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This site got me through the early stages of owning our first Vizsla - the shark attacks and endless early puppy behaviour! I thought everything was starting to settle down, but things have recently taken a turn.

To give some back ground, we got Ralph from a great breeder, his parents are working stock and live on a farm. He was the biggest in the litter, however we picked him because he was the calmest (!) All the other pups were squeeking and crazy, and he would just chill out and was really peaceful. How short lived that was!! We feed him a raw food and bones diet, and touch wood so far he's had no issues.

At 6/7 months the shark attacks stopped and he seemed to calm a little - he would finally sit down with a bone for 10 mins or actually find a kong interesting. However, when he wasn't 'busy' i.e. training, exercising, eating, he would need a specific task. He has NEVER ever just sat on the sofa and let us cuddle him. If he's not got a bone he's running around jumping on sofa jumping on us walking around the house, he just won't sit still. (he has a massive box of toys including interactive toys recommended by the dog trainer).

We have exercised him as per the 5 minute rule, plus endless garden time, and he goes to day care once or twice a week where he's with other dogs. These days he has an hour in the morning, then 20 mins in the evening and again as much garden time as he likes. A couple of weeks ago he started biting me, he'll lunge at my arm, clamp down, then hold on for dear life. Almost use me as a tug toy (???) Shark teeth are one thing, but fully grown now this is highly painful and also alarming. I'll tell him a firm no but this makes him lunge more. I'll turn my back and he bits the back of my arms. I'll try and grab him to put him in his crate and he lunges and bites me again. I have bruises all up my arms and hands. I know it's not aggressive - if he wanted to hurt me he could, he crunches bones no problem, so I know he has some sort of bite inhibition. But why is he biting me? My gut feeling is he is initiating play (he recently returned from 4 days boarding with the dog trainer surrounded by other dogs). Also my partner is currently abroad with work so thats another voice of authority away at the moment. But why wouldn't he respect me? I walk him, feed him, and am consistent with boundaries with him, so I'm at odds why he's behaving like this?

Ralph is 32Kg and very tall, the biggest V I have seen. His dad was the same. When he jumps up he's about as tall as me (I'm 5'3). Does he see me as a member of the pack?

Other things have suffered also, for example, he's forgotten his recall and I know that's his teenage phase coming into play and we just need to persevere.

As mentioned above the other big (but not so urgent) issue is that he doesn't really settle. I know V's require a lot of physical and mental action, but even after exercise and brain training and a treat he still won't settle! We don't take any 'hype' toys in the lounge, he's worn us down so he's now allowed on the sofa with us. But he won't lie down. He'll just pace up and down, jump around, eat things, and be an all round ADHD doggie!

I know people will say he isn't exercised enough, or the opposite, that he's overtired - but which one is it?! He is non stop from first thing in the morning to last thing at night, he will never just lie down and accept cuddles. (he is always crated midday for a 2 hour nap)

Any advice or similar experiences I would love to hear, thank you x
 

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In my personal opinion, he is trying to determine his place in the pack. It sounds like your husband is usually in charge and he is currently away. He wants your constant attention and bites you when he does not get what he wants.

Don't just feed him or give him toys to play with. He needs to earn his food; give him a command and feed him if he listened.
If this does not work, it may be a time to call a professional.

Vizslas are working dogs. They do better when they have a job.
 

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I would guess (even though I didn't see Ralph's current age) that you're right about this being a teenager stage thing, it seems similar to a thread a while ago about another inappropriate behaviour (humping in the other poster's case) and I have quoted my reply below -- it may or may not be relevant for your situation.

I had this article posted on my fridge for my husband's and my sanity from the time when Nico was 11 months til about 14 months: http://www.trader.co.nz/versatiledogs/articles/awkward.htm

Go back to obedience training classes all together and all practice commanding, have your wife and daughter command the dogs to do tricks before feeding or being let through the door, or even film them with the dog so they can see how they interact and maybe identify why they are being dominated rather than dominant!

And remember, like the title of the article says, "this too shall pass"!
I think the tactic of "try and grab him to put him in his crate" is probably not translating well to Ralph. He may be interpreting this as "oh now we're playing, yay!" and then lunging to keep the play going; however I understand that turning around and ignoring him isn't working either.

We were taught by our obedience trainer not to use a "no" command because she said
1. the dog often doesn't make the connection between their action and the reprimand or
2. if they do somehow realize the behaviour was inappropriate, they are just as stumped because they can't figure out what the appropriate behaviour would have been in that scenario.

Perhaps you can tell when Ralph is starting to get antsy or zoomie? (check out einspanner's funny post here: http://www.vizslaforums.com/index.php/topic,40154.msg287778.html#msg287778)
Does it happen at a regular time during the day (i.e. evenings)? Are you able to redirect his energy before the madness begins? Are you able to give a strong "sit" or "lie down" or even better "go to your crate" instead of a "no"? I seem to have posted lots more questions than answers but I hope some of it helps!

ps- in terms of overtiredness, I have a very lazy V, but on an average weekday, Nico will have approximately 3 x 2 hour naps which seems like a lot more than Ralph is getting.
 

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Truthfully it sounds like he is ruling the roost.
6-7 months of shark attacks is a lot longer than it takes most pups stop. Then starting the game backup 2 months later in a different way, and he has not been taught to settle on his own. While I would never want to be harsh on them, its going to take you being firm and consistent to change this.
Look in to NILF training at home, join a obedience class. You might even consider a agility class that's age appropriate from him.
Put a leash on him in the house where you have more control. If you can't get him to lay next to you on the sofa, then make him get down. If he tries to play the biting game,put some pressure on the inside of his mouth. Most find it uncomfortable, and release. You can even step on the leash, to get control over him. If he tries it again, take him by the lead and crate him. Only get him out after he has relaxed for a short time. If you haven't already, he needs to learn the leave it command. Another good command to learn is No More. My dogs know those two words mean whatever we are doing has come to an end. Doesn't matter if I was giving them snacks, wrestling with them, or throwing the ball. No More means it's over.
 

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TexasRed said:
If you haven't already, he needs to learn the leave it command. Another good command to learn is No More. My dogs know those two words mean whatever we are doing has come to an end. Doesn't matter if I was giving them snacks, wrestling with them, or throwing the ball. No More means it's over.
Good point!
We use "Game over" (because we avoided the word "no" during training)
 

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There have been some good suggestions here but I would go one further than TexasRed and suggest you invest in some one to one time with a dog trainer at a time both you and your partner can attend - they won't train the dog, they will train you to train your dog (which is why it is important you both attend).

Everybody will tell you that Vizsla's are easy to train (which is true to the extent of teaching them what you want). What they don't tell you is they can be really wilful - just because they know what they are supposed to do doesn't mean that they will do it! Consistency is critical, every time you issue a command you need to make sure that it is obeyed and done how you want it done. Give them an inch and they are soon taking a mile. Once you have established that they are fantastic dogs and you can establish a great bond.

Our first one to one session was the most humiliating hour we have ever spent with our dog. We knew we had problems always getting her to do what we wanted but she spent the entire session completely ignoring any command :'(. Over about 8 sessions we learnt so much, obedience classes don't come close in terms of learning to train your dog.

My guess is that this is really a training issue but you don't give a lot of detail about the exercise Ralph is getting. Firstly, the 5 minute rule has no basis in any research. It is something that somebody made up and has been repeated ad nuseum. I wrote a detailed post about it here, http://www.vizslaforums.com/index.php/topic,7564.msg57850.html#msg57850 so I won't repeat myself but is worth reading if you are worried about over-exercising. These dogs have fantastic stamina. We go fell walking with our two adult girls and they are still running about after 5-6 hours of demanding walking. At Ralph's age, Lyra was getting about 2.5 hours of off lead exercise where she could run, play and explore to her hearts content. Now we have two adults they still get a couple of hours a day. I know you say he spends a lot of time in the garden but if he isn't active then it may not be exercising him much. Lead walking is an important skill to learn but isn't really much in the way of exercise either.
 

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It's so hard to deal with it when they go backwards like that! I had great success with the nipping thing when mine was still really young with the suggestion from puppy obedience classes. The trainer said every time you get nipped scream out at the top of your lungs in pain and fear and shake all over like you're being electrocuted. It was a ridiculous thing to do but it didn't take long before even if she forgot herself in a moment of excitement, as soon as her teeth touch skin, she remembers, oh no, this is bad, and she didn't actually bite down. That said, at 9 months, and if you're actually in some real pain past that nasty puppy teeth sort of pain, I'd get the spray bottle... It was my last resort but I only used it maybe twice and now all I need to do is open the drawer where she knows I keep it and I have a very obedient pup focused on what I want.

And I agree the "end play"command, whatever you use, is critical. I can play now with her and get a little physical (I know some say never to do that but it's fun and I want to have fun with my dog :)) and she's incredibly gentle with her bites and the instant I stand up and give the, "That's It!" and drop my arms to my sides, her body language instantly changes to calm, happy, and looking for some petting. Lots of times that's after like, 10s of play.

My experience is limited here, but I do agree with those saying maybe more exercise is at least something to consider - for sure this is one of those areas where the generic puppy guidelines just don't apply to this breed. Buffy was NOT into fetch, but you can teach these dogs anything, and that scored with us as a reasonable way to get some running around the backyard instigated. She likes hanging out back there but almost never runs unless I'm there to see how awesome she is while she's doing it. :)
 

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Wow, and I thought I was the only one experiencing this. I had 3 months of training Uther during the summer until I went back to work. My retired husband then took over the daily 6km off lease walks and then a separate 1-1.5 hr spent at the dog park.

However lately Uther has been nipping at me, pulling my hair, grabbing at my clothes...well you get the idea. I think it is to get my attention to play, but it is never enough. When I start to play with his toy, he turns around and decides either my clothes or me are tastier. My husband gets made at me because I only stand up and ignore him instead of trying to dominate him (I don't agree with dominating - I would rather train him appropriate behaviour). We are at wits end and hope this is just a phase and keep repeating to ourselves "Persistent, Consistent, Insistent" when he acts out and we are trying to reinforce appropriate behaviour.

I like the idea of "time is up" instead of using "no" when playing. I have also started to crate him when his behaviour is over the top. We are starting to understand that his over the top behaviour is just like a toddler who is over stimulated. Quiet time in his crate is what everyone needs. His complaints are becoming less and less while in the crate and he is learning to settle down, just like a toddler eventually does after a tantrum. Otherwise he has no shut off switch and goes from 7am until 10pm full on.

You gotta love the "V".
 
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