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Discussion Starter #1
Hi, I have adopted a 7.5yo Vizsla Bitch, she had been bred from for at least the last four years and the breeder needed to retire her to make space for new breeds. She is gorgeous and her temperament seemed perfect when we first met her, and so we decided to go back and get her three weeks later. She has bonded really well with me and my wife, she has all the traits of being the traditional velcro dog, following me around when I am working from home and so on and is very affectionate when she wants to be.

We have had her now for over a week, and have walked her twice a day for on average 1.25 hours each session as we thought she would like the exercise although we weren't too sure whether the previous owner was telling the truth about how much she was exercised before. All was going well until we were playing fetch in the garden she came up lame after playing for probably a little bit too long, so the vet has prescribed anti inflammatory tablets and we are seeing the limp recede. She was at her happiest playing fetch she was certainly in her element and I think she would have played all day if I had let her.

I am so pleased that we have taken her on, and I love her to bits but I am worried about how timid she is around other people and dogs. She has been crate trained and although I don't really like her sitting in it all day even with door open she does tend to make that her first port of call if the door is open. I am guessing that she sees this as her domain and she feels safe and comfortable in there. When we are walking her she tends to skulk, she generally does not pull on the leash (we are using a slip lead as suggested in the UK for gun dogs) but her head is always down in a tracking mode and her tail is generally always between her legs, only time I see her tail up and proud is when we get back from the walk, or when she sees me after a while or when we are playing fetch.

Also when she sees other dogs she tries to run away, or hides behind me or my wife depending on who is walking her and it is the same when she comes across a man. She is also very jumpy when birds fly out of hedgerows etc although this seems to be lessening now.

What I would like to know is whether this is normal, and will she get over this timidness as she gets to know us better and used to us and her new routine. How long do you think this would normally take? Is there anything I can do to speed up the process? Should I get a behaviourist or an obedience trainer involved at this stage or wait a few weeks?

I have a feeling that she has spent most of her life in a crate and it is such a shame. She is also a little under weight so am trying to get her to put weight on, and will probably make up a load of Satin Balls for her this weekend and see how that goes.

Many thanks in advance! Great Forum!

Matt (UK)
 

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Congrats on your new girl!! What a wonderful thing you have done for your V & family :)

I do not have any experience with adopting an older V; however, after quite a few shelter dogs, I would suggest you give your V time. Vs are soft dogs, so patience will be needed on your part as well. After 7.5 yrs, even 2 wks is way too soon to expect full adjustment IMO. It sounds like your V has not been well socialized outside of her home/comfort zone based on your description. She's basically been used as a mom and not been allowed to do what Vs do. I would keep exposing her to life in as many ways as possible, per comfort level. Over time, your V should gradually become less sensitive. You don't want to overwhelm her, but going on walks, exploring, & meeting new people and animals is good for the soul. It will take time, maybe months. Make all things positive in tone & content, and give time to establish a solid bond between yourselves. It sounds like y'all are well on your way to doing this :). When she goes walking, she is with someone she hasen't known that long while being exposed to all new. Scary for her, and she is totally trusting you to be a leader. I would avoid dog parks or situations that could become negative or too overwhelming. Since you are not sure of her exercise level, I would go slowly. She will probably build strength & stamina quite quickly. Vs are a strong breed, but I doubt your V has been given the opportunity to run & play a lot :'( After a layoff from running, I don't go out and put a long run in the 1st day back. Know what I mean? Fetch and other fun games are good ways to bond when her strain heals.

I would ask your vet if he is concerned about her weight. Evaluate the food she has been on, and make sure she is eating a high quality food. There are lots of threads on here regarding quality kibble/diet in general.

As for the crate, it sounds like as you said, this is her safe haven. I would not discourage that. If she is in her crate, you can invite her out to join you or just for some love; however, she may just want to be left alone while she adjusts to her new surroundings & routine.

Again, congrats on your new friend! Vs are wonderful dogs, and y'all are blessed to have found one another. What's her name? Pictures? Good luck!

I wanted to add that you may have to adjust her kibble over time as she becomes more accustomed to exercise. Vs can burn calories standing still :)
 

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Congratulations, she is beautiful.

We had a she GS dog who looked menacing but was actually unsure. My cousin suggested to walk him close to us on a shory 13 inch traffic lead. That way our dog was not put in a position to make choices on where to sniff, oncoming dogs, people.
It helped our dog adjust quite well, but it was not a Vizsla and needed strong leadership and a level of consistency which I find quite harsh for Vs.

I think Caesar Millan (quite a celebrity here) suggests something similar but uses different collars, leashes.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks datacan! Yeah we have watched many Dog Whisperer shows and have also read Cesar's books so we have been well versed in the Exercise/Discipline/Affection formula. We use a shortish slip lead which works well as she does walk very well on the lead and doesn't pull too much and keeps to the pace so we are walking the dog rather than the other way round. It is just that she cowers away from everything, no where near as bad as the Vizsla in the Dog Whisperer episode that we watched a few weeks ago where it would not move when it got spooked.

I think that Holly trusts us when we are out walking her, I just wish she was more sociable and less timid as then she would enjoy her walks a lot more, because as soon as she is back within the house boundary her tail is wagging and she looks happy again.
 

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Mattgbox--Our V pup, Pumpkin (11m), was attacked by a family member's dog at about 4m of age. It came out of nowhere when she was resting under my husband's feet! It was like someone turned off a switch in P, understandably, and she was no longer the same pup. It took months, literally, for us to move passed her timid behavior around other dogs. Months of consistent, positive socialization for her to "recover." We enrolled in classes to keep her exposed to dogs in a safe, controlled environment. We participated in Vizsla playdates, via members in our local club, to allow exposure in her comfort zone (fields) with responsible dog owners. P would run along side the other dogs, but she never played with them. She would run in fear if they chased her or tried to play with her. We attributed some of the aloofness to her birdiness & intensity in the field, but I know some of it was insecurity. Around dogs after the Christmas incident, Pumpkins tail stayed completely tucked between her legs, no eye contact, and she would shrink to a cowering mess. She became a little fearful of unknown people as well. Again, we just continued to expose her to life. Daily walks & runs off leash in the woods, fields, car rides, walks on a leash through the neighborhood, and meeting with different types of people. I made it happen for her, in a positive and safe atmosphere. I did not excessively reassure her, tighten up on the leash, or otherwise tried not to let my language tell her she should be worried. I carried on with life, and we brought her along as much as possible (even when it was kinda of a pain in the ass :))if I thought it would benefit her/us. It was a gradual improvement, but steady. She is in a MUCH better space now. Vs can be very unforgiving to a negative event(s); therefore, when in doubt, use patience and time. That does not mean have no boundaries though. Based on your post, I suspect your V just needs time & exposure to a world that has not existed for her. She should be allowed to explore off-leash or dragging a check cord, in a safe space, so all of the sniffs, sounds, textures can be imprinted. She is like a puppy in some ways while also being the high school kid at a new school. Totally unfamiliar where the rules & boundaries are known to all but the new kid. It's scary. If it were me, and I'm no expert, I would resist gimmicky techniques and/or pressure, and just give Holly time. If after a reasonable amount of time, she is making no progress, then I would consider help. I empathize with your pain :) The Pumpkin we knew at home was completely different than the "lunchbox" showcased in public ::) I wanted to tell everyone she was not that nervous nut at home, but c'est la vie. Holly will come around, and she is gorgeous! By the picture, she doesn't look underweight, but it's harder to tell when laying down. If you have a Vizsla club or very respected breeder in your area, reach out to them. Vs seem to have their own language and method of play. Over time, this may be a safe avenue for you to arrange to have Holly make a friend. Those red heads are in a league of their own :)
 

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I really feel for these dogs. They seem to have very long memories. Perhaps Holley was a little secluded as a breeding dog and fear of unknown dogs, people, children is no surprise.

Kellygh's experience is something I am really afraid of with our V as well. I stay away from dog parks and socialize only with dogs that look well under control.
All at the best to Holley and Pumpkin.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for your messages everyone! We are certainly in for the long haul on this one, she is such a beautiful animal and so loving that we will do out best by her, and I believe that over time she will get better associated with the changes in her life and become more sociable etc..
 

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I just posted on the "Behaviour Problems" thread, and then I spotted this one. Just wanted to echo what others have said... Holly is just beautiful... Lucky you, and lucky her!!
 

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Hi, I have adopted a 7.5yo Vizsla Bitch, she had been bred from for at least the last four years and the breeder needed to retire her to make space for new breeds.
I just posted to redbirddog an article about back-yard breeders and commercial breeders.

http://redbirddog.blogspot.com/2011/07/dont-support-backyard-breed.html

When I read your post, it upset me that the wonderful animal, that you so bravely took on, was "dumped" because she outlived her usefulness to the breeder.

We, as a Vizsla community, need to demand of breeders a very high ethical standard. PETA and other animal abuse advocates would love to shut down all "purebred" breeding, and they are trying.

Support hobby breeders. Those who raise Vizslas for the love of the breed and not the greed of the cash that a "pretty dog" can generate.

Ok. off my soapbox for now.

Rod a.k.a. redbirddog
 

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Yes! Don't want to be blunt but I agree 100% with Rod a.k.a. redbirddog.

My cousin volunteers time to care for retired service dogs and he has very strong opinions on how these dogs are driven so hard, perform their hearts out and end up let go so easily by the system.
 

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Mattgbox

I understand where you're coming from. I also took on an adult Vizsla ( actually two of them). Their owner/breeder (One of the most respected Vizsla breeders in the US) became ill very suddenly and passed away.
Tika pretty much spent the 1st two years of her life kenneled with very little social interaction. When I got her she was a blank slate.
I'm gong to use a term that sounds negative, but is not. Holly, like Tika, is/was developmentally retarded. Not stupid, just undeveloped socially and mentally.
With Tika I had to understand that even though I physically had a two year old adult Vizsla on the end of the leash. I mentally had a dog much closer to a puppy in most respects, and that was how I treated her. I approached her as if she was a 45lb. ,2-3 month old, and brought her up from there.
One thing for you is too not look back at where she came from, but forward to where you want her to be. Other than understanding why she may be doing some of the things she does, based on previous history, there is nothing too learn. She starts right now.
Don't stress about the crate. If she wants to go in, let her. Leave the door open for her to come and go as she pleases. This is her comfort zone right now, and the crate is where she understands the "rules", and is probably one of the only things that has mentally been brought forward with her. She needs access to that crate.
Everything for her has changed. The regularity of routine and the "rules" are all different. She needs too learn the "rules" and the routine. This is where her confidence and security is based. It's where most social animals are comfortable.
Give her a few months of a predicatable routine and consistent rules and she will begin to come out of her shell. Once ahe can equate an action with a response, she can anticipate and adapt.

Did everything work out with Tika? Yes and no. I made an error in judgement when I introduced Gunnr, an 11 month old Vizsla when I got her, too soon. ( Gunnr was owned by the same breeder that passed away and needed a home.)
It set Tika back because Gunnr was over the top crazy as a loon and required so much attention and work that I didn't achieve the proper balance until we finally got Gunnr under some semblence of control.
Both girls are now pretty happy little campers. Gunnr is a forward hunting machine,and Tika is a little bit more of a wall flower, and really likes to be near her owner(s).
However, with new situations their behavior reverses. Tika is very gregarious with new people and new dogs, and Gunnr is the one that hangs back too assess the situation first.
I know this post seems to be a bit existential, but my experience with bringing Thoroughbreds off the track is the basis. These horses are almost completely socailly retarded, and quite literally have to learn to be a horse.
No human can overpower an 1100lb horse. You just can't do it. Everything has to be approached from the mental side, and It works the same with dogs. Love, attention affection, a regular routine with fair and predictable rules, and they thrive.

It will probably take you 2-3 months to begin to see the "real" Holley. It will be worth the wait. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Hi Gunnr,

Yep I understand, thanks for your words of wisdom. We met another adult Vizsla bitch on our walk through the woods today, but she must have been twice the size of Holly. Holly just kept her distance and then sat down behind me whilst I chatted to the owner who thought that Holly must have been a puppy so could not believe that she had been bred from a number of times as well as being middle aged. She just looked to me for assurance and I did my best to pass on my positive energy etc.

Cheers
Matt
 

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It's not normal behavior, but it is her reality. Build her confidence. Be her best friend and she will slowly develop confidence as her world becomes more predictable and she feels safe with you. Take her with you everywhere but remember, you need to protect her. Think ahead of all possible situations that could arise before you subject her to them. As time passes, you will slowly move her forward. Again, take her everywhere it is safe for her; and be her best friend. :)
 
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