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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 3 year old female (spayed) Pyrenees LGD who does not seem to want to stay with my goats. We bought her a month ago from a lady who was "downsizing" her goat herd. She said the dog had been with goats most of her life and that she was great around chickens, did not chase cats and was good around children. We thought this was a great opportunity to get a guardian for our 10 does. We brought her home and kept her in with all the goats each night and then let them hang out together in our 8 acre pasture during the day. It had been getting extremely hot and we didn't want her or the goats to stay penned up all day too. We did this for 2 weeks. The goats loved her right when they met her...and she didn't seem to have any problems with the goats. However, after about 4 days, she started finding "weak" spots in my fence and slipping out. Our fence is pretty new and pretty tight. I fixed my weak spots...and then she started to dig. And she can fit out of the smallest holes for being such a big dog. She seems to watch for when she thinks no one is looking, and then digs out. I have too much fence to run electric fence. And apparently, my fence is not as strong as I initially thought it was. The goats never get out...but the dog keeps making her own places to get out. Am I never going to be able to get her to stay...she just doesn't seem to want to guard my goats at all. She doesn't get out and then come back...she goes to a random neighbors house until we go get her. Has anyone ever had a problem with a Pyr like this? If so, any ideas?
 

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Maybe she is really unhappy about being taken from her other home. She was definitely in with goats before? Maybe you will have to tie her out in the pasture or something.
 

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Is it the same neighbor you find her at, or different neighbors? What is she doing when you find her? Do the neighbors have animals? Pyrs are phenomenal diggers, and they can be wanderers. How much land did her previous owner have? Did her previous owner leave her in with the goats 24/7, or did she have the run of the place? Is she only doing this in the daytime? How far are you from her previous home.

There could be several things going on. Because Pyrs are perimeter dogs, it's possible that she has taken it upon herself to take guardianship your neighbor's places as well as your own. I've seen this before, especially with mature guardians that have been rehomed. They were bonded to one herd of goats or sheep, and all of the sudden, they are in with a new herd. In the dog's mind, I believe they realize that their other herd is still out there. Initially, they wander looking for the other part of "their" herd. In the meantime, they seem to assume ownership of the livestock they encounter along the way. I had two older dogs that actually covered over 5 miles to get to a pasture that their goats had once grazed in. It's not that she's not wanting to protect your goats, but it's more that she wants to protect yours AND the missing goats.

The other possibility is that she's taking a little time off to explore in search of a comfortable spot. LGDs are most active at night. I've noticed that during the heat of the day, when the threat from predators is the lowest, my dogs tend to relax. This is when they find a cool spot to lay, maybe take a dip or two in the trough, and get some good shut eye. If she previously had full access to a barnyard, she probably spent this time out of the pastures and up around the buildings where there would be more shade and sand (they will burrow down in sand where it is a little cooler).

Tying her out in your pasture is a good idea. Several times a day, make it a point to walk the perimeter with her. Make sure she is tied out in a place where she will have shade and water, and preferably a place where her new herd will be closest to her. When you feel like she is comfortable, let her off the line. If she digs out, bring her home, walk the perimeter, and tie her out again. The idea here is to teach her that the fenceline is her new boundary and that she needs to stay close to her herd. It will take time, patience, and a lot of miles walking your fenceline, but she will eventually learn.

I'm sorry for the long post, and I wish you luck with your girl. LGDs are not always easy, but they are worth the time and effort of training or re-training. I attached a picture you may be able to appreciate. That is a full grown Pyr tucked into the hole. She dug the hole out in about three hours. Pyrs can be master excavators!

Carnivore Bedrock Terrestrial animal Cave Snout
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you all for your replies! And thank you especially SCRMG for posting the picture...WOW! That is absolutely amazing!! I think I would have had trouble believing that if I hadn't have seen a picture!

To answer your questions SCRMG: We've been called in the night by two different neighbors who live on opposite sides of our farm. The first neighbor, she was just walking up the road towards their house, she had gotten out later that night after we fed her. The second neighbor has a bunch of ducks and chickens. That day when she got out...she got out at 10 a.m. and stayed gone all day. We didn't get a call as to her whereabouts until 9:30 p.m., and she was at their barn. I don't know what she had been doing all day...we looked for her, but couldn't find her.

Her previous owner had 70+ acres and they live a couple of hours away from us. I think they let her have the run of the place...supposedly, she would patrol all around and definitely stay with their goats at night. All I can go on is what they told me...I hope they were honest. I can't find a pattern with her getting out...she does it at different times of the day. She works very hard to get out too. We buried barbed wire an inch or two at the bottom of the fence where she has gotten out several times before, and she just digs a deeper hole to get out under that barbed wire...and so far at the same place, but there are lots of other places where she would be able to dig out if she decided to.

We've been keeping her tied to the goat barn in the hopes that she will at least be a deterrent to coyotes. The goats tend to stay near her at night, but during the day, they graze all over the field. We have only had her for a little over a month now, but we are unsure that she will ever stop trying to dig out. I feel a little better at the suggestions to tie her out and keep walking the perimeter in the hopes of her learning that this is her new territory. I have hopes that she can be retrained...but I'm worried that we just don't have enough land for what she had been used to. I know "old dogs can be taught new tricks" because I have some pet dogs that have done just that. But I also know that a Pyr is not your typical dog, and that she is not a pet, but supposed to be a working member of the farm.

Thank you again for all the information you have provided. I greatly appreciate it!
 

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I really feel for you as, if you're going to keep her, you've certainly got your work cut out for you. I suspect she learned quite young that she was to cover a larger area than you have; so in her mind, she's doing exactly what she's suppose to do.

I guess tying her up is a good idea, though I don't like staking any animal. (I know beyond a doubt my little Karakachan would not tolerate it!) The one time I did stake my dog (a full blood German Shepherd) it was to connect her 6' leash to the collar of my "mix" (Anatolian/Chow/Lab/wolf) who was 4 yrs old and already good at staying with the heard and guarding them. Whenever this new shepherd tried to do anything it wasn't suppose to do, the mix would not tolerate it. After only a few months, I was able to take the leash off the shepherd and she turned out to be a wonderful guardian for my animals.

As for your dog digging under the fence, my mix use to do that until I laid some cedar logs horizontally along the fencing lines...yes all the parameter fencing...tying those lo the fence. This way there was no flexibility in the fencing. Since your dog digs deeper to get out, I think I would walk the parameter fencing daily to find out her favorite spots; and each time I found it, I would attach chicken wite to the fence and lay it flat out (inside) on the ground so she runs up against the chicken wire when she's digging. All this is work intensive but just might be worth it for you.

Good luck with her.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I just wanted to give an update on my Pyr. We patiently have been working with her since my last post on here. I took SCRMG's advice about tying her out during the day around the goat pasture. I would go out and move her periodically throughout the day, making sure she had water and shade wherever she was tied. She seemed to be happy with this because (1) she was never tied to the same place for very long and (2) she got to visit. I also walked (and walked and walked...) with her around the fence perimeter. We kept her tied like this for about 4 weeks. Then we decided to let her be off during the day for short periods of time while we were outside and could really keep an eye on her. She stayed. We did that for about a week. Then we started just leaving her free to roam the pasture during the day, but still tying her at night. She stayed in the pasture and did not try to dig out. We kept tying her up at night, though, for about another 4 weeks. Then the BIG test...we decided to let her be off all the time. I was very nervous for the first few days, but she never tried to dig out. I would go out and check to see if she was still in the pasture in the morning (after I heard her barking throughout the night)...and she would be there and I would tell her how good a girl she was. I am very excited because so far, after about two weeks of being off all the time, she doesn't seem to want to leave. I really hope that she continues to stay. She is a great dog - very sweet personality, excellent around my children and the goats, and very protective of the goats. :)

I just want to thank everyone again for your replies and your help...especially SCRMG! Thank you!!!
 

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Glad you were able to work it out. It sounds like she just needed time to understand that this was her new home. I hope she continues to do well for you.
 
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