Pyrs have a strong independent streak—it’s what makes a Pyr a Pyr—and are not easily obedience-trained. We joke that “Come” is only a request for most Pyrs. Training is a challenge for some owners, so if you require a dog who will display unquestioning obedience, you should probably look elsewhere.
Be a good leader
That said, there is no question that Pyrs must learn basic commands and will benefit from positive-reinforcement training, which can be enhanced with clicker training. They need to know that the owners are the pack leaders and that they (the dog) are beneath everyone in the human family in the pack order. The Pyr wants you to be the leader, but if there is a void in leadership, the Pyr will step in to fill it, and that’s when problems often arise. One of our best educational resources is www.patriciamcconnell.com, for her booklets on being a good leader and managing various behavioral issues.
We urge adopters to follow the precepts of “Nothing in Life is Free” training and learning to be a pack leader, because these two concepts go hand-in-hand. It’s all about who controls the resources (food, treats, attention and toys) and making sure the dog does not equate himself (or herself) as having equal status with any of the humans in the family (including the children). Make every day training day by incorporating these basic techniques:
- Dog should sit and/or do a “watch me” for every treat and every meal.
- Sit when you put on his leash or when visitors enter.
- Wait, not push his way through the door; you decide who goes first.
- Attention is given at your discretion.
- Since getting up on furniture and particularly the owner’s bed, gives them the same status as the owner, this should be avoided, at the very least until your leadership is established and you decide when to invite him up on the couch or bed. This article explains it well. If you’re dealing with an alpha or “alpha wanna-be” personality, see this article. If you have more than one dog, this is an interesting article for you.
We endorse the use of crate training for several reasons. It provides a secure, familiar place for dogs to rest; canines usually find comfort in their “dens,” especially during house-shaking thunderstorms or just to have a quiet place. If for any reason your dog needs to be confined for medical reasons or travel, being in a crate will not be unfamiliar and frightening. As for most things, there is a right way and a wrong way to crate train your dog. To learn the right way to crate train a puppy or an adult dog by taking the time to acclimate them, please go to this page.
What can’t be “trained out”
There are many things you can train a Pyr to do, but we are often asked how to “train a pyr not to bark,” or “train out” the digging instinct, or to be trusted off-leash, or be fine with dogs of the same sex. Same-sex aggression in particular is a serious concern with guardian breeds and you should read more about it here.
You can’t train out the guardian nature of the breed, but you must understand how to manage it. Teaching children to respect these dogs is essential as described in this article.
These are some of the instinctive—and distinctive—attributes of the breed. They are not to be considered “bad habits” to be corrected. If you can’t accept them, you need to consider another breed.
More information about working with your Pyr can be found on our nationalpyr.org/training-tips page.
Additional resources on this website can be found below: