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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All,

Hoping for some feedback/guidance regarding behavior. Charlie seems to be very sensitive and excitable/reactive (friends and neighbors have nicknamed him Chaz the Spaz :(). On walks he is nose-to-the ground and seems to be very on edge - not scared but just HYPER aware and reactive to his surroundings and generally unsettled. He's super friendly to other dogs - not at all aggressive (n fact I would say submissive when interacting) but majorly curious, lots of barking and pulling toward other dogs on our walks, LOTS of bum sniffing, etc. He is also a major whiner - if he's not sleeping, he's whining.

I imagine that these are all traits (well maybe not the whining or barking) that are required of a pointer/gun dog - aware and reactive to surroundings, a good nose, etc. My question is, how can I help Charlie to use his natural abilities in a socially (human and dog) acceptable way and in a way that makes him a pleasant pet for our family as well as friends and neighbors?

He walks on leash 2.5-5 miles a day (depending on my schedule and the weather) and we have a fenced yard and he gets about an hour of off leash time running, playing, sniffing in the yard. On the weekend we take him hiking off leash on wooded trails for a few hours in place of the leash walks.

For food he is getting 5-6 cups of Fromm Four Star per day (until last week it was only 4-5 cups/day). I will say he seems a little "ribby" and I have noticed recently that I can see a few of his vertebrae which is why I upped his food. I'm also giving him omega 3 and salmon oil and he gets a can or sardines on his food on Sundays:)

So if you've read this far, thank you! I suppose I am also looking for confirmation that his behavior is normal (I have two non-dog owning friends who have told me that he needs Prozac) and also suggestions for activities for a non-hunter (that's me) to do with him to use some of his natural instincts in a healthy way.

Thank you!
 

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I think that in a few months, he'll start to settle out. It could be that he just lacks the confidence that comes with maturity. My boy Finn, at 17 months, is very much less reactive now. He was out of control hyper for a few months. We too have called him a "spaz".
What is his tail doing, when his nose is on the ground?. Is it out and wagging, or wiggling, or is it tucked?
The nose to the ground could be genetics. Some Vizslas are" foot scenters", and some are "air scenters". I've had dogs that would run with their nose to the ground until they crossed a scent trail, and some, like Finn, run head high, blowing air out their cheeks when they catch scent.
Everybody unfamiliar with Vizslas think they need "doggie downers". Non dog people would so even more. He will settle out, but it may not be for another 10-12 months.
9-15 months is a tough period. They're strong, fast, curious, want to explore, and get over stimulated easily.
Bottom line, I think you're fine.

I guess my one question is about walking on a leash for 2.5-5 miles per day. That would have to get frustrating for him. Is there any way to put him on a ling check cord, or maybe get him off that leash?

BTW. Neutering him is no guarantee to stop this behavior. So don't let someone tell you that neutering him will calm him down.;)
 

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agreed with gunnr. teenage age can be challenging and if you have a generally busy body type (my favorite btw), then having more energy release possibilities will help. mental and physical stimulation both.

i am sure you were not even considering it, but please please please no Prozac for that pup
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I think that in a few months, he'll start to settle out. It could be that he just lacks the confidence that comes with maturity. My boy Finn, at 17 months, is very much less reactive now. He was out of control hyper for a few months. We too have called him a "spaz".
What is his tail doing, when his nose is on the ground?. Is it out and wagging, or wiggling, or is it tucked?
The nose to the ground could be genetics. Some Vizslas are" foot scenters", and some are "air scenters". I've had dogs that would run with their nose to the ground until they crossed a scent trail, and some, like Finn, run head high, blowing air out their cheeks when they catch scent.
Everybody unfamiliar with Vizslas think they need "doggie downers". Non dog people would so even more. He will settle out, but it may not be for another 10-12 months.
9-15 months is a tough period. They're strong, fast, curious, want to explore, and get over stimulated easily.
Bottom line, I think you're fine.

I guess my one question is about walking on a leash for 2.5-5 miles per day. That would have to get frustrating for him. Is there any way to put him on a ling check cord, or maybe get him off that leash?

BTW. Neutering him is no guarantee to stop this behavior. So don't let someone tell you that neutering him will calm him down.;)
Thanks so much for your reply! Glad to hear it could just be his age and with time he will settle. When he has his nose to the ground his tail (and entire back side) are usually wagging but now that you mention it I have seen his tail tucked at times (I know that usually the tucked tail indicates fear or submission right?). He also makes that air out the cheeks/snuffling sound when he's sniffing.

With regard to the leash walking - I think he likely is very frustrated. While I'm not sauntering he is - LOL. Luckily we have 50 miles of trails out our back door - we've been walking on the weekend on the trails but not during the week. We're still working on recall and I'm wondering if training on an e-collar would make sense for us. We do a check cord but that doesn't help with recall once he's taken off. Once I can get him back close enough with the cord I can regain control, get his attention and start again.

No plans to neuter him for another 9-12 months.

One more questions as I know you are active on this forum and provide great feedback and insight. I'd love your opinion on residential training programs. I've always heard that training the dog isn't effective if you don't train the owner and with a residential program the dog gets weeks of intensive training and the owners get a few hours at best.

Thanks again!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
agreed with gunnr. teenage age can be challenging and if you have a generally busy body type (my favorite btw), then having more energy release possibilities will help. mental and physical stimulation both.

i am sure you were not even considering it, but please please please no Prozac for that pup
Thanks, Gabica! Not considering prozac! Glad to hear that he will likely grow out of it.
 

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I don't know that I am familiar with what a residential training program entails. Maybe by another term???

At 9 months old he is definitely ready for an ecollar. However, there is a method to it's introduction, and for some time he will be on both the ecollar and the check cord. There are some good videos available by Tri-Tronics and Sportdog, but they're really elementary. There are also some others on YouTube, but you have to be careful. It's best if you can find a trainer, or program, to introduce the ecollar, and begin to use it.
If you have that many miles of open access readily, you are truly blessed!
Is there a lot of plants and bushes in the area? If so, get a 1/4" soft rope, about 50 feet long. Attach it to a full body harness on you boy.
Tie a single granny knot in the end not connected to the dog. Then tie a series of four or five more granny knots about 12" apart, starting 12" from the end of the rope that has a knot. These knots will catch on small shrubs, plants, rocks and trees and stop him where he is, until you can get to him, and release him. This will give him his freedom, but you have control. He won't understand that it is not you that are stopping him, but the rope.
Give it a whirl in a controlled environment, and see what you think.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I don't know that I am familiar with what a residential training program entails. Maybe by another term???

At 9 months old he is definitely ready for an ecollar. However, there is a method to it's introduction, and for some time he will be on both the ecollar and the check cord. There are some good videos available by Tri-Tronics and Sportdog, but they're really elementary. There are also some others on YouTube, but you have to be careful. It's best if you can find a trainer, or program, to introduce the ecollar, and begin to use it.
If you have that many miles of open access readily, you are truly blessed!
Is there a lot of plants and bushes in the area? If so, get a 1/4" soft rope, about 50 feet long. Attach it to a full body harness on you boy.
Tie a single granny knot in the end not connected to the dog. Then tie a series of four or five more granny knots about 12" apart, starting 12" from the end of the rope that has a knot. These knots will catch on small shrubs, plants, rocks and trees and stop him where he is, until you can get to him, and release him. This will give him his freedom, but you have control. He won't understand that it is not you that are stopping him, but the rope.
Give it a whirl in a controlled environment, and see what you think.
Thanks for this! Will try the rope idea. We have a dura-flex check cord but it’s slick do it doesn’t get snagged. The idea of a knitted rope makes sense as it will slow him down a bit more.
Also, I’ve been registering kids for summer camp and “residential” is what they call sleep away so that was in my head - lol. I meant boarding program where the dog boards at the training facility for a number of weeks.
 

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I personally have never boarded my dogs, or sent them for training. The closest I ever came to that was boarding mine at the breeders when I spent a month in Australia.
I've always preferred to train my dogs myself, or in small groups that are like minded for their desired end goals.
Mine have always been trained to hunt, first and foremost, which makes it a little easier, as I know what the end goals need to be.

Honestly though, with a Vizlsa, my experience has been that the majority of the time, you just have to wait for them to get through a phase and mature mentally.
Everyone that has had these dogs for any length of time will tell you that the dog you end up with as a two year old, is nothing like the puppy you had as 12 months old, and the two year old, is not the same as the three year old.it will become.
They'll drive you nuts ignoring simple commands as puppies. Then one day, it's like a switch gets flipped and they're like a remote control dog. It's that quick sometimes.
Good luck, and just have lots of fun. Create " physical boxes" that he can be let loose in safely, and just let him begin to find himself. Watch the change. It's amazing. ;)
 
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i personally had some very bad experiences with boarding training, actually causing a lot of harm i had to undo, puppy ending up in ER while at the training place and almost dying etc. if you choose that method, make sure that you are vetting the place very thoroughly and then still ask yourself how you will get the knowledge passed on as you and your family still needs to get trained, so having the pup trained by someone else won`t be sufficient.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
i personally had some very bad experiences with boarding training, actually causing a lot of harm i had to undo, puppy ending up in ER while at the training place and almost dying etc. if you choose that method, make sure that you are vetting the place very thoroughly and then still ask yourself how you will get the knowledge passed on as you and your family still needs to get trained, so having the pup trained by someone else won`t be sufficient.
Thanks Gabica! That was my gut feeling. That it’s all well and good to train the dog but at the end of the day it’s the humans that need to be trained to know how to get the dog to respond :)
 

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Good luck, and just have lots of fun. Create " physical boxes" that he can be let loose in safely, and just let him begin to find himself. Watch the change. It's amazing. ;)
what do you mean by physical boxes?
 

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"Physical boxes" are areas defined by boundaries. Fences, steams, pond, open pasture, and field. Places where you can set safely set the distance your pup/dog is allowed to roam.
For instance, I primarily train Finn in a big open field. Probably 25 acres total This field is bordered by thick woods, an inland stream/wetlands, and a river. This field is also 1/2mile from any road at all, with no clear line of sight to the road.
In this field I can set a boundary for Finn that I do not want him to exceed, but if he does, he is safe, and there is little danger of harm. If I establish a moving box, or circle,100 meters in diameter, and move about that open field and enforce that 100meter diameter with Finn, that is creating his physical box/circle, if you will.
I also have smaller fields 2-10 acres, that I work him in.
Yes, he has the ability to run into the woods, or jump in the river, but if I remain in the field, he will also want to remain in the area with me. If I move into the woods, he moves with me, same with the rivers and ponds.
I hope that helps.
 
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Hi All,

Hoping for some feedback/guidance regarding behavior. Charlie seems to be very sensitive and excitable/reactive (friends and neighbors have nicknamed him Chaz the Spaz :(). On walks he is nose-to-the ground and seems to be very on edge - not scared but just HYPER aware and reactive to his surroundings and generally unsettled. He's super friendly to other dogs - not at all aggressive (n fact I would say submissive when interacting) but majorly curious, lots of barking and pulling toward other dogs on our walks, LOTS of bum sniffing, etc. He is also a major whiner - if he's not sleeping, he's whining.

I imagine that these are all traits (well maybe not the whining or barking) that are required of a pointer/gun dog - aware and reactive to surroundings, a good nose, etc. My question is, how can I help Charlie to use his natural abilities in a socially (human and dog) acceptable way and in a way that makes him a pleasant pet for our family as well as friends and neighbors?

He walks on leash 2.5-5 miles a day (depending on my schedule and the weather) and we have a fenced yard and he gets about an hour of off leash time running, playing, sniffing in the yard. On the weekend we take him hiking off leash on wooded trails for a few hours in place of the leash walks.

For food he is getting 5-6 cups of Fromm Four Star per day (until last week it was only 4-5 cups/day). I will say he seems a little "ribby" and I have noticed recently that I can see a few of his vertebrae which is why I upped his food. I'm also giving him omega 3 and salmon oil and he gets a can or sardines on his food on Sundays:)

So if you've read this far, thank you! I suppose I am also looking for confirmation that his behavior is normal (I have two non-dog owning friends who have told me that he needs Prozac) and also suggestions for activities for a non-hunter (that's me) to do with him to use some of his natural instincts in a healthy way.

Thank you!
The hyper behavior is normal in teenagers. My pup Aron can get pretty overstimulated too. What really helped are Pattern games by Leslie McDevitt, Relax on the Mat by Nan Kene Arthur, lots of treat scatters because they promote sniffing that calmes them down. Check out the book "Chill out Fido!" by Nan Kene Arthur, that book was a game changer for us. The lunging toward other dogs could become reactivity issue and you should work from a distance where he doesn't fixate on the dog and doesn't pull toward them, start counterconditioning and desensetizing and use differential reinforcement of incompatible behavior. Midnight dog walkers by Annie Phenix is a great starting point but if you'd like me to share more resources with you, just let me know. Also try decompression walks and enrichment, I have a good post about it that you can check out.
 

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Hi All,

Hoping for some feedback/guidance regarding behavior. Charlie seems to be very sensitive and excitable/reactive (friends and neighbors have nicknamed him Chaz the Spaz :(). On walks he is nose-to-the ground and seems to be very on edge - not scared but just HYPER aware and reactive to his surroundings and generally unsettled. He's super friendly to other dogs - not at all aggressive (n fact I would say submissive when interacting) but majorly curious, lots of barking and pulling toward other dogs on our walks, LOTS of bum sniffing, etc. He is also a major whiner - if he's not sleeping, he's whining.

I imagine that these are all traits (well maybe not the whining or barking) that are required of a pointer/gun dog - aware and reactive to surroundings, a good nose, etc. My question is, how can I help Charlie to use his natural abilities in a socially (human and dog) acceptable way and in a way that makes him a pleasant pet for our family as well as friends and neighbors?

He walks on leash 2.5-5 miles a day (depending on my schedule and the weather) and we have a fenced yard and he gets about an hour of off leash time running, playing, sniffing in the yard. On the weekend we take him hiking off leash on wooded trails for a few hours in place of the leash walks.

For food he is getting 5-6 cups of Fromm Four Star per day (until last week it was only 4-5 cups/day). I will say he seems a little "ribby" and I have noticed recently that I can see a few of his vertebrae which is why I upped his food. I'm also giving him omega 3 and salmon oil and he gets a can or sardines on his food on Sundays:)

So if you've read this far, thank you! I suppose I am also looking for confirmation that his behavior is normal (I have two non-dog owning friends who have told me that he needs Prozac) and also suggestions for activities for a non-hunter (that's me) to do with him to use some of his natural instincts in a healthy way.

Thank you!
That could have been our story exactly. Seriously, and that description fits our V perfectly. Curious what advice they have for you, and how the behaviour evolves...
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
The hyper behavior is normal in teenagers. My pup Aron can get pretty overstimulated too. What really helped are Pattern games by Leslie McDevitt, Relax on the Mat by Nan Kene Arthur, lots of treat scatters because they promote sniffing that calmes them down. Check out the book "Chill out Fido!" by Nan Kene Arthur, that book was a game changer for us. The lunging toward other dogs could become reactivity issue and you should work from a distance where he doesn't fixate on the dog and doesn't pull toward them, start counterconditioning and desensetizing and use differential reinforcement of incompatible behavior. Midnight dog walkers by Annie Phenix is a great starting point but if you'd like me to share more resources with you, just let me know. Also try decompression walks and enrichment, I have a good post about it that you can check out.
Hi ana19 - I’m sorry I completely missed your reply. Thank you so much for all of these recommendations! We’re still struggling with excess energy and reactivity so I’m looking forward to checking out the books you mentioned.
 

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Hi ana19 - I’m sorry I completely missed your reply. Thank you so much for all of these recommendations! We’re still struggling with excess energy and reactivity so I’m looking forward to checking out the books you mentioned.
Excess energy could just be him not knowing how to turn off. These resources were very helpful for teaching Aron an off switch. It could also be him not having enough mental stimulation. Try hiding his food around the house, puzzle toys, walks on a long line where you follow him around and he sniffs whatever and how long he wants (he will be dead after 30 min of this kind of walk) and other enrichment. Vizslas are a working dog breed but they also need to learn to do nothing. Windows of opportunity provide that. Also, maybe he's not getting enough sleep so cover his crate and let him sleep undisturbed. I totally feel you, we struggle with this too.
 

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