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Got some LGDs that haven't been socialized and probably have been abused. Advice?  RSS feed

 
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I recently had a bad interaction with the one of LGDs we got a few months ago. He was trying to scoot under a trailer to escape the yard. What I had blocking the spot had gotten knocked down. I grabbed him by the scruff of the back to pull him out and he turned and bit my arm. I was wearing a heavy jacket and he didn't lock on or twist or anything like that. Immediately after the bite, he put his front paws on a bucket which put his face level with mine and I was trapped with no where to go. I stuck my other arm between his face and mine but he tried to bite it so I put the arm down and turned my face away but kept an eye over my shoulder and stood tall. After a few seconds, I took a step away, further into the corner so his face wasn't right there, then I turned towards him, kept my arms down, talked to him sternly and walked by him. Scary as hell because I'm 53 and all of 125lbs soaking wet. He's a full grown Great Pyrenees and probably outweighs me. I'm sure he's faster and stronger too. Any other dog I've had has been a pet and very close. I have to remember that these dogs haven't been socialized with people very much. They lived out with the sheep.

Can't wait to get the whole property fenced in this year so they can have a property to watch over. Hopefully they'll do ok with goats. If not, then they'll have to go and I'll get an LGD puppy like I probably should have. Like a fool, I paid a little money for these dogs and when we were driving away, my wife said; "Why do I feel like we just rescued two dogs?".

The younger one was in a cage that was way too small for him. He won't come up to eat his food until I walk away from it. That tells me how they caught him, with food. As mentioned, they both bolt when I carry a 2x4 or anything long and thin. That tells me the assholes beat them with a stick or something.

Most people would have put the dog down after he bit them but I imagine it hurt being dragged by the fur like I did. That was my bad. We're both a little more leery than before now. He wants to be dominant over me but that can't happen. He gets in my way when I walk across the dog yard so I hold my head up and push through. He already did that before the incident. The jerk we got them from said he was well socialized but that's BS. He did say the younger one was born in the field and not socialized. He's the sweetheart though but also skittish but he's getting better. The older dog seems way too domineering over him. Won't let him eat or drink for the most part. I put a cross fence up and keep them separated most of the time but then they play with each other even though they're on two sides of a fence so I put them together sometimes. I know an older dog should be able to put the younger one in it's place on occasion but he doesn't just kick his ass and make him yelp a little. He makes him yelp a lot. Maybe he's just trying to toughen him up. After the older one goes and lays down, the younger one can sneak over and get a drink. Technically, I did see the older one let the younger one have a little food but only after he flipped the bowl over on the ground. I feed them enough so that they've gained a little weight since they've been here. I tried putting a whole bunch of food out there at once but the older dog ate all 6 quarts. So I feed them separate but that will be a pita when they're out in the field. They should be out there 24/7 and I should be able to fill up a bucket of food once or twice a day I would think.

If they ever get sick, there won't be any treating them if it requires any amount of contact and especially if that contact hurts them. They won't come to me when I call them and I don't think they've ever come to anyone. They've never had a master. They've been treated like the livestock they protected and they were their own boss. Now I've read that that's the way some people prefer their LGDs. They want them to be social with the animals they're protecting more than anything else. I imagine this makes them slightly more protective and since there's no human family to protect, they can concentrate on their actual job. Maybe that's the best thing? Wouldn't have to worry about anyone stealing them or them hanging up near the house while a sheep/goat etc gets attacked by a coyote. It's just not something I'm used to.

Any thoughts?

Feed them separate when the goats come up to the shed for the night? (if they do good with goats that is) We're on 15 acres and plan on having the goat's shed close to the house. They're both males btw and a male/female team would probably be better. I thought about making the younger one into a family dog. Oh yeah. He's not Great Pyrenees like the older one. He looks more like and Old English Sheep dog and they're more of a herder than an LGD.

 
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I think your idea of making the young one a family dog is a good idea.  It isn't uncommon for a dog to be dominant over another dog, but the older one shouldn't hurt the younger one to do it.  A growl and a quick snap in the air are all it takes for my dominant dog to tell the submissive one to back off.  There is no pain involved.

As far as the older one, your own dog should never bite you, but the dog is pretty new, came from a life that isn't conducive to good relationships, and you hurt it.  I wouldn't blame the dog for that.  It's going to take time for the two of you to build a relationship, and I would show him I was the dominant one in the gentlest manner possible.  If you try to use force, you put him in a position where he feels he isn't attacking you, he is defending himself.  The best way to build the master relationship you need with him is with long walks.  You'll need a leash, but I wouldn't use a choke collar, just a flat collar, and don't try to make him heel or follow commands, just follow you.  You can also do it by tying an 8 or 10 foot rope to your belt and walking.  He should understand that you control the action, but not by bullying him.

I would feed the dogs separately.  You will be able to get the younger one to trust you if you approach while he is eating and have a treat in your hand that is better than the food in his dish.  If he walks away from the food, back off a little and wait.  Let him see the treat, but don't talk to him or press the issue.  At some point, he'll realize that you aren't coming to dominate him or take his food.  It will take time, but you'll get there if you remember that the word "nurture" is more important than the word "boss".  

You did a very good thing helping these dogs, so kudos to you and your family.
 
gardener
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Are they fixed?

I have a lotta thoughts but that’s my big question. We have a sweetheart rescued pet lives in the house when he wants LGD who is very gentle with everybody and thing. But when he hit puberty he started nipping the other dogs for dominance and he and I had one or two scary flashing teeth in my face conversations about whether he was going to do what I was asking. Once the balls were gone those never happened again, although he’s still very stubborn and does not always do as I ask. (One does not TELL a great Pyr much.)
 
John Paulding
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Trace Oswald wrote:I think your idea of making the young one a family dog is a good idea.  It isn't uncommon for a dog to be dominant over another dog, but the older one shouldn't hurt the younger one to do it.  A growl and a quick snap in the air are all it takes for my dominant dog to tell the submissive one to back off.  There is no pain involved.

As far as the older one, your own dog should never bite you, but the dog is pretty new, came from a life that isn't conducive to good relationships, and you hurt it.  I wouldn't blame the dog for that.  It's going to take time for the two of you to build a relationship, and I would show him I was the dominant one in the gentlest manner possible.  If you try to use force, you put him in a position where he feels he isn't attacking you, he is defending himself.  The best way to build the master relationship you need with him is with long walks.  You'll need a leash, but I wouldn't use a choke collar, just a flat collar, and don't try to make him heel or follow commands, just follow you.  You can also do it by tying an 8 or 10 foot rope to your belt and walking.  He should understand that you control the action, but not by bullying him.

I would feed the dogs separately.  You will be able to get the younger one to trust you if you approach while he is eating and have a treat in your hand that is better than the food in his dish.  If he walks away from the food, back off a little and wait.  Let him see the treat, but don't talk to him or press the issue.  At some point, he'll realize that you aren't coming to dominate him or take his food.  It will take time, but you'll get there if you remember that the word "nurture" is more important than the word "boss".  

You did a very good thing helping these dogs, so kudos to you and your family.



Yeah, when the older one goes after the younger one, it can be a full 20 seconds of yelping which is too much imho. On the other hand, I put a leash on him once and he yelped like I was killing him for the whole 30 feet to the pen. Then I let him go and tried to use a stick to snag the lead off of him. More yelping. Didn't hit him with it, just touched. That's when I figured he'd been beat. I really haven't witnessed him getting his butt kicked, just hear it mostly and other than that, they get along and play and I just saw the younger one with his paws on the older one's back as they were playing and the older one was ok with it. My thing with a family dog would be wanting to let him inside so he truly feels like family but we're talking about a big dog in our tiny place and he's probably never been in a house before.

The older one is actually really good on a leash, much to my surprise so I'll start walking him around the perimeter. I have been able to pet the young one while he's already eating. One funny thing is he whines when he eats because he's expecting the older one to come and kick his butt any second so he swallows it whole. I think they both do. Bit of food competition going on there.

The younger one has bigger paws and has grown in the weeks that we've had them so at some point, he may stop letting the older one beat him up. I say beat him up but there's never been any blood drawn or anything like that. He's just easily scared I think. Still, I'll keep them separate most of the time for now.

If the older one had bit me out of the blue or for no good reason, he wouldn't be any longer.
 
John Paulding
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Dan Boone wrote:Are they fixed?

I have a lotta thoughts but that’s my big question. We have a sweetheart rescued pet lives in the house when he wants LGD who is very gentle with everybody and thing. But when he hit puberty he started nipping the other dogs for dominance and he and I had one or two scary flashing teeth in my face conversations about whether he was going to do what I was asking. Once the balls were gone those never happened again, although he’s still very stubborn and does not always do as I ask. (One does not TELL a great Pyr much.)



Nope, they're both intact so technically they probably get along pretty durn good considering. I don't even know how I would get the young one to a facility and I'm not too sure about the older one. Good on a leash but I'm not gonna hold him down while a vet sticks a needle in him. I don't even know what people do in cases like this where the dogs haven't had much human interaction. I wish they had been a male/female pair.

I think what will end up happening is older dog for the outer perimeter aka field and younger dog up around the yard/house. Living in the boonies in methville, we need some deterrent and our Pit Bull mix is approx 13 years old so she won't be around for too much longer. I've been penning the two of them up together when she's outside. She's inside most of the time since it's winter and she's old with short hair.
 
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Lots of thoughts...I will just list them out. My 10 year old anatolian was raised with goats for the first year of his life (minimal socialization so he would bond with the goats, not the people). I had some challenges that first year since he became a house dog when I bought him. He was a bit more dog than I expected and I really struggled until I finally found some old-school Anatolian breeders/rescuers that told me the do's and don'ts.

First off....do NOT physically discipline that dog or grab him by the scruff of the neck. If he threatens you physically back off to stop the aggression. Many men naturally freeze if a dog gets suddenly aggressive thinking if they stop moving the aggression will stop, if an LGD gets aggressive he is telling you to BACK OFF and failure to do so means you are looking for a fight.  

If you are gentle with him he will learn to be gentle with you, but if you violate his boundaries and man-handle him you are asking for the same in return (and you really won't like it if he decides to get rough with you).

If you two have to get "into it" use your voice and stay hands off when it comes to discipline. But if I were you I would work on trust and friendship and set discipline aside for now.

Secondly -- if he has possession of something do not try to take it. Even if it something you dropped, if he has possession of it he will fight over it. If he gets something that you really need back and you have to get it back right away then do a "trade", meaning have a high value food item and make it clear you are trading by tossing it a little ways away, then retrieving your item once he has accepted the trade.

Do not take regular dog training advice regarding being alpha, making him constantly obey commands, or any of that. LGDs are different, they were not bred to be docile domesticated dogs but instead to have their own strong boundaries and work independently. They can learn house manners when taught with patience,  but obedience isn't their thing. They are like cats in giant dog suits when it comes to taking orders.

Start feeding the dogs separately twice a day and consider separating them for good. Use a measuring cup to measure out their food so you know exactly how much you are feeding and you can adjust the portion up/down if they start losing/gaining too much weight. Sounds to me like the Pyr does not like the smaller male and it is not right to put the smaller dog in that position. The younger dog will either starve while constantly living in fear, or end up getting seriously hurt. I would expect the aggression to escalate between those two, and I personally would not want to risk it. I would separate them and keep them separate especially if the young dog is an adolescent, the Pyr will probably become more aggressive towards him as time goes on and I don't think you want to break up a serious altercation/fight. I wouldn't consider that a temperament fault, my male Anatolian absolutely will not tolerate the presence of my other male house dogs either, and I realize if a fight broke out the other dog/s would be very seriously injured. I separate them 24/7 and have for the last 9 years.

Get a fence up asap and lock the gate.  Realize if a stranger comes onto your property (a stranger being anyone the dog doesn't accept as "family") someone could get very seriously injured. These dogs will severely maul an intruder.

Start carrying meat/treats in your pocket and bribe the hell out of that dog. Most dogs will learn bad behaviors very quickly if they are given food to stop undesirable actions, but for some odd reason LGDs don't seem to do that. Shortly after I got my dog he started jumping on me if I had him on a leash, he was just playing but he didn't realize how much bigger/stronger he was and he didn't realize that I "could break" quite literally. I was told to start carrying chicken (his favorite food) in my pocket and if he started to jump to pull it out and distract him with a treat. Sounds crazy right? Sounds like I would be teaching him to jump on me and get rewarded with chicken. But low and behold....it worked! After a couple of times he stopped jumping entirely.

Don't make too much out of getting bit
in response to grabbing him by the scruff. Honestly that isn't at all surprising for an LGD, and it doesn't mean the dog has a bad temperament, it was just a learning experience.  Putting a collar on him would be a good idea so next time you can grab the collar instead, but grabbing/yanking him probably isn't wise right now.

My Anatolian is an amazingly loyal and devoted dog, I won't say he is the most devoted dog I have ever had because I have been blessed with knowing some great dogs in my life, but I will say LGDs/Anatolians will now be my alpha dog of choice. Their devotion, sense of humor, gentleness and affection is just incredible. They are also very intelligent, but they don't use their intelligence to "please us" or do tricks to impress us, cause they just aren't wired that way.

I have found the dogs that were the most challenging, the ones that really made me tear my hair out from frustration (all gotten as adults) have been the best dogs I have ever had the privilege of sharing my home and life with once we worked past the bumps in the road.
 
pollinator
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Be patient. Sounds like you saved them from a miserable situation. It will probably take them a long while to learn to trust you but they eventually will. Unlikely that anyone will ever be their "boss" but no reason you can't be their leader.

Do the previous owners have other animals? Might be good to alert the local animal welfare agency.
 
Dan Boone
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John Paulding wrote:Nope, they're both intact so technically they probably get along pretty durn good considering. I don't even know how I would get the young one to a facility and I'm not too sure about the older one. Good on a leash but I'm not gonna hold him down while a vet sticks a needle in him.



Based on my experience of this one dog I would make figuring out how to get them fixed a priority if I were in your shoes.  He's always been a big buffoon of a sweetheart but the nonsense at puberty was getting out of hand.  It seemed like he didn't even like it; he always seemed ashamed afterwards.  Clip-clip and a week later he even stopped nipping the other dogs to maintain pack discipline, he just gives them a glare and they step right into line.  (He's twice their size or more.)  

Practicality-wise, if you've got a country vet who does large animal calls, he may be willing to come out and treat it like a large-animal procedure at your place, especially if you can get a cloth muzzle on your dog before he arrives.  Very much depends on the vet.  Many of them are incredibly calm around large dogs and if the dog will let them approach at all, they can walk up and sleight-of-hand a needle into him without the dog every knowing what happened.  It usually goes a lot better than trying to take the dog into a facility where the vets expect stressed-out animals to be on city behavior.  Or, maybe I've just been really lucky with the old seen-it-all vets around here.  But it's worth calling around and asking.  Most vets are quite enthusiastic to get the balls off large aggressive dogs and will be happy to work with you.  Your telephone script is "I've got a large rambunctious male rescued LGD who can be aggressive and has never been fixed and I'm trying to figure out the best way to get him castrated without anybody getting hurt, but I'm not sure I can safely bring him into the unfamiliar environment at your clinic.  Do you have any suggestions for me?"  They are the skilled professionals, let them tell you what they are or are not willing or able to do.

My guy originally won my heart by running up to me at a moving sale and leaping up to put his paws on my shoulders ... but when he did, he folded them so all I got was the fuzzy back of his feet, no claws.  He's gentle like that.  But Lucrecia is absolutely right, there's no notion of grabbing, moving, or hitting my dog by way of forcing him to do something he does not want.  (Play is another matter, but be prepared to get mauled if when I invite roughhousing this way.)    Ultimately though he has his own agenda which I can influence (sometimes) through persuasion or by putting a leash on him and gently inviting him to humor me, which he does because he's a good and tolerant boy.  But the sex hormones made him so that way too much of his agenda involved arguing with me and the other dogs about pack dominance.  I'm not saying you can't work with that, I'm saying it's 400% easier if you don't have to.  
 
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I agree with the other advice given. If the older one does good on a leash that's a blessing use it. Take him on walks around the perimeter of your property before you feed him if possible so he feels like he is working for food and for you. As for getting them neutered if you contact the vet and let them know the situation it shouldn't be a problem.  Most vets will have muzzels on hand, have experience handling dogs that are uncooperative and would prefer to have  one of their vet techs help handle the dog than you.
 
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I *think* I experienced a situation tonight that confirms something of this nature that happened to me twice now.   It involves 2 LGDs, one being an older female and the other being a young, un-neutered male.  The male is slowly losing his puppyness and is now starting to show dominance desires.  We have pigs that free-roam the fenced property.....the LGDs learn that along with the chickens, geese, etc., the pigs are part of the "protected" class and not to be challenged.  The older female has this down as might be expected.  My suspicions are that, since I'm gone more to work during the day and my wife is around both the protected class and the LGDs more of the day, she enjoys 'alpha' status and I rank somewhere in no-man's land.  So twice now when I've needed to be aggressive about getting a pig away from where it's supposed to be.....I've gotten bit by the large female LGD.  Not a blood-drawing bite, but something that lets me know her intentions......and capabilities.  Both times the bite has left dark-blue bruises under the skin.  The new piece of evidence came this evening when I pulled up in the car and a large sow circled my vehicle.   She's a bit intimidating and I decided to let her pass around the back of the car before I exited.  As I waited, I suddenly heard "classic" LGD fighting ensue.  When I jumped out to see what was transpiring, LGD the younger (male) was limping away.   The observation here is that the young male had recently started nipping at the legs of the pigs if they were in his 'private' space, where he's assembled the usual junk-yard puppy collection of sticks, shoes, boots, garden hoses, pails, buckets, etc.....you get the idea.   I think in this instance, the male dog was nipping at the legs of the pig circling the car and the female dog finally saw him do this in front of her....and she exerted her dominance and role quickly and forcefully.  Normally when they are playing, there is no yelping.  As soon as they were back in the main (fenced) yard away from the pig and with the exception of a bit of surprise and caution show by the male, they were quickly fine with each other again.  All FWIW...
 
Lucrecia Anderson
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John Paulding wrote:
Feed them separate when the goats come up to the shed for the night? (if they do good with goats that is) We're on 15 acres and plan on having the goat's shed close to the house. They're both males btw and a male/female team would probably be better. I thought about making the younger one into a family dog. Oh yeah. He's not Great Pyrenees like the older one. He looks more like and Old English Sheep dog and they're more of a herder than an LGD.



Paul how old is the younger dog? Is he an LGD or what?

And just fyi....working flock guards are raised with the flock from birth with only limited human contact (feeding and such). LGDs guard what they love and they are taught how to guard the flock by older experienced LGDs that speak the same canine language and show the pups how it is done. If the humans are too hands on the dog bonds/loves the human more than the flock. If the dog bonds with the human over the flock then the dog wants to protect the human/household instead of the sheep and that makes for an unhappy unsatisfied dog that is never fully devoted to the flock.

My dog was raised entirely with goats but bonded very quickly with me and after a year or so became a perfect house dog/gentleman (they will switch their devotion from a flock to humans very quickly, but it really doesn't work the other way since human's are more interesting, we give food and praise and ear rubs and sheep don't typically do any of those things).

I think the aggression between the two dogs will escalate and could get out of control faster than you expect. I do not think neutering will fix it. It may help calm them down but from what you described it won't fix it. Be aware that while you may separate them, each time you let them together it could increase dramatically. They are not likely to "work it out" but instead it could easily boil over into a really ugly situation, bloody injuries and big vet bills which may anger you and tempt you to blame one of the dogs. If that happens....well....you can't blame the dogs because IMO the situation is pretty clear/predictable.

If you have a flock to guard and the older dog is an experienced flock guardian then personally I would consider turning one dog (the younger one) into a house guardian, and the other into a field guardian WITH a female companion dog so the field dog isn't isolated/lonely.

Do you have a flock? Is the older dog an experienced flock guard? And fyi buying a lone puppy and planning to "teach him" to guard a flock is not how true livestock guardians are raised. Humans are not suited to training them to guard flocks due to the bonding thing, and the fact you are not a dog/LGD, and puppies very much need a parental figure for comfort since they are just babies.
 
John Paulding
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Thanks for the input everyone.

Neither of them have any fight marks, so for couple of intact males, I'd say they get along pretty good. I don't doubt they've spent plenty of time together by observation. I've noticed at night, if I put them together, they're quieter as far as barking goes(they're right next to us) and I've never heard the young one yelp at night.

I'll separate them in the morning when feeding and put them together at night, after second feeding. At some point, they'll be further separated most likely.

Something I forgot to mention is that the older one looks full Pyrenees and the younger one looks quite Old English Sheep dog. Pyrenees are LDGs while English Sheep dogs were herders, but they haven't been used that way for generations. Mostly pets and super sized agility competition dogs these days.

I'll have to post some pics.

Captain is the older Pyrenees and Jack is the younger English Sheep looking dog.

Yes, I immediately thought; We need a dog named Sparrow.

Somewhat related;

I was checking out fence types a few days ago and ran across High-Tensile Fence and it's going to be less than half the cost of what I had planned on. We'll be getting Myotonic meat goats which are easy to fence in as far as goats go. I started laying out markers for fence yesterday and today and have old utility poles for corner posts and will probably do Post Oak that we have on the property to use for line posts. We'll be able to afford the wire and hardware, along with a AC/DC combo fence charger. The fence will run within 15 feet of our electric pole for AC and I know solar so I'll put a small panel, charge controller and a couple of golf cart batteries on it for backup.

I found a pdf https://www.dareproducts.com/pdf/high_tensile_fence_system.pdf from Dare Products, via a web search, that had wire spacing for goats. They've got a fence designer tool aka a material calculator that's pretty cool. https://www.dareproducts.com/fence-designer It's based on their components but could be used for other's components in case Dare Products isn't available near you.  

Gonna start walking Captain around the perimeter on occasion too.
 
Lucrecia Anderson
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Really glad you posted an update. Feeding them separately should help with the yelping/aggression, or at least slow down any escalation since now there won't be friction over a single dog dish (plus now the puppy can eat, dogs do actually starve to death when a stronger dog is guarding the food dish)..  If there is ever a problem over the water dish when they are together just put out two dishes a ways apart (though water isn't usually a priority for guarding).

When you get the goats hopefully that will calm down the older dog. If he was guarding a flock up until you bought him then losing the flock would be devastating for him, they feel really lost and insecure when they are separated from their charges.
 
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