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Discussion Starter #1
Hello. I will try to be succinct.. I have an 8 month old bitch. She loves playing with any dog that will play back, but does prefer a larger, more robust dog. She has a tendancy to play bite, mainly ears and gowls and can growl as she is doing it. I think she is just mirroring behaviour here that she had inflicted on her when she was smaller.

Now I don't think this is aggression, but she has recently started to get REALLY hyper near smaller dogs - the smaller they are the worse she seems to be, and she doesn't pick up on the 'leave me alone' squeaks.

when she gets like it, she moves around so fast that she can't be grabbed, by collar tail or scruff and it just seems to wind her up more and more.

This evening she wanted to play with a small older spaniel, who was happy to begin with, but as soon as she started pulling it's ears it didn't want to know - long story short the other dog's owner ended up kicking my dog and threatening the same to me. :'(

So, long story short - I'm having a crisis in confidence - I have a pup who wants to play with EVERYONE but doesn't realise she is causing concern (to dog or owner or me!) is this a stage? is it normal? any advice?

Thanks

Claire
 

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Hi Claire,
I'm going through the exact same thing with my 8 month old vizsla male and I suspect we aren't the only ones :) I think it's probably very common among the very social vizslas. I've spoken to several trainers now because even if it is normal, it can become a problem (for example in yours, your dog got kicked-- which I'm sorry, but I think that's totally uncalled for; it's just that some owners don't know a threat when they see one). What they have told me is that it's very pushy play behavior and that it is self-reinforcing, meaning- they go bonkers and it feels good so they'll keep doing it. For reasons such as what happened to you, it's just my opinion that you should work on it with your dog, but others may say that it's natural and will go away with time.

In my pup's case, he's been doing it since I got him, but now it's more exaggerated and I'm trying to put a stop to it. Trainers have unanimously suggested to work on better timing- so for instance, if your dog is already in a tizzy, you are stepping in WAY TOO LATE. The intervention has to be done well before the dog has crossed that bonkers threshold and is just contemplating it. With time, you'll come to know which dogs will bring this out in your dog. For me, it's not necessarily the small ones but instead the ones who are very passive and tend to flop onto their backs right away... or ANY lab puppy. If I see those, I'm directing my dog to a different direction because it's such a huge distraction for him and we're not at the point where I feel like he'll leave the other dog when I say "leave him" with 100% confidence yet. Don't set your puppy up to fail by pairing her with dogs you know she'll go nuts with. She will just fall into the trap you set and each time she does it, she will have reinforced herself and will be one step further away from changing.

Work on "leave it" in all senses with your dog and impulse control games. If you haven't done these, start with low/no distraction and build up. With time, I think our dogs should develop the emotional control to leave a dog when we say "leave it" if they haven't gone off the deep end already. Also, never be afraid to use a leash to help give you better control while you teach your dog what you want.

Good luck! Let me know if you need any more help!
 

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Claire

It's perfectly normal, unacceptable, but normal.

Vizslas play very hard, and very few breeds can keep up with their energy levels.
Being hunting dogs, they play in a manner that some people attribute to aggression, but is in fact and instinctive development and honing of a skill set they need to be successful hunting dogs.
Your dog is "designed" to bring down game. It is perfectly capable of running to ground a smaller animal, or pinning a cripple in place. It does it by leaning it's shoulder into the animal, while maintaining contact with it by use of it's muzzle.
It will put the animal on it's inside shoulder and move it in a tight circle and pin it in place. Your dog can be taught to work in concert with another and bring a full grown deer down and pin it to the ground. They can take a smaller deer completely off it's feet by themselves.
This is what you are seeing right now. Your dog isn't so much playing, as practicing.
The little "squeaks" she is reacting to are "distress tones to her," and they will stir a basic insinct in her to "move in" and dispatch. This is how Coyotes are lured in, by using a rabbit in distress call.

It is perfectly acceptable to "train" this behavior out of your dog, sometimes necessary, and won't affect it's drive at all. It's unacceptable to have a hunting dog that hunts for itself and destroys game, so it's a fine line between control and desire to hunt. If you have no intention of hunting your dog, you will lean farther toward control at the expense of desire. Understanding what makes your dog tick is a big help in changing it's behavior.
Keep your dog on the leash with other dogs, when the play begins to shift to practice, bring her up short with the leash a stern admonishment and move her away. Don't let the behavior start.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you Laurita and Gunnr - it's great to know that I'm not alone in this ;D

We have been working on distraction for a few a while now and we have got better at predicting which dogs will stir her up, and we do use the leash when needed, and throw a ball away or distract with the whistle - I'm pleased you have reinforced what we thought we should be doing.

The dog last night was very happy playing with her for awhile, and came back for more - it wasn't until my dog tried to grab its ears in her mouth that it decided it wasn't happy and the situation with the owner going mad crazy escalated within moments. Personally I think this particular dog was more than able to handle her rough play and I also feel confident I could have got her back, but the owner clearly wasn't willing to allow the dogs (or me) to sort it out (and given he needs educating in how to be a decent human being, I'm not sure he would be willing to learn dog behaviour!) - he just left me feeling I was doing something wrong and had some crazy wild vicious dog living with me - I know that's not the case but he really got to me :-\

One question though - her best dog friend is an Irish setter, he is a few months older than her and they are equally matched in size, they play hard and rough, each giving as good as they get. They go wild, they break away, regain their energy and they are off again - she also plays in a similar fashion with a 15 month old boxer, who she loves boxing, and there is also my brothers husky (though she doesn't like ear pulling) as well as several other dogs I could list (she is generally a very popular pup with lots of large dog buddies) now, should I stop her playing rough with these dogs? If not how will she differentiate from it being OK with some dogs and not acceptable with others? or (which I think is the answer) is it entirely my judgement and control that will decide that?

Thanks so much for taking the time to respond :)
 

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Agree w/ Laurita and Gunnr that this is "unacceptable but normal." Our puppy class instructor taught us not to use the leash to control the dog in these situations, but rather to lure with a treat while saying the dog's name to get the dog to interrupt their play and come to you. That way, the dog will tend to welcome you interrupting their play and/or calling their name in the future because it's associated with good things--and as the dog gets bigger and heavier, it will be more difficult to rely on the leash or collar for control.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
thanks Sarahaf, we use that method frequently, I will put her leash on to take her on time out, there is no way I can even grab her when she goes mad sometimes, i can generally distract her with the whistle/treats but sometimes it's like she's wearing ear muffs and will not listen - that's when it gets awkward :-[

I know she young and I want to nip this in the bud while she's still impressionable - the chap who kicked her last night even said 'she's just a puppy, you need to sort her out'. :mad:
 

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Luring with the treats and using a gentler method will certainley work, for awhile. Remember though that these dogs are Type A's and they do not forget, lose track, or get distracted easily ( I know it seems that way at times ;)). In fact it is a fault if they do. You especially do not want a dog that messes about with other dogs while hunting. It is a quick way to be avoided hunting,a nd a sure sign the dog is not ready to hunt.
Distraction training is one component of training a dog to hunt. Once you get them focused, you do things to try to break that focus, and then train it out of them by using distractions to maintain focus. Her natural drive and focus will dictate how much correction is necessary.
You will figure out which dogs she can play with and which she can't. Avoid the ones with "fussy owners" and let her rip with her more robust pals. In time she will moderate the behavior herself, but it could be 10-12 months. Now she's just enjoying her developing physical abilities.
My dogs used to beat the snot out of each other all at a zillion miles per hour in the woods. I only intervened when they really went at it. After awhile it just subsided and they got more level headed.
 

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Thank you for asking this question-- the responses have been so educational for me & I've felt pretty down at times when I have to do the walk of shame because another owner is unhappy with my puppy's behavior.

Claire- again, I'm so sorry your puppy got kicked. Another owner pinned my dog and thankfully didn't hurt him, but you just never know how far another person is going to take it.
 

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I do hope our friends GWP doesn't kick Ruby
 

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Gunnr - thanks for the info, you have made us rethink about starting her gundog training - we don't intend to work her, but know that the discipline will be beneficial. There is a class near where we live but our 'general puppy class' (ie one full of labs and cross breeds) trainers told us to not consider it until she was at least 2. I'm going to explore starting soon.

Laurita - I don't recall being as miserable as I was last night. I got home and burst out crying! I'm rational enough to know that it was an extreme response from that man, and hopefully he's now ashamed of his behaviour - for his physical threats to me if not the actual harm to my dog. He was a dog owner himself and in his early 60's - he should have known/behaved better. I was actually glad that my pup was so fast/wriggly as he only managed to plant one kick on her despite his constant attempts. As the saying goes, we learn from experience - and I can see the benefit of asking the experience of others to speed up the process. Thank you for your response and concern.

harrigab - great pic ;D
 

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Claire

I don't know your particular situation, but my dogs start training at 8 weeks old. In their first year it's just a lot of "games" to introduce individual components of hunting, and the second year brings everything together in a composite picture for them, including introducing the gun. By 2 years old they're pretty much on their way, and now just need actual hunting experience to progress further. These are dogs that "need a job". ;)
Your girl sounds like a nice, normal, healthy, well adjusted little Vizsla. I wouldn't mess with anything much at all and let her grow up.
 

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CLaire, gun dogs in general have a certain style of play. This style of play isn't always understood by other breeds. I find that my Vizsla is happiest playing with

1. Another V
2. A GSP
3. A pointer
4. A Weimeraner
5. A staffy (Although, I discourage this too often, as the Staffies, regardless of what the owners think, have aggressive play tendancies and can damage or kill a dog in seconds)

A boxer is also another dog which seems to get the way V's play.

My GSP and my V are just the best of friends and sometimes, I cringe when they are chewing on each others ears, jowls, neck, legs or whatever. But, they are not yelping, so it isn't hurting them. Also, if one does get a bit too boisterous, a quick yelp and the other setttles immediately.

Try and find some gun dogs for your V to play with!!! :)
 

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http://redbirddog.blogspot.com/2010/05/poor-city-dogs.html

Gunnr and Ozkar have given great insights into why our hunting dogs "play" differently than other breeds. Herding breeds "play" a different way that Bailey and Chloe find displeasing. Small dogs are annoying after a short time.

Give Bailey a Lab or a Doberman or some pointing breed and they play like you would think they were going to hurt each other. But as Gunnr said, they are "practicing" their hunting skills with like dogs.

Chloe doesn't care to play much with other dogs. She'd just as much want to fetch anything thrown and return to a human as anything. Other dogs do not interest her.

Good thread. Genes dictate much of the pups actions. The stronger the hunt desire, the stronger the modification process has to be to change the dog into something it is not. Genes give it its purpose (hunt) and we have to modify that into something as fullfilling.

Good luck and it really is too bad the owner of the other dog didn't see it for what it was. You will find that quite often in your interactions with "pet" owners. Clueless.

RBD
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thank you everyone - I'm feeling better about walking with her again

I am lucky that she does have lots of similar dog friends, including another couple of Vs, a weim, an irish setter, a boxer and a pointer to name a few, and their owners are cool with her play - like you say Ozkar, it can get hairy sometimes with the teeth baring but the dogs are fine and helping her to hone her skills (as I have been educated to understand now thanks to your responses :D ).

Redbirddog - I actually read your blog before we got her to gain an insight into what we were letting ourselves in for - your dogs are adorable. ;)

Right gundog training here we come
 

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redbirddog said:
http://redbirddog.blogspot.com/2010/05/poor-city-dogs.html

Give Bailey a Lab or a Doberman or some pointing breed and they play like you would think they were going to hurt each other. But as Gunnr said, they are "practicing" their hunting skills with like dogs.
Thank you for giving me faith that when we add the doberman into the mix, things will be okay. Holley can be pushy to play with others and I was a little worried about when we adopt the doberman.
 

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Wow. This behavior is typical of dogs with too much stored energy. They do not need to hunt hunt to survive so I wound discourage it.
Our Sam is 6 month old but we sometimes meet a 1 year old lab. That dog has walk-around-the-block type owners. Never off leash, always frustrated and generally has too much stored energy.
By the time they meet Sam's energy is almost 1/2 drained. No matter, Sam will keep up even if he is outmatched. Later he will digg in frustration and to increase his strength.

It is not possible for me to tell the other dog owner to drain her dog's energy, but it's not fair to Sam to keep meeting that dog. I noticed Sam becomes frustrated after and wants to increase his strength and stamina.

The answer to your problem may be similar. Drain her energy 1/2 way before allowing her to meet other dogs and currect instantly if playing rough and do not tolerate growling.
These days I run with Sam IN FRONT OF ME and I encourage Sam to pull. Pulling is not natural, despite what ppl think, being in front is in their genes. He wears a comfortable harness (regular harness not easy walk type), no collar needed either. These dogs are smart and can adapt as long as some basic needs are met.
Because winters are harsh in Canada, the breeder strongly advised to put Sam on the treadmill if not able to go outside. This, partly takes care of physical needs but for mental needs they need to track or hunt.

I met 3 other Vs in my area, sadly their owner think Sam is too young and ignore us. Amber (9 year old), Ruby (6 or 7 year old) and a 2 year old intact male on steroids (Arnold Vizsla ;D) the owner wanted nothing to do with us.
 

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The answer to your problem may be similar. Drain her energy 1/2 way before allowing her to meet other dogs and currect instantly if playing rough and do not tolerate growling.
These days I run with Sam IN FRONT OF ME and I encourage Sam to pull. Pulling is not natural, despite what ppl think, being in front is in their genes. He wears a comfortable harness (regular harness not easy walk type
http://redbirddog.blogspot.com/2009/12/roading-with-vizslas-on-bike.html

This is how I have my dogs "pull" and burn energy.
There is a completely different harness for this activity. Drains them quickly when they pull.

Draining energy from a Vizsla takes time. The more you build up their endurance the longer the burn lasts. In field trials we hope the burn is mostly spent before we get in the bird field.

RBD
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Datacan, you have now raised another question (perhaps I should search it first....) .. I run at least 5 times a week - one of the reasons we chose a V - I was advised not to run her until she was 18 months old because of the damage it could create - given I'm a plodder and not a cheetah, i figured I'd start short runs with her about 12 months - is it ok to run earlier?
 

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redbirddog said:
The answer to your problem may be similar. Drain her energy 1/2 way before allowing her to meet other dogs and currect instantly if playing rough and do not tolerate growling.
These days I run with Sam IN FRONT OF ME and I encourage Sam to pull. Pulling is not natural, despite what ppl think, being in front is in their genes. He wears a comfortable harness (regular harness not easy walk type
http://redbirddog.blogspot.com/2009/12/roading-with-vizslas-on-bike.html

This is how I have my dogs "pull" and burn energy.
There is a completely different harness for this activity. Drains them quickly when they pull.

Draining energy from a Vizsla takes time. The more you build up their endurance the longer the burn lasts. In field trials we hope the burn is mostly spent before we get in the bird field.

RBD
I'm going to find one of them for the hubby to use :)
 
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