Aggression to visitors

by Richard
(Norhtern CA.)

I have had a rescue Great Pyrenees for 1/2 year now. I have got him to stop peeing in the house 4 months ago. He barks a lot but it actually isn't as bad as I thought.

The problem is when we have visitors he barks and stalks some of them like he is going to attack. Today he grab one of our neighbors by the sweater who was leaving to go home. How do I train him not to do that???? This neighbor happens to own 5 cats, could it be she smells like cats....but once again this behavior is unacceptable. He is a very sweet and a gentle giant with me and my family, how can I stop this behavior?

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May 24, 2019
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Aggression to visitors
by: Donna

I'm sorry you're going through this.

Yes. This is unacceptable behaviour but not one that can be changed and will escalate. You don't say his approximate age but there is a reason he ended up in rescue and that is probably it. To punish him for this is confusing him if this is what you do.

Pyrs were bred to watch over their charges and keep things they deem predators away. He's doing his job. He doesn't know any different because he did not get the crucial handling and socialization by many many many different people in his first 13 weeks of life. This is, then, carried on by their new people. There is also a genetic component in some cases. A reputable breeder does their utmost best to improve temperament and behaviour.

It's very sad but it's not the dog's fault. It's human failure (not yours). The dog pays for it.

Do not rehome him as this behaviour will only escalate and there is a high risk he'll be abused for it and/or end up in a dog fighting ring.

This is for your information.

https://www.drjensdogblog.com/tag/euthanasia/

May 24, 2019
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Aggression
by: anon

You can keep him crated when guests come over. You may need to crate-train him. Susan Garrett has an excellent online crate training program.

May 24, 2019
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Thanks
by: Richard

Thanks for your comments.
Harley gets nothing but love. I work with him with patience and try to be consistent. I don't spank him or scold him. I do try to be firm and say NO!He is a very sweet dog with me and my family. We have no intention of getting rid of him, I just want to try to train him not to be aggressive with visitors. The suggestion of putting him, well on my deck with the gate closed is probably the best idea right now.

May 24, 2019
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stalking
by: Anonymous

'Stalking' is an interesting word. Did you use it because your dog has a threatening demeanor while he checks out your house guests? How would you describe your dogs body...is he stiff, is his posture super alert, is his ruff standing at attention?
I'm asking this because it is normal for Pyrs to weave casually thru the room when there are guests present...they have a need to 'know'.
Mine does this. It appears very casual, but make no bones...he IS checking everyone out. Sometimes ours gives one guest some extra attention which is related to an interesting smell or energy vibration only he can detect.
Sometimes he chooses to sit, purposely, on top of a guests feet. There, he seems to say, you stay there. Our dog was super socialized as a pup. This does make a huge difference in how the dog reads people and situations his whole life.
Ours is just super happy to be in the middle of a gaggle of people. Not everyone is comfortable with a big dog, so may some of your guests be nervous? Your dog will know this without anyone saying so.
So if your dog feels compelled, for some reason, to hold a guest back from leaving, its up to you to be the detective. Be considerate always of your dogs inborn guardian nature. Perhaps leashing him when guests are leaving and gently give a 'sit' command. Ask your guests to leave your home without making a fuss and without looking at your dog. You cannot know what your dog is thinking but you can be observant of triggers. Find out what they are and help to avoid them. Redirect, but never punish your dog with your voice or otherwise or you will define that moment as a scary moment in his mind. Remain gentle, calm and reassuring...always.
Good luck...stay on track. Remember, good habits make good dogs.

May 26, 2019
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Thanks for all your comments
by: Richard

To be more informative. Harley is a rescue dog which we have no idea how he was raised. The vet who checked him out after he was found wandering out in the country of East Texas thinks he is around 2 years old. He only around 50 pounds when he was found, he had skin infections and gum disease. It is amazing how loving he is to us.
When I used the term stalking it was when he was outside and this particular guest was leaving and Harley was approaching her like a wolf would approach, then nipped at her feet then grabbed her sweater. He doesn't do this with others who have come over. This lady is not a bad person she is nice and wanted to be friends with Harley but for some reason Harley does not like her or her husband. So from now on when she comes over I put Harley on a separate deck which has a gate on it. We have a Gardner that came over today and Harley was just fine with him, sat out with him went to sleep under a tree near him when he was working. I can't figure why he reacts to this one couple? But thanks for all your concerns and comments.

May 26, 2019
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One more comment
by: Richard

I have another rescue dog Chloey who is a golden lab female. Her and Chloey became best friends within the first 10 minutes of being introduced. Harley is very good with her which i find amazing that they have become so close.

Jun 11, 2019
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Cloey
by: Anonymous

This is were your detective work really helps.
What is Cloey's reaction to these people? Perhaps Harley is reacting to her signal? Its almost worth your while to video both dogs' interaction with these people. A signal communication, dog to dog, can be unseen and unheard by us. Lovely that your dogs are so bonded. That close relationship between them can also be the key to his behavior. Pyrs are protectors, first and foremost. They 'think'....but not like us. We miss the subtle vibrational cues dogs depend upon to give them information of their environment, 24/7. We miss that info because we have lost that acute sensitivity of all the senses.
It may come down to a question of who, exactly, is worried when these people come into your home? And when they leave? What is it that Harley feels a need to take care of (a Pyr trait)
and for whom?
Our dog loves trips to the mall. He craves the attention he invariably gets from passersby. Only once did both our dogs back away from the open window when a very well dressed, and ordinary gentleman approached. They both turned their backs to this person. We don't know why, but they sensed something that was not OK.
We have had dogs our whole life and from our experience, we know that not all dogs are created equal. The Pyr we now have is our first and he is exceptional in every way. We trust his judgement completely and never question it. Your Harley carries the same DNA. Their thinking is direct and is not nuanced with 'ifs and maybes' as a human thinks. So, there is a reason he reacts to those visitors. It may take some time, or never!, to unravel this puzzle, but trust your dog first.
And kudos too, for asking for help. Shows you care. Harley is lucky he 'found' you.

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