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Rosie is an anxious and excitable girl still at 11 months. She regularly barks the TV, at noises outside and when strangers come over, but I'm concerned that she also sometimes growls at adults (I think I mentioned in another thread, mainly with the one guy who has the grating, loud voice--and at us in a half-hearted way, only when we ask her to move when she is sleeping). And she has barked at children (but not growled at them). For example, the other day, she frightened some children because she went to the bottom of a tree that the children had climbed up and perched in, and barked up a storm. She has run toward children who enter a park where she can be let off leash, but not in an apparently aggressive way, more as if she wants to catch up with them and say hi, but this has frightened them. We want to address these behaviors, so that isn't the question, but I'm just wondering if this sounds abnormal for the breed. How concerned should we be?
 

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hi there Purdey is also 11 months old and over the last few months has developed this similar behaviour. we are getting better with visitors as we get her to sit/ stay/ wait until we give her the release command of "say hello" but only when she's calm, but outside very similar to yours.. sorry I've got no advice but wanted to let you know your not alone with this issue. I will also be keeping an eye on the good advice given to you.
BB
 

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Hi guys,

Like BB I don't have solutions just sympathy as Merc does not like children dropping out of trees either (and its surprising how often this happens).

I think my problem with him, that i've written about previously, was initially fear-based aggressive behaviour. We've done quite a bit of desensitisation (with a trainer) and he is a lot better now although at times he will bark madly at apparently random people (but it also has a lot to do with me - he doesn't tend to do it when my husband has the leash).

However I think i also see similar behaviour to Rosie where he will run up to people not aggressively but with the intention of investigation. Unfortunately a lot of people are horrified (even in an off-leash area) when a dog of that size approaches them and I find that if they react badly to him he will start to bark and carry on. However if they smile and say hello he just wants to sniff their ankles and get a pat.

Like Purdey, Merc is great at home - no dramas with anyone who comes to our door but out in public I don't completely trust him. :(

He is my first V so I can't comment on the breed in general, I thought they were supposed to be very people-orientated. I feel as though merc's "issue" has a lot to do with his early days rather than being an inherent trait.
 

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Thanks guys. BB, Rosie isn't too reliable w/ her stays yet (because I haven't done my job w/ the training), and we unfortunately don't have people over all that often, so she's had limited opportunities to get habituated to this, but I'm working on the training. I once did get her to hold a sit when someone she knew came over. Merc, I think with Rosie the behavior is very fear based as well, and I also have noticed that she gets more excited, barking a lot with people who react fearfully to her initial approach (what an irony). In addition to her size (which isn't that big for a vizsla), I also think people are startled by how fast she runs up to them. A typical scenario is we'll pass somebody, she seems to ignore them, then whips around and goes running up to them lightning quick we have time to catch her. She initially took it in stride when people came to the door, but then she got to a certain age and started to bark a lot, at everything! I think we can use a trainer to whip me into shape and force me to work on her behavior more consistently.
 

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Hi sarahaf, didn't say in my reply that Purdeys is also fear based (the worrying thing is out of fear comes aggression) our trainer is also a behaviourist and has prescribed zylkene a herbal tablet that doesn't take the fear away but brings it to a level that she can cope with and I can work through it with her. I don't know bout Rosie but when Purdey goes into that mode nothing can snap her out of it-I could put a steak under her nose but the eyes are glazed and into fear mode...She's only been on zylkene bout three weeks so will let you know how she goes. Is this typical vizzie behavior and will they grow out of it do you think as I have been told they get paranoid easily
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Sarahaf

Rosie is still young and putting together the pictures in her mind that are "normal".
The saying goes; "Vizslas make good doorbells". They are a vocal dog, and like to greet folks head on. The behavior in the park towards the children is perfectly normal.

Barking at the kids in the tree is also normal. Mine go banannas when I get up on the roof, or into the loft in the garage.

It took mine a little while to stop barking at every noise under the sun too. I don't own a TV, but I will watch a movie on the computer. It took them a week or so to not get worried about Movie noises and voices. They used to run around the house barking, thinking that someone was in another room. ( Play the opening to "Been Caught Stealing" by Jane's Addiction and watch her go nuts. ;D) They settled down.

If she's just barking, I wouldn't be to worried. The behaviors to watch for would be;
Hackles raised, which could be normal, but still watch for it.
Tail not wagging during barking.
If she's running straight toward a person, barking, and her head isn't low. It's probably just a greeting. In the "Aggressive Mode", and yes they have one, the head will go lower to the ground, the tail will tuck and they will run a "hook" pattern and try to blindside from an angle. They'll play to their strength, which would be to "hamstring".
Don't let the last paragraph scare you. It's based on observations of my dogs with other dogs. It would be extrodinary to hear of Vizsla doing this to a human. In all the time I've spent with them, I've never seen, or actually heard first hand, of a Vizsla actually attacking a human, or biting one with purpose.

Rosie sounds perfectly normal. If she were running at me, I'd kneel down and call her to me. Which may not be a help to you. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
BB, I agree with you, a fearful animal can be aggressive, which is why I was worried about prevention even though most of this comes out of fear. Gunnr, thanks as always for sharing your wisdom and experience. I'm not really freaked out by what you're describing about aggression, but I do wonder about it. I'm not sure what the hackles raised looks like. I would say that describes her behavior toward the TV rather than anything I've seen with real life stimuli. She really acts like she is going to kill the TV, butt in the air and a really ferocious bark. I have to pause it a lot until she calms down so that she doesn't run up to it and try to jump it. This is provoked by clips that involve people doing aerobics, sports, dancing, or running, or by dogs barking in the soundtrack; at other times, I truly can't identify what set it off. We watch TV nightly so you'd think she'd be habituated by now, but no such luck:)

And again, she has growled at people who came to the house, actually in two cases that I know of. One is the guy I mentioned who has the really loud, grating voice (I don't like much when he visits either); he also does not like dogs and so was not willing to try to offer her a treat. In the other case, a poor, fearful man who came the door was waiting outside the screen door because he didn't like dogs, and she must have sensed this; from behind the screen door, she not only growled but I think "air snapped" (my back was turned to her at that moment, so I didn't see this, but I think I heard the jaws snap shut). Again, this was someone who had rung the doorbell and she probably felt territorial and nervous as well as unnerved by his body language and his failure to come in and visit as most people do. More commonly, her reaction to people she doesn't know well (especially males) who come over is nervous but submissive, tail low but wagging, peeing and crouching, warming up to them gradually.

We'll keep an eye out for what you describe. It does make me feel really bad that she frightens children. One time a passerby saw Rosie whip around and start to run after a little girl. She was on the leash so we caught her her before she caught up, but a passerby in a vehicle slowed down and gave us the evil eye, like, "you bad dog owners."

Sarah
 
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