Great Pyrenees are working dogs at heart. Their job is to guard and protect. Jeep is learning to protect us, our family, our three cats and of course Dot Com. One of the ways Pyrs guard and protect is by barking. They have powerful, booming voices. In fact, many Pyr owners are quick to say that their dogs bark all the time. It has even been said that asking a Pyr not to bark is like asking a fish not to swim. Impossible. But sadly, barking is the number one reason why many magnificent Pyrenees wind up in animal shelters and with rescue organizations. That will never happen to Jeep!
Our fuzzy friend Jeep will be 9 months old next week and she is just now finding her barking voice. The first time we heard Jeep bark we were quite surprised at what caught her attention. She was barking at something so silly – she was glaring at a squash that was recently placed on our kitchen counter. Not a squirrel, not a person, not even a noise! A squash! Jeep thought that very scary squash had no business on our
counter. We laughed when we heard her low “WOOF!” (Believe me, it is a “WOOF” that comes from deep inside her. She definitely doesn’t “arf-arf”.) I placed the squash on the floor with some dog treats on top of it so she would understand the squash was not a threat. She happily ate the treats and stopped barking.
Fortunately, Jeep does not bark often (yet). In fact, for the most part, Dot Com starts barking at the neighbor dogs or deer and sometimes Jeep feels the need to chime in. But lately, Dot will bark and Jeep will remain quiet. (Secretly, Jeep and I both think that Dot is a little crazy.)
We are continuing to work with Jeep to help her learn when to bark and, more importantly, when to stop barking. If Jeep is barking outside, I go outside and in a very happy, high-pitched voice tell her she is a “good girl” and thank her for letting us know something is out there even if it is just a falling leaf. She really likes it when I do a little dance as I praise her. She stops right away and watches me. She then quietly follows me inside. Since we know barking is part of Pyrenees life, we need to find ways to make Jeep’s barking manageable.
One of the ways we do that is by keeping Jeep with us. Jeep never sleeps outside at night even though we know she would like to be under the stars and moon listening for coyotes. She really likes to bark at them when they howl and yip. Who can blame her? That is what Pyrenees do. Instead, every night we make sure Jeep goes upstairs to sleep in our room. She has two nice cool mats to sleep on in a corner and we turn a floor fan on to drown out any outside noise. She thinks the fan is particularly wonderful since she is always looking for ways to keep cool. So far this arrangement has been working nicely. (By the way, Dottie Com sleeps on the bed under the covers, but I don’t think Jeep is jealous. She would rather stay cool.)
I also think all the time Jeep spends at school is helping her get used to unfamiliar noises. She understands that not everything she encounters is a threat. Jeep has learned a lot at school and listened to many things including passing bells, fire alarms, hallways of happy children, and even all school dancing assemblies with loud music. She takes all of it in stride because she has been at school since she was nine weeks old. For a Great Pyrenees, Jeep has had a lot of socialization time. We think that will definitely help Jeep as she grows into a big dog.