Protecting my bipeds

I really enjoyed World Smile Day last week. You all know that I was so excited about it that I couldn’t wait until the actual day to start the smiling. I was pleased to make new friends – I haven’t visited all of you yet, but I will soon! It was lovely to see so many happy, smiling faces!

Clowie, Pyrenean Mountain Dog, Great Pyrenees

I love meeting people and making them smile when I’m out and about with my bipeds. I’m always careful to sit politely and wait for the people I meet to show they want to make a fuss of me. This is because I know some people feel nervous of me as I’m large. I also enjoy making my bipeds laugh and smile at home by doing funny things, but there is something that’s even more important to me – that is to protect my bipeds.

It’s hardly surprising that protecting them is so important to me when you consider that my ancestors have honed their protective abilities for generations by looking after livestock in the mountains. Although I’m always on the alert for potential danger, I’m pleased that there have been less than a pawful of occasions when I’ve found it necessary to do anything more than give a warning woof. I’d like to tell you about one of those today.

It was late on a summer evening and it was getting dark. I was at home with the female biped. The doorbell rang and I went with her to answer the door. The hall was wide and there was a space to the side of the door where I sat. I could see clearly, but whoever was at the door would have to look sideways to see me.

My biped opened the door and there was a man there. He said he was selling manure for the garden. My biped told him that she wasn’t interested, but the man continued to talk. My biped kept repeating that she wasn’t interested, but the man just kept on talking. After a minute or two he began to move closer and closer to the front door.

My biped spoke louder than she had been, “I have said NO”, and at the same time she began closing the door.

The man placed a hand on the door and moved one of his feet onto the step, stopping my biped from closing the door. Before she could react, I gave a slight growl and stood up. My biped moved the hand closest to me slightly away from her side with the palm facing me, our silent signal for “wait” – so I stood still.

The man noticed me for the first time and a look of horror crossed his face. He leapt backwards as suddenly as a frog jumps! He landed awkwardly on the path about four feet away. His legs seemed to be a bit wobbly as he hurried away, calling back over his shoulder, “I have to go!”

Frog

I’d never seen a biped jump like a frog before!

My biped put a hand on my neck and we watched him go out of the gate before she closed the front door. Then my biped bent over and made a huge fuss of me. She told me how clever and good I am. The strange thing is that she praised me more for taking notice of her signal to “wait” than she did for scaring the nasty man away! But biped logic can be very difficult to follow – I try not to worry about it. I’m always pleased to accept praise and treats!

Even though it was funny to see a biped jump like a frog, I’m glad that I can be friends with most of the bipeds I meet!

See you next Wednesday!

Not on my watch!

I’ve told you about some of the things that I did to liven up puppy classes, I don’t know why the trainer called it causing chaos! After I stopped going to puppy classes, we tried several different classes for adult dogs. Most of them were fairly dull, but we found one we enjoyed.

A farmer allowed the trainer to hold classes in one of his barns that he didn’t use very much. There were all kinds of interesting smells and lots of space. After attending the intermediate class for a few months, I joined the advanced class. There were only about a dozen of us. There was one Labrador who was just having fun and spicing up her training like me, the rest of the class were all Border Collies who entered obedience competitions.

This particular week, we were doing our off lead heel work. We all had a turn at using as much of the barn as we wished, while the other bipeds and dogs sat and watched from one end of the barn. When it came to our turn my biped left her bag behind the chair, as she usually did. We moved out into the centre of the barn and my biped asked me to sit and then she removed my lead and draped it round her neck. The trainer then asked us to go through the moves we’d been learning. I watched my biped closely and did everything she asked, I could tell she was really pleased with me.

The trainer said, “Clowie’s working really well with you this week. She’s really giving you her attention. Have some fun together and mix things up, show us what you can do!”

My biped decided to pick up the pace a bit. We started jogging and she kept making sudden changes of direction. I could tell my biped was having fun, so it was a shame when something more important needed my attention. I gave one warning bark and tore off across the barn. I arrived by the chairs and barked twice at Tommy. He immediately started grovelling – he didn’t want any trouble.

Border Collie, black and white

I don’t have a photo of Tommy, but he looks a lot like this dog


Attribution: By Lilly M (za zgodą mojej znajomej – wikipedystki) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The trainer asked, “What was that all about?”

My biped, who was running across the barn in my direction replied that she didn’t know.

Tommy’s biped piped up, “I know! Don’t worry, everything is fine now.”

My biped arrived and clipped the lead to my collar.

Tommy’s biped continued, “Clowie was quite within her rights. I was enjoying watching you working together and I didn’t notice Tommy had slipped his collar. Clowie caught him with his head in your bag! I expect he was after treats. Clowie warned him and he started grovelling. I don’t think he’ll try to take anything from your bag again.”

The trainer said, “Clowie has shown you all how observant a Pyrenean Mountain Dog is. Whatever else she’s doing, her real focus is on protecting her biped and even her belongings!”

It was the end of the evening and everyone wanted to tell me how clever I was to catch Tommy red-pawed. They told my biped how safe they would feel if they knew that I was protecting them. They were impressed that I could do obedience work and still not miss a thing that was happening.

See you next Wednesday!

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!

Not too close!

I was one of the doggies featured on Cat Forsley’s blog recently. If you haven’t seen the post, you should take a look – you may meet a new doggy friend there!

I’m going to tell you about our log fire. When the weather is cold and my bipeds are relaxing, they like to light a log fire. I’ve never found the actual fire particularly interesting, but the logs in the basket at the side of the fireplace are quite tempting! I don’t do more than sniff them now, but when I was a puppy I used to take one or two logs out to play with if I thought no one was looking. They always noticed! One of my bipeds would hand me one of my toys and put the logs back in the basket.

The cats, Mulberry and Pippin, like to sit close to the fire. Pippin is usually sensible, but Mulberry sometimes wants to be too close. When that happens I gently push him with my nose, until he moves away to a safe distance.

Log fire (from Wiki Commons)

Log fire (from Wiki Commons)

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