Aggressive 1 1/2 year old great Pyrenees

2 days ago my 1 1/2 year old Pyrenees got aggressive with my 5 year old.

We have had him since he was 6 weeks old and have never had a problem.

We gave him a bone and my son was shoveling and got close to his bone. He went at him and thankfully just got the end of his glove. After that I took the bone away and told him bad.

My husband tried to get my son to go back up to him to pet him and he just growled. So I went and was petting and talking to him and tried again with my son to go back up to him but as soon as he went to pet him he growled and went at his face but never made contact because we had the dog on a leash at this point. So my question is what do I do now? I haven't let him by my children since, because I'm nervous he will bite them.

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Apr 02, 2015
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serious
by: wendy

Wow. I would say that you have some serious Alpha dog problems. I don't own this breed but have been researching and understand that training early on is needed to prevent this type of behavior. I would hire a trainer to work with your son and dog.....or find a home w/out young children for your dog. This type of dominance is best prevented with early training so at this point it will take much more work.

From puppy on, you should have been training the dog to allow your child to take food in and out of the dog's mouth etc. Normal instinct can always kick in around a food-dominated dog, but I don't like the fact that he growled when the bone was gone and actually snapped and went at your child. That is dangerous when you're talking about an animal that probably weights 2-3x that of your child.

Apr 02, 2015
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Maybe not so much aggressive as misinterpreted communication.....
by: Tressie

I will let the Pyr experts weigh in on this. However, I can give you some insights for consideration. Guarding a prized possession like a bone is normal canine behaviour. Now some dogs are more possessive than others. And it would appear that trait is more strongly ingrained in certain breeds, such as many of the livestock guardian breeds, like the Pyr.

The best strategy is not to approach the dog and leave him alone to enjoy his bone. Reprimanding or punishment do not work and may make things worse, especially with sensitive Pyrs who do best with positive reinforcement methods.

Forcing the child to pet the dog is not good a good idea either. The dog will pick up on the child’s fear and anxiety and it’s never a good strategy to have a child approach a dog even under the best of circumstances. Rather the dog should be given the opportunity to do the approaching.

I am wondering as well whether you are familiar with the signs that indicate a dog is not pleased about something, nervous or fearful. You may find the information at this link helpful: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/canine-body-language

A warning growl should never be reprimanded since that eliminates an important step - the message the dog is communicating, i.e., "Stay back – leave me alone." The growl means that something more unpleasant will follow if the warning isn't heeded. Dogs who have been punished when they growl – move straight to a bite.

Just as children need to be taught how to be well-behaved around other people, they need to be taught to be well-behaved and respectful around animals. They need to learn what kinds of games are appropriate, how to touch the dog properly, how to interpret the dog's body language and when the dog is not to be disturbed.

Importantly, young children should never, ever be left alone with any dog, no matter how reliable the dog has been before. A responsible adult needs to be on the scene to prevent any aggressive behavior by the dog and to keep the child from putting him or herself in danger.

Here is another useful link to a wonderful overview by the late Dr. Sophia Yin on how to approach dogs: http://drsophiayin.com/blog/entry/preventing-dog-bites-by-learning-to-greet-dogs-properly

In the interim, I encourage you to look for a behaviourist trainer who uses positive reinforcement methods to help you work with your dog. At 1 ½ your Pyr is still a juvenile, brimming with potential and is on a steep learning curve.


Apr 02, 2015
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Resource Guarding
by: Donna

First, you will need to work on resource guarding with your dog. This should have been done when he was a puppy and as he became older. Dr. Sophia Yin is a renowned vet behavourist. You can search around for resource guarding information.
http://drsophiayin.com/videos/entry/ben_guards_the_food_bowl

Your dog is now of the age that he is becoming his own dog. Never punish him for growling or he will go for the bite because no one is listening to his growl.

He is instinctly guarding his food/bone.

You need to train your child not to go near your dog when he is eating. Never tell the dog he is bad.

Don't force the child to go to the dog. The dog is obviously a little anxious at this point because he is being punished for growling.

However, it is important to work on resource guarding so that if your dog does pick up something he shouldn't have, you can take it away if need be.

I would highly recommend that you take a child and dog course on how to train your child to behave around dogs and how to work with your dog on resource guarding.

You don't want to set your dog up for failure.


Apr 02, 2015
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Resource Guarding
by: Donna

I almost forgot. There is also some great information on dogs and children on this website.

http://www.great-pyrenees-club-of-southern-ontario.com/bestdogsforchildren.html

I hope this helps.

Apr 03, 2015
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Resource Guarding
by: Donna

Thank you,Tressie. Exactly my approach, as well.

Here is a great article, as well, by Dr. Sophia Yin on the myth of dominance and alpha. When you start using this approach, a bite will happen.

http://drsophiayin.com/philosophy/dominance



Apr 03, 2015
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Alpha - NOT
by: Tressie

Unfortunately, the ‘dominance/alpha’ concept of dogs still has a firm grip on the imagination of many well-meaning individuals. No small part due to a popular reality show led by one, Cesar Milan. That view has long been discredited by canine behavioral science.

I strongly encourage Wendy to read the information on the link Donna provided. Since you have been actively researching, I will assume that you are open-minded enough to consider a different way of conceptualizing dogs. For example, we now know without a shred of doubt that dogs can read our emotional states from our facial expressions to the intonations in our voices. They are innately, highly socialized to humans and are not into dominating the human race.

On the contrary, it is humans who feel the need to dominate dogs and therefore, create the behavioral problems to begin with. Rather than learning how to read ‘dog’ and finding ways to communicate our wishes to our canine companions in language they can understand, we bully them into submitting to our will through the use of painful and cruel devices and methods like shock/prong collars, alpha rolls, etc. All designed to break their spirit and make them comply when in fact all it does is create mistrust of humans and resulting fear-based aggression.

If you want credible, current information about doggy psychology from one of the best-known veterinary canine behaviorists, the late Dr. Sophia Yin, follow the link Donna provided.

Another excellent resource to check out is another well-known veterinary behaviorist Dr. Ian Dunbar, who has a series of free YouTube videos on dog/puppy behavior/training: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLE69C623A53AFE753


Apr 05, 2015
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alpha dog
by: Wendy

Yes I am familiar with what you're saying and am not a Cesar fan actually. What I DO not subscribe to are people putting their dogs at the same importance as their child.

At 1 1/2 yrs old I have a feeling early training didn't happen as it should have. I own and have owned several afghan hounds. Although sight hounds and not a LGD, they are independent thinkers and I presume have a lot of similar behavioral traits as pyrs.

The Afghan hound responds best to kindness, respect and understanding. We had a food dominance issue early on and addressed it with teaching the dog to trust and not punish the growl, but teach the dog it was not necessary.

The dog KNOWS who is boss but it is not because of a heavy hand or punishment, it is mutual respect.

Aug 09, 2016
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Aggressive
by: Vicki P. Nesom

I have been a Pyr owner, breeder and farmer who depended on my field dogs, since 1980. This would alarm me slightly, on two levels. First, a 1 & 1/2 year old male is not grown until 2 with everything locked in by 3. He was testing his boundaries and simultaneously correcting his young human (generally considered as a litter mate and more or less equal in the pecking order).

Being a believer in the Pack Leader Theory, I would have growled loudly at him, and probably shown my teeth, to let him know he is under my child and not allowed to correct him. I would also do a lot of explaining to my child as a well trained child would have immediately looked at the the dog and away, to show no threatening intentions. This probably would have diffused it all.

My second concern, if you did not breed this pup or are at least knowledgeable of the lines, is that signs on inbreeding (especially aggression) show up sometime between 1 and 2 years old. They will trend and only get worse, and not be open for Pack Leader correction....they challenge everybody. These dogs get put down if they show up at the Nesoms Ark. Pyrs are too strong to put up with aggression or bad judgement. Ever.

Aug 10, 2016
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Aggression
by: Donna

Never growl back at the dog. You'll most certainly be at risk of being bitten in the face.

You need to work towards a mutual respect and trust from the beginning. Without that, it's not a good start in life.

I would recommend you bring in a positive-reinforcement trainer to show you how to manage your dog.

This work should have been well started by the breeder and the mother of the pups in the first crucial 8 weeks for the development of bite inhibition, being well-socialized and handled by many many different people.

The next 5 weeks are as crucial. You would have worked with the dog on this, too. The dog needs to be worked with continually. However, those first 13 weeks are critical to your dog becoming a good canine citizen.

Feb 08, 2017
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Justice to a noble breed
by: Anonymous

Consider a Great Pyrenees from outside the states. I did,they have been inbred to many times here, you will find they are much much more intelligent,gentle and responsive. here in America everyone of them I have seen except for the ones not from here all have some sort of mental disorder if you do find one that isn't then the bloodlines hasn't been in the states for very long I know this may upset a lot of breeders but so be it, I love this breed and most breeders are not doing right by them...

Nov 08, 2017
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Same problem here
by: Anonymous

What was the outcome since this post was dated 2015?I have a 3 year old pyr and a 5 year old son. No problems until recently with the dog coming at my son, food and bone. It took me a sec to understand why the dog was upset, my son was not intentionally aggravating the dog, but nonetheless our dog thought otherwise. I laid the law down with the dog both times, and out pyr seemed to understand. Most of the time the pyr is great with him, and even plays fetch. I'm wondering if getting him fixed would help calm the situation.

Nov 09, 2017
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Aggression
by: Donna

What do you mean the dog went at your son, food and bone?

The dog tried to take food from your son?

If you are having problems, it's best to bring in a positive-reinforcement trainer to help you learn how to manage any aggressive behaviour.

Attempting to help someone online without seeing what is going on is impossible. There are different variables. A trainer needs to see it first hand.

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