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  1. #1
    Puppy (New Member)

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    Default Is he just protecting the puppy?

    Hi everyone, glad to be on the forum. These are such amazing, unique dogs that asking people with experience with other breeds doesn't make me too confident that the advice will be sound.

    So we have a three year old Pyr, Shiloh, who has been with us since he was four months old. He's purebred, not registered, but displays almost all classic Pyr behaviors. We socialized him well when we was a puppy; lots of time in pets stores, hardware stores, etc. learning that strangers (human and canine) are fine. He's neutered.

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    In addition to Shiloh, we have two Golden Retrievers (11 and 5, both neutered), a two year old Bernese (intact), and a six month old Bernese (intact). Shiloh pretty much raised the two year old Bernese, Denali. Denali used to bite Shiloh's lips and hang from them by his little puppy needle teeth, and Shiloh just endured patiently. Denali is making up for that lip biting now; he licks Shiloh's teeth every now and then, like he was practicing to be a dental hygienist! It's really funny; never seen a dog do that before.

    Then we got the additional Bernese puppy, Sherman. Sherman plays with all the other dogs, including Denali and Shiloh.

    My wife and I work pretty long days, so all five of these dogs are home alone for a lot of the time. We watch them on camera, and of course pretty much all we ever see is sleeping dogs. Getting home is an event, though! It's a celebration, but sometimes there is a little growling.

    Well, a couple of nights ago, Shiloh started trying to fight with Denali. He growled, lunged, and gave Denali a couple of superficial cuts, near the eye and on the top of his head. I wasn't home; my wife did a great job of safely separating them. Once I got home, we tried a few things with Shiloh on leash and in a muzzle, which he tolerates without TOO much resentment. Denali really wanted to play (wagging tail, taking a play stance), but Shiloh remained aloof, watching him and keeping his tail still and low to medium height. Brought them inside, this continued, but after a minute Shiloh growled and tried to get to Denali again.

    It was enough that we kept Shiloh separate from the others that night, and we now have him with a foster family where he's the only dog. So we have some time to think and plan.

    We have a couple of theories. It may be that now that the puppy is getting big enough to play with, Denali has started playing with him and Shiloh is misinterpreting the play as something dangerous, and he is trying to defend the puppy. Or, it may be that Shiloh has decided he wants to control access to my wife and I, and Denali (as goofy and expressive as Berners are) is the most demanding of our attention so he sets himself up to the the victim of Shiloh's access control.

    We're trying to find a good local expert to come evaluate the situation. We're also thinking it would be interesting to get Shiloh and Denali together in a neutral location for a walk and see how that goes. If it's puppy protection, we can manage that pretty easily. Our foster family is perfectly willing to keep Shiloh for months, so the puppy can grow enough that Shiloh shouldn't feel like he need protection. If it's controlling access to us, we can probably manage that too; it won't be an issue when we aren't home, and we'll be there to deal with it when we are, obviously.

    What say you all? A day or two ago, we were overwhelmed by the grief of possibly having to rehome Shiloh permanently. We both love this dog as deeply as you all do your Pyrs. But we have to, have to provide a safe environment for all our dogs.

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

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    There are a few theories. One is that sometimes a neutered male can react badly to an intact male. Additionally, same gender aggression is not uncommon with pyrs. Another theory is that it is possible Denali is causing the reaction. A 2 yr old intact male dog can be a bit, uh, teenage boy like... what you think is play may actually be a disguised challenge. I don't really think it's about protecting the puppy who at 6 month is of a good size himself already.

  3. #3
    Puppy (New Member)

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    Denali is definitely teenage boy like. But watching him and the puppy without Shiloh around, he's definitely interacting with the puppy differently than he was a month ago. Little corrections and guidance, more than I think was happening.

    But if he's been challenging Shiloh at all, it's been extremely subtle. I've seen very submissive behavior, and playfulness, and that's it. But I could be missing something.

    The puppy is pretty good sized, but in this house he's still definitely the smallest by a good margin.

  4. #4
    Puppy (New Member)

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    Well, we got Shiloh and Denali together for the first time this afternoon. They were on neutral ground, and it was just them. It went really well. Shiloh growled just a bit, twice in about half an hour. Most of the time they were just walking side by side, smelling each other, and getting along really well. We have a lot to do, but this is encouraging.

  5. #5
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Jewel's Avatar

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    I am going to be entirely honest as a third party looking at this objectively... the fact that this is a re-union and that Shiloh actually raised Denali, and notwithstanding you were on neutral ground, Shiloh growled at Denali anyway, this is not something you really want to see. It sounds like Shiloh is uneasy with Denali. Is this how Shiloh usually reacts with other large male dogs?

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

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jewel View Post
    There are a few theories. One is that sometimes a neutered male can react badly to an intact male. Additionally, same gender aggression is not uncommon with pyrs. Another theory is that it is possible Denali is causing the reaction. A 2 yr old intact male dog can be a bit, uh, teenage boy like... what you think is play may actually be a disguised challenge. I don't really think it's about protecting the puppy who at 6 month is of a good size himself already.
    Welcome to the forum, Shilohsman; love the pic and Shiloh is gorgeous. I have to agree with Jewel about a neutered male reacting negatively to an intact male. I've had several similar experiences with Casey and intact males, except it was more extreme. And Casey at 2 was definitely a teenager; people on this forum heard my tales of those years. But now, if he reacts negatively to another dog, it is an intact male. This is typical Great Pyrenees behavior.

    You said Shiloh and your two Golden Retrievers are neutered but your two Berners are not. I don't have any suggestions for keeping neutered males with intact males. Hopefully some of the other members on this forum can help you with that. One question: do you plan on neutering your Berners?

  7. #7
    Puppy (New Member)

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    Default

    So I'd tried to post about a week ago, and that post got lost. Here's a longer update.

    A week or so ago, we got Shiloh and Denali together for another walk. Everything went great. They were both very relaxed, and Denali was licking Shiloh's muzzle now and then like usual. I decided to try something. With some safety precautions in place, I encouraged Denali to get playful. When he jumped up on me, Shiloh growled and tried to push Denali away. The same thing happened when Denali jumped up on my wife. Seems like resource guarding.

    Then, last week, we met with a professional. She met the other four, and she'll meet Shiloh tomorrow. She has high hopes, but we're still probably looking at always keeping Shiloh and Denali apart when we're not present. We're looking at adding a permanent door to separate a part of the house that would be good for Shiloh - and probably one of the goldens, because Shiloh needs a companion. And we'd need to crate Shiloh for long drives.

    We got Shiloh and Denali together again today. The walk was great, very comfortable for all. Denali licked Shiloh's muzzle. We decided to take them into the back yard of the foster home. We had Shiloh and Denali close together while waiting, and that was fine, until the foster dogman came to the door. Then Shiloh growled and snapped at Denali a bit. We stayed calm, separated them, and regrouped. We talked it over, and got them both into the back yard one at a time.

    I was not confident, but they vastly exceeded my expectations. We took our time, and went from both leashed, to Denali unleashed, to both unleashed. It was great. No hostility, even when Denali was being very engaging with my wife or me. Shiloh both responded to Denali's invitations to play, and even initiated play. I got some video; I may post it later. But it was just fantastic interaction. The behaviorist said Shiloh and Denali need to repair their relationship, well what I saw in the back yard gives me a lot of hope.

    Let me reiterate, I have not and will not lose my determination to never again see a dog bleed. I'm not ignoring what we will have to manage, nor have I made a final decision. But we are learning what triggers Shiloh, and we are also seeing big changes in the rest of the dogs. Getting home from work is a much more calm, managed event than it was not too long ago. The journey and the learning continue.

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