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Great Pyr agression

September 3rd, 2008, 11:32 PM
I came to the forum attracted by a thread on Pyr agression. The last post was in Feb. and I thought that my be so dated that I would not get a response. To the problem:
I have a 10 mo. old female Great Pyr. Great dog, goofy, generally well behaves, a love sponge. Well socialized (taken to my Middle School often, dog parks a few times a week with great success). Lots of attention from my two teenage sons, my wife and myself. She has , on rare occasions, growled and snapped at all of us when she is disciplined (my son shoved her back to get her through a door for instance). This results in our 'rolling' her at which point she, after more growling and half-hearted snaps, shows submission.
I have learned that in training she responds poorly to negative discipline (a tap, severe "no" etc.) but with patience does cheerfully respond to positive rewards (treats, petting, chase games). To say the least she is quite different from our former Border Collie! I researched the breed prior to getting her and learned that there is an 'insecure and fearful' period between six and twelve months. I also read that during this time the dogs are likely to push dominance issues.
My question is this. I am worried about the 'rolling' leading to an injury. It was recommended by the breeder when we got her. I am thinking that constant enforced dominance by all the household members (staring, right angle positioning, obedience training etc,) will have the same effect in the long run without the danger and increased aggravation. In the growling situations I am suggesting moving immediately to a sit (which she will quickly do) followed by other training to reestablish the dominant position. Do I have this roughly right? Other suggestions? For those with Pyr experience, is this a phase that she will grow out of?

September 3rd, 2008, 11:56 PM
I think that the alpha roll is greatly outdated training and should not be used. It probably can be a good tool in very specific cases with a very experienced handler but it is more likely to just cause problems in your case. I agree that other ways of establishing dominance are better suited (especially because your pup must be getting huge!).

Do some research on NILF (nothing in life is free) training, it is very useful in establishing respect. I do not recommend staring as a "power move" as it can make many dogs feel very threatened. Continue with your positive methods but be sure to incorporate NILF and consider trying some other tools such as tethering her to you for a minimum one hour per day and making her follow you around (or whoever she really needs to learn to respect). Spend a bunch of time doing basic obedience moves (down stay especially!) as that is also a great method to improve your relationship.

Good luck!

September 4th, 2008, 04:59 AM

Alpha rolling a dog the size of a Pyr could cause some serious injury to the person doing the rolling. Think of it like this - if you are angry and yell at someone you aren't likely to calm down if they punch you in the face. Same principle.

If your dog growls at a member of the family - that member needs to step back, grab a leash and make the dog do some "push ups". Some heeling, quick sits and downs.

NILIF is excellent - making your dog do something for literally everything it gets. I know that I use it everyday and so do many other people. It really isn't as hard as it sounds - a simple sit or down before feeding, going in or out a door, getting attention, etc.

I don't have Pyr experience, but I have had big dogs most of my adult life. Yes, they do get past these stages. Just be sure to be firm (not necessarily physical) and consistant and you should be fine. Also, if you can find and get into an obedience class or two - that would be excellent.

September 4th, 2008, 07:32 AM
Pyrs are very different dogs than borders opposite really.A pyr was bred to be agressive when they thought it was needed,while a border has always been bred for very controlled agression.Pyrs worked independantly while borders worked with the shepherd.I have about eight pyrs that board regularly and have fostered four.They have all been very dominant dogs,they think for themselves.I would recommend get in touch with either a breeder or the breed club for either a trainer or help in training your pyr,the herd guards tend to be pretty independant and can be a little tougher than many other breeds because of the specialized use they were developed for and also because many are still used in those roles many lines are bred to be independantly agressive.

September 4th, 2008, 08:02 AM
I really appreciate the time and experience you all have shared with me. The observations and advice has been quite valuable. I had not heard of the NILF approach. I went online and researched it. We are having a family meeting tomorrow to get everyone up to speed on the program and what we all need to do to implement it. I look forward to any other contributions the members of the forum choose to make.
thanks again

September 4th, 2008, 08:29 AM
We owned a Female Pyr for 10 years :rip: I disagree with Lise that Pyrs were bred to be agressive, Pyrs were bred to be protective, which is quite different. I find it unusual that she would show agression towards her family when she should be wanting to protect her family, Maybe just maybe there is some underlying cause.

September 4th, 2008, 09:29 AM
Sorry I didn't mean to say pyrs were agressive,protective would have been a better word.They were bred and conditioned to decide when agression was neccesary to defend their flock or band.None of the pyrs I have seen have displayed real agression to their people,a little pushy as puppies and adolescents.

September 4th, 2008, 09:51 AM
I breed Great Pyrs. All of my dogs are working dogs.

My advice is would be to take the dog to a vet. I have only seen slight aggression in my pyrs if they are hurt. If the vet gives a clean bill of health. Then this is what can be done.

At 10 months of age is when a Pyr comes into their own ( as to say) At this age is when my Pyrs start showing their guarding instincts with the flock. Usually at 18 months of age a Pyr becomes an excellent LGD.

Please do not do any dominance over a Pyr. This does not work. Pyrs are bred to be independent thinkers. They are very stuborn. The best trainning is positive re enforcement. I have seen when a Dominance trainning is used with a pyr they do show a little bit of aggression. There are some excellent sites for trainning a Pyr that I have used over the years. Feel free to PM with any questions or concerns.

Sorry, did you get your dog from a breeder? Sometimes when a Pyr is not bred properly such as inbreeding ect, they also can become aggressive. I do have some other techniques to use as well.

September 4th, 2008, 08:26 PM
"Please do not do any dominance over a Pyr. This does not work. Pyrs are bred to be independent thinkers. They are very stuborn. The best trainning is positive re enforcement".

Thank you for your reply. Izzy is really delightful and becoming increasingly responsive to the training we have been doing. It is interesting to work with her as she seems not so much stubborn for sutubborn's sake, but she seems to decide at each command whether she thinks your request is a good idea or not. I realized about two months ago she only really responded to positive actions. For example, we knew going in that barking would be an issue. She now barks 3 or 4 times and then comes in to the house find us for an 'Izzy party' of a treat or affection. Cronic barking is no longer a problem.

The only time aggression comes up is when we directly attempt to physically dominate her. I have been reading and watching TV and hear repeatedly about being the 'pack leader'. Based on your advice and my very limited experience with her I think we got the dominance piece wrong, that we should use the NILF stratagies and work with her using a more cooperative attitude toward her than a 'dominance' oriented one. She really has no other objectionable aspects to her (well,ok. there is the flatulence issue).

Minimomma, you mentioned some sites relating to training Pyrs, I would be very interested in those addresses. I have a collection of books about Pyrs but they really do not get specific as to training.

I want to thank you all again for the time you took to help us out on this. Our experience with Izzy has been 98% positive and we are fortunate to have a great dog, we just needed to address and manage this one rough spot. All of your advice has been heard, considered and will be acted on. I will keep checking back on this thread and I will keep you posted on her progress.

Thanks again

September 4th, 2008, 11:15 PM
Welcome to the world of Pyrs....

They are absolutley wonderful. I always call mine stuborn but really they are not, they understand all the commands but they choose when to listen LOL.

The best trainning technique is not the being the " alpha" like you have mentioned. They are your partner. This is why they make an excellent LGD. They do not dominate any of their" herd/Pack" They will lay in the middle of the herd and try to blend in. It is hard for our pyrs as they are bigger then most of our herd of pygmy goats and minature horses.

Pyrs bark because they are warning potential threats that they are around. Mine bark all the time ( during the night). We have alot of coyotes around here.

Just remember that most Pyrs do not do very well " off leash" . They seem to think as far as they can see it is their territory and will want to patrol it. This is the case even if the Pyr is in the city, off leash dog park. I do want to say most as I have seen some Pyrs have great recall.

My Pyrs have great recall only if their is no predator around. During this time of year it is not the case. I can call them to I am blue in the face and they will not listen.

I will Pm you the sites tomorrow. They are on my other laptop under favorites. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask. I will do my best to help you and if I do not have an answer I have many contacts/experts (in my eyes) that may be able to help.

I forgot to add that to some pyrs behavior may seem dominant ( depending on the behavior) but it is their instincts to protect.
Also make sure you socialize your pyrs with all of your kids friends and as many people as possible. The reason I say this. Your pyr will protect their herd ie his family. If your childrens friends are over and they are rough housing. Your Pyr may not realize they are playing and take a threatening stance to protect your family. They almost always bark. They will put their body between their family and the potential threat. This seems aggressive but in the Pyrs mind they are protecting the ones they love.

Enjoy your pyr, they are the most amazing dog......