Bringing your Rhys Valley Farm Pyrenees Home
This will look different than the average puppy, these puppies have been bred and raised the first 8 weeks on a working farm with livestock and they are ready to move to full- time working dogs
Steps to Coming Home
This (home base) is where the dog will eat, rest and consider its home. For a successful bonding, home base should be as close to the livestock as possible, preferably with direct access to the animals (with the exception of poultry).
We recommend setting up a small crate that the pup can be housed in at night for the first few evenings at home. (During the cold you will need to assure they are blocked from wind and covered from snow) The crate will provide additional security as well as direction on being close to home and feelings of safety and comfort. Working pups will take great comfort being with their livestock – it’s where they were made to be and it is what they are used to be doing day and night.
The most common mistake people make when bringing home their pup is thinking the puppy is too small to be left at his home base. Instead, they bring the pup to the house or garage. This makes it difficult to transition the pup to where he belongs and impedes the bonding process. Pyrenees love the cold and 20 F is still ‘warm’ for a Pyrenees. They have double coats and when kept groomed so the air circulates, they are fine. Most Pyrenees love this weather and as long as they have a shelter and a bed off the ground, they are safe and comfortable.
A working dog must always have access to water and a way to be fed away from
the livestock. We generally feed our dogs twice a day with the goats locked up in the feeding pen. If livestock smells dog food, there is a chance they will try to eat the food, which is not healthy for your livestock either. Once a puppy thinks he has to protect his food from the livestock, he will no longer view them as part of his flock and instead will view them as a threat. A timid pup can be scared off by this and never bond correctly. An aggressive pup can start down the road of aggression towards livestock and also will not bond correctly.
Working dogs will have spent their entire lives up to this point with livestock. They will have been imprinted from birth with the scents and sounds of their animals. Once your pup arrives home, an important process is starting – the critical bonding period. The pup, having been pulled from his litter mates, is now searching for his flock to bond with. The first weeks at his farm are the most crucial to establishing his bond.
If you expect your pup to be a working dog and truly bond to the livestock, he needs to be placed in his home base and spend nearly all of his time in the first few weeks with the animals. His human social time should always happen at home base but kept to a minimal during the first five days or so.
A dog who spends his time with his human family will bond with them, and view his humans as his flock. This is a great way to create a loyal family guardian and pet – but it is not a great way to create a loyal livestock dog.
A Pyrenees who bonds to his human family first will be less likely to engage in evening guarding of stock and more likely to wander during the day. Wandering often starts when a dog bonded to his human family goes off looking for them when they have left for the day.
This will happen after the first week home, with socialization time slowly increasing over the next month.
After a week or so of minimal contact, it’s time to start introducing human interaction to your pup. You should have already been socializing some, but now you can increase the time spent and even have some play time. If your farm needs dogs to stay strictly with livestock, your human socialization will be minimal. If you’re wanting to enjoy companionship with your dog as well, you can gradually increase the time you spend with him.
Socialization time should still always occur at or near home base.
Do not attempt to use these tips with a Pyrenees that was not bred as a working dog and started as a working dog.
Keep an eye out for overly aggressive livestock, especially if your stock aren’t used to having a dog.
Developing a poultry dog requires more guidance on your part. It absolutely can be done, and done well, but it will require more one on one guidance with your dog.
Get your dog spayed or neutered. A neutered or spayed dog will focus on working 365 days a year and is less likely to start roaming.