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. Oh, Clowie, I wish all bipeds would be as responsible as yours when it comes to understanding their four-legged companions! So many sad stories of attacks could be averted.

    • It makes me sad, attacks seem to be on the increase. Dogs need time and attention. Almost all unacceptable dog behaviour is due to lack of socialisation.

  2. Chancy is not a dog that barks a lot unless someone or critter is near our yard. He will look out the window and see other dogs walking by and bark I tell him it is okay they are not going to get on our property. He will sometimes keep barking and I say to him “Chancy, that is just too loud, everything is okay and you need to stop”. Most of the time he stops barking but once in awhile he makes us laugh so hard. He wants to keep barking so much he thinks he will burst if he doesn’t bark so he goes “woof” one time softly then stops. He just has to get in one more tiny “woof” though. This was an interesting and informative post. Hugs and nose kisses

    • You made me laugh because I occasionally carry on and make one or two very soft woofs in my throat. It’s like a person muttering when they’re not pleased about something! I’m glad you found it interesting.

  3. Great tips Clowie! Sometimes, it appears as though Shiner is barking at nothing. Well, I know she must be barking about something, even if it’s ridiculous to me. Sometimes, if I make a sound that sounds like a knock she will think someone is at the door and start barking about it.

  4. “we need to learn to listen to each other better.”
    Good advice for us all. πŸ™‚

  5. Wonderful post Clowie and the socialization and training you speak of is important for all our pups, not just Pyrs…and about the barking…sometimes Gizmo joins in what i can only describe as a community barkfest…I hear all our neighbor dogs barking and Giz joins the chorus…I usually take a loot outside to see what’s caught their attention, though I know it could easily be a hawk or an owl or maybe even a squirrel…but I know it’s got to be something even if I can’t see it…and I figure if they had thumbs and iBones they’d probably be texting

    • Thank you, Gizmo! Yes, it is very important for all dogs. Well socialised dogs are happy and relaxed and can have so much more fun – like going geocaching! It is very tempting to join in when there’s a community barkfest! I think that the original trigger can turn into a bit of a contest about who can bark loudest and longest sometimes!

  6. Clowie, even though I am a cat, I know why dogs bark. They bark to scare us cats, that’s why!! MOL Just kidding. That was very informative. Thank you xx

    • Ha ha, Austin, and cats sit somewhere out of reach and tease dogs so that they’ll bark and get moaned at! I love cats and I’m always a bit disappointed that most of them run away. I try not to take it personally, as I know my cats won’t go near other dogs.

  7. Clowie! That was cool! What a informative post. Mes LOVED the video and so did my (barking) hairy slobbery sisters (who barked back by the way)

  8. We heard the video, we heard the barking, and looked all around for where it was coming from until our biped whispered, Clowie’s lesson for today. Oh Clowie, another grrrrrrrrreat post and boy did that barking get our attention. I guess that was the first step to getting us to learn anything, to pay attention. BOL! wag wag, Max & Bella

    • Thank you, I’m glad you liked the post. That video is fun! I love the way the Great Dane barks and I love it when the small dog barks so hard that he moves! Yes, we don’t learn anything, if we’re not open to learning.

  9. Love the post. As a matter of fact I find it somewhat recognizable in our Great Dane and Leonberger as well. πŸ™‚
    Have a nice day!!

    • Thank you. I’ve heard my bipeds comparing notes with bipeds who live with Leonbergers. It sounded as though we have quite a lot in common! I think some Pyr went into the mix when the breed was created. I’ve met Great Danes but I know a lot less about their tendencies.

  10. So, Clowie they could touch you while you were mid-bark an you wouldn’t snap at them? that would actually calm you down? I find that interesting and a bit counterintuitive.

    • Yes, it isn’t something to try unless you know a dog well. It can be very difficult to get a dog’s attention when they’re barking. When I first started barking as an adolescent, I didn’t hear them – I was concentrating so hard on the barking. If you shout the dog will usually think you’re joining in. A lot depends on the temperament of the dog and the reason for barking. I trust my bipeds and want to know they’re aware of what I’m telling them. It’s a lot easier to get my attention now, they generally just say, “Thank you, Clowie” and I stop.

  11. We have beagles, who are also known for their barking. But ours are not bad. I like to let them bark when they feel the need to. As long as it doesn’t go on and on and on….they usually pay attention and I will make them come in the house if they won’t stop.

  12. We kitties like the sound of our voices too! The mom has had a few “yowlers” and we can be loud! Carl likes to “sing” at night and wakes everyone. The first kitty who did this always found a place that echoed, like a hallway, and then sang at the top of his lungs. Hee, hee.

    • Our Pippin can be very loud, but he is half Siamese! Mulberry isn’t so loud, but he does like to give us a running commentary at times. I won’t tell Pippin that his voice would echo in the hallway!

  13. Hi Clowie, and thanks for an interesting post … Both i and Maria have read it …
    I donΒ΄t bark so much … a little bit unusually for my breed … I always been like this … But i always bark loud when we get visit at the door … But only for a very short while .. // Yarri πŸ™‚

  14. Ah! The K9 version of the lupine hOOOooooOOOOOOooooWwwWWWWWwwwwwwwwwLLLLLLLLLLLLL!! All makes sense now! Bipeds don’t understand us either, they’re mostly scared of our howling πŸ˜‰ Silly bipeds! If we were about hurting them we certainly wouldn’t be advertising our presence like that! I didn’t know it took Pyreeeeees so long to start barking but I should think it is a magnificent voice that you bark with…deep and resounding…truly deafening! Enough to strike fear into even the bravest of hearts! Beware the ill-meaning biped in the presence of a Pyreeee! πŸ™‚

    • I like to think it’s an impressive bark when I fill my lungs and give it full volume, something I don’t often do! There’s no mistaking that the sound comes from a large dog. Our bark is often enough to send trouble away!

  15. What a great post! Our Lab, Rudy, is a very quiet fellow and when he does bark, it surprises us!

  16. Great post Clowie! We like to bark lots especially when mommy puts us outside and doesn’t let us in right away! We sit by the door and tell mommy what we think!

  17. Very educational Clowie, really!! I think I learned a lot right now – just by listening and watching – and reading your explanations. thanks!

  18. This was really good information to know, Clowie! I have a close friend who has a Great Pyrenees and had a horrible problem with him barking to where there were complaints. But, now he’s calmed down signficantly and spends the majority of his time lounging in the house. It’s always great to hear from you! πŸ™‚

  19. Great techniques my sweet Clowie! I don’ t usually bark except when I’m playing with my mom and dad, but for someone who barks often these techniques are perfect.

  20. Do Pyrs generally have socialization issues? We have several come in to the place I work, and while there are a few breeds of dog I am more cautious about handling, the Pyr is not one of them. In fact, they’re on my top 10 favorites list. πŸ˜€ Pyrs seem to be, as a group, very generous and easy going dogs with few mental issues. I really enjoy working with them.

    • I don’t think they generally have issues. It’s just I feel it’s extra important that a large and naturally protective dog is very well socialised. When a Pyr is out and about where there are people, everyone wants to make a fuss of the Pyr – so they tend to get very relaxed about people and treat everyone as a potential friend.

Comments are closed.