Tuesday, August 18, 2009

we need another great pyrenees

we need another great pyrenees dog. henry needs back-up. i have come to so completely trust henry that i don't close up the chickens anymore. i know this is lazy and might come to bite me in the butt. life is just so much easier when you don't have to think about all the animals safety twenty four - seven.

i must admit that henry does bark alot--a whole lot. his bark is loud, deep and penetrating. at first it seemed excessive that he would bark at each passing butterfly or rustling leaf. anymore, it is comforting. i never thought id be able to become accustomed to such a racket. to that end tabitha is not a dog person and similarly feels comforted by his deep warning rumble.

henry takes his job very seriously. he is of a singular focus. having such dedication to his work makes him seem aloof. in fact he is nearly un-trainable. this is not a problem because he is extremely smart and has profound guarding instincts. i have taught him two things. his boundary and that he's not to eat food unless told it is ok by an omelay. the boundary issue was difficult. henry is not to enter the immediate yard even if coaxed by small playmate children. it was a long time in the making but he will not under any circumstances enter the yard open gate or no.

the food thing is important because in a pack the alpha eats first and everyone else waits. i don't want a power struggle with a dog that nearly outweighs me. i contribute these two small training successes to henry's intelligence, breeding and his young age when we got him. he mostly comes when you call him, not always. the best thing about henry is he's not needy. he likes a good pat on the head but could just as easily go without.

for a huge dog he doesn't eat much either and never finishes his bowl of food. when i refill it there are always a few nuggets of food left in his bowl. although he did kill an interloping possum and eat most of it the other day. he defecates at the boundary of his territory. kids playing in the field never step in it.

i will never own another type of dog and only get them at a very young age. we feel very lucky to have henry and might be pushing our luck trying to get another dog but i can't imagine not having the peace of mind that he offers on the farm.


Wendy said...

We have a chow-chow, and despite the bad press they usually get, she's a great dog. She never learned to bark unless there really was something to bark at, until we got the beagle who barks at dust motes in the air ;).

But she's a great dog, and I completely trust her - with my kids, with the livestock - everything.

That said, when it comes time for us to think about another dog, it won't be a chow-chow because I don't think we would get so lucky again. I've never met or heard of another chow with her disposition. When the time comes, I want a pyrenees ... or a setter of some kind ;).

warren said...

So, can you tell us about the training you did, and maybe some pics of him...I'd love to see Henry!

karl said...

wendy, i know exactly what you mean about scared that you might not get that lucky again. i worry about the same thing with henry and a new dog.

warren, i admit to very little training of henry. the things i do know. never hit a GP, they carry a grudge and will never trust you. i admit to hitting henry once. i know this first hand, earning his trust again was difficult. punishment for a GP is force them on their back and make them stay belly-up exposed for a little while. i usually yell at him too. if he chased a chicken i'd put him on his back and hold the chicken on top of him. revere your chickens your GP will know.

IMO food training is the most important thing. if i want henry to know that an animal has dominance over him i set a bowl of food down in front of both of them and let the other animal eat.

GPs are boundary oriented dogs. i never let them in the yard. i immediately got after him if he transgressed. the most powerful thing we did is use the term "MINE" for anytime he does something we don't like.

he picks on the cats, i haven't been able to stop that. the cats hold their own and that isn't my chosen battle. a dog has to have a little fun now and then anyway. he isn't mean just playing a little rough.

he also picks on the bull calf just a little. he doesn't touch the heifer on the contrary has complete reverence for her. he probably knows that i'd really get mad at him if he did.

mostly he wants to please and understands that i am alpha. alpha means never let him sit on your foot or lean against you while sitting--doggy dominance psychology.

these are just my experiences and opinions. walter at sugar creek has extensively trained LSGs and has entire systems and posts about it. mostly i feel lucky with henry. he came from a large troupe of working dogs and his breeding is the most critical thing.

i hope this helps

sugarcreekstuff said...

Our border collie is an amazing farm dog too.
When he was a pup he was impatient with the kids so I started having the kids feed him. Worked like a charm.

Woody said...

Nothing beats a good dog.

Sasha said...

We have a Great Pyr as well and I agree--I'll never again be without one (or two). Natasha is enormous and a wonderfully intimidating presence.

sheila said...

I have 2 Great Pyr female pups, 4 months old. I brought them home at 6 weeks. Not ideal, but seller wanted them gone then. They were doing really great with chickens until recently. In the last week they started harassing chickens and twice have grabbed a chicken and held them and licked them until they were soaked. I decided this was getting out of hand and moved the chickens out of the pups area. The pups only have ducks and guineas in their fenced area now and the birds are in pens so the pups can't get to them. How do I proceed now. Will I ever be able to trust the dogs or will they have to have birds fenced out of their reach? Any ideas? I also have 2 goat kids that I just brought home and are 4 months old. Not sure how to get the dogs to accept them.

The first 6 weeks of the pups life they were with their parents and living with every kind of animal imaginable. The place looked like Noah's Ark. The dogs all seemed totally relaxed with the animals, including chicks and a tiny duckling wandering around among them. I'd like these pups to turn out as well as their parents, but I'm realizing I don't know what I'm doing.

Beau said...

Amazing, beautiful dogs! Its neat to read of their behavior, and your devotion to them.

Christy said...

I know you said pup, but thought I'd send this anyway.

Hi everyone,
There is a lady at the hospital I volunteer at that has him and would like to find him a good home. He has never been around many animals and only barks at the neighbors horses when they get too close to the fence. He is great around children. If interested call Debbie @ 918-344-2054.

karl said...

kelli, a good dog is hard to beat. that goes for you also woody.

sasha, i like that name natasha.

shelia, i don't know what to say except that the more energy you can put into them when they are young the better they will be as an adult. my first response addresses most of your questions. mostly we are lucky with henry and can only imagine that we might get that lucky again. i hope so. good luck with your training. walter at sugar mountain is an expert dog trainer and might have better answers.

christy, there are too many rules around here for all the animals and having a puppy understand them because that is all they know is much easier. i hate to say, i don't have much time to invest in re-training a dog. a puppy suits us much better, it only has to be trained right the first time. thanks for the thought i wish you luck finding a new home for him.

Donna Jane (Gamma) said...

Karl,I am so glad to read how much you love your Pyr..My husband and I fell in love with the breed when we got our first one back in the 90's..while there can be so many good loving dogs out there ..We feel that Pyr's are the absolute best!! Yes, it is a trait of the Pyrs to bark and bark alot..they have excellent hearing..and would rather warn a potential trouble maker not to "come in" rather that tear it up...To help with the barking you might try outside lighting..their eyesight is not nearly as good as their hearing..and when they can see better after dark..they bark a little less..While one Pyr is formidable it can be taken down or hurt badly were as 2 Pyr's will work as a team and a pack of coyotes will not beat them..they are extremely loyal dogs, and will watch over their herd whether it be goats, sheep, children or one old lady and her cats...If you should get another to go with yours be sure and get one of the opposite gender..much less problems and they will learn to get along wonderfully..We stated out years ago with one male then when he was quite a bit older added our first female..after our boy passed away we waited over a year and have now got our third male!! He is six months old and full of puppy! Yes, Pyr's have a mind of their own they were bred to be that way so the sheppards in the mountains could leave them with the flocks and check on them when they could..they had to be able to think for themselves..sometimes when you call a Pyr he/she will look at you as if they are thinking "Do I really want to go over there?..." well, I am sure they are plus about 12 other thought..some people attribute this slow reaction to stupidity..and if it is then its the poor uneducated people that suffer from it not the dog., for they are the smartest, lovingest breed out there...And I will end this long drawn out note on saying Congrats on finding such a wonderful dog to be apart of your family!

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