I wrote earlier this week about how Atka passed his Advanced Canine Good Citizen test this past weekend. Since then, I have received numerous emails and messages from Great Pyrenees parents wanting to train their pyr for therapy. I was so excited by the emails because I truly believe pyrs are one of the best breeds for therapy work. They’re incredibly loving, tolerant, mellow, and who wouldn’t want to snuggle with all that fluff?! The problem arises with the obedience portion of therapy work. That is where most people struggle with their Great Pyrenees.
Great Pyrenees are independent thinkers which doesn’t translate well to traditional obedience. However, with lots of practice, patience, and a sense of humor, you can achieve great things with your Great Pyrenees.
Focus has been the most beneficial skill for our training success and it’s one I recommend teaching right away. If you’re a pyr parent, you know how hard it is to keep the attention of your Great Pyrenees. There are always people to meet, things to guard, and well… more important matters to attend to. Teaching focus helps to work through these obstacles.
When you start training your Great Pyrenees, treats are not optional! You need a variety of high-value treats to keep your pyr interested in what you’re saying. My treat bag is always mixed with several types of soft and freeze-dried treats; like a trail mix for dogs!
When Atka and I first started working on “focus”, he got a treat every single time he looked at me, regardless of whether I asked him. I want looking at me to be more exciting and rewarding than the other stimuli in the environment. We’ve been working on this for over a year and definitely aren’t perfect, but it has helped tremendously in our therapy training. We had a huge victory two weeks ago when we were walking through the store and a dog lunged and snarled at Atka. I immediately asked Atka to “focus”; he looked up at me at trotted past the other dog. It was treats GALORE after that!
Atka will be 2 next month, which for a giant breed is still very much puppy. Giant breeds don’t become an adult mentally until around 3 years of age. Puppy brain coupled with pyr personality can be a definite training challenge, which is why I wanted to give VetriScience® Composure a try.
Composure is a chewable calming supplement for stressed or nervous dogs. While Atka isn’t stressed or nervous in our training sessions, he can still be excitable at times. I sometimes tell Atka he has a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality. He can be absolutely perfect one day and then a squirmy, wiggly puppy the next (which is why even though I know he could pass the therapy test, we’re going to wait a bit). I was hoping the Composure chewables would help Atka focus a bit more in our training sessions.
Composure is “a calming formula providing C3 Calming Complex, L-Theanine (Suntheanine® brand), and Thiamine to support balanced behavior”. They are tasty chewables that I had no problem giving Mauja and Atka; they definitely thought they were getting a treat! The dosage for their size is high, but that’s typical of any supplement or medication for giant breeds.
I’ve been really pleased with the use of Composure in our training. We only use it on his “Hyde days” to help take the edge off so he can process the high levels of stimulation more effectively. My next step is to try Composure to help Mauja’s anxiety in buildings. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes!
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