I am going to answer a Frequently Barked Question, or FBQ, today.
FBQ: Is a Pyrenean Mountain Dog (Great Pyrenees) the right dog for me?
I have to point out that the people asking this question have it back to front. The question should really be: Am I the right person for a Pyrenean Mountain Dog? If you’re offended that I have turned the question round then the answer to your original question is a no!
People who live with Pyrenean Mountain Dogs are generally agreed that we have lots of attitude. I think that attitude is a good thing and I’ve seen lots of quotations saying that attitude is everything, but apparently some humans don’t want attitude from a dog!
My ancestors were bred to look after livestock in the mountains, with little or no supervision from humans. We are confident and think for ourselves. If you think a dog should obey you, without question, simply because you are a human, you are the wrong person for a Great Pyrenees.
We are intelligent and capable of learning quickly. Training needs to begin early and our bipeds usually think they have the perfect puppy for a while, as we pick things up so quickly. But most of us, sooner or later, start thinking about whether we actually want to do the things we’re asked to do. Then we start thinking about ways of avoiding doing the things we don’t want to do. I myself began this phase when I was about eleven weeks old – and I’m not particularly precocious!
We need bipeds who are patient and consistent to work through this with us. A sense of humour also helps! If you have those qualities, we’ll gradually grow to trust and respect you and we’ll do as we’re asked most of the time. Training us isn’t about dominance, we respond to positive reinforcement but we’re not usually as motivated by food as people expect dogs to be. I enjoy a treat or two, but I’m far more motivated by praise or a game.
I’m a well-behaved adult and I trust and respect my bipeds – they can take me anywhere with them. But I still occasionally check to see if my bipeds are on their toes by trying to bend a rule. Of course it’s just a coincidence that this happens when I know they’re in a hurry, or that it’s raining and they don’t really want to put on shoes to come outside to fetch me in from the garden! I’ve heard that I’m far from alone in doing this!
If that Pyr-attitude doesn’t worry you, check out “Not the dog for everyone“. For those brave souls who are still with me, here are just a few more things you should know before deciding that you’re right for a Great Pyrenees.
It’s fairly obvious that we’re large, but this has lots of implications that are not as obvious – see “Santa Pups“.
We have lots of it! We moult heavily once or twice a year, but we’re generous with our hair the rest of the time – see “From hair to eternity“. I hope you don’t like wearing black!
We have a reputation for barking a lot. Our bark is loud, so it can be a cause for concern. I have barked about this a few times.
General barking – “To bark, or not to bark, that is the question“.
Preparing for the barking – “The calm before the barking storm“.
Barking at night – “Why barking at night can be a good thing“.
I hope you find the right dog for you!
See you next Wednesday!