As you all know, we have a Great Pyrenees named Lydia whom we love dearly. Lydia came to us courtesy of some wonderful breeders who used to live a couple hours away, Jim and Carol of Agape Ranch.
Pyrenees were historically bred as livestock guard dog in the Pyrenees Mountains that straddle France and Spain. They are an ancient lineage and fierce defenders against predators, but gentle as lambs with their flocks. Since Lydia guards us, we have become her flock.
Pyrenees aren't for everyone, as I explained in this post. We are fortunate in that our rural location as well as our previous experience with large dogs qualified us to get a beastie as wonderful as Lydia.
Anyway, a couple weeks ago I received a blog comment from a reader named Geralyn as follows:
I need some insight. Our Pyr, Sophie is 7 months old and I think she's hit the "horrible teen years" I hear everyone talk about. We've had her since she was 8 weeks old. She's developed a routine of sorts over the past few weeks that's driving me nuts. She stays out all night patrolling our 3/4 acre fenced in yard, with our dairy goats, chickens, and ducks all in their respective barns with enclosed runs so she doesn't have direct access to them. She's fine with the goats when I'm out there with her, but she thinks the poultry are chew toys. She's never killed one, but I've found more than one soaked with her slobber, so we now keep them all in covered runs. She comes in the house around 7am everyday, sleeps for several hours on the living room floor, wakes up, eats, I take her out on the leash to pee and then she comes back in. She then just hangs out with us, resting a little more and demanding attention off and on from me and my boys, usually belly rubs.
Up to here, we're fine. What I'm having a problem with is she seems to be stalking in the house when I'm in the kitchen too long. We have a double wide modular home so it's not like she can't see me. The living room, dining room and kitchen are all open to one another. She moves from the living room into the dining room about half way toward the kitchen with her head down and her eyes looking up. If I come out of the kitchen and ask her whats wrong and head for the living room, she backs up and follows me, sits down in front of me and wants petted or buries her head in my lap and wants petted. If I don't come out of the kitchen, sometimes she'll just lay on the runner in the dining room until I do, but sometimes she'll give a really low grumble until I do. She doesn't have the Pyr smile I hear everyone talk about either, but then again, I'm not sure what it's suppose to look like either. She never has. Ever since she was 8 weeks old she has always had a somber look about her. Unless, she hits the randy, ornery, hyper part of the day that's driving me nuts!
Somewhere between 2 and 4 in the afternoon she starts with the "I want out" "No I don't" part of the day. She'll go to the door and want out, but only to sit at the front of the house and scope out the back yard for several minutes and then pulls me back to the front door. We have to take her out the front door and down the side yard to the gate in the fence to let her out. She'll do this 3 or 4 times before I can get her to go back out into the yard. Then, if you go into the yard with her she's all hyper and jumpy and "play with me or I'll run circles around you until you do" kinda thing. Her stubborness seems to have blossomed overnight and with a vengence! Any insight into this behavoir would be much appreciated along with any suggestions. Thanks.
Figuring I'd turn this over the the experts, I directed the comment to Carol at Agape Ranch. She not only responded, but also had other Pyr owners address the questions on a Pyrenees Facebook page.
Here is Carol's response:
It seems to me Sophie is restless because she is a livestock guardian dog and she feels the need to be with those she has the job to protect. The fact that she spends nights outside and days inside may be confusing her. Also she should not have to be supervised with ANY livestock. If she is slobbering on the chickens, then she does not understand that she needs to be guarding them. She has not associated them with protection, only prey.
Here's what other Pyrenees owners said:
Jen: I am a first pyr owner and what you have stated seems pretty typical of the breed. Mine is 5 months old and is so good during the day but around 6ish at night he turns into a wild man for about a few hours and then he settles down again. Mine has always had that "sad" look to him, we call him eeyore. lol I'm not sure about the poultry issue since I have no farm animals, but I do know when I visited my brother law mine was very excited/interested in his chickens. I think its just a time and patience thing unfortunately...just be consistent and she will out grow it. I once read a great Pyrenees is a labor of love and I do believe that is true especially for at least the first year...then you get the sweet, calm, gentle giant, lol. But I will say this too, the breed has won my heart over and I'll have at least one from this point on...to tell you the truth I want to get another soon, lol. Hope this might help some!
Brenna: All normal puppy behavior for the most part. I would caution about letting her get near the chickens without supervision. From what I have read, most dogs should be be near fowl until they are at least 2 years old and even then some dogs just are not good with them. My pyrs get hyper two or three times a day, more so if it is cold outside and they really want us to play with them so we do. They aren't in to fetching so much so we run with them and toss their toys so we can all chase them. With the going out behavior, she is just gonna have to put her foot down. Either the pup goes out or she doesn't.
Carolyn: This is very typical puppy behaviour. Our last two pups had mad hour between and 9:30 in the evening. We used plastic lemonade bottles and they would run and play with those. Pyrs do not do the fetch game like a gun dog would do. Remember they are natural guard dogs and will guard all night! I wouldn't let them near the chickens but then ours are not working dogs. Hope this helps.
Becky: She sounds like she wants to play or have an activity where you go out and play with her. We take walks, hikes, or play a couple times a day and that seems to satisfy Bear. Bear is 2 and he is still quite demanding but exercise and play helps a lot! She is still quite a puppy even though she is probably big. I have also heard sometimes it just doesn't work out with pyrs and chickens.....it takes much supervised time, training and patience.
about an hour ago.
Lisa: Typical Pyr puppy. She will grow out of a lot of those behaviors (but second the "keep her separated from poultry" folks).
Francesca: Our two 5.5 month old puppies have what we call the "zoomies" at least twice a day..mid morning and again in the evening...pretty typical for puppies.
Geralyn, I hope this helps as far as understanding your Pyr's behavior. Thanks for asking!