The calm before the barking storm

I’m going to answer a Frequently Barked Question (FBQ) this week. A few people have asked me the same question: Why doesn’t my Pyrenean Mountain Dog (or Great Pyrenees) bark?

The subject of barking often comes up in connection with Pyrenean Mountain Dogs. At first I was a little surprised to be asked why they are not barking, I’m more often asked how to stop a Great Pyrenees from barking!

In each case, the dog I was asked about is still an adolescent. We are not considered mature until we are about two, or even three, years of age. We don’t generally bark very much, if at all, until we are approaching maturity. This is because our main reason for barking is when we perceive danger – something that doesn’t worry us at all until we start to feel protective of our families.

Once we do start barking, many of us are quite enthusiastic about it – some would say too enthusiastic! We discover that we like the sound of our voices and barking can be fun. I was more than a year old when I began to bark regularly, but other Pyrs may start earlier or later than I did.

Before I tell you about ways to prepare for the barking phase, I’d like you to watch this educational video. It contains a message for bipeds and for dogs. There may be a test later!

Bipeds, I’m sure you noticed that the dogs did have a very good reason for barking, even though the humans with them didn’t understand what it was.

Doggies, where do I begin? Many of you will already know that humans tend to think we’re just making a noise, but this may surprise you younger dogs. Barking louder and longer really doesn’t get our message across to them!

All is not lost, we need to learn to listen to each other better. This brings me to my advice to adolescent Pyrs and their bipeds, but these things could be useful for other dogs.

When we are barking it can be difficult to get our attention, so training with us to get and hold our attention will be helpful. This can be done by attracting our attention with a click of the fingers or a word such as “look” and giving us a treat, or use a clicker if you train together that way. When we are used to the idea of getting the treat for giving our attention, gradually make us wait a moment. This can be very useful to take our focus from whatever we’re barking at.

A Pyr who is barking at full volume may not hear you – we can be quite loud! My bipeds found it useful to get my attention by touching me, but I was already relaxed about them touching me when I wasn’t expecting it. This is fun to train, keep some treats handy and at odd times just touch the dog and then give a treat.

Socialisation is extremely important. The more experiences that a Pyr has had, the less things there will be that worry him, or her. Although he’ll probably bark at everything when he discovers his bark, with patience and consistency the barking can be reduced and this is a lot easier if the dog is confident and well socialised.

Training together and positive experiences through socialisation build a strong bond between dog and biped, which means we will trust you when you tell us there’s nothing to worry about.

I wrote about some techniques for when the barking begins in “To bark, or not to bark, that is the question“.

I have also written about reducing barking at night – “Why barking at night can be a good thing

See you next Wednesday!


95 thoughts on “The calm before the barking storm

  1. You are so smart Clowie!
    Oh. I meant your biped too.
    I know every bark from the 101 Dalmations soundtrack since I listened to it 10 times when I was young and 100 times when my kids were young.
    I agree with everything you dogs were barking in the movie.
    PS- Maybe you should share a treat with your biped. She seems better than the norm.

    • Thank you. I love 101 Dalmatians – one of the scariest villains ever, but there’s a happy ending. When I want to get into mischief I think my biped understands me too well, but it’s generally a good thing to be understood. I’ll see if she wants to share some cheese with me!

  2. Your post is a treat for bipeds,for the one who have the ability to listen and understand.Brilliant!

  3. I barked and barked when I found my voice.. I was scared of everything and I was sure going to let them know ( I am a Collie and they are a bit of a fruit loop BOL ) Now I am two, I trust my Bipeds like you, if they say it’s fine and not to worry, then I relax. I use to do their heads in with the constant barking at every noise..BOL..catch ya next Wednezday Clowie, have a great week xxooxxxx

    Mollie and Alfie

  4. Very sensible advice on all fronts Clowie – socialisation and what we call ‘bomb proofing’ are very important. Trust is what it’s all about!

    • Thank you. Yes, socialisation and ‘bomb proofing’ are very important. The trust gained from good experiences forms a solid foundation and makes everything easier.

  5. Whee loved the Twilight Bark! Though it made all of us wheek. To squeak or not to squeak, is that really a question?!! ^_^

    Nacho, Noah, Buddy & Basil

  6. Another brilliant post! And typist always thinks of that clip whenever she hears dogs barking!

  7. I’m not very good at barking lol, though I did bark at a cow the other day which shocked everyone, even me BOL

  8. I have different barks for different needs and peeps knows it. Ancient Pip never barks. Great post. Have a wonderful Wednesday.

    Best wishes Molly

  9. Great piece of info you gave there Clowie.
    Doggy barks whenever the other person at home gets in late at night, he wakes me up, he barks as soon as he hears the elevator door opening. It’s the guard dog in him, but it sure is annoying. Other than that he doesn’t bark, during the day he’s mute, except when he is thirsty and there’s no water in his bowl.

    • Thank you. I don’t even bark when I want something, it’s strictly reserved for security issues. If I want something I ask them to follow me, I do a small bounce with a partial twirl in the direction I want them to move. Then I show them the empty water bowl or whatever it is.

  10. Mom played the video for me. It sounded like music to my ears. I do not bark a lot at all. But when I have something to say, I say it!! Mom can stop me by jingling my throwing chain.

    Love and licks,

  11. Oh Clowie what a wonderful explanation about barking and WHEN in the life of a Pyr it begins and why. If your barking is anywhere near as fierce as your Clowie Cuddle Hugs then I’m all for it. Tee Hee. Since cats don’t bark (although some of us can meow rather loudly), the way I alert my Mom something is amiss is by giving her “THE LOOK”… eyes go quite dark (they’re golden when I’m calm) and my ears go back and that means “UHOH MOM!!!”.

    Kitty Hugs, Sammy

    • Thank you, Sammy! I have a range of barks. I usually begin with one or two quiet ‘woofs’. If I fill my lungs and give full voice I sound a lot like the Great Dane in the video.
      I have seen how expressive a cat’s eyes are and I know well that if either of my cats puts their ears back then they are not happy!

  12. That all sounds like my sister…the dog that attended puppy school at age three! Giant puppies your types are! Katie loves to bark mainly and dawn and dusk too and real loud. Now that she is older it has let up a bit, but it can get pretty loud.

    • I always get the feeling that Katie and I would agree on all the important things! We can turn up the volume when we feel we need to!

  13. I’ve heard about this phenomenon. That means Pyrenees aren’t yappy, they can keep a secret, right? I’m a very verbal breed. Mom teached me to bark by command, it works, but sadly she has no clue how she can stop it :o) (like Mickey with the broomsticks in fantasia LOL)

    • We’ll keep a secret as long as it isn’t a security issue – if it is we’ll make sure everyone hears! It’s funny about learning to bark on command. The usual advice given is to teach a dog to bark so it’s easier to teach the dog to stop. That’s a big fail for us as well. They spent ages trying to teach me to bark, but I just sat and laughed at them. All the techniques we saw rely on the dog barking out of excitement and I just don’t do that!

  14. Very interesting about barking. I have not had a dog for about 50 years! I do know that the Border Collies on the farm next to us bark all the time! They have lots to say.. 🙂

  15. Any tips to stop Mummy Janey singing?
    The REAL Maple Syrup Mob xxxxx

  16. Mom Linda had a scary experience with an untrained and. Ot well socialized great Pyr a few years ago. There was a graduation party, mom and Dad were talking to the Pyr’s male biped…and when the dog came over Mom offered the back of her hand for the dog to smell, as she always does. He lunged at her with a threatening growl…people all around stepped in fearful for Mom. Then that GP fixed his eyes on her and followed her everywhere she went…she finally went inside and put Dad and a large couch between her and him. They left that party very early. Mom would love to meet you Clowie, she knows that dog had not been trained.

    • That would be very scary. Socialisation is so important for us, it helps us be the relaxed and confident dogs we’re meant to be. It’s important, as I’m sure your mom and dad know, for all dogs, but it’s extra important for any of the breeds that guard naturally. It’s very sad, and worrying, to see a nervous guardian dog.

  17. I loved waking up to your new post this morning. Watching a spot from 101 Dalmatians was great! Gracie raised her head a little from her slumber at all the barking dogs. I’m surprised it didn’t set her off. As she’s gotten older, her barking (at things) has actually gotten a little worse. Guess she just likes to keep us posted on what’s happening in the neighborhood!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it. It sounds like Gracie knew all the barking was nothing to worry about. Sometimes it’s important to know what’s going on in the neighbourhood.

  18. Awesome dear Clowie… Those landscpaes are really outstanding… you are lucky to live close to the mountains; because this is such a beautiful place… I wish you enjoy your day Puppy;
    Aquileana 😉

  19. I’m sociable and communicative… but I can be reserved and silent, too! 🙂
    @”To bark, or not to bark, that is the question“.” – excellent statement… I wonder what Hamlet would reply… 🙂
    – – –
    have a pleasant evening and amitiés toulousaines, cheers! 🙂 Mélanie

    • I’m not sure what Hamlet would say, but I think he would appreciate it. He managed to address a skull without losing his dignity.
      Have a lovely evening!

  20. Ohhh my Mom soooo wishes that I wouldn’t bark so much! I am a “barking machine!”

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