Carry on socialising

I’m answering a Frequently Barked Question today.

FBQ: My Great Pyrenees (Pyrenean Mountain Dog) is nine months old and shows no signs of being protective. He wants to be friends with everyone and everything we meet. Should I stop socialising him to encourage him to be protective?

Clowie: Carry on socialising! When he’s a little older, he will be protective if there’s danger. That’s the short answer, now I will explain.

It’s important to continue socialising him. Socialisation will not prevent him from being protective of his family when it’s necessary, but it will enable him to make sensible decisions about when you need his protection.

The fact that he’s friendly and relaxed shows you’ve done a great job of socialising him so far. You should continue to give him as many new experiences as you can.

Clowie , Pyrenean Mountain Dog, Great Pyrenees, smiling

I like to be friends with everyone, but I’m always watchful

Nine months old is still very young, Great Pyrenees are not considered mature until two or three years old. Our protective instincts are very strong, but the age at which they’re first noticed varies from dog to dog and depends on circumstances.

An insufficiently-socialised dog worries about too many situations and becomes too protective. An adult dog that is nervous and overprotective can be difficult to handle – we are large and very strong.

A well-socialised adult Pyrenean Mountain Dog will be relaxed and confident in most situations, although he will always be alert to the possibility of danger and ready to act if needed.

Many people have been surprised at how quickly their relaxed and friendly Great Pyrenees acted when he saw danger to his family. Our presence is often enough to keep danger away from our loved ones. We like to find a pleasant spot where we can observe everything that is going on, so that we are the first to know if there is any danger and we can act if we need to.

We are very good at multi-tasking, whatever we’re doing you can be sure that some of our attention is reserved for keeping an eye out for danger. I had to reprimand a naughty Border Collie who had his nose in my biped’s bag at obedience class when I was not quite two years old – my biped thought she had my complete attention doing heel work!

I think my biped was less surprised when I warned the pushy man who tried to stop her from closing the front door, as I was more mature then and she knew how watchful I am.

My bipeds laugh because I can sleep through all kinds of normal household activity, but I will be wide awake and on my paws in an instant if there is the slightest unusual sound.

Clowie, Pyrenean Mountain Dog, sleeping

Don’t be fooled by my snoring – I can still hear everything!

Keep up the good work and continue socialising as much as you can – it really pays dividends for you and your dog. However soft and friendly a Great Pyrenees is, he will always protect those he’s close to when there’s danger.

See you next Wednesday!

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!”


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!

There Be Dragons

I was in the garden with one of my bipeds. It was Spring and the weather was improving. I sat waiting for my biped while she messed about with some plants in the greenhouse. I hoped to play a game when she’d finished. I was almost a year old and so I waited patiently – or at least with the appearance of patience! Then this strange noise began, it was a really deep rumbling sound coming from next door. Then puffs of steam started coming over the fence. I realised it must be a dragon breathing fire, so I started barking to warn my biped.

My biped put her head out of the greenhouse, looked around, and said, “Quiet, there’s nothing to worry about!” This was strange because I know just how dangerous dragons can be!

I stopped barking, but I decided to stay alert. I usually knew that everything was fine when she said so, but I had a new feeling that I hadn’t had before. She came out of the greenhouse and I kept between her and the fence that the steam was coming over. It made it difficult for my biped to walk and she stopped and looked puzzled. Then she realised that I was still concerned about the dragon next door and she told me again that it was nothing to worry about.

I relaxed a little and let her walk normally. She wandered about watering plants in pots. I stayed close to her, but not so close that I would get in the way. Then she went near to the fence that the steam was coming over. It was too close! This feeling came over me again and I couldn’t allow it, I moved between her and the fence and starting pushing her away from it. She stepped sideways to try to go round me, but I moved quickly and stayed in her way and again started pushing her back. She stepped to the other side and again I quickly blocked her. All this blocking made me wonder if I’d be even better at American football than I am at the English variety, which is also known as soccer!

My biped, however, had other ideas. She spun away from me and went to the side of the garden away from the fence. She called me to her and asked me to sit and stay for a moment. This was no problem, there should soon be some treats coming my way, as I was really good at sit and stay. Sure enough, she had a treat in her pocket and it was quite tasty!

She disappeared into the house, returning in just a moment, and I could smell she had some of my favourite liver cake in her pocket now. We did some heel work well away from the fence with the threatening dragon behind it. I easily performed another sit and stay. We then did some more heel work, going closer and closer to the fence. Then we moved away again and I was a lot more relaxed, as the dragon seemed content to stay the other side of the fence.

She asked me to sit and stay again. The liver cake was really tasty, so I immediately sat and thought about the piece of liver cake I’d soon be eating. Then I noticed that my biped was nearer the fence than I was and I almost got up, but she very quickly said, “stay” in a very firm voice and I stayed. She quickly returned to me and gave me another piece of the liver cake. We repeated this a few times and it was really difficult to stay and earn the liver cake! She made a fuss of me and said, “You are a good girl, even with that tasty liver cake, I could see it was difficult for you with your new-found protective tendencies!”

Later, I heard my bipeds talking about the enormous steam cleaner that the neighbour hired and used to clean the block paving in his garden every year. They could believe that if they wanted, but I knew it was really a dragon.

See you next Wednesday!

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