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  1. #1
    Puppy (New Member)

    Current Great Pyrenees Owner

    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Posts
    1

    Default Aggression problems starting?

    Hello All. I need advice on our 7 month old intact male, Dozer. We got him when he was almost 8 weeks old. It was not from a breeder, but on a farm. I read and researched a lot- mostly on this website! I have tried to prepare for stages and issues as much as possible.
    Anyway, we got him in November so not ideal for a little pup who was going to be outside 24/7. So instead of that plan he was on our porch when he wanted to be during the day and for sure at night. As he grew he was able to open the door and would go out at some point during the night. That all stopped when we had 4 coyotes in the field near our house and he went running toward them. We now lock him in the porch at night. Our yard is fenced in, but he can squeeze through in some places where it is wood and we are working on changing those areas. Ideally we would like him to be in the area with the cattle, but fear he will not respect his boundaries and take off.. Since day 1 he has been exposed to the cattle which he can go by freely. He barks at them when they go to an area he doesn't feel they should be, (like in the woods when they are normally in the cow-yard), he plays with the smaller ones, we have never had an issue with him being aggressive with them. He has also always went to the chicken coop with my son since the beginning. He goes in the first part of the coop, but never into the main part as he barks at them and makes them crazy. He has ended up with a chicken on 3 occasions. In those instances the chicken had escaped the coop/run and ended up in the yard. Dozer never killed a chicken, but would hold in under his paw and one time in his mouth. Again, like it wasn't where it was supposed to be... He is great with the sit command, shake, and come- this one is usually on his terms and he does better for me than my husband or children. So that is a little background on our experience, now for the issue...

    He is starting to make my husband nervous. Within the past week we had someone come to look at some steers we were selling. (Dozer's buddies) The guy had his grandson with and Dozer apparently nipped at him. I was not home and did not see it. My husband told me about it. Then last night our male friend came over and he nipped at him. Again I did not see it. My husband's reaction is- he has to go. I, on the other hand, am an analyzer and want to figure out what is causing this and try to train him, etc. (Also, he's got me wrapped around his big paw!) I understand his need to protect and keep that in mind. I also compare him to my children going through different stages, so maybe I am more patient and understanding. I don't normally have issues with him. Once in awhile he will try to nip at my boots, but I have started commanding him to sit when he does this and reward him with petting and belly rubs. However, he does this with my son (11 y.o.) and he does not listen to him and will result in who can outsmart the other one.. I don't know if he is trying to be puppy playful, or is becoming aggressive.

    I think I have covered everything, but if you need more information or clarification about something let me know.

    Neuter him? Put him in a kennel? Get him a cable run? Training 101? Thoughts or advice?

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

    Current Great Pyrenees Owner

    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    2,433

    Default

    Without being there to see how Dozer interacts with your son and the two visitors he nipped, it’s impossible to tell whether or not Dozer is being playful, or displaying “aggressive” behavior. I put the word “aggressive” in quotes because often times, the types of behavior that earn the aggressive label, are actually prompted by the dog feeling like they have to defend themselves.

    Given his age and the circumstances, though, if I had to guess, I’d say that the chances are better that Dozer was playing than truly acting in a defensive/aggressive manner. Pyrs play rough. It’s how they learn to defend themselves and their charges from wolves, bears, and other large predators. At Dozer’s age, Sebastian’s favorite “game” was one we called “Kill Mommy”. He would jump up on me and pretend to maul me. Sure, teeth were on skin, but he was being very careful to inhibit his bite, so as not to hurt me. Still, the game was waaaaaaaay more fun for him when it was played in public, which scared the bejeezus out of anyone who saw it. We lived in an urban, walkable part of Dallas, with lots of shops and restaurants along our walking routes, and we always had people trying to help me. It was pretty embarrassing. Also, FWIW, Sebastian was neutered early, and this behavior along with his “Special Hugs” didn’t start until after he was neutered. I can’t imagine what he would have been like if he had gone through his adolescent phase intact.

    Typically, when dogs are about to bite for real, they will let you know through vocalizations (growls and/or barks)*, and body language. I would strongly encourage you, your husband, and your son to learn all you can about canine body language. There is a wonderful app for iOS and Android called DogDecoder that explains the basics, and has a quiz section to test your knowledge. The illustrations are done by Lili Chin, a well-known artist in the dog behavior world, and are fun for kids and adults alike.

    I would also encourage you and your husband to read the books, The Other End of the Leash, and For the Love of a Dog, both by Dr. Patricia McConnell. Both books will help you understand Dozer’s behavior better, and will help you learn to communicate with him in ways he is better able to understand.

    Any time you have visitors, it is not a bad idea to leash Dozer if you can, or put him in a kennel or other safe, enclosed area. This is especially true if you have someone coming to interact with the livestock. I would advise against a cable run or other type of tether, as they can serve to frustrate the dog, and lead to some pretty bad behavioral issues down the road. If you choose to put him in a kennel or other enclosure, I would strongly advise working gradually to get him to associate being in the enclosure with good things. I would start feeding him in there, giving him extra special treats in there, etc.

    Remember the * I put at the end of what I said about vocalizations? This is important for you, your husband, AND your son to know. A lot of people associate growls and barks with aggressive behavior, and think that if you punish the dog for growling and/or barking, you are teaching him not to be aggressive. THAT IS NOT THE CASE. If you punish the growl and/or the bark, you are simply teaching the dog not to growl or bark. That is creating a dangerous situation. The dog’s vocalizations are his way of saying, “Hey, knock it off. You’re upsetting me.” It’s not an “aggressive” act, it’s a warning that the dog is frightened or upset, and could resort to violence if not removed from the situation.

    As for training 101, it’s not a bad idea, especially if your son were to be involved in handling him. It won’t solve the problems you’re having with him right now, but it will help to establish the humans in your home as his partners. Pyrs don’t subscribe to the dominance theory that has been pushed by certain TV personalities. Also, dominance theory has been thoroughly been debunked by behavioral scientists time and time and time again. You will want to find a trainer who uses positive reinforcement to get Dozer to associate responding to the verbal cue (aka command) in the desired way (sitting when you ask him to sit), with the activation of the reward centers in his brain (getting a treat). I highly recommend reading the book How to Behave so your Dog Behaves by Dr. Sophia Yin. Keep in mind, though, that Dr. Yin wrote the book more for people who have more biddable (cooperative) breeds, like herding dogs and retrievers. Pyrs have been bred for thousands of years to think for themselves and make their own decisions based on what they think is right, whether or not the humans happen to agree. I laughed at the sections of the book where Dr. Yin talked about when to phase out food rewards. My Sebastian is now eight days shy of his seventh Birthday, and there are certain cues, like coming inside, that continue to need the reinforcement of food rewards. Chester, my Lab mix, on the other hand, comes running inside every time I open the door. Pyrs really are THAT different. If you can find a trainer who understands that, even better. I would recommend looking for a trainer who is accredited by an organization such as the APDT (Association of Professional Dog Trainers) (They use the letters CPDT KA) or the Karen Pryor Academy (They will use the letters KPA CTP after their names).

    The final recommendation I have is to give Dozer more exercise through walking and structured play. I won’t lie, there was a long stretch of Sebastian’s puppyhood where I absolutely loved and adored him, but really liked him a whole lot better when he was sleeping. I still love and adore him, of course, but now that he is middle aged, his awake time is far more manageable for me than it was in the early months (and months and months).
    Sebastian is on Facebook!
    www.facebook.com/SirSaintSebastian

  3. #3
    Puppy (New Member)

    Current Great Pyrenees Owner

    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    CA
    Posts
    2

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    Mine is getting very aggressive and annoying and I don't know why! Any suggestions?

  4. #4
    Road Dawg Meatball Murphy's Avatar

    Current Great Pyrenees Owner

    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Coombs, BC,Canada
    Posts
    21

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    I would say that isn't aggressive behaviour. Murphy does the exact same thing. He has nipped a couple people and we are aware he doesn't "love" little kids. He definitely picks and chooses whom he likes but isn't aggressive just follows them and sometimes nips. We also have cattle and other livestock and children. How we have dealt with it isn't as technical as other people's advise. We live on a farm so don't have too many unexpected quests and most quests are aware of our dogs. We know his body language and deal with it. If he seems to not love someone we have a tie out to put him or in the house. My kids know to not bring unannounced kids around and are really good about it. After the first visit or 2 he is fine with them. My advice is watch him, know what your dealing with and act accordingly..... tie up, put in barn, etc.
    I know we didn't get them to be super nice to people, they are our security system. If they don't know you....odds are you shouldn't be there.
    Keep your soul clean
    And
    Your boots dirty.

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