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  1. #1
    Puppy (New Member)

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    Default Help! Behavioural problems!

    I am a first time Great Pyrenees owner. I have an 18 month old male who is not yet fixed. I have to admit we did not do any research on the breed before bringing him home but he was so cute we couldnít resist. Since he was about 9 months he started showing behavioural issues. Both aggression and territorial. He has lots of toys and we take him to the dog park twice a day to run around and socialize. Yet he still shows aggression towards people he doesnít know and sometimes other dogs. He also had begun marking anything and everything... at our house and anyone elseís that he goes to. He also will go into our kitchen garbage when we are in the same room as him, and chews our clothes, baseboards, walls, and anything else he can find. Recently he has also began trying to jump the fence in our yard if he sees anyone walking by. He also becomes very aggressive with his bones and sometimes food even though we have worked on that stuff with him since we first got him. Other then that he is an extremely loving, cuddly, smart dog. I know it must be something that we are doing wrong... so Iím hoping someone with more experience with the breed will have some suggestions or advice! I would really appreciate it!

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

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    Wow, so, um, it kinda sounds like maybe he basically does what he wants without any consequences.

    If he's shown aggression, he really shouldn't be left intact. Neutering won't magically solve the problem, but it could help with the intensity of his reactions. This aggression can get worse because some pyrs have a personality shift when they mature. The sweet puppy can become not very tolerant of other dogs and humans. With surging testosterone, he can become a real threat to others.

    Other than the dog park, do you walk him and take him to public places on leash where he's expected to behave like a civilized dog? If his only social outlet is the dog park, that is actually contributing to his undesirable behavior. The dog park encourages a dog to stay in a heightened excited state - that is not a state you really want to cultivate.

    It would be helpful if you can let us know what rules and boundaries you enforce at home with him. Then we can make suggestions on what other things you can work on.

  3. #3
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) mikelg84's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Titan View Post
    I am a first time Great Pyrenees owner. I have an 18 month old male who is not yet fixed. I have to admit we did not do any research on the breed before bringing him home but he was so cute we couldn’t resist. Since he was about 9 months he started showing behavioural issues. Both aggression and territorial. He has lots of toys and we take him to the dog park twice a day to run around and socialize. Yet he still shows aggression towards people he doesn’t know and sometimes other dogs. He also had begun marking anything and everything... at our house and anyone else’s that he goes to. He also will go into our kitchen garbage when we are in the same room as him, and chews our clothes, baseboards, walls, and anything else he can find. Recently he has also began trying to jump the fence in our yard if he sees anyone walking by. He also becomes very aggressive with his bones and sometimes food even though we have worked on that stuff with him since we first got him. Other then that he is an extremely loving, cuddly, smart dog. I know it must be something that we are doing wrong... so I’m hoping someone with more experience with the breed will have some suggestions or advice! I would really appreciate it!
    Hi Titan, I am sorry to hear about your dog's (name?) behavior. Most of us on here will agree that he is in charge of your house (in other words, in charge of you). And as you wisely pointed out, it shouldn't be like that. Fortunately, from my own experience and reading, most of the issues you have described can be corrected with the right help.

    There is no reason why your 18 month dog should be chewing on clothes, walls, and anything he can find. He is clearly not teething at this point, so I wouldn't be surprised if he was doing this out of boredom. Prevent Boredom. I personally don't let my dog have access to unlimited toys 24/7. Only when I go to work, I give her one of her toys. If he has so many, you can alternate different toys each day. One of those long lasting chewy bones can do the trick. How many hours per day does he spend by himself in your house? I am assuming his destructive behavior happens when you're not around. Is that correct? Also, I would suggest that next time you catch him chewing on furniture or clothes, make a loud noise and firmly say no to him. Offer him a chew toy instead, and praise him when he takes the toy in his mouth.

    You mention that your boy has shown aggression towards people he doesn’t know and sometimes other dogs. If I were you, I would ask my vet to run some blood tests to rule out any health problems. To modify this behavior you might need to see a behaviorist. They really worth every penny. You can train him to sit and relax on verbal cues, with small food treats as rewards when you can sense an aggression is likely to happen. You may also want to condition the dog not to fear other dogs or people, by gradually exposing him to other dogs and people in public. I take my dog downtown at least one a week. We always walk on the busiest streets possible. Most dogs appreciate the attention that strangers give them. This is important if your dog shows anxiety or fear when he/she sees other people. Take baby steps. Don't add any more stress.

    So, those are my two pennies. Correct the chewing and the fear he seems to be showing when he sees people and other dogs. Again, this is just my opinion. I am not, by any means, a vet or a behaviorist. My dog barks at people and things that she sees through the window at all times, but she is very sweet outside the house. And I have always rewarded that behavior.

  4. #4
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) mikelg84's Avatar

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    Also, I forgot to mention that for some dogs, play time at the dog park can actually be pretty stressful and can harm more than help.

  5. #5
    Puppy (New Member)

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    Titan is actually his name (: the destructive behaviour is both when Iím not home and when I am sleeping at night. The longest heís home alone for at most is 5 hours. Usually when I leave I give him a big bone that he only gets when Iím gone. The clothes chewing generally happens at night. The walls and baseboards is when Iím not home. I am currently working on kennel training but he barks the entire time heís in there. I definitely have boundaries with him like not going into the kitchen or on furniture. I worked on training him since we first got him at 8 weeks and for a while it was a dream itís only been since he was 10 months that I started having some issues. I try and take him on actual walks as often as I can but as he is bigger than I am it quickly turns into him walking me. Originally I wanted to get him fixed at around 10 months but my vet wanted me to wait till he was 2. The hard part is is that he is an extremely smart dog and knows when heís doing something he shouldnít be ( at least I think). Usually I do a loud noise followed by a stern no but sadly it doesnít stop him from doing it again. My biggest issue is exactly what was posted, my dog seems to think he runs the household.

  6. #6
    Puppy (New Member)

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    I should also say that I reward his good behaviour. Iím assuming a lot of his ďaggressionĒ towards people could be from him sensing my anxiety. Just a guess though

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

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    I think that some of what Titan has going on could be age-related. Just like humans, Pyrs go through the dreaded adolescent stage, where their sole purpose in life is to make those adult humans who live with them and buy them stuff miserable. At 18 months, Titan should be growing out of it relatively soon. Not soon enough, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

    Now might be a good time to revisit the question of neutering with your vet. Yes, in an ideal situation, your vet is right about waiting, but when you have a high-energy dog, the extra testosterone flowing through his body creates a less than ideal situation for you. Sebastian was neutered long before he reached 18 months of age, and he was such an unholy terror, it makes me hurt to think about what he would have been like if heíd been intact at that age. It actually makes sense that this behavior started around the time he was 10 months old. Thatís when they experience a huge testosterone surge. If I remember correctly, during that time period, their testosterone levels can be many times higher than that of an intact adult dog. Again, my brain wonít let me imagine what it would have been like to go through that with an intact Sebastian.

    One of the hardest things I had to learn during Sebastianís puppyhood/adolescence, was how to set him up to succeed. For example, when he decided that getting into our trash can was great fun, I found that it was far easier for me to block the trash can with a chair to keep him from getting into it. Now, I have the kind of trash can that fits in the lower kitchen cabinet and slides out. If you can find a way to block Titanís access to the trash, you can save yourself the energy of having to pick up after him when he gets into it, as well a potential trip to the emergency vet if he were to get hold of something really bad from the trash.

    Another way I learned to set him up for success was to try to avoid situations that I didnít think he would handle well. As a puppy, he had very little impulse control. If I saw something he thought was interesting, he would take a sudden, flying leap toward it. At that time, we lived one block away from Dallasí most popular walking and biking trail. Sebastian never went for a walk on that trail, because I knew that it would be overstimulating for him. If Titan is having a hard time meeting new people when out in public, I would try changing your socialization strategy to where you try something that is more his speed. One thought is that you could try having a calm, trusted friend come over to your house and let Titan meet them (and get extra high value treats from them) at his pace. Gradually introduce him to new people that way until he is comfortable, then try introducing him to maybe two calm people at a time, or one calm new person on neutral territory. If Titan tends to get overstimulated, then I agree that the dog park might not be the best place for him.

    Sebastian will be 7 next month, and I am not ashamed that I still use treats multiple times a day to encourage his cooperation. I know a lot of trainers out there who would scream if they saw that, but they donít live with dogs whose ancestors were selectively bred for thousands of years to think for themselves and make decisions without human guidance or interference. When Sebastian is being a territorial jerk at the fence line in the back yard, I open up the door, and ask him if he wants a high-value treat. It has taken some time to work on this, but now, he is remarkably cooperative a vast majority of the time. I will also add that he gets some form of treat for coming inside every single time he does it, whether he comes inside instantly, or 20 minutes after Iíve initially asked him to. The idea is to get him to associate coming inside with something he likes. He likes treats - especially the high value ones.

    Walking adolescent Sebastian was also full of its challenges. I tried a number of training tools before discovering that the no-pull harness was the one that worked best for us. Some people love martingale collars, some people like head collars like the gentle leader, it really depends on what works best for the individual human and dog.
    Sebastian is on Facebook!
    www.facebook.com/SirSaintSebastian

  8. #8
    Puppy (New Member)

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    Agree with whatís already been said!

    Now, I am very inexperienced being a first time GP owner myself to a now 3 month old female, but that being said, Iíve done a lot of reading, researching and working with trainers, knowing how tricky it can be to raise a happy, healthy, and good K9 citizen type of Pyr. That being said, I wonder if ďaggressionĒ is really anxiety. I believe that can emerge in the adolescent phase, even in dogs that were well socialized. Patricia McConnell describes detailed strategies for working with this, but I agree with Sebastianís mom, if you can have a friend whoís willing to come over and have some high value treats this can be great. Have the friend approach (a sideways posture is even less threatening), and even from a couple or few feet away toss a couple of high value treats. With repetition and consistency your pup may start to associate strangers/people with good things, and if thereís an anxiety component there that can be helpful. This may also be linked with the chewing.

    Are there any patterns in terms of gender, clothing, or other traits? Smell (even ones we cannot detect) may play a big role here as well.

    An animal behaviorist (not just a trainer) may be a great way to go!

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