My Great Burr-- I mean PYR!
My family has adopted a Great Pyrenees rescue dog. Up until two and a half weeks ago, she was a dumpster diving street rat, but now she is the newest addition to our home. However, I know these are intelligent, hard working dogs who are independent and prone to less than desirable behavior if bored and not firmly lead. So far she has mainly been a very gentle and calm velcro dog, but there are a few concerns that I would love advice on to help guide her into becoming the best dog she can be.
One of the big issues is that three days ago she was spayed/neutered (term dumb), and the next day, was our adoption day. We're under orders from the vet to not walk her or allow her to run until her stitches are removed, which will be another 7 days. Ysobel, the dog, doesn't seem to really notice the fact that she needs to be recovering, and is walking fine and will even prance and run about if she thinks we aren't paying attention to her. This has led us to break the vet's orders by taking her on short, calm walks to help keep her occupied, but she needs some thing to keep her interested while she's adjusting to our home so she doesn't start playing tricks on us and thinking she's the boss since we can't make her work for us.
Secondly, she has food issues. Until she was found in Missouri (we like to call her previous life as being "a state of Missouri"), she had, to our knowledge, only eaten human food. Her foster mommy had a time of it getting her to learn what doggy food was, but she's still more interested in our food. Usually she's awesome with come and stay, but she's a real stickler with sit, and simply laughs at you when you try "lay down", but when you're eating she'll just hover her huge, drooly head as close as she can get to your food and won't back down. So far my response has been to distract her into walking away, and the using my body to make a blockade in a doorway to show her she can't get past me, and then close the door. We have a "kennel" room that we feed her in, but it would be nice to get tips on curbing and then stopping this behavior so she doesn't have to be segregated whenever we eat. Another thing is that she has mild food aggression. She will growl if you mess with her food too much. I've read that a good way to stop this is by putting her food in the bowl, allowing her to eat a bit, picking it up and holding it for about thirty seconds, before giving it back and repeating. Is this truly a good way? Or is hand feeding better at first? She's very gentle while taking treats, but will refuse to sit out of stubborness unless you walk away a little so she'll follow you and forget she's being difficult and sit down before she can remember she was being stubborn! And she's not always aggressive with all food, as a found out when I was sitting on the floor adjusting her collar and my mom gave her a treat when my head was practically in her mouth... But this food aggression thing needs to be curtailed, and advice would be truly wonderful... plus, since we feed her in her "kennel" room, I don't want her aggression turning into territorial aggression that makes that her room that she has to guard since it's her feeding room.
And lastly, that I can think of, kennel. Is having a room to shut her in okay enough in most cases, if we provide water and maybe a nice marrow bone for her to suck on, if she's been good, or is it better to have an actual kennel? Or is a room fine? It's pretty much empty any ways, but, you know, I trust experienced people on these things.
ohhh yeah, and pulling carts. I've heard many people talk about making their Pyrs lug around carts for something to do if they're not actual working dogs. I was thinking of doing that when she gets better, but what do people actually make them do while carting? I was thinking of strapping one on her and taking her on the bike trails I live near so I can pick up trash and have her lug it around so I can clean up the trails and have her be my dump truck dog... is that a good, interesting type of chore that will keep her from getting bored? What do others do with their working dogs?
Thanks for any one who takes time to answer any of these questions with advice!: