Monday, October 24, 2011

Are Pyrs Really That Low Energy?

Energy level is one of the most important things to consider before adopting a new dog.  This is can be the "make it or break it" of our new relationship with our beloved pet.  Often we have an image in our head of what our lives *should * look like with our new edition.  We can visualize those great memories to be made of throwing frisbees in the park, a new jogging partner, a dog to play fetch with the tennis ball...   If you think a Pyr is your buddy for any of those activities, you may need to do some more research.

While it is always important to stipulate that there are exceptions to all rules, on the whole Pyrs are lower energy.  I hesitate to label them as "low", rather "medium to low" on the whole.  I've met some Pyrs who defied their standard and were more like labs trapped in a huge, fluffy, ball of angelic white fur.  I've also heard from owners who shared stories of very rambunctious Pyrs who asked "are they going to outgrow this?"  If the dog seems super full of energy, perhaps they are just that exception to the rule.

"Full of energy" to me describes a dog who could almost never stop playing.  They need a lot of exercise and play, and without may become destructive and wound up.  While lack of proper exercise and play is bad for any dog, there are most certainly breeds who don't live in that constant state of "Oh my!  Oh my!  Where are we going?  What are we doing?  I loooove you!"  And yes, most dogs will slow down with age, but many higher energy breed dogs behave like puppies forever.  They are lucky.. the eternal pup!

There are many Pyr owners more experienced than I, but I am the proud owner of two Pyrs and have known countless other owners for years.  And of course, two years helping with Pyr rescue where I got to know Pyrs of all ages, health conditions, and temperament.  Dawn & Ken shared a story one time where someone met their dogs at an adoption event.  They rudely suggested that they sedated the dogs to make them seem more mellow, so as to ensure more adoptions.  I personally have been at a few adoption events where the dogs were all sleeping (they'd probably been there for a few hours) and people would walk by and ask, concerned, "are those dogs okay?"  I always wondered if it was just a general concern, or one born from a preconceived notion that "rescue dogs" are sick.

Let's get one thing straight:  Pyrs are in no way boring dogs!  And no, they don't sleep "all the time".  While it may vary by age and personality, Pyrs can have plenty of energy.. when they want to.  (Most things with Pyrs are when they want to!)  My experience suggests that a nice, long walk of an hour will poop most Pyrs out, and that's just walking.  A better example is my day:  wake up at 10am.  Pyrs are still sleeping.  (on me).  "Come on kids, get up!"  Okay, they say, and prance out the back door.  They do their business, and are quick to return inside to finish their napping.  I leave for, say,  hours, and I return.  They are happy to see me...  they've been sleeping more, but now it's twilight and that is their time!  Pyrs are more nocturnal than other dogs, and the energy you see may likely come later in the day.  I open the back door, and they run out.  They play for about 20 minutes, and then relax on the deck and take another nap.  During the play, they bolted full speed around the yard and frolicked like the best of them!

Afterwards, we play together.  They don't typically like games like fetch, so they just like rough-housing with me.  Perhaps I throw around some toys, and they pick them up and toss them around.  When it's time for my bed, they crawl into bed with me and snuggle.  During the night, they may wake up to bark at something outside.  Pyrs are more "guardy" at night.  I get up to see what they are so upset about, and that satisfies them and they come back to sleep.  Admittedly, this may take longer some nights!  Throw in a nice brushing sometime that night while I'm watching TV, and they're good to go.  The next day, we start it all over again.

So yes, your Pyr has energy which it must expel.  It will desire to run around and play like any other dog.  The bottom line is that they may do it for less time.  They certainly do sleep a lot, even as puppies.  Sleeping for large breed pups is important, as it allows for proper bone growth for those huge limbs.  Pyrs are great dogs for someone who doesn't desire a jogging buddy, but rather a nice hike or walk every day.  They are playful, affectionate, and want to be by your side... for you, as it turns out, have become their "flock" they must guard!  Pyrs are livestock guardians, not herding dogs, as many people are often to mistake.  Herding dogs need a lot of energy to do their job, and livestock guardians reserve their energy for the bursts where it matters.  When the sheep are grazing and there is no threat, they can rest.  They do not  have the job of keeping them confined to a location.  Their job is to jump into action when a threat arises.  You may experience a sleepy Pyr for a lot of your day, but you will really see him do his job when someone enters your yard who shouldn't be there!

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