Acquired: Rescue / shelter organization
Training: I haven't learned care / training techniques
California, United States
Posted July 1, 2015
My boyfriend and I picked up Balto from the local animal shelter when he was around six to eight months old. The shelter had him listed as a one and a half year old adult, but I've owned Pyr's before and had them check his teeth. Sure enough, he was a pup. The vet's best guess was Great Pyrenees mixed with Anatolian Shepherd. When we picked him up, he had a bacterial infection and his legs were all cut up- one of his double dewclaws is now a dewclaw and a half. He also had a lot of doggy-baggage; he didn't like anyone having their face near his or resting their body parts on him for very long. He hated grass, was wary of strangers, and had the worst nightmares, but no happy doggy-dreams. We were patient and consistent in his training, though and he came around.
We were able to house-train him in under a week and it only took one command of "get down" to teach him that he wasn't allowed to stand up with his paws on the counter. It's very easy to clip his claws and he'll reluctantly stand still for a bath, but only if you hold him still with one hand gently on his collar. He stopped trying to eat the new kitten I found crying outside after about a month and they're best friends now; he's very gentle during play and only plays with his face- never slamming his paws down on her. Balto doesn't mess with the trash and has earned free reign of the house with the cat while we're gone. He likes smaller animals, but not large ones or hyper ones. He's a pretty mellow dude who only barks if we're not expecting company, but is very insecure with other adults within the home, which is something we're working on as that makes him more likely to bite. He'll walk right up to someone to make friends while on the leash, though.He's a very good guardian, as both of the breeds in his cocktail are guardian breeds and he LOVES kids, but we don't leave him alone with them, just in case.
Generally, Great Pyrenees dogs don't do well in apartments, but he's lived with us in a small ~650 square foot apartment and now one that's ~1,200 square feet. It works for us as he has very low energy and we purposely sought a dog with our energy level. He gets walked twice per day and tires out well before we do. Balto has also never been destructive outside of his teething phase when he gnawed on the coffee table for a day or two before we broke him of that. That dark time also saw the loss of the single house slipper he ate.
Overall, Balto's worst issue is the insecurity. He will always flee when given the option to do so or fight, but he has growled at people in our home when they ignore our instructions and eagerly seek out his attention instead of letting him come to them. He never treats us, family members, or close friends that way, though, and we're quite comfortable leaving him with a good friend or my boyfriend's parents without us home. Balto is a big, submissive baby when it's just close friends and family in the home. He loves anyone he's known since we got him and just doesn't like strange adults or other dogs running up to him, although he doesn't even glance at them when he's out on his leash. We're actively working to socialize him more with a pack and other adults to try to resolve this issue. The best things about him are how intelligent he is, how gentle and sweet he is with us and the cat, and that he is fantastic at self-regulating his feeding. I do think we can resolve the insecurity and once it's cleared up, he'll be a fantastic dog- even if I do have to vacuum and brush him every day!