Aggression, wandering, and neuter

by Betsey
(Colorado, USA)

My Dewa was leaving my house on a leash this morning just when I stranger was walking past. He broke loose, charged and then jumped up on the stranger, literally barking and snarling in her face. My friend, who was taking Dewa out for a walk, ran to the scene. He managed to get between the stranger and Dewa, and used waved his arms using body-language to say "down". Dewa calmed and meekly walked, with his head down, to my friend.
The stranger was emotionally shaken but physically unharmed.

This incident has me extremely concerned. Dewa will be 24 months on September 17 of this year. Due to the pandemic I was not able to socialize him during the critical age period. He has not demonstrated this level of aggression previously. He tends to charge right up to strangers (if he breaks loose or is in wilderness area off leash) but decides upon a sniff and the stranger's reaction whether he likes them, or not. Accordingly, he schmoozes up for a pet, barks a foot away, or moves away to distance pacing and looking on suspciously.

I think his behaviors are about defending his territory (which he thinks is well beyond my fence), protecting me, and defending his female litter mate.
He has also become fearful of the staircases in my home and I wonder if his aggression this morning and his staircase fears are related?

I am also noticing Dewa's increased desire to roam, whether via escape or deciding that sticking within a reasonable distance of me while we are walking wilderness together is no longer important. He's been so lovely up to about 1 month ago, recalling within 20 minutes while we have walked the National Forest lands together. What was previously a 60-80 minute walk/hike for me with Dewa and his sister, Samadhhi, is now often Dewa taking off, Samadhi in tow, and somedays running for HOURS (anywhere from 2-24) while I wait for them to return to the car. They have tracking collars now, so I know where and how far they are going but the distance and terrain is not accessible for me. They get leash walks in evenings everyday too but leash walks and yard play does not seem like enough exercise.

Please help me weigh the pros/cons of neutering him now, 3 months before his 2-year birthday. As well, full spay his sister Samadhi, who currently has partial spay. She does come into heat and perhaps spaying her will reduce Dewa's urge to defend her, as well to reduce coyote attraction to her.

Also, please help me weigh the pros/cons of walking off-leash in wilderness. My intention with these two was for my companionship and safety for hiking and rural homelife.

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Jul 02, 2022
by: Donna

Neutering doesn't usually help his wanting to 'defend' his littermate.

His lack of socialization and handling by many different people by the breeder is the result of what is happening as he matures. And, of course, Covid was a big problem.

He should not ever be allowed to roam. They start to roam as they mature. This breed was bred to roam with their livestock back in the day when fences were not around.

That he would charge someone is a huge issue. Keep him on leash at all times. Farmers are allowed to shoot if they interfere with their livestock. They might be hit by a car or poisoned. You also do not want to put people at risk by his aggression.

He should be in a securely-fenced yard of at least 6-feet to keep him and strangers safe.

This behaviour usually does not improve, but usually only increases as he continues to mature. If you have guests over, make sure he is crated. Crate Training

You should keep a muzzle on him if you continue to walk him in public to keep everyone safe. Here is a podcast on that subject:
Muzzle Training

Most importantly, have your vet refer you to a Certified Animal Behaviourist. They can best advise you on how to proceed.

Jul 03, 2022
by: Anonymous

Wow! You have a lot going on here with your dogs. How familiar were you with the breed before you adopted these two into your life? If they are your first, I would find other owners and discuss with them how to interact with a Pyrenees. You would be wise to listen and employ their advice.
But realise you've lost all the 'puppy time' by now of habituating your two to good habits. Waiting for them for hours to return to your side isn't recall. They simply decide to return when they decide to return. One of these days they may just decide to not return and keep going.
These things define this breed...they are independent thinkers, they wander, they use 'posture' to intimidate threat, they are fearless, their gardianship of you is not a given, and you have to earn their companionship.
You must work with your dogs, within those parameters, to achieve the good habits you guide them to accept. They must never be off-leash.
I have never heard of a 'partial spay'. At their age now, a few months from 2yrs, complete spay and neuter both. If you are challenged handling both of them by yourself on a walk, find someone to go with you. Use a halti or a harness that tightens if they pull. Personally, I would change that run routine entirely. On a loose run they are not your companion, they are embedding their independence from you and they want it all the time by now. That is a monumental disconnect.
Are your stairs carpeted or slippy...they will avoid something that has caused hurt and he'll simply refuse to go there from now on. Its not fear its simply the knowledge that stairs hurt.
If you are feeding them high energy puppy food its time to wean them to an adult formula to help them settle. No more off-leash runs thru the forest. Free time only within a fenced yard with you in constant attendance, interacting with them, engage them in play but avoid competetive behaviours. If you want their companionship you have to give them yours, first.
Good luck with this. Expect a change will take years but be patient and always kind, reward good behaviour with your kind voice. As a benchmark, they will start to mature at around 5yrs of age so work with them towards that by encouraging good behaviours. Consult with a experienced Pyrenees behaviorist for advice. Love your Pyrs.

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