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Great Pyrenees loneliness

 
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I have a three year old Great Pyrenees. Need some guidance how to keep him happy. We wfh and are able to go out and hang out with him, but when we are away he appears to be lonely. This is backed up by what happened this morning. He got out of our five foot fence that had been put up over a month ago. He was right next to the fence when I came outside this morning to feed him. He whined because he could not get back in. He could of seen a predator and went over the fence. What disturbed me the most is that once we opened the gate to let him back on our property we started to get him back into his fenced area and that is when he decided it was time to go across the street to the neighbors. When I used to walk him before we put the fence up, he always pulled me across the street. This time he got to the neighbors fence and went up to each dog that was in separate pins and whined at both of them like let me in. There are sheep in there with them that they protect.

Us and the neighbor are thinking that part of his issue is that we only have chickens. When the chickens get near him, he sometimes scares them just to see them fly. We are too scared to get another adult pyr as it seems most people that get rid of them are doing it because they will not stay put. I dont know if it would be wise to get two puppies and train them to stay in the fence for future proofing the hobby farm and also for some protection for us as we live on a mountain. Of course, we would have to train them around chickens. Our neighbor thinks we should get goats as he did have goats before he was with us. He is not fixed so that may also be part of his issue although our neighbor female dog is not in heat. I am scared of getting goats because they say it is hard to keep them in a fence just like a pyr. We were warned to get a dog up here because of how we had a bear living here before we moved in as the residence sat vacant for a few months so that's why we still want to at least have a dog plus when we had a period between dogs we had a fox eating our chickens. Thanks so much in advance!
 
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Sounds like the pup's either lonely or work-bored, or maybe both.

You could try fostering an adult pyr with a view to adoption if there were no behavioural issues.

The socialisation bit is a little confusing for me, unless your dog and the neighbour dogs view each other as pack-adjacent enough to share territory. But maybe they are enough alike, with the same concerns, and they share predator wariness. Great Pyrs have been known to use different tactics based on how many were working together, like Newfoundland dogs do in water rescue situations. It might be possible to make your dog feel better just by allowing socialisation with the neighbour dogs. It would seem that's what he was suggesting.

As to goats, I suppose your land won't support sheep? Because if it did, sheep are stupider, so sometimes harder to keep alive, but also stupider, so easier to keep. The worst a sheep will do is make a mess of killing itself trying to get to food that would kill it in the event it survived. The worst a goat will do... Look into their eyes and tell me they couldn't figure out a way to kill you and damn your soul for eternity if they so chose.

Just kidding about the evil and damnation. Really, though, you're right about goats getting out, and you probably know that not only will they eat whatever they like, and chew it to bits to determine if they like it or not, they climb.

I don't think you'd need to get a pair of pyr pups, incidentally. One would do for socialisation purposes.

Just a little food for thought. I hope you find good, reliable ways to keep your puppy happy. Good luck, and keep us posted.

-CK
 
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The easy answer is to get another dog to have company.  It seems pretty clear that yours is indeed lonely.  It doesn't need to be a Pyr.  Shelters are full of large dogs that would make a great family dog and a companion for your dog.  If you do want to get another LGD, there are lots of breeds, some much quieter and that don't wander as much compared to a Pyr.  
 
Pamela Evans
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Thanks everyone for the feedback. Glad that you all are not keen on me getting goats. We might could borrow some sheep from our neighbor and see how it goes. The main reason I am skittish about getting another dog that is not lgd or is a puppy is because I am concerned about the chickens since we do free range them. Time to pray about it to see what the best fit is.
 
Pamela Evans
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Does anyone have any experience with training a dog/puppy to chickens? I am not sure how long it could take. I had read that sometimes you should separate till at least 2 or 3 yrs and do training in between when you can supervise.
 
Trace Oswald
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Pamela Evans wrote:Does anyone have any experience with training a dog/puppy to chickens? I am not sure how long it could take. I had read that sometimes you should separate till at least 2 or 3 yrs and do training in between when you can supervise.



I have a LGD that I introduced to my chickens at 12 weeks old.  She had never shown any interest at all in them and doesn't even look up when are running around.  Heaven help a strange animal that gets in the yard though.  I've had a number of dogs around my chickens over the years.  Unless you get a dog with high prey drive, it's very easy to teach them to leave chickens alone.
 
pollinator
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In my experience while the pyrs will hang out with each other, and some of them want a companion more than others, they also don't like other dogs. We've had 6 dogs at a time, right now we are down to 2. Our oldest is 12 and he would be very happy to be completely alone. Our young one is desperate for companionship. We do let them in the house. They're like house pets who protect us. Cute, drooly ones.

So you just have chickens and yeah, that's not enough. Our oldest used to jump the fence to get to the neighbors cows when we had nothing for him to guard. So if you aren't going to give him people he'll need something else or a REALLY BIG FENCE. electric horse fence is what we ended up using to keep the Jiki in.
 
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A bovine or two, a donkey (regular or mini), or goats. And not all goats are the same. We have Nigoras. They're small - topping out around 70lbs, and if they're not unhappy(lonely, hay-less, etc), they're too short and chubby to get over our fences. That's not to say they don't try, lol. Our bucks and does are separated, so when the hormones go nuts, so do they. But, loneliness used to be the one thing that would drive them to try to escape.
 
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Hi Pamela,
I don't know much about the breed, apart from the fact that they happilly live "alone" (ie not with humans) and wild with their herd of sheep and protect them from bears, but yes, that certainly sounds like boredom. He needs something to do, and some kind of companionship. Could probably be a tiny dog or any other animal he's happy not to chase, tho in principle to do fostering don't you have to be around a lot ?

Also, is there any particular reason why you haven't had him "fixed" ? It doesn't just conern females, or females in heat, it's a behavioural thing, it calms them (tho I'm sure he'd still need something or someone(s) in his life.)

The idea of borrowing some sheep or finding some other animals for him to guard sounds cool. Don't any neighbours need a place to paddock their horses or donkeys (who also need company) ?

But maybe dog training - jumping through hoops and stuff, might also help him feel better ? Seems to satisfy a lot of dogs who in the past would have been working dogs.

Good luck finding the solution(s)
 
pollinator
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I have a 6yr old pyr, Wilson, also an unfixed male, and we haven’t had any livestock since we moved about a year ago. We have intended to breed him but haven’t pushed it and live in a very remote area so haven’t had many good opportunities. He has stayed in our 1 acre fenced area (5’6” high) even though he definitely could get out if he really needed to in a fire.

His happiness was part of why we’ve fostered many dogs, probably for 3/4 of his life he’s had a buddy of some kind. We currently are fostering the prior owner of our property’s Doberman female while he looks for property in Maui. She was born here, is a homebody and very sweet. They don’t interact like a lot of dogs, very different mentalities, but they play more and more as they’ve bonded. He seems much happier with her around. He’s also very bonded to our cat.

I’d look into fostering non bird killing dogs (no huskies! We tried that and loved the dog, but she took apart a barn and fence to get to and kill our birds, while our Pyr couldn’t follow through the small gaps she made). If they are not bird killers or escape artists, I might also offer your neighbors with dogs in pens to have them hang out at your place while they work instead of caging them. Probably would help to not put it in a judgemental way, but I definitely do judge those who confine dogs to small areas alone (why have a dog then?). Otherwise, it also helped to just take our pyr on long wilderness walks and bike rides (he is great at running along side, even on leash where cars may come by). Hope this helps!
 
elle sagenev
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Ben Zumeta wrote:
I might also offer your neighbors with dogs in pens to have them hang out at your place while they work instead of caging them. Probably would help to not put it in a judgemental way, but I definitely do judge those who confine dogs to small areas alone (why have a dog then?).



She said they're in pens with sheep they are guarding.
 
Pamela Evans
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Thanks everyone for the feedback! I have shared it with my husband also went back to the way of the pack book that I had recently bought. It has helped fill in some of the gaps that I had on how to train pups and poultry.
 
elle sagenev
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I just want to say that livestock dogs are not like house dogs. They communicate differently. They aren't people centric. So don't approach them like you would a Labrador, it won't work.
 
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I find it interesting the dogs in pens are WITH sheep...is it the dogs, the sheep, the NEED to do something OR the general companionship of either?  In answer to your question, my guess is your dog is stone cold bored, more than "lonely", the chickens just ain't cutting it, as an occupation.

If you have the land, and the farmer is wanting more land for his sheep, you may just have a job for your dog and perhaps even something more in return - a cleared field, better fencing (at their cost or rent the fenced land), an experienced dog to train yours, a free way to find out if sheep are for you....  Sounds like a win/win for you, the farmer, the sheep and the dog(s).
 
Carla Burke
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Pamela, there seems to be some confusion about the neighbor's dogs situation. The way I took your op was that the neighbor's dogs are in the paddock with their sheep, as LGDs. But, I'm not sure everyone is under the same impression, with some of us thinking those dogs are in small crates or dog runs. Could you please clarify?
 
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We have a dog that is LGD mix (Anatolian Shepherd X Labrador). He also “escapes” when left alone. In our case, we have figured out it is more separation anxiety than actual boredom.  He really just does not like to be separated from his pack/flock which is just us, the humans.  Maybe he feels it is dereliction of duty to let us wander off? The worst manifestations are when there is a change in routine, like if some family member is out of town.  He’s jumped out windows even.

During time periods where he had to spend some hours alone due to our work/school schedules, it worked best to set a clear routine, and also leave him with something to chew AND a freshly-worn clothing item from a family member.  We also got a prescription for anti-anxiety meds to give during difficult transition times.
 
Pamela Evans
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So far he has stayed in the fence now that we have put up a new gate. Last time he got out which was over the weekend, he decided to push the gate open while we were in the fence and I was watching his actions. He had looked over at the cow pasture and made a quick get away out of the fence over to the cow pasture next door.

We have watched him the last few nights before sunset and we watch him some during the day while we work as our windows overlook the pasture. He starts getting wild eyed and wants out when the dogs down in the valley start barking at night/early morning. I think he wants to be down with the herd of dogs so that he can patrol with them as he can see part of their pasture which has the sheep in it. Anyways, when he started acting like he was measuring up the fence we kept telling him no and he snaps out of it. We got two puppies and are hoping they will all three grow into a nice pack. We will be adding more fencing as time goes on and may end up getting some more livestock as it probably is companionship and boredom mixed together.

Thanks so much for all the feedback!
 
Pamela Evans
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Spoke too soon. lol We got up this morning and he was in the fence hanging out with the puppies. He ended up getting out of fence and came up to the door. Unfortunately, I was working and did not see how he got out. He was in the fence one minute and then the next he was at our front door.  He stayed in for a bit, got some food and whined to go back outside. Once I got off work, he loved on me and then wanted to go back outside. I leashed him and walked him to the fence. He went in the fence with no problems and let me put him on his tie out. I think he misses coming into the house and also would like to visit the neighbors dogs so that he has a pack to hang with. As far as the neighbors dogs, they are in a fenced area and are not chained nor have a run inside the fence. They are in with sheep.
 
Trace Oswald
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Pamela Evans wrote:Spoke too soon. lol We got up this morning and he was in the fence hanging out with the puppies. He ended up getting out of fence and came up to the door. Unfortunately, I was working and did not see how he got out. He was in the fence one minute and then the next he was at our front door.  He stayed in for a bit, got some food and whined to go back outside. Once I got off work, he loved on me and then wanted to go back outside. I leashed him and walked him to the fence. He went in the fence with no problems and let me put him on his tie out. I think he misses coming into the house and also would like to visit the neighbors dogs so that he has a pack to hang with. As far as the neighbors dogs, they are in a fenced area and are not chained nor have a run inside the fence. They are in with sheep.



It seems like the dog has done everything excepting painting and posting a sign that says "I NEED COMPANIONSHIP".  I'm glad you got puppies so he has some company. Is there a reason he can't have the puppies live with him now?
 
Pamela Evans
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The puppies are in there with him. Will end up putting him on some type of schedule to come in the house and see us. I still can't believe he still wants to see the cats when they scratch him most of the time. He is such a sweet baby I wish I could take him everywhere with me.
 
Sonya Noum
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Couln't resist this photo ! :
photo
 
elle sagenev
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Pamela Evans wrote:Spoke too soon. lol We got up this morning and he was in the fence hanging out with the puppies. He ended up getting out of fence and came up to the door. Unfortunately, I was working and did not see how he got out. He was in the fence one minute and then the next he was at our front door.  He stayed in for a bit, got some food and whined to go back outside. Once I got off work, he loved on me and then wanted to go back outside. I leashed him and walked him to the fence. He went in the fence with no problems and let me put him on his tie out. I think he misses coming into the house and also would like to visit the neighbors dogs so that he has a pack to hang with. As far as the neighbors dogs, they are in a fenced area and are not chained nor have a run inside the fence. They are in with sheep.



I'm telling ya, I've been here. We had 6 dogs, he still jumped the fence. It's a 6' tall fence, he could jump it and he's our smallest LGD to date. It wasn't until a string of electric horse fence was put around the top that he stopped. None of the other LGD's ever had an interest in jumping but Jiki man, Jiki was half kangaroo.

Guess this is me saying I hope the pups help and maybe other livestock but he just might have a wandering heart and will have to be contained forcefully. We watched our neighbor chase ours off with a gun once and that was enough to implement electrocution.
 
Pamela Evans
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Oh my I will definitely show this to my husband. It took me a few seconds to see the pyr in the middle. Its really all of the above as he wants humans, sheep, cows and dogs. Also think one acre really is not enough. The people that used to own him were not living at the farm and supposedly they were feeding him once a day. He was too skinny for my liking and I think they may have only been feeding him once a day at times. May also play into the separation anxiety.
 
Trace Oswald
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My LGD definitely wants time with me.  She is very independent but that doesn't mean she doesn't like human contact.  I bring her in and let her sleep with me every morning from 5-ish until 6:30 when I get up.  I would let her stay all night if she wanted to, but she gets too hot too easily.  She stretches out and sleeps like a baby next to me.  When it's time for me to get up and get ready for work, I make sure I have 10 or 15 minutes to play with her, scratch her ears, wrestle, whatever, and then we start our day.  When I am outside with her, she doesn't stay on top of me and is often out exploring, but she comes back every half hour or so to check on me.  LGDs interact with humans differently than other breeds, but they still need that companionship from their family.
 
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You can socialize then and still have them do the job properly??  I have never had close exposure but the ranchers doing it successfully in this area do it differently

Normal
procedure here is to raise them with the sheep full time with virtually no human contact.  They end up bonded to the sheep so they stay with them.  The must be spayed or neutered so they stay.  If they must be handled normal procedure is to either trap them or rope them.  They are wild so no contact.
 
Trace Oswald
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C. Letellier wrote:You can socialize then and still have them do the job properly??  I have never had close exposure but the ranchers doing it successfully in this area do it differently

Normal
procedure here is to raise them with the sheep full time with virtually no human contact.  They end up bonded to the sheep so they stay with them.  The must be spayed or neutered so they stay.  If they must be handled normal procedure is to either trap them or rope them.  They are wild so no contact.



For most people that have smaller homestead type settings and not 2000 acre ranches, I don't think a LGD has any problem at all bonding to the people and animals of a property.  I can tell you for certain that my dog will not bother my chickens, cats, or other dogs that live here.  If a strange animal comes around, it is in for a very bad day.  She loves us, but is very territorial about other humans coming around.  If they come onto our property and we are not there, the people are getting bitten.

I don't believe that a LGD has to be put out with it's animals and have no human contact in order to bond with the livestock.  These are very, very smart dogs.  They know who and what belongs and are fiercely loyal to those that live in their territory.  If I had 300 sheep and 1000 acres, I'm still convinced that my dog could live with the sheep, protect them, and still bond with me.  Do the people that raise their dogs that way think if the dog likes them, it won't know that other people are intruders, or that if the dog likes them they will somehow not care about guarding the livestock?  Because I don't believe either of those things is true.
 
elle sagenev
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C. Letellier wrote:You can socialize then and still have them do the job properly??  I have never had close exposure but the ranchers doing it successfully in this area do it differently

Normal
procedure here is to raise them with the sheep full time with virtually no human contact.  They end up bonded to the sheep so they stay with them.  The must be spayed or neutered so they stay.  If they must be handled normal procedure is to either trap them or rope them.  They are wild so no contact.



Yo Wyoming! I know what dogs you speak of. They made the paper once (Stop picking up LGD's and taking them to the pound, they aren't lost). On our small 40 acres the dogs guard the land and everything on it, not the animals specifically. Ballerina Farm has an LGD that guards their various animals but it is also very person friendly and they feed him. Everyone I personally know, and all the farms we've bought our LGD's from, had friendly LGD's with jobs. Not everyone lets them in the house but personally I do.
 
Ben Zumeta
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Willie wanted to send his hugs, with a rainbow:

A1C81CD1-A5BB-4B16-8933-1B3B48CA8A5A.jpeg
[Thumbnail for A1C81CD1-A5BB-4B16-8933-1B3B48CA8A5A.jpeg]
 
Pamela Evans
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Awe! Love the rainbow in the background. The promise God gives us that he will never flood the earth again. They always mesmerize me. That pretty boy needs a hug and some sugar on the whiskers.

Nothing like a pyr!
 
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