get back out). At first I was running all over the house looking for him; it's a small house and I was starting to panic - it didn't even occur to me to look in the bedroom because he just never goes in there if we're not home. But there he was, letting out a whimper or two to say "I'm in here."

    This is the 3rd repeat of this in 5 or 6 days. We're in rural central Georgia; theoretically there could be bears here but the only report of one showing up anywhere was from a town 25 miles away, more than 7 years ago. There are bobcats and coyotes but as the breed goes, he will charge those, not run from them. One bobcat did come out of the woods when my girlfriend was walking him, before we got the fence up - he charged the thing so hard and so fast, he yanked her to the ground (she was holding his leash) with enough force to sprain her wrist. So he is not timid about protecting us against animals - God only knows, that's his purpose in life.

    This is really upsetting for us because if our awesome fearless guardian is being subdued like this, it can't be good. I could not imagine what it could be. No shooting around here, no backfiring cars or other noises that could account for it. It's very quiet. We are lost for an explanation and getting more concerned by the day. Any input - even guesses - would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!!!

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

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    That really is an unusual reaction. I am not sure what to even guess it could be. One thing does occur to me though, at around 2 years old is when fears generally come out. My dog was just fine then around 2 became terrified of fireworks and thunderstorms. It was really quite sudden, and he flat refused to go outside after dark for over a week right around the 4th of July this year. Last year he was fearful, but not to the extent he was this year. What I would suggest is to take him to the Vet, have a work up done, rule out anything physical then seek a consult with a behaviorist. The only thing that comes to mind is could he have been stung by a bee or a wasp. Again, no real way to know, and you need to find out what is really going on. Even if it was a sting, that is a very irrational reaction, that I think needs to be accessed professionally.

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

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    Welcome CMalcheski & Jack....
    first of all...thank you for rescuing Jack & giving him a loving & secure home...

    my thoughts after reading your description is "noise" he may be hearing something that you can't hear in the house that is terrifying him, especially since you say that thunder upsets him.

    our Rudy will sit out side & bark at coyotes way out in the pastures....but let a gun shot go off...and he's pawing at the door to come in...and yes...find a quiet place to relax...

    I think as long as he is not destroying anything, and just needs to be in the house to calm down, I would find that acceptable...not all Pyr's are guarding dogs...some are just couch potatoes & happy like that way!

    here's a photo of Rudy last year after he heard gun shots....

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

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    I would have to agree with the possibility of the cause being gun shots or a similar noise. Lily is very noise sensitive and afraid of thunder but gun shots are her worst fear. We can get through a storm but have no success when it comes to target practice in the area... Often I do not hear the noise but the reaction is so classic for her that I have no doubt about what happened. Can be a single shot that will trigger this devastation in her. The target practice in our area is not really that loud and not something that you would think would be scary. Given his reaction to other wild animals, I doubt he'd be scared by a bear and given his thunder phobia, I would suspect it is a noise related fear.

  5. #5
    Puppy (New Member)

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    I really appreciate the input. I also wondered if it couldn't have been a wasp or a bee. I've been stung multiple times out there where he goes to romp, but then this would have happened to him long ago if that were the cause. The time before this, when the same thing happened, a few hours later I got him to go back out, and he stood staring down the length of the lot at a very specific spot. Just stood and stared. It definitely is not gun shots; we hear those on weekends and it doesn't bother him in the least. I work at home so I'm here with him all day and it was definitely quiet as a mouse this last time. I'm also wondering if it isn't the next door neighbor messing with him somehow. He always wants out very early; I won't let him out before 6 a.m. but then he heads out and, being a Pyrenees, he barks ... and he barks ... and it has to wake up the neighbors. Maybe they're doing something to retaliate, even though he doesn't go on barking more than a few minutes. It's a 6' wood plank fence between us and them; that corner hits our storage shed which also forms part of the barrier, then from there is the metal mesh fencing. So a nasty neighbor could be walking over to the metal mesh part where there's much easier access to him. We need a camera out there so we can video what happened, the next time something does (ideally there would not be a next time). So right now that neighbor is the prime suspect, even though I have nothing to go on other than "what else could it be." Maybe they're using some loud, painful sound that humans can't hear. Human activity is about the only thing that could terrify him like this, and we have not even met the neighbors ... that house is a rental and it seems to change hands every other month. Anyway ... thanks again!!!

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

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    If you suspect its a neighbor, get a game cam and see what is happening out there. Keep a close eye on him when he is in the yard, even if you have to walk around to make sure there are no blind spots.

  7. #7
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Tsunibear's Avatar

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    I would get the game camera like Christi suggested. I would also keep your ears open. I have someone down the road with a annoying little dog and her neighbor hates it. So her neighbor bought one of those dog whistles that most people can't hear and started blowing it like crazy when the dog would bark. The dog would flip out, my Mom's dogs would flip and Missy would look around looking for the noise. My Mom couldn't hear and the neighbor couldn't hear it but, one day I was outside when it was going on and I heard it. Now I have used a dog whistle to silence my Mom's dogs before and no issues, but this whistle made my ears ring so I can only imagine what it was doing to the dogs ears. Needless to say I got dressed and took a walk and found the whistler. I confronted them and it hasn't happened since. So it's possible that Jack is hearing something that you guys can't hear and that's triggering him. The game camera will let you see if the neighbors are opening a window or door and triggering him.

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

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    In addition to the camera, I would suggest keeping a detailed behavioral journal for Jack. Itís something that our Behaviorist suggested for my non-Pyr, Chester, to see if we could determine triggers. His last big discernible trigger was wind, of all things. Keep track of what the weather was at the time of his panic attacks, whether or not there seemed to be any significant activity at the DOT yard (Sebastian was spooked by a U-Haul once, and hated motorcycles for a long long time), and keep track of his behavior leading up to his attacks. If he was barking right before the attack, that could indicate your neighbor. Also, if possible, pay attention to what part of the yard he was in prior to the attacks beginning. If thereís a pattern, that could give you a clue.

    Chester is deathly afraid of bees, as well as any insect that might sound like a bee. When he thinks there is a bee around, he will tuck his tail, try to make himself as small as possible, and then dart around trying to avoid the insect. If he is inside, he will try to hide from the insect in his crate on occasion.

    If the attacks increase in intensity or become more frequent, I would take him into the vet, just to make sure he doesnít have anything medical going on that could be contributing.

    Please keep us posted.
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  9. #9
    Puppy (New Member)

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    I appreciate the input so much. If and when we figure out the issue, I will definitely post it here because it could help the next person. Pyrs are deeply set in their ways and one does not just bring one home without a LOT of understanding and adjustment. Jack was given up for adoption by his previous owner and apparently that was a huge trauma for him. When we first got him, he chewed the house down to dust, and when there were a bunch of boxes temporarily stored on the screened-in front porch, he refused to walk by them. He would not even go on the porch. Anything that hinted at our leaving or his leaving drove him nuts. We've focused on giving him a stable, repeating pattern of operation around here as much as possible and all the anxiety slowly went away. He still has issues being aggressive with the grandkids here (9 and 6). He actually snapped at the 6 year old girl last summer and drew blood, although we doubt he intended to go that far. But several times he would bare his teeth and growl and back them into a corner so we just decided he could not have access to the kids when they stay here. He is always gated off now. And once in a blue moon - happened 4 nights ago - when my gf was getting ready for bed, final "take the socks off" before laying down, he suddenly started growling at her. She is careful to stand up to him and not back down but he kept on. 3 times she scolded him and he still kept on. No lunge, no bite, he finally quieted down. We have no idea what is going on there. We never could account for that behavior either. Nobody else was in the house but me and I was in another room. But that was the first incident in months. Pyrs are unpredictable. Not to the point of being dangerous, but you can never fully let your guard down. You always have to expect the unexpected.

  10. #10
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    Now Iím starting to think that Jackís anxiety is more generalized. I have to wonder if thatís how he ended up at the shelter? Chesterís Anxiety was certainly a contributing factor in how he ended up living with me.

    Aggression and Unpredictability are not part of the correct Pyr temperament. They should be gentle and patient with children, and should never show any sort of aggression toward family members or accepted guests. Even with perceived threats, a Pyr with a correct temperament will start by vocalizing in an attempt to scare the threat away, and only use force when absolutely necessary.

    Given this new information, I would strongly urge you to have Jack evaluated by either a board-certified Veterinary Behaviorist, or a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist. Here are the links to where you can find one:

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

    If there is not one near you, please know that some do offer remote consults. The Veterinary Behaviorist in Austin, TX is amongst them.
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