Great Pyrenees Pup Aggression

Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by caley_erin, Feb 14, 2009.

  1. caley_erin New Member

    Hi I have a 4 month old male great pyrenees puppy who is displaying fear aggression to people. Especially to men. When he is on our deck by the door he puts himself into the corner and growls. Please help i dont know what to do. We may have to get rid of him and i love him to death. We are getting him fixed right at 6 months.

  2. fickla Experienced Member

    I would go immediately to a qualified behaviorist. You can find a ton of good advice on the forum and in books, but really you need someone who can help you in person. Especially if your dog's future and the the safety of those around him depends on it.

    That being said I will now give you advice to do in the meantime.
    1. Do NOT punish your dog for growling. Growling is his way of saying "i'm scared." IF you take away that growl, you still have a scared dog, but now you have a scared dog who won't say anything until the person gets closer and closer, and eventually he will be passed his threhold where he thinks he has no choice but to bite.

    2. Start a counterconditioning program. Teach your dog that men equals lots and lots of treats. Start at a point where your pup is ok, then have a man enter the room, shovel treats into pups mouth, man leaves, treats go away. REpeat. The only predictor of treats should be the arrival of people, so make sure your hand reaching into your pocket means nothing. Eventually you are looking for your pup to have a "where's my chicken!" expression whenever he sees a man. Once you see this, make it harder, the man comes closer, the man looks at your pup, the man moves about, etc. Work slow enough so that your pup never gets above threshold. Do not try and have men pet your puppy at this point, or even hand your dog a treat. Hopefully this will go quickly since your puppy is only 4months, but still the socialization window has closed and it will be hard. If your puppy is already ok with most of these steps, then maybe just work on having lots of men throw your puppy a treat and walk away. Eventually they can feed from the hand, but not right now.

    Try not to put your dog in situations where he's above his threshold. Petsmart may not be a good idea right now depending on how fearful he is, or it could help a lot if he's not that bad. Just make sure that you know what to say to approaching people who likely want to hug and squeeze your little pup.

    3. Get the books "Cautious Canine" by Patrica McConnell, and "How to Right a Dog Gone Wrong" by Pamela Dennison.
  3. snooks Experienced Member

    This is a puppy and I would say this is trainable since true puppy aggression is very very rare. At 4 mos if he's fearful I would get right away to a qualified certified behaviorist. Don't get rid of this puppy for a lack of training knowledge on your part. ABS certified behaivorists or are your best resource. If there is not one near you a major university vetmed teaching hospital will have a behavioral medicine department with behaviorists there. Call the nearest ones on the list for referrals and help to. ALL of the CAAB's I emailed or called helped me to find resources, they are very giving of their time.

    You can also go to and locate state and local Pyr rescue and breed clubs. They will have referrals to positive trainers and people that are qualified to deal with fear in a puppy. DO NOT take this puppy to a trainer that does any kind of punishment or aversive training. It will make the fear worse. This is the reason a certified behaviorist is better because they will be qualified to deal with it. A trainer may not depending on who you go to. I would get a referral if I went this way and interview the trainer first. A behaviorist will not bet more money than a trainer nec either so don't base your decision on that.

    When you say he's on the deck being fearful is it because of people outside the home or from inside? I'd say you need to be out there with him if he's that fearful about people outside the home. He also needs to be socialized to other people and things in order not to grow up fearful. This needs to be done in a safe way and in a way that doesn't make him more nervous. Growling is actually a good thing since it's a warning and a communication. What you really want is for him not to feel scared enouh to growl not to scold the growl away.

    If you scold away the growl you just get a bite with no warning, which would be bad. I agree don't scold or yell at him for anything anytime anywhere since it will make him more fearful. Strive to make all of his experiences positive with what he's scared of and don't force him to take treats from men or interact with them for now until you get some help with this. Men might walk by and throw treats without eye contact or acknowledging him. I certainly wouldn't expose him to men where you have no control of the situation such as a man outside that you don't know how they will treat the dog.

    If men or anyone pets him have them not tower over him and bend over reaching a hand over his head. This is very threatening. Instead turn side on, squat, and don't directly stare, and scratch under the chin. Don't force interaction when the dog is clear about not wanting it. When he's in the corner growling how about distracting with a fovrite toy and respond by reawrding what you DO want.
  4. caley_erin New Member

    Truman (my pup), seems shy but no growling when i am with him outside. The problem seems to be people coming up onto the deck and not leaving. last nite we had a housefull of people over and he growled when they were coming in but not leaving. the more they went in and out the less he growled. I do not want to get rid of him just because i dont know what to do. we will probably have a house full of people again on the 28th and hopefully this goes better and it will be a lot of the same people. Even though he growled last night he did allow people to pet him!
  5. snooks Experienced Member

    This sounds like a rather overwhelming situation for a puppy. If it were me I would crate puppy and put him in a quiet room behind a locked door like your bedroom or 2nd bathroom. To have a puppy allowed to roam with a house full of people is sort of asking for something scary to happen. They are just babies at this age still so a little slow and easy might be just what he needs to gain some confidence. I didn't allow a lot of workmen at my house touch my puppy b/c I didn't want them encouraging jumping and excitement. This would be anther case, with a house of people, where I would confine my dog in a safe spot where nobody could scare him with even innocent fingers through crate bars. Covering his crate partially may help it seem safer too if he won't eat the cover.
  6. snooks Experienced Member

    I thought some more about this and was just worried about this puppy last night. I was something on another forum that might help. Though you don't have a shelter dog and don't need to do the full protocol I'm trying to point out that new dogs need some stability and a break when they come to new digs and often just being out of the spotlight for a while makes it easier for them to come out of their shell. He just came from a world of littermates that was very different than the strangers he now lives with so he needs a little time. Don't force affection or over baby the new puppy, keep things quiet and calm and in control.

    Understanding that a puppy may take 2 months or so to acclimate to a new house and people it's important to keep the excitement and the hubbub to a minimum. You really need to socialize this puppy so he'll learn confidence and positive experiences are VITAL. Having a house full of people and a puppy running around is a scary idea. I might keep the number of people to 2-3 and supervise the puppy the entire time. He should have his crate as a nice safe haven and be left alone if he gets tired or overwhelmed to go rest or just take a break.

    If he was in the house during a large party I don't doubt that he did warn people with his little teeth or a growl that I'm scared leave me alone. It's actually good that he did have the wherewithal to give a warning. I wouldn't call this fear aggression I would call it a bad idea without adequate supervision. If you have more large gatherings I suggest you get a sitter or take him somewhere quiet and safe. Puppies really need their firs life experiences to be positive early on especially during their second fear stage which he is the right age to experience.

    So remember fewer people, supervision, don't force him to be petted or allow people to stoop over and hand over his head pet him. That's pretty threatening and scary for a puppy. See the ARBI video entitled Points of View: What the Dog Sees. There are several other videos that might be of help to you if you scroll through. INHO this is the human's fault for not setting the puppy up to succeed. Meant kindly, because I'm sure you didn't know. So now you can set your pup up to succeed. The odds that this puppy is vicious are so low it's near certainty that he just needs some kind and gentle guidance in his interactions. As humans it's our job to guide them through rough spots and be sure and reward what we DO want. Good luck with your cute little fuzzball.

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