How to prevent and manage Great Pyrenees roaming to keep your dog safe and happy.

How To Prevent Great Pyrenees Roaming

A few weeks ago, we discussed Great Pyrenees barking. Today, we’ll be talking about Great Pyrenees roaming. I could give you the simple answer – keep him on leash or in a fenced area, but I’m sure you want more than that.

A common saying in the pyr community is, “an off-leash pyr is a disapyr”. This couldn’t be truer.

Before bringing Mauja home, I read a lot on Great Pyrenees and their tendency to roam. I decided to work on Mauja’s off-leash skills anyway (foolish). All was going smoothly until she hit adolescence and her pyr instincts really started to kick in. I remember the first time she trotted off. She saw a screwdriver on the ground (no idea what that was doing in a field), picked it up, and happily pranced off in the other direction.

Stinker.

Since then, Mauja has been off-leash a small handful of times in areas we are familiar with (like my in-laws lake house). However, it never fails that she decides to go on a walkabout and explore the neighborhood. She will never be an off-leash dog and that’s completely okay; I’m not going to try and fight her instincts. Ultimately, it will just lead to us both being frustrated. Fences are our friends 😉

I have heard of a few pyrs that are trustworthy off-leash, but there are very, very few. Atka is one of the rare Great Pyrenees that can handle being off-leash. He’s extremely sensitive and attached to me, so he doesn’t stray far. However, as he continues to mature, we’ll see how much this changes. Regardless, I don’t want to risk it so I keep him on-leash or in a fenced area. He’s too precious to chance it!

When thinking about Great Pyrenees roaming, it’s important to remember exactly what the Great Pyrenees was bred to do – protect livestock on their territory. If there isn’t a solid territory defined, a pyr will determine his own territory. A solid territory is defined by a fence, not by what you say. Great Pyrenees roaming is instinct and you simply cannot train it out.

A Great Pyrenees is independent, knows his job, and will not listen to your definition of territory. As frustrating as this is, there’s more to it.

Adorable Great Pyrenees

More Than an Inconvenience

Sure, Great Pyrenees roaming is a bit of an inconvenience. You have to make weekly, if not daily, trips to your neighbor’s house to bring back your pyr. Your pyr has been picked up by animal control countless times so you always have to retrieve him. Well, there’s more than that.

Great Pyrenees roaming is dangerous.

If you live in town, there’s a chance your Great Pyrenees could get hit by an unsuspecting driver. If you live in the country, you risk upsetting neighbors to the point of them shooting and injuring or killing your dog. I have heard of this happening far more times than I care to admit. It’s absolutely horrific.

Your Great Pyrenees could also get lost if he roams too far. While they have a great sense of direction, many factors can throw your dog off and make him lose his way.

Electric Fences

An electric fence is a common route for people who are frustrated with their Great Pyrenees roaming around the neighborhood (or whose neighbors are frustrated). I don’t want to be negative, but this typically will not work and I strongly advise against it.

A Great Pyrenees will give his life protecting you so he’s not going to be phased by the shock of the electric fence. There’s also the added buffer of the thick double coat. A pyr will most likely grit his teeth through the electric fence and happily be on his way.

Most importantly, it doesn’t keep other animals out. While Great Pyrenees are not typically aggressive, they do not take kindly to other animals on their territory. They are generally able to intimidate predators such as coyotes and bears, but other dogs/animals won’t always back down. This could lead to a pyr being deemed aggressive, rather than protective. I have seen far too many be put down because of a situation like this happening.

Adequate Fencing

Most rescues will require a 6 ft fence or strict adherence to leash walking to prevent Great Pyrenees roaming. Just like any other personality trait, each dog will require a different fence, but this is the general recommendation. We have a 5ish foot fence that Mauja and Atka have never tried to scale. Then there are pyrs that can easily scale a 6 ft fence, like this guy…

How to prevent and manage Great Pyrenees roaming to keep your dog safe and happy.
Yes, he is on top of a boarding kennel.

When in doubt, go for at least 6 feet in height and use a material that isn’t easy to climb.

Mental Stimulation

While management is the best way to prevent Great Pyrenees roaming, adequate exercise and mental stimulation will help keep your dog contained.

It’s important to remember that letting your dog into a fenced yard does not qualify as exercise. Your Great Pyrenees needs to get out and explore his surroundings. Brisk 30-60 minute walks around the neighborhood will help keep your dog happy.

Mental stimulation is an absolute must with the Great Pyrenees. While they may not be interested in training, they are exceptionally smart and need to be challenged. Don’t limit yourself to conventional obedience training. Get involved with agility, carting, nosework, or whatever else gets your pyr excited. It’s not always easy to find their excitement, but trust me, it’s there!

Great Pyrenees roaming is frustrating, but more importantly, it’s dangerous. Pyrs will do whatever it takes to keep us safe and it’s our job to do the same for them. If you don’t have a fence, consider investing in one or commit to keeping your pyr on-leash.

How do you prevent/manage Great Pyrenees roaming?

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How to prevent and manage Great Pyrenees roaming to keep your dog safe and happy.

16 comments on “How To Prevent Great Pyrenees Roaming”

  1. My guys, Cooper and Jaxx are only half Pyr,(their Mom was an Aussie) but they have exactly that temperament you describe. So I resolve to daily walks and rides in the car. The best way is a routine they look forward to, including the cookie out of their special jar when we come back home. And just have them with me for periods throughout the day, address them in conversations without being demanding, just engage their interest. Lie you cannot to those dogs: Even if they are outside, they know when I am thinking of going somewhere and scratch on the door before I ever get up to gather my things.. So: I got the 6ft fence and they will jump up 5ft Hayrolls and lay up there to oversee ‘their herd’ of horses from inside their fenced area=attached to my kitchen back door. So far this has worked for me. As for letting them off the leash: No. (I got a 12ft leash.)

  2. My pyr Apollo has been in a pet safe for big dogs for 4 years! He is 7 now and we rescued him from the shelter we buried 1500 feet on the ground and we live in the country on a 3 acres lot between a interstate and very busy us Highway and he has never roam away! Yes he is on his game when he is out but all I can say is thank pet safe for big dogs works! He learned his boundaries very fast he gets a tone alert first then the zap! It’s works well! Just my opinion! Thanks

  3. This is helpful perspective, thank you. I have 2 Pyrs and I have somehow magically managed to train one of them to stay within about 30 feet of me when we hike with our goat herd. When she gets too far, I blow a whistle and she comes back in. But her brother–ha—forget it. I’ve tried the same training but he just isn’t as interested in staying close to me or “checking in.” I guess I just got lucky with my girl, makes me appreciate her even more. She’s a fierce and attentive guardian, but small and very trainable.

  4. I have a 3 yr old female that I rescued at 7 months…presuming she either barked too much or in this case after being the second in line to give her a home…the woman that I got Eva from couldn’t control her protective nature with her other two dogs and it became a fight to the finish…Eva and I found one another…but after obedience training and her doing an A+ job on the leash with the 10 or more other breeds…she was at rest next to me and an uncontrolled youngster came up behind me…Eva went into protective mode and there was an animal I hadn’t yet witnessed before with my own eyes straddling this poor boy with jaws open around his neck…this attack was a warning since she didn’t even puncture the skin but the humans were very much afraid of her and she was then labeled as an attack dog….and at this point I began to truly understand the breed and more than that…Eva…the dog she was and the intense love she had for me…long story short…she has never failed to find a hole in the fence on her 10 acres that she shares with 7 cats…she will scale the fence between my neighbor and I just to swim in his pond and then return to the gate and bark to be let in…she loves car rides and we do that often…she loves to sit next to me in a Gem car tethered to the seat as we travel the 2 miles to the post office to retrieve mail…don’t try to mess with her Gem car either while I’m inside or you will be subject to the deepest bark you’ve ever heard…and as she has gotten older her instincts have kicked in big time…we are moving further south onto my daughter’s farm and Eva is now there with 3 other guardian dogs watching over our house during the day and keeping the farm animals safe at night by patrolling her section of the 130 acres…we were there just the other day and when it came time for me to leave I could see the anxiety in her eyes as she flew through hundreds of chickens to make her way to an open gate to follow our truck…she was grief stricken watching me leave…she is food aggressive and shakes her head no when I call her and she is the most undisciplined animal my husband has ever seen but don’t come between us since I just not real sure after she’s warned you she’ll wag that fluffy tail….I absolutely love love her and she me….a senior woman’s dream come true!!

  5. Our first Pyr, Barklee went to 3 ob classes, we could walk him off lead around the neighborhood with no problems even if we passed other dogs he wanted to go but he didn’t. Great dog. Our second Pyr Lacey, forget it, she would just take off.

  6. My first Pyr I took hiking and tied him to a tree while I had a picnic on a ledge about 20 ft away. I kept my eyes on him but realized he was comfy in a spot further than the length of the leash. He very quietly chewed through the thick nylon and chose a better spot to lay down and wait for me. He was close enough to me to watch and protect. Well, I realized when we had to get back to my car with a broken leash that he would be fine off leash. To this day he walks off leash just great. Now I have 2 pyrs (8yrs and 3 yrs old) who will walk with me off leash: on trails or the beach. Both were rescues (rescued at 10 months and the youngest was rescued at 8 wks). I know it’s odd and rare and God blessed me because the 3 yr old doesn’t bark…I mean never! His is a unicorn of the Pyr world.

  7. I’ve had 3 Pyrs-all female. The first one my husband used to take jogging. That was before we knew that doing so just expanded her territory. She was a wanderer! And a barker! But so sweet that when she got old, we got a second Pyr. By this time we had learned about those Pyr idiosyncrasies. No more jogging. In fact, we showed her our farm boundaries and never walked her off property- only drove her off when we had to go to the vet or groomer. Unfortunately, she developed osteosarcoma and we had to put her down. That was the saddest day of my life! She was totally my dog and I was her world! But because I loved her so much, I couldn’t imagine life without one of these gentle giants. We now have Gracie. She’s 3 and have never left our property. My husband installed a shock fence around the perimeter because we had no other dogs here to show her the boundaries. She does bark but we bring her in at night. I would love to have another Pyr but am hesitant because she seems so attached to me and I’m afraid she might be jealous. I know other people who have had two or more dogs and they don’t always do very well. Even fighting. I’m reading that several people have two dogs. Do they ever fight? I would take a rescue dog but I don’t want it to have a bad experience once it’s rescued.

  8. We have a 4 yr old male pry. And we have found our invisible fence works well for our Great Dane and St. Bernard but nut Grendel. He wandered off in fall of 2014 worst 4 days of our lives. We found him in a farm a few miles away protecting two baby calfs in a field. He was full of ticks and burdock, had him shaved down bathed and de ticked. Thank god and the help of lost dogs of the finger lakes. We would get posting and pictures of people who saw him. Love my Grendel very much. What I did was purchase 2 30ft cables and put one attached to front porch and one attached to side porch. Great article thanks

  9. 3 pyrs and 2 were roamers. A five foot fence with a cap that makes it difficult to get over and expanding the fenced area to 5 acres giving them room to Ritamac with boundaries gas worked

  10. I was told walking my dog around the perimeter of my land would show Chumley his boundaries. Wouldn’t walking them around the neighborhood cause them to think, this is their boundary. I trained Chumley to guard me and the house and barns. He is not on leash or in a fence. He does not roam.

  11. I have a Pyrenees which I have had since I he was 6 weeks old. I am having trouble keeping him in a 6 ft fence on 50 acres of land in Alabama. He pushes under the fence and goes about the neighborhood. I worry he will get hurt or hurt another dog. Any suggestions on how to keep him in. ThanksIf you get a friend request from me and we are already friends DO NOT accept the request.

    Just giving everyone fair warning . . . 😡 Almost all the accounts are being hacked. The profile picture and your name are used to create a new face book account. And then they want your friends to add them, your friends think it’s you and accept. From this moment, the pirates can write what they want under your name!! ….. I want you to know I have NO plans to open a new account, so please do not agree to a 2nd invitation from me!! Copy this message on your wall so that all your friends will be warned! Do not forward or press share. Hold your thumb down on the text until the word “copy” pops up then paste to your status!!!

  12. We have 3 of these amazing animals. My male when he “escapes” the fence will run around the house to the front porch and wait for me….. I love that about him…. My two females? Oh lordy lord!!!! When they “escape” the fence line? They are just gone!!!! We live in the country and their are so many smells and adventures awaiting these two….. the oldest when she finally deigns to hear us; will come back…. the youngest? Nope, we have to wait for her….. and wait… she does come back, but makes us nervous…. We have gone through 3 times of fencing for these guys…. right now we have a six foot privacy fence; and that is still a joke to them…… lol…. so we are planning our 4th…. I’m thinking….. BRICK lol

  13. My pyr cross only does well off-leash if we are hiking, far from roads, with a defined path that myself and my husband are walking along. If we keep moving, she’I’ll keep circling back to check on where we are – but treats when she does, recall work, and playing the ‘hide and seek’ game help. (Hiding behind rocks, trees etc to make her come find us)

    In parks and areas where we aren’t moving, she’ll leap any fence. 6ft, 7ft.. doesn’t matter . She needs to be kept interested and focused, or it’s wander time!

  14. My 2 Pyrs & Lab live on 40 acres with tensile wire fence (3 strands). They’re either out protecting the horses ( at night ) or enjoying the air conditioning & sleeping during the day. The older one (10) has never left the farm. The 2 yr old spent 24 hrs. checking the boundaries & shied up in front yard next morning .

    I’m grateful for enough space & neighbors that don’t want coyotes eating their small dogs.

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