Great Pyrenees Behavior Problems & How To Handle Them

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The Great Pyrenees is a large, beautiful dog known for its calm temperament and great guarding abilities.

However, like any other breed of dog, the Great Pyrenees can have its share of behavior problems.

The most common Great Pyrenees behavior problems include aggression, barking, stubbornness, and refusal to listen.

As Great Pyrenees owners, these behaviors can be frustrating to deal with.

When a Great Pyrenees refuses to listen and is stubborn, they are much harder to train. As a result, it’s harder to correct bad behaviors like barking or aggression.

However, there is some good news, with the proper training, socialization, and handling, Great Pyrenee’s behavior problems can be corrected.

In this article, we will discuss:

  • A Great Pyrenees’ temperament
  • Common behavior issues Great Pyrenees owners face
  • How aggression & barking develop in Great Pyrenees (and how to fix it)
  • How to discipline Great Pyrenees and correct behavioral problems

Let’s dive in.

Great Pyrenees Behavior Problems & How To Handle Them

Typical Great Pyrenees Temperament

The Great Pyrenees is a large breed dog known as the gentle giants. They are great with families and children and make great loyal protectors.

They are known for being calm, patient, and good-natured.

When it comes to getting along with other dogs and strangers, they can be a bit more reserved at first but tend to warm up to people and other animals rather quickly.

However, like all dogs, they have the potential to develop behavior problems if not properly trained and socialized.

3 Common Behavior Issues With Great Pyrenees

The Great Pyrenees was a dog originally bred to be a livestock guardian dog. As a result, many of their behavior problems are linked to their guarding instincts.

Although these dogs can be calm, gentle, and great with children, when improperly raised and trained, Great Pyrenees can become aggressive.

Due to their instinct to protect livestock from predators, Great Pyrenees can view strangers or other animals as threats if not properly trained.

In addition to aggression, another common behavior problem with Great Pyrenees is barking.

Great Pyrenees have a deep bark that can be startling and off-putting. But, it’s part of what makes them great guard dogs.

Barking can become a problem when Great Pyrenees bark at everything and anything. 

This can be frustrating for owners and annoying for the neighbors.

The last behavioral issue is stubbornness and refusal to listen. Great Pyrenees are independent thinkers and can be headstrong.

This means that they may not always listen to commands or may try to do things their own way.

While this independence can sometimes be an asset, it can make training and disciplining Great Pyrenees more difficult.

Let’s take a more detailed look at each behavioral issue, starting with aggression.

#1 Aggression

Are Great Pyrenees Aggressive?

Great Pyrenees standing

The Great Pyrenees is not an aggressive dog by nature. In fact, most know them as being calm, cool, and collected.

Aggressiveness comes from how they were raised, trained, socialized, and their genetics also play a role.

Now, before you go blaming genetics for bad behavior, it’s essential to know that even with “aggressive genes,” they can still be well-behaved.

It just means they need a little more attention and patience if this is the case.

The most significant factor that affects whether or not a Great Pyrenees will be aggressive is how they were socialized as a puppy and trained. 

Suppose a Great Pyrenees is raised in an abusive or neglectful environment. In that case, they are more likely to be aggressive as adults.

Great Pyrenees rescue dogs can sometimes come from harmful environments that push them towards aggression.

This usually stems from not having learned how to trust people and may see them as a threat.

In addition to their upbringing, dogs in general who are not properly trained or have had very bad or few social experiences are also more likely to be aggressive.

The Great Pyrenees breed is composed of large dogs that can inflict a lot of damage if they want to, so making sure to get aggression under control early is essential.

Can Great Pyrenees Become Aggressive Overtime?

Yes, Great Pyrenees can become aggressive over time if bad habits are left unchecked.

Usually, dogs become calmer with age, but in some cases, they might become more aggressive.

For example, some Great Pyrenees that are well-behaved their whole life can suddenly become aggressive in their senior years.

This is often due to health problems such as dementia or cancer.

If your pup starts showing signs of aggression that appeared out of nowhere, it’s important to take them to the vet to rule out any medical causes.

#2 Barking

The deep, loud Great Pyrenees’ bark can be great for fending off animals and when used as a guard dog. But, unfortunately, it’s in their DNA to bark, so it’s unlikely to ever fully get rid of this.

They bark as a way to deter animals and intruders but also to communicate with their pack (you and your family).

However, barking is only really problematic when they start to do it excessively or without reason. 

Another big issue with Great Pyrenees barking is they are nocturnal by nature. This means their barking usually increases during nighttime when the sun is down.

Why Do Great Pyrenees Bark?

There are several reasons why Great Pyrenees bark, but the most common ones are boredom, fear, anxiety, out of habit, territory guarding, and excitement.

#3 Trainability & Stubbornness

Great pyrenees staring while outside

As we mentioned earlier, Great Pyrenees are independent thinkers and can be quite stubborn.

This means they may not always listen to commands or may try to do things their own way.

While this independence made them great for protecting livestock and making their own decisions, it can make training and disciplining Great Pyrenees more difficult.

A Great Pyrenees may often try and decide if they want to listen or not. Due to their intelligence, they likely know exactly what you want them to do but decide not to listen.

Are Great Pyrenees Easy To Train?

Great Pyrenees are not the easiest dogs to train, but also not the hardest.

Unlike some other large dog breeds, they may not be so eager to please their owners.

The key is to be patient and consistent and to use positive reinforcement methods such as treats or praise.

It’s also important to start training early when they’re still puppies.

If you wait too long, teaching them obedience commands will be much harder.

When a dog has already developed bad habits, you will need to re-condition them. This might mean taking them through a process called counter conditioning.

Counter conditioning is basically changing the way your dog feels about something by repeatedly exposing them to it in a positive way. 

Counter Conditioning Dog Training

For example, if your Great Pyrenees constantly barks at everyone they see, you would expose them to more strangers and things they usually bark at very gradually and then pair it with something they love like treats or their favorite toy.

Over time they will start to associate the good things with the things they used to bark at, and eventually, the barking should stop.

More on this in the next section.

How To Deal With Great Pyrenees Behavior Problems

As we’ve mentioned, most of the time, you can fix behavior problems with patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement.

This means rewarding them when they behave well and ignoring bad behavior.

Great Pyr owners should also avoid using punishment as it will likely make the problem worse or cause your Great Pyr to become scared of you.

Training methods using fear and pain can make things worse and do the opposite of teaching your dog good behavior.

Depending on the severity of the behavioral problem will depend on the steps needed to solve the issue.

However, regardless of which behavior problem you are dealing with, the first thing to do is start obedience training.

Proper training is the start to fixing most dogs with aggression, barking, or a Great Pyrenees that just won’t listen.

Ideally, training should start when they are a young age as early as possible. Training an adult dog with bad behaviors is much more difficult.

Here are some steps to take to reduce a Great Pyrenees’ bad behaviors:

#1 Identify The Cause Of Their Behavior

What is causing them to behave the way they are behaving?

Do they bark at every person or animal they see?

Are they afraid of something specific like loud noises, other dogs, or men with beards?

Would they rather sit outside and lay on the grass than listen to you?

Do they become aggressive when someone tries to take their food away?

Answering these questions is the first step in solving the problem. 

Once you know what’s causing the behavior, you can start to work on a solution.

#2 Set Up a Routine

Great Pyrenees are creatures of habit and like routines.

Having a set daily routine will help reduce stress levels and make them feel more comfortable.

This routine should include regular mealtimes, walks, playtime, and training sessions.

If you can stick to a schedule, it will be much easier to train them.

In addition, you should also set up a routine for dealing with their bad behavior.

If they are aggressive towards dogs, you need a plan and a routine to start reducing this behavior and desensitizing them to it.

If they aren’t listening when you call, you need a strategy to become more exciting to motivate them to listen.

#3 Get The Right Equipment

Depending on your Great Pyrenee’s behavior problem will determine what type of equipment you need.

For example, if they are barking at dogs while on walks, you might need a head halter or no-pull harness.

This will help give you more control over their movements and help redirect their attention to you instead of whatever is setting them off.

In addition, another important training tool is the reward you are using to train them.

It’s no surprise that dogs enjoy some things more than others.

Some dogs will do anything for kibble, while others need something more enticing.

Make sure you are using something your dog associates with high value.

The better the reward, the easier it will be to get your dog to listen.

So, make sure you get the right equipment to help you train them.

#4 Understand Body Language Cues

Great Pyrenees owners need to identify when their dog is signaling stress or discomfort.

The best way to determine this is through their body language. 

By understanding different signals your dog gives off, we can better diffuse situations that could otherwise get out of hand.

Here are some common body language cues:

  • Growling or single “woofs”
  • Whites of the eyes showing-
  • Ears back or flattened against the head
  • Tail between the legs
  • Body tense or stiff
  • Alertness or staring
  • Hackles up

#5 Control Their Environment

One of the most important aspects of dog training is controlling your dog’s environment. This allows you to limit their exposure and self-reinforcement.

That way, reactivity decreases because there’s less opportunity present. 

This also gives you more opportunity to train them with better habits and desensitize their triggers.

If your Great Pyrenees is reactive when you take them on walks, try controlling their environment by planning getaways or different paths you can take to avoid scenarios.

Another example would be for those of you with a Great Pyrenees that love barking at the window at other dogs.

In this example, all you have to do is close the blinds, so there is no longer anything to look at and be triggered by.

#6 Get Professional Help

Depending on how extreme the bad behavior is, one of the fastest ways to get this problem solved is to go to the experts.

Although it can be quite expensive to have trainers take your dog or show you in person what to do, it can be one of the best choices for some.

Another option is to get specialized training online. It’s really cheap but requires you to put in the work.

If you’re in need of some extra help that is much more in-depth and specific to your dog’s needs, you may want to consider enrolling in SpiritDog Training’s Tackling Reactivity Bundle.

How Do You Discipline A Great Pyrenees?

How Do You Discipline A Great Pyrenees

Dogs that are emotional and cannot help themselves.

If you get mad and frustrated, it’ll often lead to you yelling at them, yanking your dog when they pull on the leash, etc.

This is not how you should discipline a Great Pyrenees.

These things only make things worse, especially if your dog is being aggressive or constantly barking.

For example, if your dog is barking and you start yelling at them, your dog has no idea why you’re yelling.

In fact, they might actually think you’re yelling with them, which to them means it’s okay for them to be reacting as they are.

When disciplining your Great Pyrenees, avoid punishment and ignore the bad behavior. You can also use tactics like controlling the environment.

If they are barking out the window, close the blinds, and ignore them.

Only reward your dog when they behave the way you want, and when they misbehave, stay calm and be patient.

Your dog is not being “bad”; they’re just acting in a primitive way.

They are on high alert, set off by their fight or flight response.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

Why Does My Great Pyrenees Growl At Me?

Your Great Pyrenees may growl at you for a number of reasons. These include being in pain, being afraid or anxious, feeling threatened, or trying to protect something they see as valuable, such as food.

Some dogs may even growl affectionately when being pet, for example. However, this is very distinguishable from an aggressive growl as their body will be relaxed, and their tail is usually wagging.

Regardless of why your Great Pyrenees is growling, It’s important to never punish your growling as it’s their way of trying to communicate with you.

What Age Do Great Pyrenees Calm Down?

Great Pyrenees usually start to calm down around the age of two or three.

This is when they reach adulthood and are no longer puppies.

However, some Great Pyrenees may remain high energy throughout their lives. It really depends on the individual dog’s personality.

Will A Great Pyrenees Attack An Intruder?

Great Pyrenees are bred to protect livestock from predators such as wolves, coyotes, and bears.

While they will likely not attack an intruder unless they feel their family is in danger, they will bark and growl aggressively to try and scare them off.

If the intruder doesn’t back down, the Great Pyrenees may eventually resort to biting.

Do Great Pyrenees Turn On Their Owners?

Great Pyrenees are not known for turning on their owners. They are loyal and protective of their family.

However, as with any dog, there is always a potential for aggression. Any dog has the potential to bite if they feel threatened or scared.

Other posts you might find interesting:

Great Pyrenees: The Best Households & Owners for Them

Everything A Great Pyrenees Can & Can’t Do (Full Guide)

10 Best Dog Brushes for Great Pyrenees | What to Look For