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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello!
We have 2 V's - a 5 year old female and a 4 year old male. She has had 2 litters, one at 2 y/o and one at 4 y/o - and we recently had her spayed. She was as sweet as could be (very very loving), although high-strung & neurotic, until she was 3 years old. At that point it was like a switch flipped and she gradually began to exhibit aggressive behaviors - but the behaviors were very random - we could not pin down a cause. After a while we realized that They seemed to occur starting about a month before she went into heat and stopping about 6 weeks after her cycle was over. She seemed to always lash out at people who owned a female dog (kids/teens and men - but NEVER women) - and the aggression wasn't day after day. She might growl and snap but not do it again for 3 or 4 weeks. The aggression really intensified after her 2nd litter during those same periods. She is currently a sweet dog over all, but what we have realized is that she is sweet and affectionate ONLY when it is convenient to her. So - We had planned to have her spayed in mid-March (but we all know what hit in mid-March) and it had to be postponed. She was just spayed about 2 weeks ago. I will say that our male has the complete opposite personality. He is a HUGE baby - a lovable beast. He literally won't harm a fly. Our V's could not be more different...

So - my husband has ALWAYS been her favorite. She is/was his baby - follows him around, cries for him to pet her, races to greet him when he gets home. She is his velcro dog. Anyway, 3 times now, she has greeted my husband when he comes home from work, runs up to him (as always), tail wagging, ears flopping and as excited as can be... he reached down to pet/rub her (as he always has), only for her to jump up, snarl and bite him. One night she greeted him, he petted her, she ran over to her bed (he followed to give a belly rub - another common thing) and she jumped up at him growling and nipped his fingers enough to draw blood. It happened again today. In the past, she has growled at both of my boys (never my daughter) but has never bitten them.

Has anyone had any experience with this type of behavior? My vet gave me some anti-anxiety medicine a couple of months ago to calm her incessant barking - as we have tried EVERYTHING to control it - which has not helped either behavior. She also recommended a behavioral trainer but our state locked down from Covid literally 2 days later. She wanted us to spay (which I made the appointment for that day & had to postpone) and then get a consult. The thing is, the behavior is occurring when SHE invites him to pet her and shows NO signs of aggression, and out of nowhere attacks him. This has been her MO always, but it's just recently turned to people within our home. And again, the behavior follows no pattern - it's completely random.
My husband wants nothing to do with her now - he is done. She has literally bitten both of his hands that feed her. He is insisting we rehome her. She does have an extremely intense prey drive and yearns to hunt. He thinks that if she had a farm to run on where she could bark and hunt to her heart's content, that she would be a happier dog. Any input?! Thanks!!
 

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Rehoming a dog that has a bite history is not always the answer. Most rescues will not take them, as they are too big of a liability to adopt out. Has your vet considered doing blood work to check her thyroid levels?

I hope she did not pass this temperament on to any of her offspring.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Rehoming a dog that has a bite history is not always the answer. Most rescues will not take them, as they are too big of a liability to adopt out. Has your vet considered doing blood work to check her thyroid levels?

I hope she did not pass this temperament on to any of her offspring.
She did not exhibit any of this before her first litter and there were only a few (more minor) instances that were very random before her second litter - the instances before her 2nd litter seemed to be where she was being territorial. It really picked up and got worse after her 2nd litter (within the last 6-8 months) - she will be 5 in July. The other thing which may have gotten lost in my novel above, is that the behaviors always exhibited around her heat cycle. In the 3-4 months in between (when hormones are level), we've never had one instance - it always happens during that 8-12 week span of building up to and then winding down from her heat cycle. All of this really did come out of nowhere - never had one issue until she was 3 - 3.5. Our vet hasn't mentioned bloodwork yet. She said she wanted to spay her to level out her hormones and then consult with a behavioral trainer she recommends. I will call monday and ask about thyroid bloodwork.
 

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Hi 2Vizsla’s: here‘s my input and thoughts on what she may be experiencing. Of course, we can’t be sure what is going on in her little mind and I’m not a doggy therapist, but based on what I saw in my Vizsla when we spayed her at 2yrs old (she is very high strung also) this is a possibility. Our female had extremely strong maternal, nesting instincts also, actually had to bring her to vet with mastitis once before we spayed her and vet said she had a pseudo (psychological type) pregnancy, dragging stuffed toys around making nests etc.

Anyway, after we spayed her she seemed downright traumatised. I didn’t think dogs could cry until I picked her up after the surgery...she had tears rolling down both cheeks and gave me the saddest look I’ve ever seen, like she knew exactly what had been done to her (maybe she did). She was extremely skittish in general for several weeks and it took a long time for me to rebuild her trust. She was even a bit afraid of me, her major partner, and acted differently around me (slightly afraid of me on walks, fearful if I touched her belly etc). It went on for quite a long time (months as I recall). She is 4yo now and completely over it.

My thought is that your bitch has a case of doggy PTSD from the spaying, like mine did, maybe a touch worse (perhaps because yours was a successful dam). Having had several breeds of dogs, I can say that I do think the Vizsla is more sensitive and hangs onto fears longer than other breeds I’ve had.

I was willing and able to work my girl through her insecurity over a period of months. It took me awhile to get close to her again. You could consider some desensitization type exercises where you put muzzle on her (a gentle comfortable one) and roll her over for the belly rubs etc then reward her when she gets to the point of total trust and shows no fear or snapping behavior. Since that is one point where she snapped at your hubby, I’m assuming you will see fear/anxiety in her eyes; that is where I would work on getting her to become comfortable, submissive and trusting.

When she gets to the point where she no longer looks like she will snap (may be anxiety driven fear-biting), I would repeat with muzzle off (however, you need to do only what you feel comfortable with). Then reward her with praise and some reward she likes for being calm submissive. Get her to the point where she is her old self again and enjoys her belly rub.

My V snaps occasionally at my GSD but never at me as I don’t tolerate that behavior from my pets. There is lots of dog training info on the internet and a muzzle worked very well with my German Shepard when I needed it because he was a snapper at other dogs. I was able to fix that behavior in him - it took 3-4 months but it worked because he hated wearing a muzzle.

It does sound to me like your girl is still traumatized from the spaying, as was my Vizsla. It doesn’t sound like a bad case to me, however, I think it will likely continue until you to rebuild her confidence and trust. You will have to decide whether you are able to spend the time to work her through it. A trainer may also be helpful if you don’t have time to research and try things, however, I don't use trainers for canine manners because I know what is acceptable in my household and have never been unable to bring the dog to that standard myself.

Based on what you’ve said I absolutely DO think you should be able to reverse her behavior to that which was her native disposition prior to the spaying. it’s a matter of whether you have the patience and are willing to work with her. Hope this helps; Good Luck!! :)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
It seems that the spay has really calmed her down. She has been acting like her old puppy self, constantly wanting to play (which she has not done in 2 years) and being very affectionate. We haven't seen a single instance of aggression - although we are being vigilant. She's almost like a totally different dog. Now if we could just find a remedy for her excessive barking.
 
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