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Our Penny is almost six months old and we are having problems when we take her walking off-lead. I'm wondering if this is normal Vizsla behavior. What she does is she runs ahead of us and then sits down staring straight at us as we approach her, then when we are about 6 feet away from her, she comes running and bites our shoes, clothes, sometimes hands. it's terrible and it scares my daughter so much! I need advice please. I don't have any trainers in my area that I can ask for help.
 

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We don't walk Riley offleash because we live in a very busy area, but he tries that at home sometimes. He stalks us and then pounces. I swear one of his favorite games is rushing up the stairs well ahead of us, turning around at the top and stalking back down the stairs and rushing us. We just keep correcting. I'd like to know a better way to stop that too!
 

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Have you tried bringing a toy with you to direct the biting? It sounds like she is just bored and wants something to mouth and carry around. Our girl loves just chewing on and chasing sticks. I think if you had something for her to grab when she came back to you it would eliminate the problem. Riley has recently started *gently* grabbing our sleeves on walks. As soon as I pick up a stick, she forgets my sleeves! ;D
 

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These are the things that I've tried to stop the behavior: I take her head and pinned her down to the ground, but I can't keep her still and she gets more aggressive, biting harder. I also tried carrying sticks and throwing them when I see that she's stalking us, but as soon as she fetches them she comes back to bite us. I also spanked her on the bottom with the leash and that makes her crazy too and she tries to snatch the leash from me. She attacks my daughter if she's not right next to me, so I always hold her hand now. If we're holding hands, she just picks one of us and goes after anything she can bite. She does not do this the whole time we walk, she does it half way through the walk and then on the way back one more time. It's so frustrating. I can't imagine what we'll do when she gets stronger.
 

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mariposa said:
I take her head and pinned her down to the ground, but I can't keep her still and she gets more aggressive, biting harder. I also spanked her on the bottom with the leash and that makes her crazy too and she tries to snatch the leash from me. She attacks my daughter if she's not right next to me, so I always hold her hand now.
Pinning her to the ground and smacking her with the leash is just going to make the problem worse.

Do you have problems with walking on-leash as well? Do you bring treats with you to reward good behavior? We taught Riley that when we call her to us if she sits nicely in front of us she gets a treat.

Also, do you have any other dog owners that can meet up with you for a play date? It really sounds like she is just bored to me.
 

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;D That's all typical Vizsla play behavior. Increase the amount of interaction with other dogs and significantly increase the level of exercise. The behavior is not acceptable towards humans but the dog doesn't know that. They will outgrow this and for now she/they should be kept on the leash until the behavior is more acceptable.
 

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mariposa said:
These are the things that I've tried to stop the behavior: I take her head and pinned her down to the ground, but I can't keep her still and she gets more aggressive, biting harder. I also tried carrying sticks and throwing them when I see that she's stalking us, but as soon as she fetches them she comes back to bite us. I also spanked her on the bottom with the leash and that makes her crazy too and she tries to snatch the leash from me. She attacks my daughter if she's not right next to me, so I always hold her hand now. If we're holding hands, she just picks one of us and goes after anything she can bite. She does not do this the whole time we walk, she does it half way through the walk and then on the way back one more time. It's so frustrating. I can't imagine what we'll do when she gets stronger.
I just read the above post. I honestly think you need to learn allot about training dogs. Spanking and holding her down is NOT going to help you or the dog. That type of interaction with the dog will just lead to aggression. Please spend some time reading the behavior posts on this site and books on dog training to include leave it and heel training. Above all - YOUR DOG IS NOT GETTING ENOUGH EXCERSICE! A Vizsla pup needs 1-2 hours of exercise EVERY day.
 

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V's were bred 2 hunt-their strong point is their closeness 2 their owner-your V is showing the best of the breed-stops and marks where U are-then leads on-never try 2 break this instinct-1000yrs of breeding and it's why U get one-pinning a V 2 the ground and all they think is UR playing with him-a soft voice and rewards(4 V's its love)and U have the pup U want-start working on WHOA-get that right & no matter where the V is U can approach n put back on lead
 

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Hi Mariposa-

First - take a deep breath. Your frustration will feed the problem.

I'm not an expert, but Savannah used to do this to me when we were walking on-leash (as opposed to off). I cycled through a few alternatives - one would work during one walk, another on a different day. She eventually outgrew the behavior.

You might try alternating walking off-lead and on-lead during a walk so Penny has some game time and some work time. If your schedule allows, you might also take shorter walks more often. If Penny is getting over-stimulated, the shorter walks should interrupt the problem before it escalates. Regardless, as you know, she needs the walking time every day.

I used a toy - usually a small ball that could fit in my pocket - sometimes like Threefsh recommended. The stick you are using is working once, but try to find a toy that she will fetch multiple times. Throw the ball when she sits and looks back at you. You're trying to time the toy as a distraction before she comes back at you. The timing will take some practice on your part. Zukes makes some small treats that worked sometimes as a distraction, too. Again, as Threefsh recommended, command a sit, then treat. Always treat and toy only for success - never as a reward for bad behavior.

Believe it or not, what worked most consistently (but not all the time) for me, was sitting or squatting down, talking to her softly and either letting her sit in my lap or sit pressed tightly to my side for a few minutes. When she was calm, we would continue the walk. Think about how you calmed your kids when they were really young and overly excited. I don't know how appropriate this technique would be for your daughter, but you might try it to see if it works for you. My neighbor, who has a golden retriever, said she used to have to stop walks and reconnect with her dog during adolescence, too.

One last thought, it sounds like all the negative corrections are being perceived as part of the game. If so, those corrections are going to reinforce the problem.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thank you so much for the kind advice. I wanted to expand a little bit on our exercise routine: Penny goes walking on-lead for 30 minutes every morning from 6:30 till 7am, then she walks for another 30 minutes at lunch time, followed by play time inside the house and then we leave her outside in the yard for the rest of the afternoon (we live in South and winter here are not bad, most day the max is in the mid 50's, plus she has a very nice dog house, etc). When I come home is when I take her walking again on the longer off lead walk for about 45 minutes, followed by more play time inside the house. I've read that when they're this young you don't want to exercise them too much to prevent damage to their joints.
I have tried many of the usual recommendations given in this forum for mouthing/biting, such as yelping when she bites, the sweet talking and looking into her eyes, spraying with water, believe me I tried! This does not work with this dog in this situation. She does not do this when she's on the leash. But she loves to run and explore so much and we have such a great place to take her that I don't want to give up so easily and just put her on the leash when I could try other techniques.

Today I tried taking a toy and doing the fetch thing when she came running to attack us, and it worked to some extent, but when she brought the toy back she began attacking again. We fetched a lot today! Finally I put her on the leash again and she calmed down. I think I'll just have to put her on the leash when she gets bad and see if she gets the message.

Other than this, Penny is turning to be a great dog and we've enjoyed her a lot. We lost several pounds from all the walking too :), which is a great health benefit to us! She's very loving at night when she settles down, usually around 8pm. She's starting to be nicer during the day inside the house.
 

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Mariposa,

Some questions. Have you mastered the art of the walk? When off-leash are you training?

Does your dog "have a purpose?" What is it?

Where in your "pack" order does Penny stand? Is she comfortable there?

From these responses I might have some suggestions.

RBD
 

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Redbirddog,

In response to your questions: I'm not sure I know what the art of the walk consists of. Can you explain what that means please? Maybe that's why we're having problems, because I have not mastered that. When we go walking off lead, the main purpose of that is to burn off the energy from her afternoon rest. I don't do any specific training, but I tell her "good girl" when she comes running to us and doesn't attack and lets us pet her, which she does sometimes. Also, she's starting to point and when she does, she looks back at us and I wisper "good girl" or "good pointing". I tried the sit, stay, but she does not do it when she out there in the field. Other than this, no other training. She does not come when we call her and does not stay when told, big problem when other people come by because she runs to them to play. She does stay to let me put on the leash when we're done walking, I don't know how she learned that, but she bites my hands a lot in the process of me putting on the leash. Now, we have been doing sit, stay, at home and she does ok, but when we're out there, no luck.

I want to think she stands lowest in the pack order, but I'm not sure how much she respects my six year old daughter. I've read a lot before we got her on how to establish her under my daughter on the pack order, and have done a lot to make sure she respects her, like letting our daughter do some training with her, giving her food and treats, etc. I wonder sometimes if Penny sees our daughter as lower than her in the pack order. Penny sleeps in her crate at night and the crate is not in our bedroom.

I have not taken treats out there yet, should I?

I'm so confused about what to do and not to do, sometimes there are conflicting opinions out there about so many issues, you know what I mean? Like the holding down her head when she bites, I've read that's what you do to establish her order in the pack, but other people say not to do that....

Thank you for your time and help!
 

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At home, she also does: Sit, bow, lay, beg, shake, high five, go-around, stay. Al of these commands she does when we have treats. No treat, no result. We have not been able to master the "drop" or let go. I wish we had, so she would let go of our hands/feet... Any suggestions on how to teach that?
 

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Here is my take on it.

1. Your dog is not getting enough exercise.
2. Perhaps enlist some professional assistance, as from your posts you appear (This may not be accurate I am judging by your words) very inexperienced and a V is not a dog for the inexperienced unless you luck it with an easy one.(Rare)
3.The dog has control of you if it will not stop a behaviour when you correct it.
4.Don't hit a Vizsla unless you want to ruin it.
5.Your head pinning is not helping, just encouraging what it thinks is play.

I would go back to square one with training. Keep the walks on lead for a bit and make your dog heel. Then slowly start giving it off lead privileges as it earns them. You need to work on recall and definately work on NO or whatever word you use to correct. The dog obviously doesn't realise who runs the pack. If the dog repeats the behaviour you listed in the OP, then put it back on a lead and start walking to a heel. Once settled try again.

Once again, please do not hit your V with anything. They are not dogs who respond well to this.
 

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Good questions, RBD.
Mariposa, As others have said, I would strongly urge you to give up on the pinning & hitting. At best, your pup will become more excited, but you are more likely to produce a fearful &/or aggressive dog that does not respect you or trust you. Vs are a soft breed. I think its great you are asking for help and willing to try new things. Spend some time each day training your pup with POSITIVE reinforcement. Be consistent. Your pup needs to understand what your asking from her. She needs a solid foundation to do that, make connections, and have a purpose as RBD said. Walking is important, but 30m on a leash couldnt scratch an itch for our Pumpkin. We have a very large fenced yard, but Vs will not exercise or entertain themselves wisely left alone in a yard. Vs thrive around people. I understand work, school etc., but do not expect a yard to substitute for anything! Your pup is communicating with you, and it sounds like shes got some energy to burn. Good luck! I know some of the experienced folks here will continue to offer good suggestions. Best wishes. P.S. Try not to yell at your V ( not saying you do) when giving a correction. Be calmn and patient. Repetition
 

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http://redbirddog.blogspot.com/2011/06/nothing-in-life-is-free-training-method.html

http://redbirddog.blogspot.com/2009/06/importance-of-mastering-art-of-walk.html

Mariposa. More leash time and less off leash time. If I had a six year old, my goal would be that the dog would walk at heel behind my daughter's left knee during walks. I wouldn't stop training this until my dog would do it, no mater how long it took.

Free advice is most of the time worth what it cost to give it. Nothing.

Penny is your dog. It is up to you to set the goal of what kind of dog you will have. You got a Vizsla. You got a high-energy hunting dog. It can be trained to be a great dog that has good manners, or an out of control anxious confused animal. it really has to do with you and your family.

At 6 months old you are in the perfect point to create the red haired family friend you wanted.

Lots of stuff on my blog that has helped me understand these great dogs. Hope there might be something there to help you.

As much as you want your 6 year old daughter to succeed in life, you want your dog to be special too.

Happy trails,
RBD
 

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Very interesting info in your blog redbirddog, we are so far away from that! We have a lot to overcome. If you saw us on that field, you would understand... We will implement your advice. I have figured out that pinning her down and spanking with leash does not work already, that's why I came for help in the first place. So to those out there thinking that I'm still doing that, don't worry, Penny showed me on her own that DOES NOT work....

We'll do more leash time as you said. What do I do about the treats? How do I teach her to do all those things, like sit before getting in the car, before putting on leash, etc if she won't do it when I don't have treats? Do you think using treats is a good thing?
 

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YOU HAVE THE POWER

As the human and as his owner you have control of all things that are wonderful in his life. This is the backbone of the NILIF program. You control all of the resources. Playing, attention, food, walks, going in and out of the door, going for a ride in the car, going to the dog park. Anything and everything that your dog wants comes from you. If he's been getting most of these things for free there is no real reason for him to respect your leadership or your ownership of these things. Again, a timid dog is going to be stressed by this situation, a pushy dog is going to be difficult to handle. Both of them would prefer to have you in charge.

To implement the NILIF program you simply have to have your dog earn his use of your resources. He's hungry? No problem, he simply has to sit before his bowl is put down. He wants to play fetch? Great! He has to "down" before you throw the ball. Want to go for a walk or a ride? He has to sit to get his lead snapped on and has to sit while the front door is opened. He has to sit and wait while the car door is opened and listen for the word (I use "OK") that means "get into the car". When you return he has to wait for the word that means "get out of the car" even if the door is wide open. Don't be too hard on him. He's already learned that he can make all of these decisions on his own. He has a strong history of being in control of when he gets these resources. Enforce the new rules, but keep in mind that he's only doing what he's been taught to do and he's going to need some time to get the hang of it all.



Treats should be used. A treat should be VERY SMALL but VERY TASTEY. It is just an acknowledgement that the dog is doing what you want. You have 1.5 seconds to treat when Penny does what you want. But nothing in life is free. Penny has to earn EVERYTHING.

Understanding the concept should really help your program.

RBD
 

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Great advice from RBD. We have used that approach every day with Riley and it has worked really well.

As for treats - our best training has been done with hot dogs! You can cut them into *tiny* little pieces and microwave them for a little while to make them super smelly. Riley goes nuts over hot dogs and I'm pretty sure would sell her soul for them if she could.
 

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Treats are good for starting training. With time, you will want to phase them out. As you have indicated, it's not desireable to have a dog that only responds to treats. We started Pumpkin with clicker training. Read on the web or get a book. You can get a cheap clicker from pet smart. I recommend the wider, royal blue one w/ orange button. The click is louder (forgot brand name). Use your clicker to click a desired behavior the instant it occurs & immediately treat. Timing is very important. As you progress, you will click desired behavior, but you will begin phasing out treats by treating intermittently. I have found that lots of loud, very effusive praise gets our V excited. Instead of pats of the head, not the fave, we give an upbeat but softer tone "good girl" or "yes!" with a stroke on the side. Praise you pup when she is doing something nice even if not commanded. You mentioned a DD. I have 3 kids 10 & under. One of the most important things, which is hard w/ kids, is everyone in the bunch needs to be on the same page re: Penny! Pick your command words and the whole family needs to use the same one every time. If you use the word "come" to call Penny, then your daughter or wife should not be using "here," "come on," etc. If you do not want Penny on furniture, then that means no one can let her on furniture. It also means avoid letting her on the furniture in some rooms but not others. No matter what rules you pick, they must be crystal clear, no exceptions, and enforced the same way every time by all family members (as best possible with kids anyway ::). Penny goes out the door last, waits for her food, and you decide when & what toys are played with. Practice "leave-it" with toys. You can choose to click a behavior that is moving in the right direction. If you say "Penny come," and she moves towards you without coming all the way to you, you can click any fwd movement. I recommend teaching "come" on a leash or check cord & gradually increase the distance. The same with "stay." A check cord is a good investment. Get your pup used to dragging a line (always with supervision) so you can correct a behavior. Start small. If you are playing in the yard or in the house, you ask Penny to come, she does not, you grab the leash or cord, and say "Penny come" while pulling her towards you. When you have pulled her in you offer solid praise. "Good girl or Good come." Leash is also good for discouraging jumping on visitors. Do not give commands you can not or do not intend to gently enforce. Repetition and patience will be required. Penny has had months to go willy-nilly in life, so it will take consistent time for her to learn the new rules. Training at her age should be taking place all the time, but be sure to devote 10+ minutes 3x per day to specifically practicing the commands you want her to know. IMO, stay, down, leave-it, and come are most important, but if sit is important to you, that is a good place to start. Do not increase difficulty or distractions with commands until you are clear your pup understands 10 ways to Sunday what you are asking. The command should be executed almost all of the time with treats being phased out. You can only expect your pup to become as reliable as you are to her as a leader. I prefer small treats that can easily be crumbled. Natural Choice makes good apple, blueberry, & carrot ones. Reasonably $, don't make clothes stink, & go a long way. I prefered to use high-value treats (hotdog in our case) for teaching new or more complex behaviors. If you decide to use a clicker, do NOT allow the kids to play with them. They should only be used for target behaviors. Buy several, keep in strategic places, & have one on person. Clicker should be inconspicuous to dog when used. Best wishes, exercise your girl smartly, & I'm glad you found this forum. There are lots of more knowledgeable folks than me on this forum who have great advice. BTW, I think training your dog like a hunter, whether you intend to or not, makes good sense. It offers a logical, methodical way to go about things while adding purpose. I personally found "How to Help Gun Dogs Train Themselves," by Joan Bailey helpful in puppyhood. Lots of others. Sorry for long post.
 
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