TRAINING WITH A PYRENEAN MASTIFF
A Pyrenean Mastiff is very similar to most Livestock Guardian Breeds, in the sense that they are independent thinkers and have to be motivated to work. They are a very smart breed who can be very biddable if worked with and taught how to learn from a young age. The best approach to working with a Pyrenean Mastiff is starting off with Positive Reinforcement training. Teaching a Pyrenean Mastiff through positive reinforcement techniques from a young age creates a strong bond between handler and dog that can last through maturity, and causes the dog to figure out how to communicate with their handler. Once Pyrenean Mastiffs are older, and have been taught how to communicate with their handlers, they are pretty eager to please, and enjoy training. Not every Pyrenean Mastiff is the same, and some may need harsher corrections as they mature, but that is not the standard for the breed.
Pyrenean Mastiffs are just like other dogs when it comes to fear and adolescent stages. So as they grow and mature, taking training slow and making it fun will help your young Pyrenean Mastiff learn how to be a rock star in their older years. But don’t move too slowly! Or you miss your openings for learning.
COMMON BEHAVIORAL ISSUES WITH PYRENEAN MASTIFFS
Barking- Pyrenean Mastiffs are a Livestock Guardian Breed, which means that they are meant to be alert to new and strange things and tell those things to go away. Barking is a Pyrenean Mastiffs first defense in protecting their stock, so barking is a very common thing in the breed. You may never get your Pyrenean Mastiff to be quiet for life, but you can work on teaching them how to stop barking on command. Starting from a young age, reward your dog the moment they stop barking for more than 5 seconds. After working on that one small task for a little while, add a command to get them to stop such as “Enough”. As you work and practice your dog should begin to understand “Enough” means that if they are quiet they get a reward!
Resource Guarding- Another common issue in Livestock Guardians is resource guarding. These dogs need to have a sense of what is “theirs” so they can have a desire to protect and watch their stock. This in turn can move into resource guarding. To avoid resource guarding, play a game with your Pyrenean Mastiff while they are chewing on something yummy. Switch out the chew with something that tastes better than what they were chewing on and then let them be. Play that game a few times a day so they learn that a hand means something yummy is coming. If your Pyrenean Mastiff is trying to guard their toys/chews from another dog, always take the toy/chew away from the dog who is guarding it and place them somewhere to hang out away from the family for 2 minutes.
Jumping- Jumping is something all dogs do for attention. They want to make sure you know they are there and ready to interact with you. So play a game with your dog where every time they sit without asking they get a treat. Never ask your dog to sit, or else it becomes a command and not a natural response to seeing you.
It is important to make sure that training is always fun! The Pyrenean Mastiff is an independent thinker and at times they think they know better! Having a variety of treats to include high value treats will be very important when it comes to how much you want to train your puppy.
The first 4 months of a puppies life is the optimal time for socialization, it is up to puppy owners to continue their socialization and get them use to things they may encounter while living with you. After 4 months of age everything becomes desensitization where you must work to overcome new things that they may perceive as scary. It is important to always use positive reinforcement with your young Pyrenean Mastiff! As they get older you can adjust your training methods to a more balanced approach.
The prime time to get training in is from the moment puppy gets home to 9 months of age. Once adolescence hits at 9 months of age if you have not worked with your puppy you will have a more resistance teenager on your hands. They may comply with what you are asking but you will see the wheels turning where they are thinking of not listening! It is kind of funny to see, many who feel the Pyrenean Mastiff is to stubborn to train is because they missed the prime opportunity to motivate them and make them think training is the most fun activity in the world.
We highly recommend you look into the Puppy Culture for owners series and the Show bundles for those who plan to show. If you are unable to then at minimum, we highly recommend looking into getting the book “When Pigs Fly!” by Jane Killion to learn about methods that can help you with training your puppy. This book covers tons of topics that you may encounter with your puppy and provides great solutions!
It is important to always make the crate a positive thing! We like to feed in the crate to help keep a positive association to the crate and make going into their crate enjoyable.
Crate training is extremely important for puppies! It provides a safe place for puppy when you are not home or at night when they cannot be supervised. The other benefit of crate training is if your puppy gets rowdy and needs a “time out” to settle down the crate is an excellent place for your puppy to calm down.
The reason it is a good idea to work on crate training even if you plan to allow your puppy to free roam your home is because there may be times in their life where they will need to be crated. Examples include if they are having surgery at the vet and you must drop them off, the veterinarian is likely to have them in a crate. If they go to the groomer they may be crated for drying or while waiting to be picked up. If your puppy is used to being crated these situations will be much less stressful for your puppy.
If your puppy will be crated while you are at work or out, it is important to give them toys that will provide mental stimulation to help keep them occupied. Kong makes several fun treat dispensing toys such as the Kong Wobbler and Kong Gyro. You can also purchase the original Kong Rubber toy and fill it with treats, peanut butter, frozen yogurt, etc. Other items you can give your puppy while in the crate are bully sticks, pig ears, marrow bones, peanut butter filled femur bones, or other edible chews.
It is extremely important to make sure if your puppy is crying in the crate that you do not let them out until they settle down! If you let them out while crying, they will learn that if they cry you will let them out which is counterproductive to crate training.