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Hello! I am brand new here with a brand new dog. She is a Slovak Cuvac, similar to a Pyrenees Mountain dog. These dogs have been bred to guard livestock. I live in the country but do not have a farm, so she is not a working dog and never has been.

I just got her about a week ago from a couple who has retired and wants to travel. She has not been abused and has been well cared for. She will soon be five years old.

She accepted me immediately and this gave me a false sense that she'd be ok meeting others if they were patient like I was; the former owners sort of misled me in this way too.

The problem is, I have a whole bunch of people associated with my house. My parents live in an apartment on the house. She's great with my mom, but my dad makes her nervous and snappy. I have tenants who live in an apartment in my house. She's great with one, but not with the other. Again -- nervous and snappy.

I have two grown sons who have not met her yet, but they are very large and she definitely is more comfortable with women. I also have a very large brother, and he has two large sons, and they often visit. She hasn't met any of them yet either.

I'm totally fine with keeping her away from strangers when on walks, but she will have to become comfortable with all the people at my house, and I'm pretty nervous about this.

They are very patient, and she'll go up and sniff their hand and be happy, sometimes she'll even let them pat her but then something we can't even figure out will spook her and she'll react by snapping.

We follow this procedure: stranger stands still, talks to me, sits down, lets her come over and sniff (she is obviously interested and curious and looks like she wants to be friendly), sometimes gives her a treat. At first I was letting them then try to pat her and it seemed fine but now I ask them not to.
What I'm wondering about is whether when she's meeting someone new it might help to give her something (natural or otherwise) to calm her nerves? It seems to be her nerves that make her jumpy and snappy.
 

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It's just a question of time really. She just lost her family, 1 week is barely time for her to get to know you much less a bunch of other people. She must be incredibly lost.

I would cut out the introductions, with my dog I didn't feel like they helped at all. I would just act normally and carry on, let her see the others and see that you're ok with them and settle in. Once she's been settled for a while (at least a couple more weeks) then let people call her over to giver her a treat (while you do something completely different) and let her chose to ignore or not.

LGDs are not usually as human aggressive as other guard dog breeds but all LGDs have in intense need to try and fit the world into their instinctual framework in which there is a flock and a shepherd and predators. Your dog most likely had all these identified with her previous owners and now is stuck trying to make sense of this new world.

To start, she's bonded with you so she sees you as something of a shepherd/family, I think with time she'll adopt the rest of your family immediate family too. The tennants and your brother will most likely end up in the category of the flock but right now she doesn't know that and that uncertainty of whether or not these people are predators is what could be causing her to snap.

So for now, I would say just be patient. Spend a lot of time with her, walk the length of the property. Any dog would be shaken by what she's gone through.
 

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I would hazard a guess and say the dog wasn't socialized. Give her time to get used to her new environment, gain and give some trust and start getting her out in public...
 

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I agree with the others who said that you may be asking too much from her so soon. I think that you should keep the groups of people around her small to start with and I would recommend that after they enter and greet her, they pretty much ignore her and allow her to come to them when she's ready. I think she may be shell shocked after losing her people and since she's shown that she can warm up to new people, I'm sure she'll warm up to the rest of your family given time. I hope you'll keep us posted as to her progress. Best of luck to you.
 

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Do you have any idea what kind of lines she's from- ie, if she is from dogs that have been working guard dogs performing the historic function of the breed? What did the old owners have to say about her interactions with other people?

Livestock guardian breeds have been becoming more popular these days. Unfortunately, there are certain traits that are attributed to these dogs that cannot always be trained out of them. In some breeds, there are well established show or pet lines of dogs who have not been bred with an eye towards the reserved nature that can often be an issue when trying to make them pets. These tend to be much easier to handle. There are also some breeds where most of the dogs that you come across will be dogs bred who come from background of actively working dogs. Truthfully, I don't have enough familiarity with this breed to know where they stand on this spectrum, but if you're in farmland I would say there is a higher chance of her having dogs bred for work in her background than if you were in a more urban area.

Personally, I disagree with the assertion that the dog is likely just stressed and needs time to settle in. Yes, she is probably stressed and yes, that could be playing into it. That said, wariness of strangers is something that is valued in guard breeds- something that has been bred into them. Even very good socialization often doesn't over ride that, and people who decide to bring livestock guardian breeds into their house should be aware of the possibility that their dog may not be able to coexist with all guests peacefully. It also sounds like she may have an aspect of fear in this as well, perhaps pointing to her not having been well socialized as a pup.

I would definitely instruct guests to ignore the dog when they come over. It is very unlikely, given her breed, that she is even interested in engaging in a friendly way with them. Personally, if I had a dog that was prone to snapping at guests and given her breed, I would likely muzzle her.

I'd really suggest finding a professional for help with this. It has only been a week, so you could wait and see how she adjusts if you want, but this is a very large dog that could really hurt someone. I would be very surprised if a dog who was nervous of strangers to the point of snapping at them suddenly became 100% safe with them after settling in. She may not be so quick to snap, but that doesn't mean she's not going to be a risk in any way.
 
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