Care, Feeding, Training
Caring for a Great Pyrenees is a labor of love. Great Pyrenees need affection, kindness and human companionship.
Provide your new puppy-or new adult dog-with a quiet place of its own. The puppy should have a place to go when it wants to be left alone-he needs lots of sleep. And remember, at this age the puppy is just a baby. Children must learn not tease or handle the puppy roughly. It is unwise to leave a puppy alone and free in a home. He will likely become bored and lonely and in that mood look for mischief to get into, such as chewing up sofa pillows, working on rugs or furniture. Always confine him in a pen or crate until you return. Leave him toys to play with, some puppy biscuits to chew on, and fresh water.
Toys are very important for your puppy. Large hard rubber balls and toys are good, as well as good-quality commercial dog chew bones and old knotted socks. Do not let a puppy chew old shoes, clothing or bits of paper lest this taste be carried over to your good shoes, clothing or a temporarily laid-down daily newspaper.
Housebreaking will be an immediate concern. The Great Pyrenees is easily housebroken if you persist in simple rules, such as always taking the puppy out the same door to relieve himself. Observe your puppy carefully for signs of restlessness until he learns to communicate his needs. Put your puppy out the first thing in the morning, after each meal and nap, the last thing at night, and at any other time when he appears to be restless. When the puppy is very young, you will probably have to get up with him once during the night as a baby cannot be expected to be continent throughout the night. Persistence and adherence to the same procedure, day after day, will housebreak the puppy in a short period of time. Your puppy will be quick to learn, as Pyrs are naturally clean.
Never allow your Great Pyrenees to roam at will. A well fenced yard is a must for safety, as well as compliance with zoning and nuisance ordinances in most communities. With so many fast-moving cars, it is not safe for a puppy or adult dog, nor is it fair to your neighbors for a dog to be loose. This includes never allowing the dog off leash unless it is confined.
Never tie a dog outside unsupervised. It promotes aggressiveness or other personality changes, suspicion of what is beyond his reach and susceptibility to being teased or frustrated. Furthermore, it can be dangerous because the dog may wrap himself in the chain, or even hang himself.
A precautionary note! Beware of slick surfaces and highly polished floors as footing for puppies and adolescents. They do not give adequate traction. If puppies are allowed to play on such surfaces, they may slip and hurt themselves, possibly causing an injury, or they may develop "sea-legs" which will prevent their proper development. Start puppies on a rough surface for proper footing.
Always have fresh, cold water available and provide adequate shade for the puppy or grown dog. Also, do not leave a dog in a closed car.
There is a saying that "a dog is only as good as what goes into him." This is as applicable to the quality and amount of food as it is to the bloodlines of his ancestors. So, don't skimp. A large breed grows fast and has a lot of developing to do in a short period of time.
Although a Great Pyrenees may mature slowly, your puppy grows fast and needs wholesome, nourishing food. Nothing takes the place of a good quality balanced dog food, or puppy food for young dogs. Dogs prefer consistency. Quality, commercial foods insure nutritional balance; manufacturers urge you not to supplement by providing additional additives to their already correct mixture. Give dog biscuits (the hard, chewing kind); they are good for cleaning the teeth. Do not give bones for these can splinter and thus be dangerous.
Feed regularly prepared, fresh food at set times and in clean dishes. There are many excellent commercial dog foods available to canine owners, never feed generic dog food. If a dog appears to be off his feed, listless or ill, take him to your veterinarian for treatment-the sooner the better! If you check your dog's temperature (with a rectal thermometer) remember that the normal temperature for a dog runs between 101°F and 102°F.
Maintain a regular check-up for your dog in the interest of good health. See your veterinarian on schedule to check for worms, other parasites, heart worm, etc. Have the teeth checked for tartar. Give booster shots as recommended by your veterinarian. Watch, too, for ear infections, fungus between the toes and "hot spots", which sometimes occur on the skin of long-haired, double-coated dogs.
Great Pyrenees have a low metabolism. Please always caution your veterinarian about weighing your Pyr before giving any anesthetic to the dog, and only give "to effect."
Check the ears periodically for mites, dampness and excess wax. Keep ears dry as damp ears often play host to fungus infections or mites. A swab of cotton on the finger, dampened with alcohol, can be used to clean the exterior ear canals. Dry ear powder may also be used to keep ears dry.
Clip toenails and dewclaws regularly. This insures that they do not grow so long as to curl under and into the flesh. Never let anyone tell you the dewclaws should be removed. They are a part of the breed, one of its several identifying characteristics and thought to have a "snow-shoe" effect.
Check eyebrows at least monthly to make sure they do not curl downward and possibly into the eyes, causing irritation. If necessary, clip them, being very careful of the sharp points of the scissors.
Never clip a Great Pyrenees in the summer. A Pyrenees needs his coat for protection from the sun. The "world's most beautiful dog" requires a minimum of grooming care to keep him looking beautiful. However, care should consist of a good brushing once or twice a week to keep the coat in top condition and clean. The Pyrenean coat is coarse and hence a brush should remove the dirt. Loose under-coat can be removed easily with a wide-toothed comb or "rake".
Leash breaking should be undertaken when you get your puppy. Again, use kindness and patience. Fit a buckle collar on the puppy's neck, attach a long lead, and for the first couple of lessons, follow the puppy, letting him lead you. After this, kindly and gently coax the puppy to walk beside you, being lavish in your praise and encouragement. Pet the pup frequently and keep the session short. The puppy will want to please you and will soon enjoy these walks. Don't use a chain or choke collar in teaching a puppy to lead. But for an older dog, a nylon choke collar is preferable-it does not wear down the coat.
There are puppy kindergarten classes for very young puppies, but formal obedience training is not recommended before six months of age. Informal obedience training may be started soon after you take your puppy home. Simple commands such as "Sit", "Down", "Come", "No", etc. are useful for everyday life, indoors and out. From the start, show your puppy who is master (for he may well try to be his own!) and once a command is given, insist on its being performed. Again, use kindness and firmness. A displeased tone of voice uttered as a reprimand is usually sufficient discipline. If an older pup needs more discipline, shake the dog by the back of the neck.
Whenever you have questions or problems, feel free to call the breeder. They know your puppy best. The GPCA's Code of Ethics states, "A breeder shall be available to his buyer for whatever advice, reasonable aid and assistance they may need for the life of that dog."
A publication of the Great Pyrenees Club of America, Inc. revised 1992