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Pepper is about 8 months old now and he is affectionate when we are at home, and he looks into our eyes a lot and follows us everywhere. He used to walk at heel relatively well when we were offering him treats, and he also used to check-in with us when he was off-leash very often.

The last 2-3 weeks though, he has lost all interest in us when we venture outside and never makes eye contact with us. A stick to play with, a leaf to chase, the breeze to sniff, basically anything is more interesting than we are. If we ask him to go to heel with a treat he generally goes, but does not look up at us at all and prefers to look around. He takes treats when we offer but never looks at us to indicate that he would like a treat. Everything else is more exciting for him. At least that's how I interpret it!

We have tried acting like clowns and running around but he seems to then become hyperactive and go from 10-100 and jump up and try to bite us (playfully), and then we need to calm him down again.

My wife and I are putting this down to adolescence and are going back to basics, like attention games and heavily praising/treating eye contact, treating more often when walking at heel etc.. But we wonder if this is something anyone here has experienced and if it really is adolescence/puberty that will eventually pass. Any advice/experience/reassurance will be appreciated!!!
 

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It's actually completely normal. I would venture a guess that Pepper comes from some good "working side" of the bloodlines.
You have my absolute guarantee that Pepper is very aware of where you are. He doesn't have to look staright at you, to see you. His vision is different than ours. He can also hear a mouse scratching inside a downed tree, so he can hear your movements at a great distance. Another way he is keep tracking of you.

Everything is "coming together" for him right now. Size, strength, stamina, instinct, confidence, and yes, hormones.

When Vizslas are hunting they are not "looking at you". They will turn around and look back if you're to far behind and make eye contact, bit they don't need to.
During the course of hunting they are monitoring where you're at in the their peripheral vision and by sound.That said, he is still young and can get himself far enough away to get lost, so you do have to keep track of him.

Work on his recall. Let him "yo-yo" out and back and change your direction a lot. Call him back to you and set off in a different direction.Play "Hide and seek". He get's far enough away, step behind a tree, or bush and make him come back and find you. He will. He'll turn around, not see you, and follow his back trail to your last location and then back trail you. Once he begins back trailing your scent, call to him from your hiding area and just watch him. You can let him find you, or just step out and start walking off without a word as if this is the most normal thing in the world.
What you're teaching him here is how far away he can get, before he needs to check back. You can also signal the change in direction with a whistle, or call and then hide. This way he will begin to respond first and look second. Do this enough times, with distinct sounds and you can move him right and left, out and back 50 yards away. Kind of like a remote control dog. During hunting, a hunter doesn't want the dog right at their feet, or out of gun range, so we do these excercises to keep the dog within gun range, but far enough out to be effective. When they get on scent and begin to move out it looks different,and now it is up to the hunter to keep up with the dog.

Right now, I'm sorry to say, everything is more interesting than you are. It will be like this for a few months until you get your new routine established. You're going to have a much different dog by May, than you currently know.
He will eventually stop playing with sticks and start "coursing". Back and forth movements in a pattern to locate, or establish the absence of, animals to hunt.
He is a hunting dog, and right now he is instinctively beginning to teach himself to hunt.
Get off the trails, and out of the parks. Get him out somewhere that he can really "rip it up", and then you'll see what he really is. It's impressive!
It sounds to me as if you have a really nice boy on your hands. Let him start to show you what he can do. ;)
 

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He can also hear a mouse scratching inside a downed tree, so he can hear your movements at a great distance
This made me smile as I am often surprised how well they hear, except when you want them to listen. We experience similar issues with our 10 month old. She is very distracted during walks at the moment. Actually pretty much all our training just regressed. Recall, heel, etc. She still loves to train, but she also loves to disobey. Sometimes she just runs off just out off reach, and taunts me by refusing to come back. I swear if she had fingers, she would me the middle finger.
But I also feel that our bond gets stronger by the day. It’s a funny phase.
 

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Oh yes, their hearing is exceptional, when they want it to be. Gunnr taught me that lesson. ;)
It's almost predictable the cycles and phases that they will go through in development. Sometimes you get lucky and miss a phase or two, but most often they just have ti go throug them.
We're getting to the end of Finn's "Middle Finger" phase right now, and hopefully by early spring, we can start the real work.
Finn loves to hunt!! He's a completely different dog on scent on the field, so we're going to get him back him back on birds by the dozens here soon, to flip his switch permanently.
Your girl will come around, she's just full of herself right now. ;)
 

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yeaahhh, we also have had this SHD (Selective Hearing Disorder) disease running from time to time LOL
 

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Thank you so much for the accurate description of Pepper's current psychological state, @gunnr, it is spot-on! Seriously though, all of this makes a lot of sense and is helping me to get my head around how to proceed with his training. We went out a couple of times and I tried hiding behind trees and bushes when he got about 20m away, saying nothing, and he quickly came back to find me. This worked really well, because then for a little while he would stay closer before venturing away again. Also he seemed less single-minded when he was with other dogs, and would follow when I called and started moving away (some of the time... but progress is progress).

I would venture a guess that Pepper comes from some good "working side" of the bloodlines
He is from a breeder near Budapest, and he's always sniffing around, reacting to sounds and movement and is also very confident, happy to get a good 50m away and then find his way back to us.

he is still young and can get himself far enough away to get lost, so you do have to keep track of him
We always try to call him back when he gets more than 20-25m away - it's this that has gotten worse in recent weeks, but we are constantly working on it. Hiding behind trees etc seems to help. If I understand you correctly, with this he should tighten up his radius from us in general and when that happens we can try calling out 'this way' for him to check in and come with us, or something like 'go left/right' to indicate we are moving in a certain direction, and then go in that direction and he will pick it up?

Get off the trails, and out of the parks. Get him out somewhere that he can really "rip it up", and then you'll see what he really is. It's impressive!
Let you know how that goes! He loves being out in the forest but you're right we should find more wide open spaces for him too.

The general comment re looking at us also applies when he is on-leash. He just looks ahead and glances very briefly left and right, but never looks up at us. Is that ok when on-leash too?

It sounds to me as if you have a really nice boy on your hands. Let him start to show you what he can do. ;)
He's incredible. Every day is better and better, we just need to know how to communicate with him effectively and lately it felt like we had regressed to the point where he had to be on-leash everywhere. In the parks around the city we cannot let him off any more because if he sees little kids or other dogs or people working out, he MUST investigate 🤦‍♂️

Sorry for the late late reply, I wanted to have some experience with all your tips before giving feedback! Really appreciate it and we will keep you posted how it goes.

But I also feel that our bond gets stronger by the day. It’s a funny phase.
Glad to know we are not alone!!
 

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No, you are definitely not alone.

Hide behind trees, change directions, whatever it takes to increase the amount of times he checks on you in a given time period. He may still get 50m-75m away, but you can move him back in to you, and then change direction.
With the move left and right, you get his attention and them make a big arm motion like a traffic officer, then move in that direction, while making the same motion. He'll pick it up quick. I also use a "come here" motion, which is my arm held over my head, but bent at the elbow. I'll motion him by sweeping the arm in front of me, calling to him. hen he gets to about the right distance I want him, I'll signal him left or right, and off we go. This is a fun game.

Putting him back on the leash, or long check cord, is not in any manner a form of regression. It is a natural progression of training and development. Every dog and handler has to go through it.
The "box"(area) that you want to give him free rein in has to increase in size, but there are rules he has to obey to enjoy that larger box. He'll pick it up in a few months time.
I spent months with Finn last year working on this near daily, only to have to put him back on the check cord three quarters of the way through hunting season. He'd drag an 8m rope, 6mm, thick behind him, with me following with a shotgun. It is what it is.
Ultimately the area you want to give him would be a "moving box" the size of a football pitch, with you at center.
Keep with it, and have fun.
 

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Gonna try the signalling out, and will have him with the 10m check cord too. It slows him down a little to drag it around (ours is also a 6mm one, so it's relatively heavy) so should give us a little more time to get his attention before he is too far away
 
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