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My stubborn and sometimes neurotic Vizsla girl

13592 Views 17 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  gunnr
I'll start by telling you that i'm a fairly new Vizsla owner who picked out a puppy when she was 8 weeks old. She's now just a few days shy of a year old and she has a bunch of problems. I don't know if any of your Vizsla's have attitude as in catch me if you can, and i won't listen to you because you can't get me "attitude". Well this is my female Vizsla Bella. I took her to obedience training at 6 months old and she did well. She is smart and is fairly well behaved around the house, but if we get her outside she will not listen. She won't come when she's called, she'll take off and run away from you and others. She gets this look in her eyes that's she's almost crazy and just sprints around. For instance we took her to the dog park and let her off her leash. She ran around at full speed taunting other dogs and their owners. I couldn't get her to come to me. She kept running, sprinting around people. She ran into peoples legs, took their dog's play balls. To sum up this story nobody liked my dog. Another time we were camping at a lake and she took off and chased a pug around the beach. Once again, crazy look in her eye's, bull speed ahead, running into kids and knocking them down, running through peoples beach area etc. A total embarrassment and a hazard. So now we are forced to tie the dog up at all times when we are out. I could use some help from others that have a dog like mine. Is there any way to get her to listen and not go crazy when she's outside off the leash. sorry for the rant. I love my dog, but man can she ever get on our nerves. It's been one of those days with her.
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First off, There is nothing wrong with your dog. She's a year old high energy dog that mostly needs some serious exercise to blow off steam, and sounds like she's a hoot.
The taunting of other dogs was just her way of trying to get them to play, and to establish dominance (This is not a bad thing and is normal). The stealing of other dogs toys is sometimes called "resource guarding" and some females are more apt to do it based on genetics. She also sounds like she inherited some female dominance genes (Again not bad, it's a normal thing. Dominant is not a bad word ) I'm going to assume that her only chance to play with other dogs is at the dog park. If this is correct she is on sensory overload from the other dogs. I'm also going to tell you, that in my experience, Vizsla's "play" at a level that few breeds are capable of. They play hard, really hard. When I let my "monster girls" out, there are bodies flying and tumbling, they knock the snot out of each other.

There is a phrase coined "extending the leash",and this is where you're at. She knows that you cannot enforce the command, so she doesn't listen. To correct this behavior leash work needs to be re-established. Put her back on a 6' lead and work her at the heel until she is heeling at your left knee on a slack lead and moves in all directions with you, especially the left turn. She needs to focus all of her attention on your left knee, and where it goes she better be going too. You have a forward, dominant, independent dog,and you need to convince her that your ideas are better than her ideas.
Put her on a 9'-12' leash and keep a loop in your off hand. when she begins to pull on the leash, or move in a direction you aren't, drop the loop and immediately change direction, 90-180 degrees. Don't pull or yank on the leash. Drop the loop , change direction and keep walking at an even pace. She will be momentarily off balance from the release of the pressure when you drop the loop, and will have to move in the new direction to regain her balance. Keep a loop in your hand and change direction every time she exerts pressure on the leash. When she yields and changes direction walk backward encouraging her. Give her the come command and kneel and praise her. There has to be reward.
Work in the "come" and "stay" command on a 30'-50' check cord. When you give her the "come" command, she needs to start coming immediately, if not you reel her in all the way to you. Don't pull her off her feet, just a nice even reeling in. Once she starts to come on her own stop the reeling and let her come to you. If she dithers on the way in, give the command again and start the reeling in process again.
When she is 100% on the leash and check cord, and I really do mean 100%, and not just "okay", or "mostly", take her to a closed area where you have control, and go through the commands. If she blows you off, it's back on the leash. She'll eventually learn that you can "extend the leash" and "enforce the command".
When you take her to the park keep her on a check cord. It's a lot easier to get ahold of a 50' check cord, than a running Vizsla. Believe me when I say I have been there countless times in the woods with every Vizsla I have owned.
Working against you is maturity. She's only a year old, no longer a puppy dependent on you, but not yet an adult either. She's not ready for this much independence just yet without control.
Every time you give her a command you must be in a position to enforce it. In the house, on the leash, outside. etc. Don't give her a command you can't enforce, it will only perpetuate the bad behavior. Make sure every command is carried out to completion. For instance' If she is doing something bad and you give her the command "NO" and "Come Here". Both have to obeyed completely,with no middle ground. Additionally all of your family members have to enforce this with her at all times.

I have one just like her named Gunnr, after one of the Valkyrie, meaning "straight to battle". She also is only a year old. Gunnr will require a "firm hand" for a few years, and periodically through her life. A "Firm hand" does not mean to get rough with Gunnr up or beat her or get physical with her. It just means she'll not be allowed the same amount of slack a more biddable Vizsla could be given. My other girl, Teka, also requires a steady, consistent hand. She can be given a little more slack because I can get her mind back into the game and back on track from a distance when she gets squirrely. Gunnr is much tougher to reestablish the mental connection with when she gets squirrely. I have to keep her focused on me at all times or she'll get her own ideas.

I've trained some really steady, finished gun dogs. All of them from time to time have needed "tune ups" well into their careers with basic leash work. It's not a failure on the owners part, or lack of training. It's just the way it is. All dogs benefit from leash work.

In the end she may be on an E-collar, if that is the only way to "extend the leash".
I really think though that most of the issues will clear up with some serious exercise and training. Give her a job, she's looking for one. ;)
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What kind of jobs you can give a vizsla ?
Tali said:
What kind of jobs you can give a vizsla ?
The term "give her a job" means to begin to train her with some form of goal in mind and a purpose on a regular repetetive basis. Maybe an agility test, obedience test, hunt test, etc... Maybe even get a copy of the NAVHDA Green Book and start working her. It's the same term used when a horse is finally put into training for a specific discipline like Dressage for example.
Apologies for the confusion. I think complete thoughts, but sometimes my writing doesn't get them to paper. It also doesn't help that I can't type worth beans. :-[
Gunnr, thanks so much for the great advice and guidance. I'll start Bella right away on the leash training. I walk her quite frequently and she never heals. I'm always pulling her back telling her the heal command. She always wants to be just ahead of your knee, or first, because that's the way she acts all the time. We love this dog, but we know we have a lot of work to do. I'm taking her out grouse hunting this fall and i'll see what kind of a gong show it will be. She's not afraid of gunshots at all, but i'm afraid she'll scare off all the birds. We'll see i guess. Thanks again for the great write up. It made me feel a whole lot better about my dog.
Hey Gunnr,

Thank you for your explanation, I am glad that I asked since I came across this term a few times and it made me wonder.

After I read your explanation I stopped writing a vizsla resume...... ;)
rosscopeeko said:
Gunnr, thanks so much for the great advice and guidance. I'll start Bella right away on the leash training. I walk her quite frequently and she never heals. I'm always pulling her back telling her the heal command. She always wants to be just ahead of your knee, or first, because that's the way she acts all the time. We love this dog, but we know we have a lot of work to do. I'm taking her out grouse hunting this fall and i'll see what kind of a gong show it will be. She's not afraid of gunshots at all, but i'm afraid she'll scare off all the birds. We'll see i guess. Thanks again for the great write up. It made me feel a whole lot better about my dog.
You should feel good about your dog. She sounds like she'll one day be a great hunting dog. Do you know how deeply the field trial stock is in her pedigree? Over the past few decades the trend has been for a bigger running, more independent Vizsla that could compete with the GSP's, English Pointers and Setters in field trial competitions. If she comes from proven trial/hunt lines that could explain some of her forwardness and independence.
The walking at heel takes time and persistence on the owner/trainers part. Vizsla's are really smart and will pick up your routines and intentions, so........ you gotta fake 'em out,and keep them on their toes. Whenever she pulls on the leash, drop the loop and change direction. Do it again and again and again. If she starts to pull in anticipation of going in the door for example, reverse direction on her and take her away from the door. Each time she determines the direction, you change it on her.
Each time you change direction give her a short whistle cue. I use two quick whistles when I change direction. It means to the dog, Pay Attention to me! It's not the "Come here" whistle, it's one where I want there attention on me. When you change direction in the woods grouse hunting, this is the same signal you will want to give her to move in the same direction as you are, even though you may be a couple hundred feet apart. All of my Vizsla's have been very communicative. I communicate with them constantly during training and hunting, either by voice, whistle, clap, or slap on the thigh.

The heel can be tough. I like to use a longer lead. I keep a section of the lead in my left hand ,a nd have the remainder sort of loosely looped in my right hand. There is enough lead in my right hand though to twirl the excess lead in front of my dogs nose. If they start to move forward they get a little"bip" under the jaw. Nothing harsh just the weight of the lead.
When you do the heel to the left, expect that she won't pay attention. You are going to purposely run into her with your knee, once again no rough stuff like purposely kneeing her. You are just going to "walk through her" and keep going. It's very planned. Work her in a "square" to the left a few times and then the right. Eventually you put everything to together in a random sequence.
At some point she will just sit down, or refuse to move. She is confused now,and doesn't know what to do. When this happens take a Big Step back on her in the training. Talk to her, soothe her, and then gently move her off in a straight line at the heel. She's done for this session. finish on a positive.

Is there any way to get her on lots of quail before hunting season? or even pigeons in a park? The birds will teach her to hold a lot quicker. She's going to bust birds, of that there is no doubt, but she can bust the quail in training, and she will eventually learn it is fruitless and not productive. Then instinct will kick in and she'll learn to hunt them down. Then you can more easily move into the staunching portion of training. Grouse don't hold tight after hunting season starts. They'll move well ahead of her, so I wouldn't blame her for scaring them. I remember once a grouse exploded under one of my dogs. I'm not sure whom was more surprised, the dog,the bird , or me. After that though he really wanted little to do with pheasants any longer. He'd hunt them, but you could tell he was looking for something else. I guess he liked grouse too.
Her first hunting season is just a learning experience. Go at it with no expectations other than being able to hunt her under control, any birds will be a bonus. I think she'll surprise you. A confident, forward moving dog is a big plus hunting. Meet her half way.

I do have one question though. What is a "Dog Park"? Is this a special area set aside for dogs only in a city or something like that? I honestly don't think I've ever seen one.
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Dog parks are typically fenced in acreage for dogs that live in cities. It's a place where dogs can be let off their leash so that they can play and socialize with other dogs and people. Some of them have ponds or lakes and agility equipment. Others are just wide open spaces (again fenced in) with several balls and frisbees and perhaps a kiddie pool for the dogs to cool off in. When you don't live in the country or near the woods, dog parks are a great place to let your dogs roam. How ever you always need to watch your dog, because sometimes there are dogs who have dominance issues and they seem to pick on the smaller dogs. Thank goodness for the v's speed
Gunner you give great advice . My guy is 17 months now and really it seems things are starting to come together now, I see abig difference since even the end of June. The maturity factor is huge - Rossco, keep working and it will get better. Your "rant"sounds just like me tilrecently. The recall is there, finally, I really think that tuning up,as Gunnr says,is required frequently. I empathize, it is so frustrating . But Blaze is starting to "get it". And the exercise remains crucial. I was what I thought, prepared. I am extremely active myself but even so i could not have imagined how much of a priority the exercise is for these dogs. I don't hunt but i take him "in the field".Comes from strong field trail lines so I get him out in his element to do his thing as often as I can. Even now, since we were travelling today and he only had 30 minutes off leash he is after my son's baseball mitt ... so off I go to take him for a little evening jog so he can settle in for the night. Thank God he is so loveable. So much work! But true to the V way, he gives back with lots of love too and , finaly RESPECT for his mistress!!!! All the best Rossco...
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Thanks for the explanation. The Dog Park sounds like a nice concept,but I personally have always worried about the other dogs with mine. I've seen mine pin some pretty good sized dogs in place by coursing them. Their owners weren't at all pleased. :eek:
My "Beastie Boyz" once worked a horse, complete with rider attached, in a state park. They were just starting to flank it when I got to them. That was really embarassing, especially being a horse owner myself. :-[ Definitely not a Sports Afield moment. I also had to explain to the riders that deer season was going on, as was upland birds, and that they maybe would want to try a different area for about 6 weeks.


Lots of folks seriously under estimate just how much athleticism is packed into a Vizsla. They're little "pocket rockets". Given time to get in the proper condition they can run for hours, stopping only for water. Mine have always needed to blow off energy before I can really start any effective work. I find them to be more mentally acute, the better physical shape they're in personally.
I'm working my new girls up to be able to stay with me on a mountain bike. They have a lot of energy, but aren't in really good enough condition right now to blow it off. I can start to outrun them on foot after a 1/2 hour or so. That will change here soon. I can't wait to really be able to cut 'em loose. It's going to be cool. 8) I've got to get Gunnr recovered from her spay surgery, and then we can hit it. Teka's ready to hit it now, so we'll be in the forest tomorrow. :)
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"Pocket rockets" I love that term!. My Blaze is in excellent shape and it seems impossible to tire him out but he does pretty well on an hour of free run, plus a later in the day leash walk per day. I just love to watch him run. It may sound silly but when I'm out in a field with him, just us two and he's is stalking, pointing and then running/jumping like heck through the high grass, it is just breathtaking to me. But these dogs are not for sedentary types of owners. They should come with a warning label! :)

I've always enjoyed watching pointers work,and Vizsla's are especially cool. It's great when you finally have enough confidence in them to "let 'em off the chain" and watch 'em work.

My SIL used to call my V's "binger dogs", my niece however loved 'em. I used to put her feet on my shoes and hold her by the shoulders and we'd go running with dogs. The more she squealed, the more excited they got, they'd be dancing all around us as we ran. She was a great Vizsla toy. ;D
Gunnr, once again a big thanks for all the help in your explanations. My girl Bella just turned one, and grouse season is around the corner. I'm going to invest in a 10ft lead to re-start her heal training, and i'll see if i can get her out where i can find some wild birds to see what she'll do before we actually go out hunting.

In regards to her pedigree, i have no idea what her parents were. THe male was imported from Hungary, and the female was a local British Columbian dog. Bella is registered, but i have no idea of tracing her history back. We are just grateful that she is a loving dog who is friendly to all. I'll work on all that you recommended. Take care.
If you can get her on some wild birds that's great. She's going to go bonkers for a little while, they all do!
She's going to be running like a nutbag, panting like a steam train, have dirt and leaves in her nose and mouth, she probably won't listen, and she's going to be one happy girl. Let her go a little crazy at first to build in the desire.
Hi Gunnr,
By check cord do you mean retractable lead? And could you clarify what you mean by "drop the loop" . When walking mine, I have him to my left with my left hand holding the leash,with the extra leash gathered in my right hand. I give him a tug if he gets a bit forward of me and slacken immediately while saying, "Blaze Heel" . But I'm not sure what you mean by drop the loop. I still find that if Blaze has not had an off leash run earlier - that is, if a leash walk is he first exercise of the day, I am correcting the heel for the first 10 -15 minutes for sure.
Thanks in advance :)

A check cord is simply a long length of line 30-50 feet long, even a 100 feet can be used effectively. It could be a length of rope, a length of flat 1" weave, even a package of clothesline from a WalMart will work. It's just a mechanism of allowing the dog to get further form you, yet still be under your control. I don't see why a retractable reel couldn't be used as long as it's long enough. The check cord is the bridge to extending the leash. It re-enforces to the dog that even at a distance you can still control it.
The other nice thing about a check cord is that in a wide open field, or the woods you can drop the check cord and allow your dog to go nuts for a bit and then work on obedience. The dog has been conditioned to the fact that the cord is attached to him and he doesn't know how long it is, ergo he gets the choice to obey, or not obey. If he chooses not to obey, it's easier to get ahold of the check cord than him, and make him obey. In the woods if he decides to take off on you, it's a pretty sure bet that the check cord will get tangled up and slow him down, if not stop him completely. Then you get ahold of the cord, and re-establish control.
Warning though; A check cord is going to get tangled up in their legs. If the cord is too small in diameter, or is nylon webbing with a thin edge, it can cause some pretty nasty chafing on the inside of their thighs, and the underarm area of the front legs. I use a 1/2" soft cotton rope, and have also attached a horse lead line to a smaller rope . The lead line being attached to the dogs collar so the soft thick rope is what is making contact with the dog. A lead lead line for a horse is usually pretty thick, 1" diameter plus, and very soft so that the horse handler doesn't get rope burns if the horse suddenly pulls the rope through your hands.( Anyone with trailer loading experience can tell you just how fast this can happen. :()

"Dropping the loop".
When a dog is correctly walking at heel, he should be on the left (unless the owner is a left handed shot gunner, in which case the dog would heel to the right.) His shoulder/neck area should be even with the handlers knee, and the dog should be maintaining visual contact with the handlers left leg. If the dog is on a leash there should be a slack loop from his collar to about the middle of his front leg.

When training to walk at heel on a leash the dog invariably is looking at everything except the handler. In other words not paying attention.
When you have Blaze on the leash and at the heel your left hand shouldn't have to be in contact with the leash, but you're not there yet, and neither am I with my two new girls. :p, so maintain contact with the leash with your left hand. Use you left hand to "buzz" the leash, in other words, twitch his collar with the left hand, (repetetive small jerks, but not yanking to bring him back physically) to keep him focused on you when necessary. In the right hand should be a" loop" of excess lead, maybe three feet. The next time Blaze is at the heel and moves forward, "Buzz" the collar with the left hand once, and command heel, and then immediately drop the excess loop, and step 90 degrees to the right sharply. The dropped loop will release the pressure of the leash that Blaze has been pulling against and put him momentarily off balance. The length of the dropped loop will be enough to allow you to get a nice full stride and have your momentum moving. Blaze will be "jerked" and have no choice but to follow. Bring him back to heel and repeat. Eventually he'll get tired of having his neck jerked because he isn't paying attention, and start to pay attention to you.
Every time Blaze moves forward, you change direction on him by dropping that loop . Every time he pulls toward an objective of his choosing, you drop the loop and do a 180.
Walking at heel is taught, and needs to be practiced. It only takes a small area to do it too. When teaching the heel every other step should be sounded with a "heel up" command as you are walking. Constant communication. You're going to sound like a USMC Drill Sargeant sounding cadence to recruits in boot camp. "Heel up".... "Heel Up"...... "Heel Up".
It's funny, that I always read how easy it is to teach a dog to heel, and that it should be one of the last thing taught, but that certainly hasn't been my experience. I teach heel for two reasons. To keep control both on and off the leash, and to be able to heel my dog up in the woods, so that they don't end up on the wrong end of a shotgun should something accidently happen.
I know that this is a lot more than you enquired about. I just tried to answer in the most complete way for anyone else that might be interested in a method to try.
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Thank you very much. Excellent instructions on teaching the "heel". I'm going to print it off. :) Carolyn

Oops!! In re-reading what I posted I neglected to clarify an important point.
I do not use a choke collar of any type, and never have used one. I have always used a flat 1" leather safety collar, or a roading harness.
If a person were to be using a choke collar of any type they would have to be sensitive to the effect of dropping the loop and stepping off, and the subsequent pressure applied to a dogs neck, and ensure they were stepping in the right direction for the release function of the choke chain to work properly.
I was working the girls at heel today in the forest when I realized my omission. Gunnr started to get the hang of it after a few minutes, maybe 10-15 . She's still recovering the spay surgery, and is only a year old, so it was baby steps for her. Teka has it down on the leash now, which is a real plus because she used to pull like a Southern Pacific diesel. My elbow and shoulders still hurt.;)

Sorry. :-[
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