Family Friendly Farm

Training your Great Pyrenees Puppy

So many things to cover, I will get to as many as I can. This is not a comprehensive manual rather a  few of my thoughts and observations. Please know I am not an expert and there are so very many more qualified people than I am on this topic. I’ll do my best to point you in the right direction and you can investigate further as you need to.

Potty Training

My dogs are all outside. They handle it just fine. I’ve never had any problem with our dogs. For those who will be having indoor pets I can share the following observations and comments.

At birth the mother will lick the perineum of the pup which stimulate it to go. It is a reflex. It helps keep the den clean.
At 3.5 weeks the pups will toddle out of den to go to the bathroom. It doesn’t go far just a few steps out the door.
At 8.5 weeks the puppy will chose a location further away from the den to take care of business.

Puppies go to the bathroom nearly every hour but will break for a few hours while sleeping. Be sure to have a spot nearby if they will live indoors full-time. You will still need to be very attentive as their bladder still growing. A smaller area in the home rather than run of the house may be wise.

Puppies, and dogs in general, will sniff around for just the right place to go searching for just the right scent (urine, feces, chlorine, ammonia, etc). Be sure to provide just the right kinds of places and a variety can also be a good idea. For example, I have one dog who was raised in town. She won’t go on the wet grass unless it is her only choice. She prefers a location very close to home like the woodchips just outside of the door. I would early on train them to go on grass and the farther away the better. It would have saved me some dirty shoes! Our dogs raised outside all go on the far end of the field.

Weaning

An attentive Momma will rarely leave her pups the first 72-84 hours after birth. She will take care of their every need to the exclusion of her own. At that point she will be assured of their well being and start eating with vigor.

She will remain very close to them the first three weeks. At that point she starts to intentionally leave them alone for increasing amounts of time. By five and a half weeks or so she will actually growl at them if they approach to nurse. The pups will roll over to show their submission. This is step one to establish hierarchy and an important reason not to separate the puppies and mother earlier than eight weeks.

At only five weeks old the pups will growl to indicate they want certain food. Momma will regurgitate pre-digested food for them. (I read this in a book but have never observed it. I’ll be looking though.) By seven to ten weeks the pups will be weaned fully from Momma and they will have a food hierarchy beginning to develop. They won’t fully understand the hierarchy until about 16 weeks. In a pack, at sixteen week the pups will line up. First Alpha eats, then the subdominates, then the pups.

Dog owners, you are the pack! You must be Alpha. Therefore, you and kids eat first, THEN the puppy. More on this later.

A special note: Food aggression is something I am very aware of. My daughter was bit on the face when she was about three years old by a dog who had been deprived of food for a few days. I was unaware of the situation until it was too late. We always give dogs space when eating!

That being said, our dogs usually don’t even care about the food when you feed them. They would rather play with us and visit. They know the food will be there and are not concerned with it. Usually ignoring it until we leave. On the flip side, they don’t like to share it with the chicken either. Sometimes you will see them pick up their food bucket (standard 1 gallon plastic bucket) and carry it across the field to eat in peace.

Feeding

We feed a variety of foods to our dogs. This helps prevents producing a picky eater and provides them a rich diet. We  feed them raw not cooked items. Things they eat include but are not limited to: ground chicken, ground beef, ground bone, yogurt, milk, eggs, whole bones, chunks of unrendered fat, hunks of meat, dead opossums (they refuse to eat them, though) and they get a cup or two of medium quality dog food (kibble).

Curious to learn more about feeding raw?  Research BARF online. You will find lots of advocates and naysayers. Whatever you choose to feed is fine with me. It is your decision.

If you are on the fence, or a real tight budget, stick with puppy food for large dogs (a medium to high quality with as much meat in it as you can afford).

Barking

One way dogs have of communicating is to bark. It is easy and fast to learn. They may bark out of fear or to give a warning but also to give a greeting. Puppies will start vocalizing around three weeks when they are worried when they don’t see Momma. It is nearly continuous as they toddle around searching for her and calling for her. She ignores them. She will contentedly lay down just out of eyesight. Very interesting. Remember this. However, if one starts to cry (oh, is that a pitiful sound) she will jump up and run to them.

Their barking will increase until they are about six to eight weeks old. This is when they move to a new home (perhaps yours?). From this point on it will continue to decrease until about 12 weeks old. So please note your pups will bark more in the beginning as they adjust to their surroundings. As the puppy become familiar with the routine and gives up on his search for Momma he will settle into a pattern/routine.

If you run to check on them every time they whine during the night you will be their slave! Ack! Don’t do that. I know it is hard but the puppy will be happier in the long run if you let them cry it out.

Homesteaders and Farmers, you will need to put special attention on barking as they are warning you of potential threats. You don’t want them to bark at squirrels or mice but you do want them to turn it on loud and long when there are stray dogs, coyotes, racoons, etc… This is a different lesson, I am not going to cover that there.

Play fighting and biting

At three weeks old they puppies will begin play fighting. Often the pups will bite an ear hard enough to hurt the other. The puppy who just got bitten will whimper or squeal. Then they bite back. They learn very early on the harder the bite the louder the squeal and the more likely to be bitten in return. This natural feedback loop discourages the pups from biting. They don’t want to be bitten either!

As the pups develop they will have better control over their bodies and won’t accidentally bite too hard. Between 11-15 weeks the pup will start to focus more on ‘getting’ outsiders rather than a member of the pack.

From the time you take them home, you will become their playmate. It will be important to imitate the play fighting and what teach is exceptable or you may end up wounded. Your skin is more fragile than the puppies. This is be especially important for Family dogs and Homestead dogs.  You will not want to encourage your dog to pull at objects, it will encourage stronger bites.

As they puppies mature they will establish a hierarchical dominance. It will be important for you to be at the top, the Alpha, the Boss. Any children, spouses and sometime other animals also need to be right up there.

Group Training

Seems the ideal age for that is around three months old. This is rather complicated to explain but it has to do with pre-conditioning and fears that they don’t outgrow.

Someday I wish to learn more about this as well since it comes into play with dogs that are afraid of thunder or rainstorms. If you have time you could research cognitive sensitization-rationalisation phase of pre-puberty development.

Being Alpha

 More on this later. I’m out of time today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Responses to Training your Great Pyrenees Puppy

  1. Gina Arzuaga says:

    Hi Rachel, we just move to a small 5 acres property, in the contry side in NC , we have several chickens and planing to have goats in a near future. Knowing that is coyotes , raccoon etc… we got two adorable pyrenee pups, at what age will be save for them to sleep outside in a faced area with the chickens ?

    • When our pups grow up with mom and chickens we haven’t had too many troubles.
      When pups are by themselves they’ll chase, pounce and accidentally kill chickens until twelve to eighteen months.

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