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My Samson is a 3 1/2 year old, happy and healthy intact male. He is our first Vizsla, and this is my first time posting anything to a forum. My husband and I are empty nesters and our college son comes quite often. Samson loves everybody he meets, dogs and people, but he HATES to have his paws touched or have say a tick removed and will snarl at your hand and act ugly, though he doesn't bite. He also does not like to have a collar put on, though he tolerates this because he knows it means he gets to walk as we use a harness. He has a phobia of the vet and when boarding snarls and acts like he will bite them when they try to do his nails or bring him out of the crate. I walk him miles and miles every day on a paved trail so I don't have to take him to get his nails done. I could do them with my Dremel but am intimidated to try! The only way we have found to stop him from doing the snarling lip thing is we tell him: "I'm going to spank your bottom." Of course we don't have to as he stops, but still this doesnt stop the behavior from happening or help me be able to do his nails. I have anxiety every time we need to board him. He is basic command trained, very bright and loving. So when he does this snarling thing it really makes no sense. We have been thinking of neutering him but waited like our vet said to let him mature, which that time has certainly passed. Any help or guidance would be appreciated. Sorry for the long post
 

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Hello. Regarding the nail clipping you could start training using a scratch board, lots of videos on youtube. I wish I'd known about this with my previous V, she too had the paw touching phobia, hated going to the vet etc. She didn't show any aggression.
Your Samson too sounds frightened and he's being defensive. I will let more knowledgeable members advise what course your training should take to help with this.
 

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Thank you for that advice, I have never heard of scratch boards and will be looking into that! Yes, I agree that the snarling is fearful behavior, which is heartbreaking, but I don't know why, though it seems to have stemmed from the vet boarding and having nails trimmed there. We have had him since a pup and his parents are owned by relatives, he's not a rescue.
 

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Some Vizslas can be very sensitive and have very good memories. If Samson has been hurt whilst having his nails clipped, even just slightly or was just fearful then it can become a phobia.
Positive experiences with high value rewards can start to improve phobias but it can take a very long time and some dogs are just too fearful. Like you I avoided, when I could, exposing my previous V to her fears.
If you can have success with training the scratch board then that problem will be resolved. But you could also try gaining his confidence by touching his paws, not for long and reward him when he lets you with a high value treat.
Also his collar phobia, did he wear a harness when a pup? Greta started on a harness and I didn't really put her in a collar untill perhaps 6/8 months that often. As a result she was a bit of a bucking bronco when you tried to hold her by the collar. It's much better now but not perfect. She will still hide when she has her collar put on each morning, it's a game for her now. But if she knows there's a treat she's as good as gold!
 

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Have these problems been life long, or are they new.
There will always be dogs that give in to pressure, or will react to pressure.

By Pressure, I just mean made to do something, they do not want to do, or something they are uncomfortable with.
 

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Just to set expectations, at 3 1/2 y/o, you will have your work cut out for you. I doubt that neutering will help much. You are going to have to start small. And use tons of repetition -- daily.
Just start by touching the paw and give a treat. Don't treat when he's snarling. Don't react, or yell when he is snarling. Always stay calm. Don't threaten. Two or three times and then leave him alone. Over time increase the number of reps and the number of sessions per day. And of course move up, over time, from touching the paw to holding for a few seconds. Then ramp up the duration.
 

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Thank you for your response. When a pup he guarded his bed or food, wrinkled his nose, but no growl, actually he NEVER growls, but when we corrected he responded and this is never an issue again. He and our cat eat alongside each other and he is a perfect gentleman. He's never been keen on tick removal or paws being touched but I can get the tick off by talking to him and telling him easy and gentle. However, we moved to a new location (new city) and had to board him a few times and I let them trim his paws I think twice. They did tell me he didn't like it. Long story short, the vet has never talked to us, but we were told by the office administrator when I wanted to talk to the about breeding that we should not breed him, but neuter him and take him to a behaviorist. I was speechless, they always told me he behaved well and he "was fine", though we had begun to see these phobias that we had never seen. Additionally, the FINAL and last time he was there, when we got him home he was nervous and his lips wrinkling back even when he sat in our laps and we petted him if we went near his collar. It was heartbreaking and took him a few days to stop. So, no he has not been like this always. We will not take him back and need a vet and boarding when we need it but I am nervous to try to find anyone. I put a Sensible harness to walk and he even puts his head into this though he hesitates. We've worked with him to get to that point. So, he wears a regular collar which I have been taking on and off every night since posting on here and treating him after I put on; he is perfectly fine with this after a few days and seems to be gaining confidence. Again sorry so long.
 
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