Day One with a Great Pyrenees

If you have a Great Pyrenees or have ever had one please tell me everything you know. I have never even met a dog like this one. In some ways she reminds me of my Aussie/Malamute the puppy school drop-out, Molly, who got so bored with puppy obedience training that she went to sleep in class. Like Molly, Polar seems to want to serve me of her own free will rather than being an “underling” in the sense of being dominated by me. I’ve had a couple of other dogs like that, but this dog is really different. I’m sure in puppy school Polar O’Bear (She’s an O) would go to sleep, too. After one full day with this dog I would say:

1) She does not believe she needs a leash in order to walk with me. She believes that BECAUSE she WANTS to walk with me the string is silly. She does as she’s told/asked, but mostly because Dusty and Mindy get very happy at the word “Walk” and will practice with her. I will continue to leash train her, but never have I had a dog who just WATCHED me and FOLLOWED me AT HEEL.

2) She has her own mind. She is a little scared in a new place, she wants to stay, she wants to please me, but she has a mentality of her own. We had a little struggle over the crate (I’ve crate trained several dogs and never had any problem inducing them to at least stick their head in to eat their dinner the first day). After that, I realized the best strategy for me was to treat her like I would a cat and wait until she came looking for me, momentarily, at least, abandoning her and the whole project. It was effective. I have put the crate away and am contemplating not using it with her. Why?

3) I also realized she may not need to be crate trained. Thinking of her very strongly pronounced Pyrenees mentality, I realized she could feel the crate would hamper her ability to do what she’s bred for — take care of me, my house and my other dogs. I felt like she was telling me, “No! I have a job to do. Have I given you any indication today that I WON’T pee when you want me to? Walk where you want me to? Sit when you tell me? This really hurts my feelings and I feel insulted by it.” I found it interesting because at the shelter she went right into her kennel. Here she would have no part of it; perhaps because it reminded her of the shelter. I’ve adopted other shelter dogs and they were happy to have a crate. It made them feel safe and gave them their own domain. This morning when I went to get her she was EXTREMELY happy I was back and that might be part of it.

3) She lets me do everything to her. I have cleaned both her ears, wiped her eyes cleaned, brushed her seriously to remove the little mats and she is completely happy with all that somewhat intrusive contact. She did not like the collar or the harness but quickly learned there’s no choice and has accepted them both, even letting me take the harness off and put it on again.

At the end of day one, I think I’m in for an experience. But again, please, I would really like to hear anything anyone can tell me about how best to train this breed so she will be happy forever with me.

She has given me the incentive I needed to make an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon to talk about a knee replacement.

14 thoughts on “Day One with a Great Pyrenees

    • She’s something else completely. For the last hour she’s been outside on the grass, guarding. Now she has come in and has assembled her toys. Everything I’ve read says that they can “sort of” be trained. My dog Molly was always “sort of” trained, but I think it would have been impossible to TRAIN a dog to do many of the things Molly did. Anyway, I got the best two Great Pyrenees training books I could find and have a farmer friend who would probably adopt her if it doesn’t work out and she ends up needing something REAL to guard. I wish you could meet her!

    • She loves them both. I’ve learned one thing; this is a dog who will suffer feelings of failure if I were to get angry with her. This one needs 100% positive reinforcement. She has even already understood a calm but firm “No!” She’s amazing.

  1. I never considered getting a dog as a way to modify my own behavior. I wonder if I could get a ‘sleep dog’ that would shut off my internet access and lead me to my bed on time for a full eight hours?

    • I think many of my dogs have modified my behavior, always for the better. Some dogs trained to assist disabled people would tell you when it’s time to go to bed and shut off anything they’d been taught to. 🙂

      • No, I think people get intrigued and feel they have a stake in the adventure. I loved hearing about your new family member and pictures help…

      • I think you’re right — that’s what happened with the blog I kept about my move. That was so fun and so helpful to me as I made that big change to know I had a bunch of people who were really interested in the adventure and rooting for me! There were many days last fall when that blog was the BEST part of my day!

  2. Oh yes. Dogs that astound and confound us. I really don’t know enough about GP dogs other than the fact that my Sally is very smart with a mind of her own. She goes back into “her backyard” only when I present a Milk Bone. She looks for the slightest of movements and goes after bees. wasps, birds, lizards, etc. I don’t think she has any protection instinct but shows her Border Collie personality. So I am of no help at all. But I bet someone will emerge from cyberspace and give you some tips.

  3. These are the naturally giant dogs, which is why they have a normal lifespan. Unlike other giant breeds who die young (before age 10). Pyrs live a normal life, 12 to 15 years. A long life for a giant dog.

    They used to be called “ban” or “mat” dogs. They would sleep in front of the door to their home, sometimes mistaken for a mat. The mildest mannered dogs on earth … until they think you or their property are in danger. Then they will do whatever they need to do. After which they will go back to sleep.

    They sleep a lot. They don’t run around much. My friend who bred them used to say if you want personality, these aren’t the dogs for you. They aren’t quirky or especially funny. They are protective, quiet, strong, dependable — and when they drop their coat, it’s like a blizzard of hair.

    They have only one job on earth: protection. Oh, and pulling carts. They apparently like pulling carts. They used to deliver milk in the mountain villages. They are particularly fond of small children. Small animals too. Protective.

    VERY similar in personality and temperament to mastiffs to whom they are closely related.

    • Wow. Thank you so much — that’s all very helpful. That also describes the personality I DO want in a dog + she’s part husky. She is incredibly calm and very sensitive and alert. I was reading that the way they are able to become guardians of a flock or a herd is by submitting to the dominant male ram or billy. Then the goats or sheep aren’t afraid of them and don’t pay much attention to them. She’s inspired me to find out about a knee replacement and I can’t imagine a better companion on a hiking trail than a calm, big, white protective dog who WANTS to walk with me. I just love the way she snuggles up to Dusty and looks to Mindy for guidance in things like where to pee and where to sleep. She’s really something. 🙂

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