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Old March 26th, 2011, 07:05 PM
GrizzledYeti GrizzledYeti is offline
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Red face 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!:
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Old March 26th, 2011, 09:00 PM
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luckypenny luckypenny is offline
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Welcome to pets.ca, GrizzledYeti .

Quote:
Originally Posted by GrizzledYeti View Post
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.
Nothing wrong with taking her out for short frequent walks. Just try to prevent her from running/jumping about and insure the incision site remains clean and dry.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GrizzledYeti View Post
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.
Personally, I don't think there's anything wrong with mixing in a bit of leftovers with kibble. Just make sure the foods are safe to feed (no raisins, grapes, chocolate, large amounts of onions, garlic, etc.).

Quote:
Originally Posted by GrizzledYeti View Post
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.
Now would be a great time to patiently teach her the "place" command. Ideally, you would want her in a certain area while you eat. Here's a great video to show you how (you can replace the clicker with a verbal marker word such as "yes"). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQzXdAA3vk8 Also, if you don't ever want her bothering you while you're snacking, then don't give into her begging. Even once will teach her that begging works.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GrizzledYeti View Post
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?
No, it's not!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by GrizzledYeti View Post
Or is hand feeding better at first?
Absolutely.

Resource guarding can be a serious, and dangerous, issue. Here's a book I strongly recommend you get your hands on, MINE! - A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO RESOURCE GUARDING IN DOGS by Jean Donaldson http://www.dogwise.com/itemdetails.cfm?ID=DTB740 .

Quote:
Originally Posted by GrizzledYeti View Post
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.
As long as she's getting lots of time socializing both indoors and out, and if she likes her room, I don't see a problem with using it instead of a kennel. Just make sure she doesn't start to guard her room (I really, really think the above-mentioned book will help you avoid this).

Quote:
Originally Posted by GrizzledYeti View Post
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?
I think that's an excellent idea! As long as she walks well and is not reactive towards other dogs/people you might encounter on your outings. Do you know yet if Ysobel is great with others?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GrizzledYeti View Post
What do others do with their working dogs?
I take our male on bike rides and have recently added his backpack. We use a device called a Springer so I don't have to worry about him running into the bike and I can keep both hands on the handlebars (and brakes). He loves to run and pull so I don't even have to pedal (not much exercise for me I must add ). I do have to be careful as he's very easily distracted and has a high prey drive though so the places I choose to take him have to be quiet areas.

I'm hoping you get a chance to share photos of Ysobel with us soon .
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Old March 26th, 2011, 09:39 PM
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14+kitties 14+kitties is offline
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Now THAT is what I call great advice and very well given!! Lots of great suggestions and reading material. Thanks LP for always doing it right!!
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Old March 26th, 2011, 09:47 PM
SamIam SamIam is offline
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GrizzledYeti, congratulations on your new dog!
Your room should be just fine, and Ysobel will probably be more comfortable in it than a more confined kennel. Remember it is your room, where you let her eat and sleep, not her own territory. It is no different from a kennel for a smaller dog, where the owner should be able to put their arm in without worrying their dog will resist the intrusion. Any sign of territoriality against you, don't tolerate it.

Sit and lay down can be very difficult to teach Pyrs - partly because it is in their nature to spend their working hours standing, partly because they are designed to think more for themselves, and need and accept less direction from people. Any time she does it on her own, you can say the word sit or lay down instead of click or yes, then follow up with a treat or attention reward. You will have easier success with "place" to keep her at a respectable distance while you eat, I would not worry about whether she is standing up while you eat.

Another thing you may want to work on is getting Ysobel used to you touching and poking her absolutely everywhere. This means lifting her lips to look at her teeth, putting your hand around her muzzle and applying gentle pressure, looking in her ears, picking up her feet and playing with her toes, giving a massage, etc. If she shows any resistance, stop and work slowly on that body part until she relaxes again. Because she has lived on the street, she is under the impression that everyone is competition. Her food aggression towards you is a trust issue, and this will help you as you work through that.

Don't worry too much about the walks, just make them slower and shorter than what you would like to progress to i order to give her adequate exercise once she's healed.
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Old March 27th, 2011, 10:08 AM
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hazelrunpack hazelrunpack is offline
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I have no experience with G Pyrs, so no advice, but welcome to the board, GrizzledYeti, and congrats on the new addition!
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Old March 27th, 2011, 02:22 PM
GrizzledYeti GrizzledYeti is offline
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Thanks!

Wow, that was truly a warm welcome and lots of good advice, luckypenny and the rest (really wanted to call you Money Penny for a second there!). Well, I'm glad to hear that my idea of using my new dog as a dump truck dog (versus the dumpster diving dog she was previously) wasn't taken offensively! When I first thought of it I thought it was just a funny side thought, but the more I considered it, the better of an idea it seemed. And she is really a doll on the leash, and doesn't do much more than look at other dogs and people, or sometimes stops to just look at them before ignoring them. The only time she lunges a little is for those pesky squirrels, but a gentle tug and a "leave it" command has her acting as though they never existed.

I got to see first hand what insane intelligence those Pyrs have. She started realizing that sitting meant tons of extra praise and the occasional treat, so she decided in her regal way to obey our sit commands, and even do it automatically if we were standing and facing her, without a command, all for the extra love. On top of that the more amazing thing is a couple times when we stopped petting her, she would raise her paw to catch our attention, and we would catch the paw and tell her "good shake!"... today, she's been shaking on command. Amazing. She learned in one night from an accident how to do a new trick.

We will be careful to not let her become the owner of her room, but I'm glad that most people are of the opinion it's as good as a kennel. For such a large dog even used ones are expensive... and big. Our cat is still adjusting to the dog, although Ysobel generally ignores her, or just looks at her and looks away, so Ysobel only gets to stay in there when no one's home (which is almost never) so there isn't a misunderstanding between Deci Cat and her. Other than that she's being very socialized.
By the way, does any one have ideas on helping a cat adapt to the dog? Deci has figured out that the dog isn't threatening her, so the cat has been stalking her, at times (we mostly put a stop to it by rotating their outdoor times and making the basement a "dog-free" zone and my room her sanctuary in the basement). But the cat will posture and even confront the dog, or sit under the couch and growl and hiss and then swipe at the dog when she passes by. So far the dog has completely ignored her, and was fine with the foster mommy's cats, except for once when Ysobel bounded down the hallway at Deci because she thought she was a shadow (all black fluffy cat and all white fluffy dog). We don't want Deci to finally have her claws make contact and the dog not react well. Is time the best solution? Slow acclimation and familiarizing? When we brought Deci to live with us it took a month for our dearly departed prissy Uzi cat to accept her, but it happened. I'm just not as good with dog-cat relations. I just want the cat to tolerate the dog in the least. Does any one have any tricks? Or with cats is it basically just a wait it out thing?

Thanks for the advice with the food aggression. We'll try hand feeding, though some of it will still have to be in the bowl because Ysobel needs to gain about ten pounds. She's a little too boney, and she has the lower appetite than most big dogs Pyrs can have. She eats just fine, but it takes her a little while to finish the third cup she is supposed to eat with her twice daily feedings. Hopefully once she's gained the weight, if the vet says it's a good idea, we can decrease the food a little (not much), which would make it easier to hand feed it all until it's resolved.

Sorry, I don't have pictures at the moment. They're all on my mother's phone, and she's out at the moment. I didn't know you could upload them. I have a great picture of her wearing a red and blue checkered headscarf like an old Russian Babushka and as a dashing neck tie. But thanks for all the hearty congratulations! It's nice getting sound advice for an adult rescue Pyr, because, honestly, most resources just assume that you've bought a puppy and focus their advice towards very young dogs without ambiguous pasts. I wish you and your pets well as well!
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Old March 27th, 2011, 02:29 PM
SamIam SamIam is offline
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Well you're in luck here GrizzledYeti, lots of people here involved in rescue and behaviour problem-solving, whether you have a new puppy or an old one!

Congratulations on the SIT
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Old March 27th, 2011, 02:53 PM
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Welcome GrizzledYeti,,,i have a Pyr pup and yup they are scary smart. For any training or behavioral suggestions i totally bow down to LuckyPenny and her expertise. You will find that your Pyr will get along fairly well with the kitty it's in their nature,mine is grumbly with strange dogs but a cat pfft no problem. I can't speak for all pyr's but my was also a bigtime paw user so we turned it into high 5's.

We have purchased a pulling harness for our boy as we will be moving to Newfoundland in a couple months and this furry upstart will be a working dog. My big suggestion is just don't overdo her work load. Congratulations on your newest member and ummmm pictures are a must...
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Old March 27th, 2011, 04:14 PM
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chico2 chico2 is offline
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GrizzledYeti,Welcome to our Forum,it's exciting to have yet another Pyr on our Forum,I believe we now have 3
Pictures of course are a must and don't forget the kitty
You have gotten some great advice from some great people,hope everything works out well.
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Old March 27th, 2011, 05:25 PM
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he is a good, big dog. working is needed for him. sledding good work training too.
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Old March 27th, 2011, 11:36 PM
GrizzledYeti GrizzledYeti is offline
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I just realized I was asking in the right place for all the doggy issues... but now I must venture over to a cat one... because, you're right about the dog not having a problem with the cat... it's the cat that has a problem with the dog! I feel almost hesitant to do that, though, because I've had many, many cats in my life and thought I had them all figured out... until I realized that the one cat experience I've never had is getting one to accept a dog. Getting such an almost impossible animal to do something it absolutely doesn't want to do. But again, thanks for all of the supportive replies. Now, I'm off to the cat threads to help keep my Pyr from getting shredded, and my cat from getting chomped. But thanks to all.
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Old March 29th, 2011, 11:40 PM
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Hi!

Congrats to you on your new addition! I have a pyr (2.5..Luna), a berner (4.. Monty) and two cats (both 8.. Chip and Dale)....
Order of arrival in my house: Berner, Cats, Pyr.... and yes Pyrs are awesome.

I was pretty lucky... as everyone seemed to be cool with everyone else right away with only intermittent squabble solving and the occasional "LUNA...GENTLE"

My pyr won't put on weight. She always gets a little left overs (following LP's great advice) and the vet suggested we keep her on the puppy food.

If your pyr can "come"...hats off to you! Luna chooses when to listen to that particular command. Which normally falls between "never" and "maybe....not". No food aggression, loves all people but has dog/leash aggression which we work with a trainer on. Big improvements in the last year, but we still have a looong way to go.

I must say.....I do love my little white fluffy girl to bits.
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Old March 30th, 2011, 08:56 AM
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Sylvie Sylvie is offline
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Welcome to the forum

As you can see loads of useful information from the members

Can't wait to see the pictures. We can be pushy about pictures
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