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Thread: My Pyr Holly

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    Puppy (New Member) Lmunozjo's Avatar

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    Default My Pyr Holly

    I am so glad to have found this forum! We adopted a 3 month old pyr last year from a farmer. He had not taken care of his dogs and she was completely neglected and wild. She has come such a long way since we got her and is completely devoted to us, very responsive to training and very intelligent. I have four children and she is gentle and caring towards them, and views me as her protector. She has a complete fear of strangers still, and has fear aggression towards most strange dogs. She plays well with a handful of dogs she's met before. She prefers to be outside (we live on 17 acres with 5 acres of invisible fence for her) but is house trained and comes in at night. I am mostly looking for advice on how to correctly handle her when people and dogs come over to visit, and when we take her out on walks. She sits, comes when called and walks on a leash well.

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    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Christi's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lmunozjo View Post
    I am so glad to have found this forum! We adopted a 3 month old pyr last year from a farmer. He had not taken care of his dogs and she was completely neglected and wild. She has come such a long way since we got her and is completely devoted to us, very responsive to training and very intelligent. I have four children and she is gentle and caring towards them, and views me as her protector. She has a complete fear of strangers still, and has fear aggression towards most strange dogs. She plays well with a handful of dogs she's met before. She prefers to be outside (we live on 17 acres with 5 acres of invisible fence for her) but is house trained and comes in at night. I am mostly looking for advice on how to correctly handle her when people and dogs come over to visit, and when we take her out on walks. She sits, comes when called and walks on a leash well.
    Welcome to the forums, your dog sounds lovely!! Lucky you to have an obedient Pyr. It is not uncommon for Pyr's to be naturally suspicious of strangers. When we have visitors my dog is either put in the yard, or shut in the mudroom. He does have some issue's though and for us this is what we have found to be the best scenario for all involved. As to handling her when company comes over I will leave that to those who have dogs that are not as unreasonable as mine is for some guidance and advice, just wanted to pop in and say something to welcome you

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    Puppy (New Member) Lmunozjo's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christi View Post
    Welcome to the forums, your dog sounds lovely!! Lucky you to have an obedient Pyr. It is not uncommon for Pyr's to be naturally suspicious of strangers. When we have visitors my dog is either put in the yard, or shut in the mudroom. He does have some issue's though and for us this is what we have found to be the best scenario for all involved. As to handling her when company comes over I will leave that to those who have dogs that are not as unreasonable as mine is for some guidance and advice, just wanted to pop in and say something to welcome you
    Thanks! She is obedient for a Pyr, as long as I have treats My mom has her brother and he's more independent.

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    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    Welcome Lmunozjo and Holly!

    Thank you for giving her such a patient and loving home!

    Can you describe her behavior when she encounters new people? What about new dogs? Is there a difference in her behavior when the meetings happen while you are out for a walk vs. when you are at home? Does she respond fearfully to any other stimuli (loud noises, being left at home, etc.)?

    This will give us a better idea of your situation!
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    Puppy (New Member) Lmunozjo's Avatar

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    She growls and barks at people when they come and shies away if they continue to come near. She cautiously sniffs if they turn their back but is generally very uncomfortable. With other dogs there is barking, growling, stiffness, and her ruff goes up. She is food aggressive with other animals and got into a fight with my friend's dog over a 'treat' she found in the field. She has gone after our barn cat twice over food. In all cases she did not bite hard enough to cause injury, but she sounded like murder. When we are out she is far less aggressive than at home, but still barking and pulling towards strange dogs and shying away from people. She has shown food aggressiveness toward us twice when she was about 6 months but hasn't since then. The kids and I can mess with her food and bones now and she is okay. Loud noises and being left alone do not seem to bother her. She cannot handle being crated so when we leave she has an area in the basement with a bone and she does fine. She does not like cars, barking and chasing them when she can. I would say her fears are people (because she doesn't trust them) and other dogs (because she has difficulty socialising)

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    You should try giving her the food and taking it away over and over. Also try making her sit and watch the other animals eat. I did that to my pyrenees and it instantly cured his food aggression. Good luck!!

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    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by abbystarr View Post
    You should try giving her the food and taking it away over and over. Also try making her sit and watch the other animals eat. I did that to my pyrenees and it instantly cured his food aggression. Good luck!!
    I respectfully disagree. This technique may be effective with some dogs, but with others, it can backfire and reinforce the dog’s idea that humans (or other animals) are out to take valuable resources from the dog, and if the dog wants to keep said resources, s/he must guard them with his or her life. That can be particularly dangerous in a home with children.

    From the sounds of it, the resource guarding against humans is reasonably under control for the moment. Still, I would make it a habit NOT to take things from her unless it is really necessary, and when you DO have to take something from her, offer her a valuable resource (preferably a high-value treat) in exchange. This way, she learns that the resources are plentiful, and not really worth guarding. Even if she loses access to one, there is another one right around the corner. Right now, I feel that she is too reactive towards other dogs to work on her resource guarding against them. If and when you can get her more comfortable around dogs, there are definitely techniques to teach her that they pose no threat to her resources. It may take a while before you get there.

    In terms of her reactivity to new people and dogs, I have a few suggestions. Normally, out of an abundance of caution, I would recommend having her evaluated by a board-certified Veterinary Behaviorist, or a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist. However, the only CAAB in Wisconsin is no longer taking patients, and there is no board-certified VB. There are some that will do remote consults, if that is something you would be interested in doing.

    If Holly were my dog, I would talk to my vet to see if there were a veterinarian in the area that specialized in behavioral issues, or at least someone who is comfortable enough with behavioral issues to evaluate her to see if medication might help her.

    I would also pick up a copy of Behavior Adjustment Training 2.0, by Grisha Stewart.

    I would also encourage you and your family, kids included, to study up on dog body language. Something that I found to be very helpful in that is the Dog Decoder app. It is available on both iOS and Android devices, and is actually kind of fun. It does a great job of describing different aspects of dog body language, and what they mean. There is even a quiz section to test what you have learned.

    Finally, I would encourage you to let Holly learn at her own pace. If you have guests, two-legged or four, give Holly a safe space away from visitors until she is ready to start meeting people on her turf. Since she is familiar with the basement, that might be a good place for her.

    Please keep us posted on your progress with her!
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    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Christi's Avatar

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    My female dog is food aggressive, and guards certain types of toys. Those types of toys no longer come into my home. The food issue was a long process that we have finally managed to fix. For the first several months we had her they dogs were fed in separate rooms with no access to each other. After a while we left the door open, but kept them in separate rooms. After a year they eat on different sides of the same room. Luckily my Pyr is not food aggressive at all so we didn't have to worry about a fight, because he is a lot bigger, and doesn't care enough to fight, and would walk away and let her have his food. I still have to be diligent if they have a high value food, or if I am eating and they are begging. They have had an issue with begging rights that did cause a big fight, so now begging is undesirable and gets them a time out. But I also worked with a behaviorist and medicated the female.

    SM has great advice and I agree 100% with what she says about how to deal with her.

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    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Shaggys Mom's Avatar

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    All I can really say is welcome to you and Holly, and thanks for your hard work with her. It may seem unreal, but I have had 2 Pyrs, 6 golden retrievers, 2 Irish Setters and 6 English Setters and the only behavioral problem (aggression) I ever had was with one golden. When he was 4, he took a sudden dislike to the two young boys next door. They were pretty wild boys and I thought they had been standing on the picnic table up against the 6 foot wooden fence, and throwing things at him. But turned it--low thyroid. Got him on meds and once again he was fine with those boys.

    One thing my dad always did with a pup, and I have always doen the same thing, is to feed them one meal a day by hand. He said they learn that you don't want their food and are okay with your hands being in and around their dishes. Of coure getting an older pup or dog is different. Our last 4 dogs were adopted and ranged from 1 to 11 years old when we adopted them.

    Our present Pyr, Sir Moose love people, thinks everyone that comes here comes to see him and love on him. He mostly ignors dogs UNLESS they come charging at him and my husband on their morning walks. He has made a couple of friends of dogs and cats on his walks, and also a horse on the street behind us---we live in a small town. He was 7 when we adopted him 3 years ago, and is the sweetest dog, and 99% of the time, we only have to call him once and he comes...unless he has a possum cornered in the wood pile or up in the fire bushes.
    Jerry and Moose

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    Puppy (New Member) Lmunozjo's Avatar

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    Thank you everyone! I will read up and continue working with her

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