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DaveT

new pup freaking out

22 posts in this topic

I have a 5 month old Viszla, we keep him fenced in the kitchen during the day. My wife does day care and I thought that would be enough socialization for him, I guess I was wrong. I had a friend over last night who walked near the dog and the dog went ape^%^# out of fear, I have never seen a dog this scared before, He sounded like he had his nuts in a conibear trap. Urinated all over, I'm seriously considering punting on this one. Is this dog fixable?

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At 5 months you need to give your dog lots of positive exposure to other people and animals. You have plenty of time to see how things go. I would suggest you enroll in a local puppy kindergarten class (entry level dog training) just for the socialization aspect. Vizslas can be fearful of things and people they have not had a positive introduction to. Mine was scared of celing fans (go figure).

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I have a Vizsla and a good buddy of mine had one for 12 years. Mine is pretty normal for vizslas, but my buddies was like all my crazy ex girlfriends wrapped into one. They are a touchy breed. Did something else happen that you didn't see, like he stepped on his toe or something like that? To have the dog go that crazy to just have a guy come near him is a little weird.

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Here is something a little more useful. I had a dog I got from the pound years ago. He was afraid of everything. He was even afraid of action movies on tv. I had to slowly work him into social situations. I am assuming you have your dog since he was just a couple months old as I write this.

Puppy kindergarten could be a good thing for him unless he is extremely overwhelmed by being around other dogs. If he is that crazy, you may need professional help. He is only 5 months old, so I think he has alot of growing to do. If he was several years old, and came from an unknown background it would be different. My opinion is socialize, socialize, socialize. Bring him anywhere and everywhere you can with you, and expose him to all types of situations. As long as he came from decent stock, he is not broken, just misguided and scared. These are just my opinions. I know very little about Vislas, and am fairly new to training. I hope you found something useful in my post.

Erik

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Dave,

I can understand your concern with this type of reaction. I know very little about the Viszla breed, but this seems extreme. Has the pup been exposed to other adults (people) and had a similiar reaction?

I would suggest having a conversation with the breeder. Has there been any feedback on other pups from the litter acting in this fashion? Has the breeder seen this characteristic in any pups from past breedings? Unless there is some unknown factor here, if this type of issue continues - any good breeder would stay away from a repeat breeding (in my opinion).

As far as punting on this pup, I would give it some more time. However, I would make the breeder aware of your concerns.

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I am guessing that somewhere along the lines, one of the kids at day care did something to harm/scare him. Viszlas are well known to be tempermental and a little needy, but I don't think that is the problem here.

Put him in a similar situation and see how he reacts. Remember what you are reinforcing. If he cowers in the corner, and your heap praise on him, cowering is what you just reinforced. Only reinforce positive behavior.

Puppy kindergarten is a good idea, but I think you need to address the day care first since that is 8-10 hours of every day, and it is time consuming and costly. Get him out during the day when you and the wife are home. Leash the pup, and let him walk around near the kids. Keep control of him, but let him see the kids, let them pet him (as long as he does not show aggresssion), and show him they will not harm him.

Take him on walks where he will get the chance to see other people, dogs, distractions, etc. Use this as training time. Work on heel, come, sit, stay, or whatever you use for basic obedience commands. This is great bonding time for you and him, and puts him in a comfortable spot.

I also recommend using noise while he is eating, or doing something fun. If he is scared of people, noise is almost sure to be a problem. I like to bang pots together for a loud noise until he is used to it and does not flinch.

You have an uphill struggle with this, but it is certainly fixable.

I love Viszlas, and don't know if I will own another breed in my life. Let us know how it goes.

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I concur on the puppy kindergarten. I have a Springer that jumps a mile high if you cut a loud fart and also peed like a fountain when he was around strangers, but he's getting better - much, much better - and it started with Puppy kindergarten. Just keep at it and DON'T reinforce the behavior by petting him when he does it. Be firm.

Good luck...

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All my friends think Im crazy, but I try to bring my dog with me as much as possible. I feel like they get to see and experience so much more. If they sit in a parking lot and see a ton of crazy people moving around walking near the truck they become tolerant of disturbances in their life. As opposed to being in the same house day after day, maybe have the same walk around the block day to day as well. Dogs like a routine, and if their routine consists of sitting around the same house every day with no distractions. Every time a distraction occurs they will freak out. I am no dog trainer, just my 2cents

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It sounds to me like the dog has had a good deal of socialization, and because it has been socialized I think you should keep "punting" an option. Viszlas are "touchy."

(a) Mental stability is one of the - if not the - main goal of any reputable breeder. The reaction you are describing is abnormal and a sign that this dog may not be mentally stable. It causes me to wonder about the breeding (see: '2 da gills' post above).

(B) IMO: One BIG issue with picking a dog from a breed prized by many for its appearance (also see the weimaraner and to a lesser extent the lab, springer and even lesser the brittany) is that a breeder can sell dogs because they are attractive rather than because they are well bred. This creates an incentive to breed without keeping the best interests of the breed (i.e. stability, nose, drive, form, coat, etc.) in mind. A litter of dogs that could not be sold to (excuse the term) yuppies for walks around the lake is far more likely to be "well" breed, because purchasers will insist upon it. Further, any DD breeder (for example) worth her salt would take a mentally unstable dog back and provide a replacement. That is the standard rather than the exception with well breed animals. In other words, when purchasing certain breeds of dog the market works in favor of stability, etc., i.e. the buyer. When purchasing other breeds of dogs the market works in favor of throwing litter for cash, i.e. for the "breeder."

© All of this does not mean that you cannot find a great dog of the above listed breeds. I have seen some AWESOME vizzzzles. It does mean that if one wants to purchase one of these breeds one should pay even more attention when choosing where to purchase the pup.

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I had a female viszla a number of years ago and had similar issues, although not quite so extreme. After spending a summer attempting to make a bird dog out of her, I threw in the towel. I was able to find a couple who were looking for a nice house dog, and I gave her to them. They later reported she was one of the most loving and enjoyable pets they'd ever had. An excellent dog for their purposes, but just didn't have the disposition to be a bird dog.

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At 5 months you need to give your dog lots of positive exposure to other people and animals. You have plenty of time to see how things go. I would suggest you enroll in a local puppy kindergarten class (entry level dog training) just for the socialization aspect. Vizslas can be fearful of things and people they have not had a positive introduction to. Mine was scared of celing fans (go figure).

I completely agree on the doggy kindergarden. I was skeptical, but it really helped our pup socialize and gain confidence.

Many places also do a doggy play time, which is a good place to go and get them some socialization.

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I don't think I would give up so quickly. I have two close family members, both with viszlas and let me tell you they are completely different dogs.

One dog is a bird dog for life and is well disciplined at home. This means that everyone in the house has the same rules and discipline in the same manner. She was also exposed to lots of other people, dogs, and experiences at a young age, take it easy and only reinforce positive behavior.

The other dog is a lovely house dog, but has no desire to even go to the field to hunt, is scared of loud noises, and can sometimes be very tempermental. This dog has a very confusing life at home everybody treats it very differntly and therefore has no good structure.

With all this said Viszlas are a very unique breed and are not quite as simple to own as many other breeds. They are much more emotional dogs and can react easily to certain situations. I wouldn't "punt" this dog yet, but I would contact the breeder to see if there have been any other complaint about similar behavior, and if nothing there I would move onto the puppy preschool. I would also make sure the dog is starting to get plenty of exercise because the viszla is a VERY active breed and without the exercise a dog may just have pent up energy and have no idea what to do with it which can lead to many behavior issues. This is just my experience and two cents, some professional help may be a good way to go.

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Don't get too attached. I realize that is easier said than done, at this point. Try the socialization stuff BUT you may have to start over.

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When you say the dog is in the kitchen all day with a day care going on in the house how much contact do the kids have with the dog? Is it possible that the kids are coming up to the dog in the kitchen and bothering it casuing a negative reaction to other people? Socialization has to be controled. Putting a dog in the room with a bunch or energetic kids is a recipe for a nervous dog IMO.

Was the reaction you experienced out of the blue or has the dog always been fearful? If it is out of the blue I would start considering what might have happened to create this reaction. Dogs don't just go from normal to over the top reactions like this without there being a cause.

If the dog has always been fearful it may be that it doesn't like the activity of the day care in the house. Work with socialization and work with the kids to be calm around the dog until it gets used to them. Also consider crate training the pup. A crate gives it a safe place to go when it feels scraed. Dogs are den animals they are looking for a safe den to call home, being locked in a kitchen probably won't cut.

With it only being 5 months I would bet you can work on it.

I do not currently have a Vizsla but have talked with several breeders and have met several familes with them as I am looking to purchase one this spring. I have not heard about Vizslas being "touchy", each dog has its own personality like any breed but from what i have seen I wouldn't classify them as touchy. But they certainly will only give you what you put into them.

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The dog is fine with the daycare kids, he does take a while to warm up to new dogs, and is fine with new people. Both times he has freaked out like this he was alone in the kitchen when somebody he didn't know walked in.

I'm not surprised that he got scared, I'm surprised by how extremely he reacted.

Maybe if he wasn't locked in the kitchen he would have just walked away and found someone familiar to hide behind.

What worries me is if he continues to react this way with strangers, at some point he will bite someone.

Should I just keep throwing strangers at him with lots of treats and love?

Also, he gets walked about an hour every day.

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First, I would throw treats out the door. A dog should do what you tell him because you are the alpha, and you said so. End of story. Treats have not place in training IMHO. If you want to give a treat, give it when he is done.

Continue to put him in these situations. Leash him for control with a choke chain. Do not use it to choke the dog, but use it as a quick sharp tug, more of a quick correction, then harming the dog. Put him in this situation, if he freaks out, immediate correction is needed. Affection can be shown for a proper reaction, but not if he freaks out (see above about what you do and do not reinforce). If he freaks out, a tug on the leash along with a stern "NO" will show him that reaction is not acceptable. Affection in this situation reinforces a bad behavior.

And it is also not acceptable for him to go hide, or to take time to "warm up" to dogs. You need to work on this as well since it could lead to the same end.

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I'd think twice giving a correction in these situations as it may make matters worse. Giving a correction when he's "freaking out" may make him associate the correction with the person who he's being "freaked out" by which may intensify the undesired behavior.

I'd talk to some dog obedience trainers about this one and get their input.

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The dog is fine with the daycare kids, he does take a while to warm up to new dogs, and is fine with new people. Both times he has freaked out like this he was alone in the kitchen when somebody he didn't know walked in.

I'm not surprised that he got scared, I'm surprised by how extremely he reacted.

Maybe if he wasn't locked in the kitchen he would have just walked away and found someone familiar to hide behind.

What worries me is if he continues to react this way with strangers, at some point he will bite someone.

Should I just keep throwing strangers at him with lots of treats and love?

Also, he gets walked about an hour every day.

Maybe your dog is protecting his space. Might be a territorial thing, or if the daycare kids are around, it may be somewhat protective of them if a stranger walked in. Get your dog out of the kitchen and have some strangers approach it, see what happens.

Definitely do not send strangers with treats to him.

+1 on giving your dog a crate to call home.

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First, I would throw treats out the door. A dog should do what you tell him because you are the alpha, and you said so. End of story. Treats have not place in training IMHO. If you want to give a treat, give it when he is done.

This type of attitude could go the way of the dinosaurs with dog training, especially for a softer tempermented dog like a Vizsla.

Treats are important for you to reinforce a desired behavior--to actually let the dog know that the way it is behaving is correct and desired.

You can kick and scream all you want about being the alpha, but dogs dont understand English. You need to be able to tell them when they are doing good.

Dont forget about the importance of body language too, be a good role model for your dog.

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Originally Posted By: Farmboy1
First, I would throw treats out the door. A dog should do what you tell him because you are the alpha, and you said so. End of story. Treats have not place in training IMHO. If you want to give a treat, give it when he is done.

This type of attitude could go the way of the dinosaurs with dog training, especially for a softer tempermented dog like a Vizsla.

I think what I wrote and what I meant may not be the same thing. I do not use treats, but reinforce with voice inflection, affection, and body language. A dog keys in on body language since that is all they have to communicate. A quick correction or reinforcement goes a long way. If the dog does good, drop down to his level, and watch his demeanor change.

Also, when I say correction, I do not mean to beat him, but simply show them what is the intended response. A correction can be as simle as not paying attention to him, and going back and showing what he needs to do. Saying sit, and then patting his butt is a correction. I do not show hostility to the dog under anything but very extreme situations (aggression towards people).

With a dog such as a Viszla, no affection can get more response then something harsher. Corrections are very dog specific, since what you do for one dog will not work with another. I will often give a quick tug on the leash, and a "no", then immediately change your voice back to normal (Don't make it sound mad or mean), and go back to training.

IMHO, any time you are around your dog, there is some training going on, whether it be sitting on the couch, taking them for a walk, or working in the garage. The dog will continue to learn what you expect of it. A dog like a Viszla has a very strong instinct to please his owner, and you can use this to your advantage.

I do not use treats for this. Like I said, give them a treat after, but during training it is just me and him. I do not want to worry about having treats when hunting, and using treats to train leads to this IMHO. Telling him he did good in a soft soothing voice, or a pat on the head tells him everything he needs to know, and I don't have to bribe the dog with food.

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