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Discussion Starter #1
First a little history:

Yesterday we opened our home and hearts to a Great Pyrenees, having read up on these babies I've learned that they are independent dogs who normally watch over the flock and make good guard dogs. Friendly with children and other animals. She is most certainly friendly with people and other animals until....

I tried to snuggle her today and almost got a face full of teeth as she flipped herself around, snarled and snapped. This is not tolerable behavior from what I can tell for a Pyr. Is this something to do with her having been allowed outside at all times to do what she wanted in her previous home? No training and no socialization has led to her thinking she's "top dog"?

I told her NO firmly and she continued to growl until I put a hand over her muzzle. She quieted then. I have small children in the home that love to snuggle dogs...I can see this getting bad quick if it's not taken care of fast. I'm already working on NILIF. Any other suggestions anyone can give me?

She is 1 1/2 years, has been an outdoor only dog in a family with children and adults alike as well as cats and dogs of all sizes. Never been on a leash but is starting to get used to it. She was not socialized as a pup and has never had training. We're doing basic obedience now at home. I've never had to go to classes before and she's already doing well but if this continues, I'm afraid I won't be able to keep her.
 

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"Snuggling" is very threatening to a dog that isn't used to it. She was, in her mind, defending herself. It speaks volumes about her temperment that she didn't actually bite you. Growling is good as she warned you before attacking--if you punish the growling she'll learn to go straight for the bite without warning. Conditioning her to enjoy snuggling will take time, and she needs to learn to trust you first.

I would recommend consulting a veterinary behaviorist.
 

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Dominance theory was debunked a long time ago, I wouldn't be concerned with her thinking she is "top dog".

It sounds like she is nervous being in her new environment and doesn't trust you yet. You probably either startled her by coming up behind her and trying to cuddle her or she is just a dog that does not enjoy being snuggled. If she's used to being alone outdoors then either one of the above could be true. The fact that she didn't bite shows that she was just trying to warn you. An air snap does not mean she was trying to bite you, it's a warning signal.

I would not leave my kids unattended with the dog or any dog for that matter. I also wouldn't let the kids snuggle her yet, she needs space right now and shouldn't be forced to do things she's not comfortable with. You've only had her for one day so you need to give her time to adjust and get comfortable in her new environment. It may take several months for her true personality to show. Work on training and build positive association with treats and praise as you slowly build up touching and handling her.
 

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Don't snuggle her. She may not like it, or she just met you yesterday and she was scared. Most dogs don't like cuddling and your children should not be encouraged to do so, especially with a strange dog. You are setting them up to get bitten, if not by your dog, then by another.

Dominance theory was debunked long ago. And don't ever punish growling. Growling is a warning: back off or I may bite. If you remove growling, you've got just biting left. You don't want that.

I would read Culture Clash or anything by Ian Dunbar today, before you set up a nasty bite.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
As far as my kids go they are always supervised when near any dogs, even my own. I know that sometimes, things can happen in the blink of an eye. If I cannot be in the room, Ida is crated and my daughter is asked to come out of the room. Don't encourage snuggling? This is a dog that is suppose to be GREAT with kids. No at the moment I don't plan to let my daughter snuggle with Ida, that would be completely stupid. I let her pet her with supervision. Ida has had no issues with my daughter.

It was ME who tried to give her lovin's, I did NOT do this from behind, so I don't think she was startled. I've already checked for any sore/hurt spots and she appears to have none. I did notice however that I can hug her from the front, just not the side. Odd, I've always been told hugs and cuddles should come at the side not the front. She seems to think otherwise. I can tug her ears, tail, mess with her paws, mouth, and all over and not so much as a grumble. I know this because I've done it a couple of times since she came home. One time when she first came home because I wanted to make sure she could be handled.

The correction on the growl was sort of a gut reaction. I think instead I will simply give her her space and allow her "quiet time" in her crate. She doesn't seem to mind this and it gives her time to calm down. I'd like to desensitize her to these kinds of things though because I'm afraid if one of the kids were to lean on her she might snap, even if they didn't mean to. Obviously with her history, she was not socialized or trained at all. As I've said before, we're working on basic obedience and we do NILIF.

Is there anything else I can do to help her transition to her new home? She clings to me, she will seek out the attention of my daughter and uncle every once in a while if I step out of the room but if I'm there she is right there with me. She has to sit or down before getting up on the bed but I let here lay here with her head in my lap. Would it help to get her out around "good" people? I know she'll need socialized but...I'm used to doing it with YOUNG pups not a dog who is 1.5 years old. How do you approach socializing at this point?
 

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As far as my kids go they are always supervised when near any dogs, even my own. I know that sometimes, things can happen in the blink of an eye. If I cannot be in the room, Ida is crated and my daughter is asked to come out of the room. Don't encourage snuggling? This is a dog that is suppose to be GREAT with kids. No at the moment I don't plan to let my daughter snuggle with Ida, that would be completely stupid. I let her pet her with supervision. Ida has had no issues with my daughter.
Where did you get the info that dog is suppose to be great with kids. Is it this particular dog or did somebody say the breed in general. No hugging.

This dog has some serious learning/bonding to do with family and home area. Please be careful.
 

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Where did you get the info that dog is suppose to be great with kids. Is it this particular dog or did somebody say the breed in general. No hugging.

This dog has some serious learning/bonding to do with family and home area. Please be careful.
She got the info from me about the breed being good with children. Not about that particular dog. And I told her of the intense socialization needed since her whole life she was an outdoor dog.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
The breed in general is suppose to be good with kids and this particular dog was around kids in the past. In fact I believe the previous families kids are the only ones who paid her any attention, which might explain why she's had no issues with my daughter thus far. I have no intentions not to be careful with her. With snuggling not being natural, I've never met a dog that didn't enjoy snuggling...that's why this is kind of shocking for me. Of course..I've never gotten an older dog who wasn't properly socialized before either...

I'm sorry if I seem to be defensive, this is just a lot to take in and I feel like some people are assuming that I would allow my children to be alone with my dogs. I've never and don't plan to any time soon. I've been reading and in fact read for a couple days before deciding to bring her home...I'm just kind of stumped.
 

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You have to realize, we are dog lovers here. A lot of people make mistakes with dogs because they just don't know better. People leave babies/children alone with dogs all the time because "the dog loves kids" or that was what they were taught and for whatever reason, these children can be/are hurt or killed. Who gets blamed? The dog. Whatever breed it is now has a huge mark against it. So, to help prevent these sorts of accidents we try to educate owners and make sure they don't make a mistake that could endanger the breed or their families. No one is saying you are a bad parent, just to reiterate the sentiment that dogs and children are not good alone.

As far as reading the past couple days, some people spend years and years of research before getting a dog. I'm not bashing you, but a couple days worth of reading, to me, means you haven't even scratched the surface. I too agree with everyone else and think you should spend a lot of time bonding with the dog (feeding, training, playing, exercising, etc.). She may be the biggest cuddler ever once she learns to trust you but you must work on her terms.

It's good she warned you too. Don't reprimand a growl. It is a sign of communication that, if lost, is very hard to get back and will cause way more problems later. Some dogs find cuddling to be extremely threatening cause it is incredibly unnatural.

Be careful with resource guarding. I'm not saying she has it but since she doesn't really know you, is in a new situation, etc. she might resource guard things she finds important (usually food, bones, toys, etc). Don't let the kids try to take anything from her. I'm not trying to scare you but just give you a heads up in case.
 

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I have people encourage their children to run up to my dog and hug him. Kabota has the temperament of a saint, but a) he shouldn't have to put up with that, and b) other dogs aren't kabota. That's where I'm coming from. These people are leading their children to be bitten and digs to be killed for it. Out of sheer ignorance.

Also, this business of "oh, I tugged on my dog's ears the second day to see if it was safe is beyond dangerous. It takes about 3 months to see true reactions from a new dog, so today's passive acceptance is summers nasty reaction. When I first got Kabota, he'd let anyone do anything to him, because he was terrified and his reaction to fear is to give up and shut down. 2.5 months later, he gets a bit snarky about tail brushing and dental care, because he feels safe enough to fight now.

Slow down. Slow it all down. Build your bond slowly and carefully at her pace, not yours.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Nil,

Oh I understand, I know friends who have left their children alone with their dogs even after -I- have warned them not to. All my friends go to me when they want to ask something dog related because I've had dogs all my life. Unfortunately, they don't always listen or consider my advise "stupid" because "My dog would never.." Yea...your dog will never until it's tired and startled or hurt....or a number of other situations.

I understand it's not a lot of time to research and I'm the first one to admit I don't know everything, I'm still doing my research. I've even talked to a couple local breeders, including HER breeder. I plan to work with her a lot. We're going to do a mile walk each day (right now we're working up to that because she is not used to a leash and is in the middle of learning it's her friend, not a snake that's going to bite her.) I've actually been hand feeding her to help with trust and have started work on basic commands (sit, down,come, stay). It seems out of everyone, she's gotten close to me and seems to enjoy just laying near me or with her head in my lap. I suppose that's kind of cuddling for her.

I have considered resource guarding which is another reason I've been hand feeding. So far we've had no problems but I won't let the kids take anything from her and she goes in her crate to eat, have bones, and stuff like that so the other dogs don't try to take it either. All things considered, she's a pretty good girl, unfortunately, she just didn't have the right care her first 1.5 years of life. I'm hoping I can give her the great forever home she deserves. On another note, I was laying beside her a little bit again, petting her side and after a few minutes of petting I just rested my arm on her side and she laid there with no problem!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I have people encourage their children to run up to my dog and hug him. Kabota has the temperament of a saint, but a) he shouldn't have to put up with that, and b) other dogs aren't kabota. That's where I'm coming from. These people are leading their children to be bitten and digs to be killed for it. Out of sheer ignorance.

Also, this business of "oh, I tugged on my dog's ears the second day to see if it was safe is beyond dangerous. It takes about 3 months to see true reactions from a new dog, so today's passive acceptance is summers nasty reaction. When I first got Kabota, he'd let anyone do anything to him, because he was terrified and his reaction to fear is to give up and shut down. 2.5 months later, he gets a bit snarky about tail brushing and dental care, because he feels safe enough to fight now.

Slow down. Slow it all down. Build your bond slowly and carefully at her pace, not yours.
I've always been told to gently tug on a dog and examine them to be sure they will tolerate handling and that way if they don't you know what may need worked on....and I've even heard this from breeders o_O?
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I think I'm just going to take a step back from this thread for a bit. I'm starting to feel overwhelmed and a bit growly myself and I know that's not going to help anything. It's hard to really get a feeling from text but some replies just seem snotty and mean. I'm looking for advice, not to be treated as if this is my first dog and I'm a stupid moron who needs lectured. There is a difference between advising and attacking. I asked about one thing and got responses on things completely different from what I asked and things that I already knew, such as to supervise the children and dog together. >.<
 

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I've always been told to gently tug on a dog and examine them to be sure they will tolerate handling and that way if they don't you know what may need worked on....and I've even heard this from breeders o_O?
The thing you have tor realize is that some dogs in a shelter setting/new environment do not act the way they would normally because they are scared. It can take months (they say about 3 months) of owning a new dog until that dog's "true personality" comes out. So yea, pulling on a dog is a way to get some idea of the dog's tolerance level. But some dogs don't like strangers touching them. After a couple months of getting to know them they can be perfectly fine with people poking them. It just depends on the dog.

Everyone here just wants what is best for the dog. I'm sorry you don't necessarily see that the same way. I think you are doing great with the feeding from hand, training immediately, etc. That is exactly what a new dog needs. But, there are some things I don't necessarily agree with too like the pack theory or correcting him physically. No one here knows how much you know about dogs either. So, we are trying to give you as much information as possible. If you know it, great! If you don't, well I hope you think about it and formulate your own opinions on it. I don't think anyone is trying to belittle you.
 

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She got the info from me about the breed being good with children. Not about that particular dog. And I told her of the intense socialization needed since her whole life she was an outdoor dog.
Definitely heavy with the social stuff but I like more family bonding at a slow pace because sometimes a dog can get overwhelmed. I have always thought of the dog before the breed.
 

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I told her NO firmly and she continued to growl until I put a hand over her muzzle.
I know that you were just running on instinct and surprise because you said that in previous posts, but I thought I would just add because no one else has said it: the hand over the muzzle is a bad move in this situation. She's just giving you a warning that she's uncomfortable. You don't want to respond by escalating things.

Everyone else has given good advice about slowing down. I know you're trying to speed-socialize her, but if you constantly push her boundaries and stress her, problems are more likely. I think you are saying you signed her up for classes -- is that correct? Maybe at the start you can tell the teacher that one of the things you want to work on is handling.

Edited to add, because of the title: this has nothing to do with dominance.
 

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Dogs don't have to tolerate any and all things you want to do with them regardless of breed. Brody is a snugglebug of a dog and wants nothing more than full body to body contact with any and all people he comes in contact with. He forces himself in your lap and tries to get your arms around him. Charlotte would rather get a scratch behind the ears. She will struggle if someone tries to cuddle her and growl if they don't let her away. She's amazing with all people and kids and is VERY friendly. She simply doesn't like to be hugged.
 
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