GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR VIZSLA
TIPS ON RAISING YOUR PUPPY
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I Vizsla Personality: Living With and Training Your Vizsla; Common Unwanted Behaviors in Puppies
II Grooming Your Vizsla
III Exercising Your Vizsla
IV Housetraining Your Vizsla
V Feeding Your Vizsla
VI Medications and Veterinary Trips
VII Crate Training
VIII Lead Breaking
VIX Useful Web Sites
ALWAYS USE COMMON SENSE. IF IT WOULD NOT BE A GOOD IDEA FOR YOU OR YOUR CHILDREN, IT IS PROBABLY NOT A GOOD IDEA FOR YOUR PUPPY. TRUST YOUR JUDGMENT - YOU KNOW YOUR PUPPY BETTER THAN ANYONE!!!!
I. The Vizsla Personality: Living with and Training Your Vizsla
Vizslas are extremely loving and demonstrably affectionate family dogs who thrive in the hub of family activity. Vizslas are very active, curious, intelligent and devoted family members. Consequently, they do not thrive when ousted to the back yard or kenneled or separated from their family for prolonged periods. For your vizsla to reach his or her full intellectual and emotional potential, (s)he must be treated as a respected and valued member of your family and included in family activities. Vizslas are wonderful with children; that said, you should always supervise your vizsla with children.
B. GREETING GUESTS
When someone arrives at your home, you can expect your vizsla to put you on notice! Vizslas are quite good watch dogs. If you are anxious about the person at the door, your vizsla may sense your anxiety and hang back in a protective manner. Otherwise, (s)he will probably become very excited, and start jumping around or at the guest, all the time "talking". Many vizslas will grab a toy in their mouths, or perhaps the guest's arm. Vizslas are incredibly sociable. As soon as the greetings have been made, your vizsla should settle back into his or her normal self within a few moments. However, this exuberant greeting may be overwhelming to some guests, particularly those who do not favor dogs. This greeting can be controlled by training your vizsla to follow basic obedience commands, such as sit and stay.
C. PREVENT FORMATION OF BAD HABITS
Vizslas are very intelligent and possess very good memories. If there is some conduct in which your puppy engages that is unacceptable, or that will be unacceptable when the puppy is an adult (no matter how cute the behavior may seem now), IMMEDIATELY DISCOURAGE THE BEHAVIOR from day one, each and every time the behavior occurs. BE FIRM AND CONSISTENT. For example, no matter how cute it may be for a 12 pound puppy to jump on the kitchen table and watch/point birds at the feeder, such conduct most likely will not be acceptable for a 55 pound dog. Therefore, forbid the behavior. Firm and consistent discipline, whether positive or negative, is the key. IT IS MUCH EASIER TO PREVENT FORMATION OF A BAD HABIT THAN IT IS TO BREAK A BAD HABIT THAT ALREADY HAS BEEN FORMED.
D. DISCIPLINE: TYPE AND METHODS
Because vizslas are so sensitive to their owners, and so intuitively aware of what is expected, I have found that a minimal amount of "negative" verbal discipline is generally all that is required to train. Vizslas react much more favorably to positive reinforcement for good behavior than to negative reinforcement for bad behavior. Physical discipline is rarely, if ever, required. If your puppy is doing something that (s)he should not be doing, verbal discipline (a few sharp "No's") is usually enough to stop the unacceptable behavior, because your puppy will so want to please you. After the puppy responds to your verbal command, immediately praise the puppy and then distract the puppy into a permissible activity. For example, when the puppy stops chewing your antique chair in response to your verbal command, give the puppy a dog bone or chew.
There is a lot you can do to construct a safe environment for your puppy, thereby eliminating many problems for which discipline otherwise would be required. Putting up baby gates to confine the puppy to a space where (s)he can be supervised, using a crate when the puppy is left alone, putting away fragile items, rugs and houseplants until the pup is older, keeping children's toys out of the puppy's reach, and putting a lid on the garbage can are all examples of measures that you can take to help your puppy stay out of trouble.
I am generally opposed to physical discipline of the vizsla, because I don't think it is necessary. In fact, physical discipline does more harm than good, damaging the relationship and trust between the vizsla and people and creating problems that otherwise would not exist. I limit physical discipline (a "take down" and muzzle grab for complete attention) to extreme and rare cases where I believe the verbal command needs to be emphasized because of risk of injury, such as when a puppy runs into a street or refuses to come, or challenges a human member of the family to move up in the pack (there sometimes is a challenge from a puppy between 12 and 20 weeks, which if properly handled will be the one and last issue).
THE FOLLOWING ARE ESSENTIAL TO EFFECTIVE DISCIPLINE:
1. Make sure that you have your vizsla's FULL ATTENTION when your are meting out discipline. Get eye-to-eye contact with your vizsla, which often will necessitate your holding his or her muzzle (a naughty puppy may not want to look you in the eye because (s)he is ashamed for not pleasing you).
2. Make sure you and your vizsla know that you and the other people (particularly children) in your home are TOP DOG in the household pack. Do not ever let your vizsla think that (s)he is or has a shot at being top dog over the people in your household. Many vizsla puppies will test the limits, establishing where they fall in the pack. The test might be a grumble when you push him or her off the sofa, or a growl when a 3 year old child pounces on him or her while asleep. When tested, I would VERY FIRMLY scold the puppy and change the situation - each case is specific, depending upon the age of the vizsla, the degree of infraction. There is a training technique called NILF (Nothing in life is free) - sometimes this must be adopted. If any issue arises and you need assistance, please call us for advice.
3. Viewing the goal of discipline as preventing recurrence of an unacceptable behavior that your vizsla has viewed as acceptable, rather than as a punishment, DISCIPLINE SHOULD BE METED AT THE TIME OF OCCURRENCE OF THE UNACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR or immediately thereafter. Discipline meted even 10 minutes after the unacceptable behavior is likely to be ineffective in preventing recurrence, because your vizsla may not even understand the reason for the discipline. (I must say, however, that my vizslas have had guilty looks on their faces for misconduct engaged in hours before I find out!)
4. Use FIRM, CLEAR, CONSISTENT DISCIPLINE. Firmness is achieved by changing your tone of voice to a lower tone when meting discipline, so that the puppy knows you mean business when (s)he hears that tone. Clearness is achieved by everyone in the family using the same terminology. To avoid confusing the puppy, everyone in your family should try and use the same words to achieve a desired behavior (e. g., the puppy will take longer to learn that (s)he shouldn't jump on the counter if confronted with different commands - no/off/stop/down). Consistency is achieved by applying the same rule all of the time. You can not let you puppy sit on the couch one day, discipline the puppy another day for sitting on the couch, and expect the puppy to understand that the couch is off limits. Everyone in your family must send the same message all of the time.
E. FORMAL TRAINING: SHOW, OBEDIENCE, FIELD, AGILITY, TRACKING
In approaching any formal training situation, whether it be obedience, show, agility, tracking or field training, remember that you know your vizsla better than any "expert". Be extremely cautious of any trainer who applies a single training techniques across the board, without taking into account the attributes of the breed and the unique personality of the individual dog.
Vizslas are extremely biddable and willing to please. If they understand what you want them to do, they will try and do it, if only to please you. However, they are very sensitive and very intelligent. It would take only a small amount of mishandling/mistraining to create problems that might be impossible to overcome. Do not ever be intimidated by an "expert". When it comes to your vizsla and his or her training needs, you are the expert!
In selecting a trainer, look for a trainer whose approach is gentle and positive, rather than rough and negative. Generally, vizslas respond well to positive encouragement (e. g., praise for a job well done). Vizslas do not respond to negative or coercive approaches (e. g., shock collars; physical restraint or forcing). Ask the trainer what training methods they use. Be wary of any trainer who does not individually tailor the method to the dog. Also, try and determine if the trainer has any preconceived notions or prejudices against the vizsla breed, and make sure that the trainer is aware of the sensitive, tractable nature of the vizsla breed. However, positive training does NOT mean you don't every yell at your vizsla and take more drastic steps to set parameters for behavior! I remember that when my bitch Kes was very young and getting into squabbles at puppy K over toys, she was put in a "time out". This was totally ridiculous!!! she had no idea she was in a time out, and learned nothing. A week later, when she started something with Ptoppir over a stick in the woods, I grabbed her, put her on her back and screamed in her face - - THAT she got and she never did it again! Bottom line here is always USE COMMON SENSE!
Formal training has many advantages. At a good formal obedience class, you not only have the benefit of training under a knowledgeable instructor, but your vizsla will have the advantage of learning by watching other dogs. In a basic obedience course, your vizsla will learn his or her name and the basic commands: Sit; Down; Stand; Stay; Come; Heel; Off; Drop. Also, most obedience classes now enroll quite young puppies in "puppy kindergarten," with basic training mixed with continued socialization with other dogs. Competition training classes prepare your vizsla for the rigors of formal competition, and familiarize you with handling techniques that will help you achieve whatever goals you set.
A good conformation trainer realizes that a show dog is one that is happy showing. Rough, prolonged or coercive training methods do not result in a good show dog. If you do want to show your puppy, make sure you incorporate the stand command into all training!!!
A good formal field trainer will help you prepare your vizsla for hunting or for field competitions. Positive exposure to birds, teaching of the whoa command, and careful exposure to the sound of the blank pistol (you can ruin your puppy for hunting with improper introduction of the gun) will prepare your young vizsla for later training for steadiness to wing and shot. My vizslas have always been very birdy naturally; exposure to birds has been sufficient "training" for obtaining junior hunting test titles (we have not yet tried to train a vizsla steady to wing and shot in preparation for a senior hunting test title).
Improper training, abusive training techniques, pushing your puppy too early, or careless accidents (such as falling off a piece of agility equipment) or careless exposure to the noise of guns in the field could impair your vizsla's ability to fulfill his or her potential (as a hunting dog, agility dog, obedience dog, show dog) for life. All of the puppies in these litters come from strong field background and should possess a strong desire to hunt. If you use a trainer, make sure you know exactly what techniques will be used and toward what goal. Our goal is to produce well-rounded vizslas who can be successful in all aspects of performance...companionship, conformation, hunting, agility, obedience...so our breeding emphasis is on health and temperament first, then conformation and natural ability.
The bottom line is that you know your vizsla better than any expert and you must advocate in his or her best interests. An additional word of caution: Because puppies are so impressionable, you must be extremely diligent to avoid bad experiences. This is often difficult to balance with socialization, which necessitates that your vizsla be exposed to a variety of dogs, peoples and settings. Just be on the alert: make sure that your puppy does not socialize with or get attacked by mean dogs; be aware of situations that are frightening or overwhelming to your puppy. Avoidance is key. If your puppy does have a bad experience (such as being jumped on by a big dog) or if your puppy reacts with fear to a stimulus that you do not want him or her to be frightened of (such as thunder or gunfire): DO NOT CODDLE AND SOOTHE THE PUPPY, because you only teach the puppy that the stimulus is something to be feared and (s)he was correct to be frightened. Instead, reassure the puppy in a cheerful voice and engage the puppy into some new and enjoyable game or activity, preferably while the stimulus is still around. The puppy will learn that you are not afraid; therefore, (s)he should not be afraid. And even more, fun things happen when the stimulus is around. You may have to act like a goofball, but your puppy will benefit.
COMMON UNWANTED PUPPY BEHAVIORS:
These are all very normal puppy issues, but it is important to get things under control before a problem develops. Common areas seem to be: 1. puppy mouthing and biting 2. Humping 3. Howling in the crate and 4. Not walking well yet on lead.
First and foremost, I want to re-emphasize that the behaviors are normal. However, every human in your family MUST be a leader of the puppy - a puppy wants boundaries, but is very happy to test those boundaries. SO YOU MUST BE PACK LEADERS for the well-being of your puppy. Your puppy must understand that he/she is at the bottom of the pack. If he or she ever challenges you or one of your children over a toy or food (known as resource guarding) your response must be instant and firm. Remove the item and discipline the puppy immediately. If you can, place the puppy on his/her back and yell at them for guarding the item. Doing this while the puppy is a manageable baby helps eliminate any such challenge in the future. Children must be participatory in the training and care of the puppy so the puppy does not try to move up on them. Involve children in all aspects of the puppy's life, including feeding, caring, walking, training and socialization of the puppy. Have them come to puppy K and participate. IF YOU HAVE ANY PROBLEMS, let me know immediately please. There is a great “Nothing In Life is For Free” program. There are so many good books on raising puppies! I encourage all puppies to enroll in at least one puppy kindergarten class - if you are having trouble finding one, let me know - I will find you one. Take leadership walks with the puppy on leash with generous rewards and lots of turns - have your children feed the puppy - the puppy should be doing basic commands (sit, down, stand) for everyone in the family. IF ANY challenge appears, deal with it firmly and immediately. This is a VERY important time - socialize, socialize, socialize - the first 16 weeks are the most critical time in a puppy's life.
#1 PUPPY NIPPING/BITING - Vizslas ARE very oral (hunting retrieving breed), and will be teething a lot - but there should not be punctures or blood - one thing I want to stress is that you must use a DIFFERENT FIRMER MEANER VOICE when you are trying to teach a puppy something is not permitted, like puppy mouthing/biting - you can not just talk at the puppy (like what Charlie Brown hears when teachers talk wuhwhuwuhwuh). Instead of words, I prefer a really strong "EHEH" sound! and if you cry as if injured, really wail like a littermate would wail! MAKE AN IMPRESSION ON THE PUPPY! IF THE PUPPY SIMPLY CAN NOT BEHAVE (LIKE DURING THE AFTERNOON WITCHING HOUR OR IF OVERSTIMULATED), GET HIM/HER DISTRACTED, PRAISE THE PUP AND THEN BEFORE THE PUP REVS BACK UP AND WITHOUT CORRECTION AND TALKING SWEETLY JUST PUT HIM/HER IN THE CRATE TO SETTLE DOWN ).
Puppy Biting (I found the information below in an article somewhere and think it is very useful): [I pretty much use the “yelp” method and then distract the puppy with a toy, praising the puppy when not biting. I have found putting my hand sideways against the mouth corners with the other hand holding the back of the head for five seconds after the puppy starts to object is very useful as well. I do not like tug of war games with puppies.]
For puppies, much of playtime is spent using their mouths and needle-sharp teeth to chew and investigate objects. These activities are normal, harmless puppy activities—unless you’re the object being chewed and investigated! Puppies love to play with people. They chew on their fingers and toes, and they investigate people’s bodies with their mouths and teeth. These behaviors may be considered cute when the puppy is seven weeks old, but are not nearly so endearing when the puppy is four or five months old. Although mouthing and nipping tend to diminish as the puppy matures, here are some helpful tips to get you through your pet’s teething period:
WHAT TO DO:
- Substitute a toy or chew bone when the puppy tries to chew on fingers or toes.
- Puppies tend to mouth hands whenever stroked and patted. When you pat the puppy, distract him by feeding tiny pieces of treat from your other hand. This will accustom the pup to being touched without mouthing.
- Give a high-pitched yelp, as if you are in pain, when the puppy bites too hard. This should startle the puppy and cause him to stop, at least momentarily. Praise the puppy for stopping and/or for licking you.
- Time out can be effective, especially for curbing mouthing in older puppies and adolescent dogs. When you receive a hard bite, give a high-pitched yelp and (a) walk away from the puppy and ignore for 30-60 seconds, OR (b) leave the room for 30-60 seconds. Option B is only feasible if your belongings will be safe from the puppy and if the puppy will be safe left where he is.
- Encourage non-contact forms of play, such as fetch, rather than wrestling and rough play.
- Provide plenty of interesting and novel toys so the puppy will be inclined to play with these.
- Provide plenty of opportunity for your dog to play with other puppies and with friendly adult dogs. It’s important that he can engage with non-human playmates.
- Be patient and understanding. Playful mouthing is normal behavior for a puppy or young dog.
WHAT NOT TO DO:
- Avoid enticing the puppy to play by waving your fingers or toes in his face or slapping the sides of his face.
- You should not discourage the puppy from playing with you. Play builds a strong bond between the dog and his human family. The objective is to teach the puppy to play gently—not to stop play altogether. - Avoid jerking your hands or feet away from the puppy when he mouths. This encourages him to jump forward and grab at you. It’s much more effective to let your hands or feet go limp so you aren’t much “fun” for him to mouth.
- Physical punishment for playful mouthing (slapping, hitting, etc.) can make the puppy afraid of you and could even cause the mouthing to escalate into aggression. We’ve heard of various “caveman” methods such as scruff shaking, whacking the pup on the nose, sticking fingers down a pup’s throat—these are cruel and inhumane.
BITE INHIBITION: Teaching a puppy to modify his mouthing behavior is an opportunity to teach him bite inhibition. Bite inhibition refers to a dog’s ability to control and inhibit the force of his mouthing. A puppy or dog who hasn’t learned bite inhibition may not recognize the sensitivity of human skin and bite too hard, even in play. Some behaviorists and trainers maintain that a dog who understands the amount of force necessary to hurt people, if ever in a situation where he does actually bite a person in a non-playful manner, will be less likely to bite and break skin.
To teach your puppy bite inhibition, first you will encourage him to play with your hands. Continue play until the puppy bites especially hard. Immediately give a high-pitched yelp and let your hand go limp. When the puppy startles and turns to look at you or looks around, remove your hand. Ignore the puppy for 10-20 seconds or, if he resumes mouthing, get up and move away for 10-20 seconds. The next step is to return and encourage the puppy to play with you again. This is critical for teaching the puppy that if he is gentle, play continues--but if he is too rough, play stops. Play with the pup until he bites hard again and repeat the sequence. As you detect that the puppy is inhibiting those really hard bites, target slightly less painful bites. Persist with the process until the puppy can play with your hands but control the force of his bites to the extent that you feel little or no pressure at all. This can take as little as a day, or as long as a few weeks.
WHEN MOUTHING BECOME AGGRESSION: Puppies sometimes have temper tantrums. Usually a tantrum will happen when you are making the puppy do something he doesn’t want to do. This might be as benign as simply handling or restraining him. A tantrum can also occur when play escalates, much the same as when children play and one child gets upset and angry. A puppy temper tantrum involves more than playful mouthing, but it isn’t always easy to tell the difference. Possible indicators that your puppy is having a tantrum include: He may become quite stiff in his body. He may pull his lips back to expose his teeth. Almost always, the bites directed toward your hands will be much more painful than what he may inflicts during play. If you think your puppy is having a tantrum, it’s best to take a firm hold on him, tell him, “That’s enough!” and immediately carry him to a quiet, confined area, such as a small room or his crate. Leave the puppy for no more than five minutes. When you return, resume whatever you were doing with the puppy before the temper tantrum--assuming it was something the puppy needs to learn, such as how to remain still for body inspection or during grooming, or if you were attempting to teach him appropriate play behaviors
#2 Humping: Remove the offender from whatever is being humped, firmly tell the pup EHEH or NO HUMP and then distract him/her to another activity. If you catch your male puppy marking in the house, make a HUGE BIG DEAL THAT THIS IS NOT OK! and that usually makes such an impression that he won't do it again - if he gets in the habit of marking, it will be harder to break this habit than to keep it from forming.
#3 Howling in the Crate: See Crate Training Below - most puppies howl when introduced to the crate - you can ease this by putting the pup in the crate when (s)he is tired, with a toy (perhaps a stuffed kong), leaving the television on for company, and so on. Pups do get used to being crated fairly easily and quickly (within a few days), but only if: (a) they are not crated too long (a baby should only be for a couple hours during the day time, with the time gradually building up to four hours); (b) they are not left alone in the crate - the crate should be in a hub spot during the day and your bedroom at night - if a pup gets scared in the crate, you will have a much longer road to successful crate training; and (c) most importantly, you do not take the pup out for fussing in the crate! this is the hardest but most important rule. If they learn that screeching gets them out, they will use that technique for a very long time!!!
#4 Pulling On Lead: Start by following your pup when (s)he is on lead. Give treats to coax them in the direction you want to go! change directions frequently. Be generous in your praise and rewards - they catch on quickly.
II. GROOMING YOUR VIZSLA
Coat: Vizslas have short, easy-to-care for coats that require very little grooming. Your vizsla would probably enjoy a weekly brushing with a soft brush or grooming glove. This will also reduce your vizsla's minimal shedding. We recommend the Zoom Groom.
Bathing: Bathe your vizsla with a shampoo especially formulated for dogs. Because vizslas do a lot of self-grooming, they do not require frequent bathing. In fact, overbathing your vizsla can dry his or her skin and cause flaking. My vizslas often "bathe" by swimming in a lake or river.
Teeth: Optimally, you should brush your vizsla's teeth daily to keep the gums and teeth healthy, and healthy teeth and gums are vital to your vizsla's overall good health. Older dogs sometimes have to be anesthetized to have their teeth scraped, usually because their owners have failed to brush them. Realistically, brush the teeth as often as you are able.
Toe Nails: This is SO IMPORTANT - NAILS SHOULD BE DONE EVERY WEEK - we know that most vizslas do not enjoy having their nails cut! but failure to keep toe nails short can lead to deformities of the foot which ultimately could affect the dogs gait and movement. Toe nails should be clipped every week with dog nail clippers or sanded down wtih a dremel tool or both. A proper nail is short and straight and does not click on the floor. The cut is made at the point of the downward curve of the nail. Always have Kwic Stop or styptic on hand in case you cut too short and hit a quick, because it will bleed (in an emergency, powder or flour could be used). Vizslas really dislike having toe nail trimmings, and it may take two people to get the job done (one to hold and one to clip). If you start a trimming session, do not stop because your vizsla happens to be struggling because if your vizsla learns that misbehavior will stop a session, (s)he will misbehave every time. Some dogs do better with the dremel tool - there are videos on youtube.com about how to introduce your puppy to the dremel.
Ears: Clean your vizslas ears periodically with a DRY cotton ball or tissue. For very dirty ears, OtiClens is a great ear cleaner, but seems that the more liquid you pour into the ear, the more you can create problems. If your vizsla is shaking its head or pawing at his or her ears, (s)he may have an ear infection/irritation and need medication from the vet. There is a homemade ear cleaner which is pretty effective - Purple Power Ear Treatment (Recipe: Fill a Clairol type plastic bottle with 16 oz. isopropyl alcohol, 4 tablespoons boric acid powder and 16 drops gentian violet solution 1% - mix well each time you use the solution - flood the ear with the solution, massage to a count of 60, then wipe off any excess - note that the gentian violet solution does stain fabrics, so best to do this outdoors). Most vizslas do not have ear issues - but if a vizsla is prone to ear infections, they usually have several - look at possible food allergies as a possible source of ear problems.
Anal Sacs: If your vizsla is scooting its butt along the ground, it may need to have its anal sacs expressed. Ask your vet to express the sacs or to teach you how to express the sacs.
III. EXERCISING YOUR VIZSLA
Vizslas are sporting dogs and require a great deal of exercise. The actual amount of exercise depends upon the individual dog: some require more than others. Vizslas are also quite adaptable and should adjust to your routine.
Exercise should be specifically tailored to the individual needs of your vizsla, taking into account:
1. His or her age and overall age and physical condition;
2. The type and degree of exercise to which (s)he is accustomed; and
3. The weather. Introduce changes as gradually as possible, and be alert for signs of over exertion.
NEVER PUSH A PUPPY BEYOND WHAT (S)HE FEELS IS COMFORTABLE.
If the extent of your vizsla's activity has been daily on-lead walks, you can not expect him or her to hunt tirelessly on an all day jaunt. Similarly, to drastically reduce your vizsla's amount of exercise tends to result in a frustrated vizsla with no outlet for his or her energy - and that can be less than fun to live with! If you are changing your vizsla's activity level, do so gradually.
Because puppies are still growing, and their bones are developing, they must not be pushed. Do not expect your puppy to walk miles with you at your pace. Never jog or run with a puppy. Let your puppy determine the amount and pace of activity. You can do permanent damage to a puppy by pushing him or her beyond his or her physical limits (and being so willing to please, the puppy will try its best to keep up). Be alert to signs of fatigue. If the puppy cries, lies down, jumps on you or shows other signs of being tired, pick the puppy up and carry him or her. Ideally, adult vizslas should have an opportunity to run off lead in a safe place at least three or four times a week. Sometimes the weather (extreme heat or icy conditions) and life interfere!
IV. HOUSETRAINING YOUR VIZSLA
From as young as three weeks of age, vizsla puppies leave their blanket and try and potty away from their sleeping quarters - vizslas are very clean and do not like to potty their nest. Your vizsla has already been started on a potty learning regiment. Once your puppy goes home, though, NO PAPER TRAINING! no newspaper in your home or in the crate!
TAKE YOUR PUPPY OUTSIDE TO POTTY:
1. Upon waking from a nap;
2. After each meal; and
3. At his or her request or indication.
Otherwise, to start, take your vizsla outside every 20 to 30 minutes, gradually increasing the amount of time in between visits.
Verbally encourage the puppy to go potty, consistently using whatever terminology you prefer. Immediately after your puppy goes potty outside, give lots and lots of praise. If you want your puppy to potty in a specific place in your yard, take the puppy to that spot each and every time you go outside to potty. If you catch your vizsla going potty in the house, firmly say "No" in your discipline voice, pick the puppy up (preferably in mid-potty), and take the puppy outside. If the puppy finishes outside, give lots and lots of praise.
To large extent, the number of accidents and quickness of potty training depends upon how well attuned you are to the puppy's signals. However, each puppy develops physiological bladder control at a different age, before which the puppy can not prevent accidents. I have found that males potty train more easily than females.
Some folks have had great success with the "bell" training technique: Purchase a cluster of sleigh bells and attach to a heavy cord. Hang the cord with the cluster of bells to the door knob of the door your vizsla uses to go outside in the morning. The bells should be eye level to your vizsla and securely attached to the door knob. When you next let your vizsla outside, ring the cluster of bells before opening the back door. You want your vizsla to associate the ringing of the bells with the door opening to go out. Be sure to do this every time you let your vizsla outside. If your vizsla sniffs the bells or otherwise acknowledges them, give praise and a treat. Within a week or two, your vizsla will attempt to ring the bell if you've been consistent with training. If (s)he rings the bell, praise profusely and immediately let him/her outside. Continue the routine of praising your vizsla and letting him/her out each time (s)he rings the bell successfully. You could further reinforce this behavior by using a cookie or other treat. Most vizslas will be able to successfully master this trick if they're trained consistently and given positive reinforcement during the training process. Pretty soon the process of ringing the bell and being let outside will become second nature to your vizsla.
V. FEEDING YOUR VIZSLA
When we send your puppy home, we will give you explicit feeding instructions. Puppies are on three meals daily until approximately 14 weeks, at which time they can receive the same amount of food in two meals (around 14 weeks, you will notice that your puppy is not that interested in a lunchtime meal). When your puppy reaches six months of age, I would recommend switching over to a grain free formula (which has many of the benefits of feeding raw). When the puppy is an adult, you may want to cut back to one meal daily, or you may wish to keep your vizsla on two meals. There are differing opinions as to which method is better, and you should choose the method with which you are comfortable. We presently raise our puppies on Annamaet Encore 25%, and would like the pups on that food for the first 6 months of their lives - after 6 months, we recommend changing over to a grain free food because we are concerned about long term exposure to the rice in grain diets. Do not mix foods, but we have had good luck rotating in a new flavor or food when starting a new bag. We rotate between the Annamaet Grain Free varieties (Salcha, Manitok & Aqualuk), Wellness Core Ocean and Earthborn varieties (Primitive Natural, Coastal Catch & Great Plains Feast) - some believe that it is good to change the foods up frequently - if one food is deficient in some ingredient, the other is likely not to be deficient in that same ingredient.
If you want, you can mix in a small amount of moist meat (use a premium meat or fish moist meat). The amount of food to feed is determined in part by the product (digestibility) and in part by your vizsla's calorie needs, a function of metabolism and amount of exercise. The best way to determine whether your vizsla is eating the right amount is by evaluating how (s)he looks: If your vizsla looks fat (you can see no trace of a rib), cut back on the food and/or increase the amount of exercise. If your vizsla looks too thin (you can see more than a trace of ribs, or the backbone or hip bones are protruding), increase the food intake.
Watch your vizslas weight and attitude. If you can see all his or her ribs, backbone or hip bones, or if (s)he seems hungry, increase the food intake. If you can't see a trace of ribs, (s)he may be too fat. If in doubt, consult me or your vet for advice. Note that intense ear scratching or paw licking could be the sign of a food allergy. It may be necessary to change up the food if these symptoms appear.
Common Sense Feeding Tips
1. Avoid strenuous exercise immediately before or after a meal.
2. Leave at least one hour after a meal before taking your vizsla in the car.
3. Do not feed your vizsla at the table. Once a beggar, always a beggar.
4. Use common sense in giving "extras" to your vizsla, and aim for a nutritionally balanced diet. Most premium dog foods recommend against table scraps, though I think reasonable amounts are fine - just use commons sense.
5. Some Big No-Nos: Some foods we eat are toxic to dogs and can cause death!
An Important List of Things to NEVER feed Your Dog
MILK and CHEESE
ONIONS and GARLIC
RAISINS and GRAPES
APPLE CORES & CORN COBS
Avoid sugary products. Extremely acidic or spicy foods and most milk products can cause diarrhea. For safety be sure that the garbage is out of your vizslas reach. Do not leave food on the counter within reach of your vizsla! That is why God invented microwaves! :-)
And on a related topic, here are other common household exposures your dog might ingest that could kill him/her - Source: website: http://hubpages.com/hub/Are-You-Killing-Your-Dog-With-Everyday-People-Food-10-Bad-Treats-for-Your-Good-Dog
Top 10 Poisons For Dogs As Per The Pet Toxin Helpline
Top 10 Pet Poisonings;
(In Order Of Helpline Calls)
Insect bait stations
Rodenticides (mouse and rat poison)
Xylitol-containing products such as sugar-free gums and candies and also many of the specialty peanut butters
Silica gel packs
Amphetamines, such as ADD/ADHD drugs
Also, antifreeze is very appealing to dogs and even a small amount can be very deadly - keep antifreeze stored away from your vizsla and be careful not to spill. Many household and outdoor plants, and certain types of outdoor mulch, are poisonous to dogs. Keep ALL medications out of reach. You can not be too careful!!!!
VI. MEDICATIONS AND VETERINARY TRIPS
Always use common sense. Consult your veterinarian for exact details as to all of your vizsla's preventive medical needs/schedules or any time you believe something is not right. Of course, it would also be wise to touch base with me, because perhaps I will have experienced whatever you are going through. You know your vizsla better than anyone else, and your veterinarian must rely upon you to provide information as to symptoms, changes, etc. In addition to your annual preventive trips to the vet, consult your vet if you notice unusual behavior. Watch for signs of reaction to routine shots and vaccines. Sudden housebreaking violations may be indicative of a urinary tract infection (not uncommon in young puppies); ear pawing may indicate an ear infection. Follow your instincts. If you think there is a problem, there probably is!
1. Health Exam and Puppy Shots: Your puppy was examined by a licensed veterinarian and found to be in good health. Your puppy also received the first set of shots that same day. A certificate of innoculations and examination indicating the date and type of shot administered to your puppy is included in each puppy kit. Bring the health record to your veterinarian on your first visit so that (s)he will know the date and type of vaccine your puppy has received. Your vet will provide you with the inoculation schedule you should follow. Under Connecticut law, your puppy will need a rabies shot at three months of age (this shot should NOT be done in conjunction with any other shots). In addition to the balance of the DHLPP series, I would ask your vet about the bordatella vaccine.
There is a lot of disagreement on how much vaccination is actually needed for our pups, and I firmly believe that we have in the past harmed the immune systems of our vizslas by over-vaccination. One proponent of a more holistic vaccination approach is Dr. Jean Dodds. Dr. Dodds 2013-2014 Canine Vaccination Protocol (clickable link) is one option for people who believe minimal vaccinations are advisable. It is not the protocol I follow or recommend. It is always a matter of judgment and choice.
My vets give the puppies a DHPP vaccine at around 8 weeks of age - I try to have the vaccine done as late as close to 8 weeks as possible to minimize the impact of the maternal antibodies that may interfere with the vaccine's efficacy prior to that date (and some believe that maternal antibodies may interfere even longer). DHPP Vaccination(Canine): Canine Distemper, Adenovirus/Hepatitis, Parainfluenza & Parvovirus. This vaccination includes several viral agents important for the health of your pet. It enables your pet to develop immunity against certain serious and even fatal diseases. Pets may become infected by direct contact with other animals or indirectly, when exposed to viruses and bacteria carried in the air, soil or on clothing. Fortunately, we can easily prevent most of these diseases using modern vaccines. For this reason, even pets kept exclusively inside need to be vaccinated.
I do recommend that my puppy people get leptosporosis included in their later shots, but never do it in the 1st shot because that is such a reactive component (with the 3rd and 4th shots for the pups I have kept, though I might have done it with the 2nd), and I also recommend one parvo innoculation after 20 weeks of age (because of articles I have read recommending that a post-20 week parvo is essential to protection). I prefer shots at one month intervals. I ask that rabies be done stand alone (not with any other shots). I do recommend the bordatella vaccine as well - and that can be done at any time.
I also recommend the pups get their booster one year later as a DHLPP ...after that, I am just not sure - certainly not more frequently than every three years - my vet said that the latest AVMA is a 3 year protocol - I have done some titres, I have vaccinated bitches who I am breeding even sooner than 3 years (though not recently)...it is really frustrating because this issue is so ever-changing. I try not to totally overstep on my puppy families' vets, but as I said I do believe a lot of health problems result from over-vaccination - a protocol as follows seems reasonable:
Around 8 weeks - DHPP & Fecal Check & Start Heartworm Preventative
Around 9 weeks - Bortadella (kennel cough) at go home visit
Around 12 weeks - DHLPP & Fecal Check
Around 14 weeks - Rabies shot (if your state allows, do this at 18 - 20 weeks - I think this is TOO YOUNG to get a rabies shot)
Around 16 weeks - DHLPP & Fecal Check
At 20 weeks or later - PARVO shot
First booster on DHLPP one year after final puppy shot in series. First booster on RABIES to make it a THREE YEAR vaccine one year after puppy rabies shot. After that, RABIES as required by law (every 3 years in CT) and DHLPP or titres not more frequently than every three years. Annually have a 4DX snap test done (checks for heartworm, lyme & canine ehrlichiosis) and check fecals. There seems to be growing support for the belief that DHLPP type vaccination beyond the puppy series and first year booster is more detrimental than beneficial - and we are now lucky enough to titre to make sure our pets are still protected.
This link will take you to the AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) Guidelines recently published. There is a lot of good information at this website. https://www.aaha.org/guidelines/canine_vaccination_guidelines.aspx
At the bottom of this page is handout of vaccination recommendations that I obtained at a vaccination seminar I attended in the Fall of 2013 - these make a LOT of sense to me!
2. Heartworm & Tick/Flea Preventatives:
HEARTWORM PREVENTION *MANDATORY* TICK AND FLEA PREVENTION *OPTIONAL*
HEARTWORM PREVENTION *MANDATORY*
Your puppy should be started on heartworm medication immediately. Discuss the various heartworm protection options available when you take your puppy to the vet. The risk of heartworm is serious and severe, and I 100% advocate monthly heartworm protection. This is not optional protection – it is mandatory. When I made the switch from daily heartworm preventative to monthly heartworm preventative (and I did not do this right away because of my wariness of new products), I chose Heartguard Plus, then switched over to Interceptor. At this point, I use and prefer Interceptor, but have no objection to the use of Heartguard. Because no heartworm medication is 100% effective, you should have your vizsla tested each spring for heartworm (I would do the 4DX test). My vet recommend dosing every month, even in cold New England winter months.
I have become very concerned about some of the heartworm and flea products being administered to the puppies I send home - so though I do not like to tread on the turf of your veterinarians, I feel I must provide some additional information for you to think about. USE COMMON SENSE! DO NOT USE WHAT YOU DON’T NEED. AVOID THE COMBINATION PRODUCTS!
TICK AND FLEA PREVENTION *OPTIONAL*
#1 I do NOT think it is healthy or wise to give a vizsla an oral ingestible product on a monthly basis that contains insecticide (like spinosad) or pesticide (like lufenuron). Look at the chart at the following link! This is downright scary! If a product is not safe for a pregnant or lactating bitch, I want to know why and I do not want to put that product into my vizsla. http://marvistavet.com/flea-product-comparison.pml
#2. Most of these combination tick and flea products are relatively new to the market. RULE #1 which I always follow is do NOT give your pet a product that is new to the market! I like the product to have been around for many years, safely in use, before I feel even remotely safe using it! I did not switch for years from the daily to the monthly heartworm preventative when that whole changeover occurred. I use the same criteria for my medicines.
#3. Assess the risk and weigh the pros and cons of different options, with the main goal being to keep chemicals on your vizsla to a minimum. If you don’t have a serious problem with ticks and fleas, and you can manage the tick problem with daily inspections, it is not necessary to use any product on your vizsla! There are several natural alternatives that you can use for this purpose (like Skin-So-Soft and other natural sprays like Alzoo, Mercola, Dr. Bens Cedar Spray).
#4 If you decide you do need to have a product to repel ticks and take care of fleas, I use the FRONTLINE TOP SPOT (fipronil). No product is without some risk, but this product has been around since the ‘90s. Most homeopathic vets I have asked have told me this is the least of the evils available. The product is put on the skin and is intended to work in the dermal layer – it is not supposed to go into organs – I have read articles that in fact some of the fipronil does actually get further into the body, and traces can be detected in organs – but the main focus of this product is not internal! Also because ticks tend to disappear in the heat of the summer, and in the cold of the winter, I usually only do 2 or 3 applications of this product each year. I usually wait 6 weeks in between dosing. Again, assess the risk each month! This is so much better than having your dog ingest insecticides and pesticides on a monthly basis! this freaks me out!
I do not give Lyme Disease Shots to my vizslas, but am not recommending either way on this one. I have concerns about the effectiveness of the shot and it only prevents Lyme Disease - however, there seems to be more evidence that the Merial Lyme shot does have some protectiveness against Lyme Disease, so I can not make a recommendation either way - most vizslas I have owned have had the other tick diseases concurrent with Lyme. I used to be opposed to using any tick preventative. However, after so many problems with tick diseases, I am now using regular (not plus) FRONTLINE on my dogs in heavy tick months. This goes against my intuition, and there are studies showing that it is not as safe for the humans in the family to contact this product, but having first-hand experienced that tick-borne illness, I now believe leaving the dogs totally unprotected is a greater risk than the Frontline (most vets with whom I have consulted have said this is the safest of similar products on the market, and the only one some would use). As noted earlier, each year I run the 4DX panel on all my dogs to make sure they are not ill.
3. Worming Medication: As a routine precaution, worming medication was dispensed; the type and date of administration is shown on the back of the health certificate.
4. Menses/Puberty: The time of first onset of menses in the female, and the time of subsequent cycles, varies from bitch to bitch, but generally falls between 11 and 24 months. My girls have first cycled from 11 to 15 months and then every 6 to 10 months thereafter. "Normal" encompasses a broad spectrum. Each bitch is different, and each cycle for a bitch may be different, or not. Males generally reach puberty between 8 and 12 months (e. g., lifting their legs to urinate). Deviations from these ages is likely perfectly normal.
5. Over-the-Counter Products: BE CAREFUL! Read the labels, follow directions, and watch for reactions. Consult your vet if you have any questions. Many products that are safe for an adult vizsla are not safe for a puppy. I have had two puppies react to overdoses of flea products - use these products sparingly. If a product sounds too good to be true, maybe it is.
VII. CRATE TRAINING
Crate training is highly recommended. Not only does this give your puppy a safe haven when (s)he wants to be alone (probably not too often), but it gives you a safe place to keep the puppy when you can not watch what the puppy is doing. Crate training can also assist in housetraining. A few tips:
Do not use the crate for punishment.
Do not use the crate for more than a few hours at a time (exception: if the puppy sleeps in the crate overnight).
Keep children out of the crate - this is the place to which the puppy can escape if (s)he needs some quiet time.
VIII. LEAD BREAKING
The first few times you place your puppy on a leash, let the puppy lead you around. Then, gradually begin verbally coaxing the puppy to come with you. If the puppy is pulling, try walking the other way and coaxing the puppy along - treats may prove helpful. Don't forget to bring lots of treats to "encourage" your puppy! :-)
IX. USEFUL WEB SITES
http://www.homeadvisor.com/r/pet-proofing-home-yard/ :a great resource guide for making your home and yard pet safe
http://safestars.org/pet-safety-review/ : another great resource guide for basic pet safety at home, during holidays and while traveling
https://breazy.com/blogs/education/effects-of-air-pollution-on-pets Thank you Brittany for sharing this one!
www.dogfoodadvisor.com: provides food reviews/ratings for most pet foods. Sign up for notices on pet food recalls.
www.wholedogournal.com: a wonderful publication that provides a lot of information on keeping pets healthy and happy
http://www.expertise.com/home-and-garden/pet-safety-guide : a great resource guide for keeping your pet safe at home
http://www.physicaltherapists.com/articles/physical-therapy-for-pets.html a great resource guide for physical therapy and rehabilitation services for your pet
www.offa.org Hip x-ray and other health clearance information
www.akc.org Website of the American Kennel Club
www.vcaweb.org Website of the Vizsla Club of America
www.vizsladatabase.com Pedigree Research Tool, including COI
www.infodog.com List of dog shows and dog show results MB-F
www.raudogshows.com List of dogs shows and results RAU
There are also volumes of books on vizslas…a few of popular ones are The Vizsla, by B.C. Boggs, The Versatile Vizsla, by Marion Coffman; and The Complete Vizsla, by Gay Gottlieb.
There is a national club (Vizsla Club of America, Inc.) and there are also regional vizsla clubs. If you are interested in becoming a member of any vizsla clubs, let me know and I will get you the paperwork.