I appreciate the response, RBD. I'm also a reader of your blog! I completely agree with you - Dexter no longer thinks of us as the alpha. We had a **** of a time with him from 2-4 months after which he seemed to mature. He was quite obedient and respectful from about 4-6 months. Around 6 months we noticed the shark attacks start back up every once in a while. At first we thought it was just from being cooped up from recovering from his neuter (I know, I know, controversial age) but they have gotten more and more frequent instead of decreasing. I think he came to respect the spray bottle, but not us, and now he's old enough to start testing us more. I'm starting to see that what I think of as the "stress zoomies" might actually be more "defiant zoomies" as he barks and growls at us and the spray bottle (while in a play bow) during the episodes, too. I will say these episodes aren't aggressive like they seemed when he was younger, but more just an over all "out of control" dog.
I would love any more advice on how we can become the alpha to him. We've never wrestled or played tug of war with him. We walk several miles on leash daily and he is a complete joy to walk. He's wonderful at heeling (our dog walking company thinks he's the greatest!) and focuses well. Other Vizsla owners we've met can't believe how well he walks. We did notice that he stopped nipping me a good month before he stopped nipping my husband when he was younger. I attributed it to the fact that I am the more assertive "parent" as I ride horses and am pretty quick to stop any nonsense coming from an animal! Eventually we realized that it was usually me walking him whereas my husband took him for his off leash adventures. Once my husband started walking him more, his nipping with him ceased too.
I realize now that he's started back up he needs a harsher correction - it's just that I can't seem to find any correction that has the slightest effect on him besides the spray bottle. A "no" or "eh eh" or "off" used to the do the trick, but when he's nipping, nothing gets through to him anymore. The sharp yelp or "ouch" that used to subdue him no longer has any effect. Any command is ignored completely unless he's on leash and I can correct him with the leash the very second he first jumps up. If he's on a leash, I can give him a command the instant I see him look like he wants to nip and snap him out of it since he can't zoom away to avoid getting his leash put on. Maybe he needs to wear a short leash around the house? I feel like maybe that's only a temporary fix.
We've also always made him work for EVERYTHING. We make him follow a command before he does anything (gets a bully stick, goes through a door, gets his leash put on, etc.) He doesn't have a food bowl - he earns his kibble by doing commands or getting a Kong (which he earns as well!). We eat before he does, we enter rooms before he does, he's not allowed on our bed, etc. He was quite bossy as a baby so I've always tried to make sure he knows everything comes from us.
I will take to heart what you said about him needing a job, you're right. I want to do agility with him but have been putting it off for various reasons (instructor out of town, worrying he needs to be more obedient first...) but maybe now IS the right time. He is so happy to learn that I think he'd really enjoy it. We play a lot of games with him (hide and seek, find it, etc.) and I've been teaching him silly tricks at night to tire him out mentally (loved that video!) but he is missing an actual job.
We're also going to try sending him to daycare once a week to see if we're just not meeting his exercise requirements as well now that's he older. His off leash time has suffered since it's dark out so early so I'm sure that contributes to the problem.
Well, it looks like I've written a small novel... I guess I should have been posting all along
I will welcome any tips anyone has about becoming the alpha - I'm sure there's something we're not doing yet. I'm glad you pinpointed our problem for us. I keep wondering where our "soft" V is... affectionate, sweet, goofy, smart - yes. "Soft" - I'm not so sure!
(And yes, his unofficial middle name is "Morgan" after the TV show. It was during the first season of the show that we decided we wanted a V and he was our favorite redhead at the time - but then we sat on our hands for years until we had the time and resources to devote to one!)