Creative design

I am answering a Frequently Barked Question (FBQ) this week.

FBQ: Are Pyrenean Mountain Dogs, or Great Pyrenees, destructive?

Clowie: My short answer to that is that a contented and trained adult Pyrenean Mountain Dog is not destructive. I have not damaged anything in the house or garden since I was about nine months old.

However, we are capable of doing a lot of damage in a short space of time, so I can see why some people would say that we are destructive. Early training is very important so that we learn not to chew on the furniture!

Some of my creative efforts, when I was a puppy, have been misunderstood and my bipeds have said I’ve made a “terrible mess”. I believe that’s what they said when I gave the bathroom a makeover in the space of about ten minutes!

I never once chewed a shoe as a puppy. Oh, my biped has just peeped over my shoulder and said that’s because they kept them in the cupboard until I knew better and reminded me what I did to the table and benches in the kitchen – again my intentions were misunderstood!

Pyrenean Mountain Dog, Clowie

Chews taste better than shoes!

There was an incident with a baby gate they’d put across a doorway. It was hardly my fault that some of the door frame came away when I pushed the gate out of my way – the door frame must have been quite weak!

I tried to chew my way through a door – and I was doing quite well when they stopped me, but that was before I knew any better. I also chewed a chunk of plaster from the wall, but you don’t know you can’t eat something until you try it. I only did that once because it tastes awful!

I’m quite skilled at gardening and made the lawn much more interesting than just flat grass. My bipeds were so impressed that they gave me a corner of the garden to landscape as I pleased.

I did rearrange some plants that unfortunately died, but every gardener has to learn through experience – I didn’t know the roots were meant to be in the ground! They were mostly quite small plants as they are the easiest to move, but I did move a few shrubs and a small tree as well.

A large beech tree

My idea of a small tree!
Attribution: Philip Halling [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

I was accused of wrecking a water feature, but that was a misunderstanding – they kept putting plants in my outdoor drinking bowl!

I will make no excuse for sending the freshly-laid turf flying – that was lots of fun!

I think all of that is fairly normal puppy behaviour – I wasn’t unusual for a Pyrenean Mountain Dog puppy.

I’ve said that a trained and contented adult Great Pyrenees is not destructive, which is true. But if a bored adult does decide to nibble on the furniture they are obviously going to do a lot of damage very quickly. Early training to establish desired behaviour patterns is very important, as is sufficient exercise and time with our bipeds.

It is also important to prepare a Great Pyrenees to spend some time alone – we are just as prone as any dog to suffer from separation anxiety. It is better to avoid this than to remedy it. A distressed adult Pyrenean Mountain Dog has a lot of weight to throw about and most internal doors will not resist for long!

If our delight in digging hasn’t been controlled or directed in some way, you could end up with a copy of the Pyrenean Mountains in your back garden – my ancestors did create that range of mountains!

What do you think? Would you describe a Pyrenean Mountain Dog as destructive?





Aqua paw print

See you next Wednesday!

A walk on the healthy side

Going for a walk is one of the highlights of my day. Most people know that the exercise is beneficial to dogs and humans, but I think a walk is about so much more than getting some exercise so I’m going to talk about some of the other benefits.

For me, it’s quality time with one, or more, of my bipeds. I don’t have to share them with any of the many tasks that bipeds find to do for most of the day, their focus is on enjoying the time with me. The cats stay at home while we’re out for a walk – I love the cats but it’s lovely to get all the attention from my bipeds for a while! Quality time together improves the bond between dog and humans.

It is mentally stimulating for me to be able to sniff and find out what is going on in the neighbourhood. Humans miss most of the messages left by other dogs and wildlife, which is surprising as the messages are usually left in obvious places – on trees in the countryside and on street lights in urban areas! This means that even a short walk near to home is interesting as I get to know who has been in the area and when they were there.

Clowie, Pyrenean Mountain Dog, Great Pyrenees strolling in the mountains

I’m just strolling in the mountains – biped in tow

I have my favourite walks – they all include a stream. I love having a splash in cool water and the opportunity to take a drink – it always tastes better than the water my bipeds are carrying. I also enjoy it when we walk somewhere new because it’s an adventure!

When I was younger we always did some training while we were out. It was often things I’d been doing at home in our garden and I was asked to do them while we were out – it’s always much harder when there are distractions! I also encountered all sorts of people and animals while out on my walks as part of my socialisation.

I still get to show off some of my skills, and keep them honed, when we’re out on a walk. People often want to make a fuss of me and I’m always polite. Sometimes they just want to talk to my bipeds and I sit and show how very patient I am.

Most of my walks are in the countryside as that’s what we enjoy the most, but sometimes we go to a busy place where I see lots of traffic and people. I show that I remember to wait at the kerb until my biped says that it’s safe for us to cross. Sometimes someone will touch me unexpectedly and I take it in my stride (pun intended)!

I try to ensure that my bipeds focus on me during a walk, this is because I think it’s a special time for them to relax and forget about all the day to day things that concern them. I also help them to enjoy the simple pleasures of life such as splashing in a muddy puddle or pausing to sniff a wild flower. I’m not sure why they like sniffing flowers when there are always more interesting things to sniff, but they seem to enjoy it and it gives me more time to sniff things that are interesting!

The Cinnamon Trust

I’d like to mention The Cinnamon Trust, a charity based in the UK. They assist the terminally ill and the elderly to look after their pets. They have a network of volunteers who will do things like taking a dog for a regular walk.

Update on Milo

I interviewed Milo when he was a cheeky young pup and I told you that he was accepted for guide dog school. He’s now a working guide dog. Congratulations and very best wishes, Milo!

Milo's tweet about qualifying as a guide dog

See you next Wednesday!

It’s a sign

My bipeds quite often communicate with me by gestures. Other people don’t usually notice it’s happening, but those that do notice seem to be surprised. Our sign language is less complicated than the official sign language for bipeds.

Sign language

From Wikimedia Commons.

I think it could be fun watching my bipeds try semaphore, but our communication is a little more discrete than this!

Semaphore demonstration gif

From Wikimedia Commons.

We find it very useful if we’re in a noisy place, such as by a busy road or at a place with lots of people. My bipeds don’t have to raise their voices, they can give me a signal to stop or to sit. That’s good for them, as they don’t like to shout. It’s good for me, as I know they’re calm and relaxed – humans sound stressed when they raise their voices.

They’ll also gesture to me at home if they’re talking to visitors. The sign is usually to tell me I’ve done enough to make the visitors feel welcome and I should move away from them. That’s often followed by the signal to settle down. I always get a special smile when I do what they ask!

If I’m outside, I usually hear them if they come to the back door and I’ll look to see what they’re up to. Sometimes they’re coming out to play! If they want me to come indoors they may call to me, or they may just beckon.

I’ll explain how I learnt the signal for “down”. As a small puppy, after learning to sit, I followed the treat that was held in front of my nose and then taken down to the floor. When I knew what was expected of me, they taught me the word “down”. Then they started not quite taking the treat as far as the floor. Then they’d make the movement without a treat, although I still got a treat! Gradually my bipeds just pointed to the floor and now they just point a finger down.

Most dogs notice things like bipeds picking up car keys means they’re going out. We notice the things you do that mean you’re thinking about taking us out for a walk. Humans communicate far more without speaking than they’re usually aware.

There are some signs I’ve seen many bipeds make without thinking about it. They sit and see the cat is watching them, so they pat their lap and the cat knows the lap is available. A biped may pat the sofa next to them and the dog knows it’s time for a cuddle. One gesture I’ve seen lots of bipeds make, when they’ve been giving their dog treats, is to hold one or both hands up with the fingers spread – meaning that there are no more treats.

Do you use sign language? Do you notice unspoken clues?

See you next Wednesday!

P.S.

I’ve just visited Sammy’s and discovered that I’ve been awarded the Tuesday Teaser First Right Guesser Award! Thank you, Sammy!

And thank you very much, Easy! You’re my hero! If you don’t already know Easy, pop over and see him – I promise he’ll make you laugh!

Sammy's Tuesday Teaser First

Not the dog for everyone

It’s still so hot that the lizards need to cool off in the shade, so take care! This lizard was lurking on the windowsill on the shady side of the house yesterday.

Just chilling in the shade

Just cooling down in the shade

We’ve been having very loud thunderstorms almost every evening. I hear that my friends in England are getting a lot of storms and rain as well. We’ll all need these soon!

Webbed feet From Wikimedia Commons

Webbed feet
From Wikimedia Commons

The thunder has been so loud some of the time that you can feel the sound vibrating through you. That’s when the cats come and sit really close to me, if the bipeds are busy. The cats know I’ll look after them and protect them. I look after everyone in the household – I am the chief of security. My ancestors were bred to protect flocks in the mountains, so it’s my heritage.

My friend Flea at Jones Natural Chews wrote about the Great Pyrenees, or Pyrenean Mountain Dog, last week and she gave lots of good information and concluded, quite rightly, that we are not the dog for everyone. So I thought I’d tell you a little more about some of the things that mean we’re not right for everyone.

We’re often accused of having selective hearing and a very unreliable recall. I have to admit that’s true for a lot of us! It isn’t naughtiness, it’s a case of priorities. However well-trained a Pyrenean Mountain Dog is, our priority is to protect you, so if we hear a strange noise we’ll be off to investigate. We’ll do all that other obedience stuff to please you, when we’re not too busy!

We’re also accused of being escape artists, especially during adolescence. If we’re alone in the garden for even a few minutes, it needs to have a strong fence at least 5 feet high. If we can get over, or through, the fence we’ll probably take the opportunity to check out the surrounding area and make sure there are no threats. I took advantage of the gate being left open for a few seconds once – I didn’t get very far, but that’s another story! Dogs who are always taken in the car to the park and never walked from the house are particularly determined to explore the neighbourhood.

Flea mentioned how important socialisation is for us. It’s a crucial part of our development because it’s what helps us to be relaxed and calm as adults. The more experiences we have, the better able we are to make sensible decisions.

My bipeds say that I could be like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde as a puppy during training sessions. I quickly became bored, if we were only doing things I thought I already knew how to do. And when I was bored I wasn’t very nice to know! My bipeds spiced up the sessions with new tricks to keep my interest and they became better at noticing the first signs of boredom. A Great Pyrenees doesn’t do something just because you say so. We need to feel it’s worthwhile and I don’t just mean treats – we don’t tend to be as motivated by food as a lot of dogs are.

There were days when I would put a lot of effort into trying to find ways of not doing what I was asked to do. On the odd occasion I avoided doing something, I thought I didn’t have to do anything I was asked to do. I would lead them a merry dance for days! I certainly did my best to keep my bipeds on their toes, while I was growing up. They say that there were times when they were pulling their hair out, but I’m much nicer to know now!

See you next Wednesday!

To bark, or not to bark, that is the question

This is a Frequently Barked Question.

FBQ: How do I stop my Pyrenean Mountain Dog from barking?

Clowie: All dogs bark and there can be lots of different reasons for barking. The most common reasons are anxiety, boredom, excitement, or a perceived threat. Everyone has their own ideas about how much barking is acceptable, but most of us have neighbours and have to control our urge to bark sometimes. As it’s such a big topic, I am going to concentrate on my main reason for barking and how I trained my bipeds to understand me, so that I need to bark less.

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