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  1. #1
    Old Dawg (Senior Member)

    Current Great Pyrenees Owner

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    Oct 2014
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    Default ...got a SHOCKING lesson in guarding and territorial instincts!

    Haven't been around for a while, but thought I'd bring y'all up to speed on some recent developments. Last week, it was time for our annual camping trip. We'd been to Mammoth 2 years ago, and Wiley had a great time playing in the snow. Last time, we spent 2 nights in an RV Park, and 2 nights in a State Park. This time, I made the reservation for 4 nights at the RV park since they had hot showers. Our sight wasn't the greatest, pretty close to the entrance, so a lot of traffic going in & out. The first two days (and nights), Wiley was fine. No barking, friendly to all. On day 3, that changed. I guess he determined for himself what his "territory" was. I had him on a tie-down, with about a 20-25 foot radius in the campsite. Now, he's always been bullet-proof around kids. I still take him to the mall or park almost every night of the week, & he's great when little kids come running up. But on day 3 of this camping trip, he became very territorial... confronting anyone who approached his "territory/perimeter". On day 4, it escalated. A large group (multiple families, maybe 15-30 people) occupied the Group Camping Area behind us. One of the young girls from that group decided to cut through our campsite to get to hers. Wiley was snoozing under the picnic table, so she probably didn't see him til she was about 5 feet away. When Wiley saw her, he jumped up and charged at her. Luckily, Wiley's lead was short enough that she could get away before he ran out of rope. I went over a bit later and apologized, and spoke to her parents. Luckily they were cool about it. She said she was afraid of big dogs, which Wiley likely picked up on. I shortened Wiley's lead after that, & tried to keep a close eye on him... but it's not always 100% possible. It wasn't 4 hours later when a young boy on a bicycle also decided to cut through our campsite to get to his & rode right by Wiley (about 3 feet away) who was again snoozing under the picnic table. Before I could get out of my chair, Wiley was up & charging after him. I was yelling at the boy to Go Go Go! Wiley tried to nip at him, but luckily the kid got away & Wiley only had about 10 feet of lead rope. I was a nervous wreck after that, keeping him close. Luckily, there were no further incidents.

    This was not a learned or trained behavior. It seems clear to me that it is instinct. Earlier that day, we'd been up hiking at Horseshoe Lake... loads of people and dogs hiking and biking and playing in the snow... and most of the dogs were off-leash. Wiley was fine with all of them... no issues whatsoever. We'd walk him on-leash around the campground & he was totally fine with everyone. But he clearly establishes what is his "territory" after a few days. It made me think of his behavior at home. Outside of our neighborhood, he's generally fine with most other dogs. But when other dogs approach our property (that are not from the 5 or 6 surrounding houses), he has an issue with them, and immediately alerts us.

    I guess from now on, we'll have to change campsites every few days before he can establish his territory. Can this behavior be modified??? If so, how? Regardless, lesson learned... Luckily, there were no "contact" incidents.

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

    Current Great Pyrenees Owner

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    Default

    Wiley was tied up, right? That may have contributed to frustration stacking. Even though he may have plenty of cable to go around your camp site, he knew he was tied up. With all the foot traffic around and some coming within his personal space repeatedly, he just lost it. For two days he most likely didn't get the same naps he's used to and by the 3rd day he was just plain grouchy. Don't think he was trying to maim anyone, just fed up to the boiling point. But now you know, so next trip you will need to make sure he has down time where he's not disturbed. I don't know if Wiley is crate trained but this would have been a situation where if he had been able to rest in his crate without interruptions, he might have been able to stay more relaxed for the entire trip.

  3. #3
    Old Dawg (Senior Member)

    Current Great Pyrenees Owner

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    Oct 2014
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    Santa Clarita, CA
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    Default

    Yes, Wiley was on a tie-down when we were at the camp site, tho we'd be out walking/hiking most of the day. In both instances, he was snoozing under the picnic table when his territory was entered. Yes, he was probably grouchy... so were we, as he still insisted on going on-patrol once or twice a night. I know he was just defending his territory, it was just the first time I'd seen him do it with such ferociousness... especially with kids, tho that is secondary. But we'd walk him around the campground several times a day, & once you get him out of "his" territory, he was an absolute love... wanting to meet everyone & get pets. Yes, Wiley is crate-trained, tho he only uses it occasionally... There would not have been room for his crate in the truck... or the tent, for that matter. He's rather anxious in the truck... a trait he acquired sometime after he got neutered. We tranquilized him for the trip up & back. But yea... a more low-key environment would have been better for him (and us as well). Things were mostly fine til the large group occupied the group camping area behind us. Wiley does like routine... and being away from his home and routine likely made him a little more reactive. Like I said, he was only this way at the campsite (his territory), but it explains a lot about how he is around the house. He's cool with most of the dogs in the neighborhood. But if the front door is open (with the screen door latched), and a dog from several streets over walks by, we definitely know it! He's the same way on walks. If we are in the neighborhood (on HIS turf), there are some dogs he does not want there. Anywhere else, he's an absolute joy. We were at the Pyr Rescue picnic last month, & he was SO well-behaved around about 30 other Pyrs. But this introduction to his territorial instincts was definitely a surprise.

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