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  1. #1
    Puppy (New Member)

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    Question My Family's Pyrenees... I need help

    So I don't actually own the dog but "current Great Pyrenees owner" seemed the best fit from the list while I was getting signed up.

    Due to medical and financial reasons I have had to move back in with my parents. They have an intact male Great Pyrenees. I wasn't with them when they got him but they have had him for over a year and he is around 2 years old now. His previous owner claimed that he was house broken and crate trained- both have turned out to be not true. His owner named him Zeus but my parents have started calling him Buddy. From what I know of Geek mythology I think Zeus is a more fitting name (and we used to have a cat named Buddy, I can't put it in words but I don't feel right calling him Buddy) but he has been called Buddy for as long as he had been called Zeus.

    Zeus lifts his leg all over the house and poops on the floor nearly every day. I asked my mother why she doesn't crate him and my mother told me that he broke his crate. Apparently he would freak out when crated and the last time he was in his crate he managed to break the wires holding his crate together. I don't know if the crate can be repaired. I had seen the crate while visiting last year and thought it was a sturdy crate, at first I thought it was for humans it looked like something from medieval times- this huge thing with thick metal bars. I don't know how long he had been in his crate to be able to break it, I assume he had been home alone when it happened because my parents wouldn't have just ignored the amount of noise he must have made.

    Zeus is allowed full run of the downstairs despite the mess he makes. The upstairs is my sanctuary, he usually only comes upstairs if my mother comes upstairs- which isn't often (it's just my bedroom and storage upstairs). Though I put a gate up on the bottom of the stairs whenever I leave the house. When I forgot the gate he has come into my room when I wasn't home to poop, lift his leg and eat my cat's food. My mother wasn't home when he did this so I think he was looking for her.

    He is good with cats at least. My cat seems to like him. Our other dog, an 11 year old female border collie named Suzie, he usually gets along with. But every now and then he will become food aggressive with her. We also have chickens, 23 of them. He has never had access to the chickens so we do not know how he would be with them. He did not grow up with chickens until my parents got him so my mother does not think he will see them as something to protect and is afraid he might hurt them.

    While venting to my sisters about Zeus my sister told me I should be the one to train him. The main problem with Zeus is my parents, especially my mother, are too lenient with him (It's bad enough having to move back in with your parents, it feels like Zeus is their favorite, spoiled baby. Growing up my parents were never lenient with me, I'd get grounded for staying up too late reading, I don't know why they're so lenient with a dog). He is a horrible dog because he is allowed to do whatever he wants.

    Besides lifting his leg and pooping in the house he likes to climb on the table, the stovetop to get stuff off the top of the fridge, the countertops. When my mother catches him on the table she cajoles him and he gets off the table when he feels like it. From what little I know of dogs they understand tone more than words. When I catch the dog on the table and tell him "Get off the table!" he at least knows I'm not happy with what he's doing and he gets off the table. My mother hasn't tried walking him beyond our yard because he drags her enough in the yard. I'm much bigger than my mother, but even if I was her size I don't think my attitude would let me get dragged like she does. I don't yank on the leash but I plant my feet and keep a firm hold on the leash and am like "Nope, you're not doing that."

    I read the articles on the site about training Great Pyrenees and found a lot of useful information, though I don't know if I will be able to put the resources to use. Whenever I suggest things like getting the dog fixed or not letting him have access to the entire downstairs when no one is home to my mother she reminds me that he is her dog and it's not my house. My father doesn't think neutering can improve an animal's behavior after he has started leg lifting- most of what I know about domestic animal behavior is what I've learned about cats so I disagree and think Zeus should be neutered for many reasons. It's hard to like a dog that is making life unpleasant so my mother is suspicious of any advice I give, so I'm afraid to even suggest a prong collar to her. I know when used properly they can be great training aids from what I've read, but I don't think my mother will get over that they look like torture devices. He has a vinyl collar, I think it fits him a little too loosely and am concerned that the way he behaves now he can slip his collar- if he was better trained I would be less concerned.

    Months ago my mother had talked about rehoming Zeus to a friend that has a goat farm but she has not mentioned this for a while. My mother has wanted a Great Pyrenees ever since she met one as a little kid and she really loves this dog so I kind of hate the idea of her giving him up. As unpleasant as this dog makes life for me.

    As for me I suffer from Chronic Subjective Dizziness. I have good balance but the spacey feeling is constant, things like bright lights and loud noises make it worse. So if anyone knows of a magical way to make dogs stop barking I would be indebted. It's bad enough when Zeus barks- he barks at everything; neighbors mowing their lawns, pedestrians, motorcycles, someone knocking on TV- but when he barks Suzie barks even though she doesn't know why he's barking half the time. Suzie has this high pitched bark that just tears through my head and makes me feel like my brain is shaking. Doctors are still trying to figure out what is causing the CSD- it has been going on for years with some years being better than others but this is one of the bad years and it gets worse in summer. It's hard to find a job where I don't have to deal with things like noise and bright lights so I'm currently unemployed with no income. Which means I'm home more often than my parents which would give me a better opportunity at training Zeus if my dizziness doesn't get in the way.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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

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    It’s possible that Zeus was crate- and house-trained before he came to live with your parents. Dogs tend not to generalize well, so sometimes training doesn’t follow the dog from house to house. When I moved to my current home, I had to work on my lab mix’s crate- and house-training skills. His Separation Anxiety also returned with a vengeance (an understatement).

    At two years of age, Zeus is nearing the end of his bratty adolescent stage. He’s not quite an adult, yet, but he’s not quite ready to accept that he doesn’t know everything, yet. Sound familiar? I’m going to guess that you might have been that way once. I know I was.

    Sebastian was just two months shy of his second birthday when he had his last house training accident. Part of this had to do with a UTI that went undiagnosed for far too long, and part of it was just missed communication. Sebastian’s way of saying that he needed me to take him outside was the same as saying that he wanted a cookie, which was the same as saying that he wanted to PLAY!!!. Once he caught on, he will do whatever it takes to get me out of bed at 3 am to let him out - even in the most dire of emergencies. My suggestion with Zeus is that you 1) Convince your Mom that Zeus needs to go to the vet to be checked for any underlying health issues that could be causing him to potty in the house, and 2) Start being proactive about taking him out more often. Also, when Zeus does have an “accident”, make sure that you are cleaning it with a good enzymatic cleaner to get rid of the “this is a great spot to potty” scent. I tried a lot of different ones, and my favorite is still Simple Green Bio Dog.

    My Sebastian is on the large side. He’s roughly 32” tall at the shoulder, and weighs somewhere around 115 lbs. I am not a big person. I’m about 5’4” tall, and weigh slightly more than Sebastian, although a few years ago, my weight hovered around 95 lbs, due to then-undiagnosed thyroid disease. Also, Sebastian is a high-energy Saint/Pyr mix with low impulse control. I use a front clip harness with him, and have found it to work even better than a prong collar with him. There are two harnesses that I really like - the Freedom Harness clips at the chest and at the back, and comes with its own traffic-type lead, which is great for when I need more control. I also really like the Easy Walk Harness, which clips at the chest. I pair that with a Mendota 6 foot heavy rope lead. Sebastian has tried many times to slip his harnesses, and has yet to succeed.

    For the barking, I have a few strategies that work to control it. The first thing I try to do is limit his exposure to things he might want to bark at. I try to keep the blinds closed that might give him a view to the outside world. At night, he sleeps with me in my bedroom with the door closed. The bedroom is in the back of the house, which is quiet, which gives him fewer noises to bark at. Even with these efforts, Sebastian barks. It’s what his ancestors have been bred for thousands of years to do. I have found that two things help to lessen the duration and intensity of the barking. They both seem counterintuitive, but that is life when being owned by a Pyr. One of the things I do, is to go to wherever he is barking, look out the window, and thank him for letting me know. When he sees me acknowledge the “threat”, he usually calms right down. I also keep treat jars strategically placed around the house for easy access when I need to redirect him instead. When I redirect, I grab a couple of treats, ask Sebastian what Mommy has, and have both dogs sit politely for a treat. I had an idiot trainer yell at me for doing this once, because he thought I was encouraging Sebastian to bark. Sebastian needs no encouragement to bark. Also, by the time he has sat politely for a treat, he has completely forgotten that it was barking that got him there.

    Neutering Zeus MAY help with the marking, or it might not. Sebastian was already neutered before he started, although he doesn’t mark inside. Chester came to me as an intact adolescent. Neutering did help with marking, but it was not a magic cure.

    I am going to recommend that you check out www.patriciamcconnell.com. Dr. McConnell is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (the certification process STARTS with a PhD), who has a wealth of information on her website. There are several good articles on food aggression issues, as well as other behavioral issues you are having. Dr. McConnell also has first-hand experience with Pyrs, and knows how different they can be from other breeds. In one of her books, she refers to the Pyr as the Anti-Border Collie.

    If you are interested in working with Zeus on his basic manners training, I strongly recommend the book “How to Behave so Your Dog Behaves”, by Sophia Yin, although I recommend it with an asterisk. Dr Yin did not seem to have first-hand experience with Pyrs, so some of what she writes about when to transition the dog off of food rewards does not apply.

    Even if you choose not to read these things, do know that Pyrs have been bred for thousands of years to think for themselves and make their own decisions. They are also very sensitive. Reward-based training is going to get much better results than methods based on punishment. With reward-based training, you aren’t spoiling the dog, you are getting him to associate performing wanted behaviors on cue with the reward centers of his brain being activated.

    Also, look up Nothing In Life Is Free, or NILIF for short.
    Sebastian is on Facebook!
    www.facebook.com/SirSaintSebastian

  3. #3

    Flock Guardian (Moderator) Terry's Avatar


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    WOW! That's a lot of typing you 2.

  4. #4
    Puppy (New Member)

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    Oh yeah, he gets separation anxiety when my parents go out. They go to Bible study every week on the same day and time and it seems to upset him more than the various random trips they'll take the rest of the week. It's not as bad as it was when I first moved back home (It took him weeks to stop intruder barking constantly about me, he has finally resigned to the fact that I live here) but it was like they would leave with their Bibles, I'd come downstairs ten minutes later to multiple puddles.


    Quote Originally Posted by SebastiansMom View Post
    At two years of age, Zeus is nearing the end of his bratty adolescent stage. He’s not quite an adult, yet, but he’s not quite ready to accept that he doesn’t know everything, yet. Sound familiar? I’m going to guess that you might have been that way once. I know I was.
    That would mean I didn't know everything

    Zeus had been to the vet fairly recently but I'll ask my mother about checking him for a UTI. I'm usually upstairs so if he's asking to be let out I would be missing it. I'm planning to try spending more time downstairs. We have some cleaners that are supposed to be good for odor control but I'm not sure if they're enzymatic. I'll see about getting the Simple Green Bio Dog added to the shopping list either way.

    My mother had bought him a harness- which turned out to be too small. I don't think she would have any opposition to walking him on a harness since my sister used to walk the dogs on harnesses when we were kids. She just needs to get a sturdy one that's the right size- I might have to do the measurements because he gets too excited when she brings a leash or anything looking like a leash near him and won't stay still- he loves walks and looks like he will explode from his fur from the joy of anticipation. She does have a decent leash for him, the two handed sort which I found great for control though I worry about him slipping his collar.

    I will try to limit his exposure but it won't be easy, especially with it being summer. The windows will be open so he will be able to hear everything. He already sleeps in my parents' room with the door closed. I will try redirecting him.
    Any suggestions on treats that he might actually like? Anti-border collie is an apt description, Suzie will eat everything and anything you put in front of her making me suspect that border collies are actually pig-dog hybrids. Zeus doesn't seem to care for most of the treats he's offered, he'll either ignore them or play with them. His favorite things to eat seems to be what is forbidden and unattended like catfood when I'm not in the room, taco meat on the stove when no one is in the kitchen, toast on the table when my mother stepped away for a phone call, etc.

    I bookmarked Dr McConnell's page, and requested the book by Sophia Yin through my library and requested Dr McConnell's book while I was at it. I should get at least one of those books within a week. Meanwhile I'll be sure to check out the stuff online including NILIF. I prefer rewards based training over punishment (I've trained cats, punishment never works for them), just trying to figure out a reward- he doesn't seem to like dog treats, not even biscuits.

    Thank you very much.

  5. #5
    Puppy (New Member)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Terry View Post
    WOW! That's a lot of typing you 2.
    Heh. I've been participating in NaNoWriMo for 19 years, it's a habit now.
    Last edited by Mickle; 06-18-2019 at 10:24 PM. Reason: I can't remember how to spell habbbit

  6. #6
    Old Dawg (Senior Member)

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    Have you tried freeze-dried liver treats? My pyr Max is less picky than most for what he will accept, but he really only gets excited about freeze dried liver treats, bacon, french fries and stolen sticks of butter. We mix the liver treats in with other less exciting stuff during training to keep him engaged.

    Could timing play a factor? How long after he eats does Zeus need a trip outside? Max is remarkably consistent in his need to poop about 45 minutes after breakfast...which means letting him out at 30 minutes is irrelevant because he won't need to go and if nobody is available 15 minutes later, he will poop inside! When we make sure to feed him when someone will be ready to let him out at the right time, he rarely has an accident. We also put a bell on the back door, which helped a lot. I used to have aussies, and they always went whenever we let them out, so this is all new to me.

    Max is super sensitive, and he kind of acts like he knows when someone doesn't like him. As much as you resent and are annoyed by Zeus, he may feel the same of you. Since he is unlikely to "be the bigger man" and make friends, could you? None of his behavior is malicious or unfixable. Just reframing the situation in your head as a project rather than a problem might go a long way. You say you may want to train him, I suspect you won't get far if he doesn't consider you someone to listen to.

  7. #7

    Flock Guardian (Moderator) Terry's Avatar


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    Just went and had a look at what your talking about Mickle. Took me a few minutes just to type this.

  8. #8
    Puppy (New Member)

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    Hi.
    Things are better but not as great as I would like them to be. I'm working my way through the books I mentioned in my last post.
    The advice about getting him to stop barking seems to be helping. Though it seems he has gotten a bark buddy down the road and they were barking back and forth the other day... I'm hoping the dog was just visiting with family because I had not heard it before and I didn't hear him tonight. The other day it was difficult to calm him down because workers dismantling the empty house next door were being loud and obnoxious (I was tempted to bark at them too, besides shouting and whistling I think I heard them taunting Zeus as he looked out the window at them) and for reasons I can't fathom these workers brought a dog with them- a half grown German Shepherd who was whining and barking so of course Zeus had things to say about that. The pup had water but these workers had the dog tied in the yard across the street (not the house they were working on)- the house across the street has been vacant since the woman who lived there went to a nursing home but her adult children had been keeping the yard nice. I'll ask one of the family from across the street if they gave permission to let the dog be tied there... if not that's a lot of gall... but I digress.
    He still pees where he shouldn't- but since it's usually just a few drops of pee in the house I think it's more territorial than needing to pee. Any advice on getting him to not pee on the toilet? I think he sees it as a pee-signboard since all the humans pee in it. I think the obvious solution is just to not let him in the bathroom.
    Timing still needs to be worked on. The other week I took him out for a pretty long walk but his bowels had a strict timer that did not want to go off until 5 minutes before I had to leave for an appointment which was about 2 minutes after he was brought back inside from the walk.
    We still need to get him a harness. My mother insists that she bought him a harness so she doesn't want to buy him a new one.

    I'm not sure if Zeus resents me. He seems happy to see me now. When I first moved back home he did his intruder bark for weeks. It was maddening.

  9. #9
    Puppy (New Member)

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    I finished reading Dr Sophia Yin's book and I got a lot of good advice from it and have been working on Zeus with quite a bit of it. Some things I'm not so sure of... like the Buddy system leash (a belt around your waist with a leash attached) I am still working on getting him to stop pulling and I sort of giggled as I looked at the Buddy System website imagining the injuries that could lead to.
    I've flipped through Dr McConnel's book and will be reading that one next, I've already browsed pages on her website and watched a few videos.
    My mom found treats that Zeus absolutely loves, but they're way too big to be used for training. These things are literally the size of these Swedish meatballs we buy frozen and are made out of chicken. A few of them would make a meal and a dog too stuffed to do anything but lay down. I'm gonna try breaking them up.

    Zeus still pees next to the toilet when given the chance so I'm trying to train the humans to keep the bathroom door shut by putting a small "NO DOGS ALLOWED" sign on the inside doorknob lol. It seems to be working so far.

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