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Old December 19th, 2009, 04:52 PM
Vizsla Vizsla is offline
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Angry Vizsla puppy concerns

Hi all,

I've been lurking for a while now and have decided that I really need some advice!

We have a 10 week old Vizsla puppy. People I've spoken to at work, friends, neighbours even the breeder etc. all seem to think his behaviour is normal but my husband and I are worried its not. To the point where we are seriously considering if we can make it! (keep the puppy!)

He is pretty well housetrained now, sits on a dime, comes 70% of the time, can do a "Down" with guidance, is great in his crate, even listens to off or leave it (50%) for things like the cat food bowl, shoes etc. But his biting is out of control.

We've tried: attaching him to us with the leash. This works for about 10 minutes whereupon he thinks my pants/leg looks tasty and nips and bites. If you try to remove him off you he tugs, growls and bites harder.

If you simply try to interact with him (i.e play) he immediately wants to be in your lap. If you say "Off" and push him away, he comes back for more, mouth open ready to naw on your hand (he is not gentle).

I've tried yelping and ignoring but don't seem to be getting much of a response. I've tried a deep and menacing "NO". Same reaction as above.

In other ways he is quite submissive, allows us to handle his paws, his face, flip him on his back and rub his belly etc.

Is this normal? If so, how long does it last? What more can we do? We find it VERY frustrating that he so easily learns other things but for this seems to be making no progress. Its very difficult to want to play with him if all he wants to do is bite!

Thanks for your advice!
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Old December 19th, 2009, 05:50 PM
t.pettet t.pettet is offline
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Vizsla puppy

Wow at 10 weeks he's house-trained, sits etc. so you are definitely doing something right but am wondering about his exercise regime, not just walkies but running, playing with another pup, perhaps at a dog park. Vizslas are high energy and perhaps he's just bored and needs more stimulation, my favourite quote is 'a tired dog is a good dog' so set up some play-dates with other pups, enroll him in obedience classes and when he nips/bites tell him a strong no, make him sit and replace your pant leg or hand with something to chew like a large marrow bone from the butchers or a kong filled with peanut butter.
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Old December 19th, 2009, 06:21 PM
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Great advice, t.pettet!

I have a friend who is fostering a dog (also a puppy) who has seemed to aquire this behaviour as well... nipping, biting etc. the trainer she consulted suggested keeping a spray bottle handy and squirting him with water every time he does it... and it worked! He looked so startled after the first time, he hasn't tried it since!
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Old December 19th, 2009, 06:41 PM
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I would continue to work on discouraging the biting, but I do think it is VERY normal. When my border collie mix was a pup he bit us on a pretty regular basis until he was about 16 weeks, despite using every trick in the book we could find. He is now an incredibly gentle dog and has no aggression issues....so please don't see this as such a serious concern that you can't keep your pup. This sounds pretty normal to me. Like all puppy issues, as long as you continue to address it it WILL get better in time.
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Old December 19th, 2009, 06:53 PM
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As the mom of a 17 week old pup, I can tell you that what you are dealing with is VERY normal.

Keep doing what you are doing. Redirect the biting to a toy as often as possible and try, try, try to get puppy to sit before petting and loving on it.

The more you can do to wear your puppy out, the better off you are. A tired puppy just doesn't have the energy to jump up and bite at you.
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Old December 19th, 2009, 08:03 PM
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I'm going to have to jump on the "perfectly normal" bandwagon. Puppies explore the world with their mouths...including hands, pants, shoes etc etc... Expect some mouthiness for a while still...as in months...you haven't even really gotten into the teething stage yet, when the chewies can become a major issue. Continue to be consistent with the "NO" or yelp when human skin is touched with teeth---this is a no-no. If you watch a pack of dogs with a pup, however, much play is done with the mouth; grabbing fur, tugging ears and lips, "sparring"...it's part of their learning to socialize, but it's also your job to set the boundaries of acceptable behaviour, and it sounds like you're on the right track.
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Old December 19th, 2009, 08:56 PM
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He is sooo young, only 10 weeks! I think your expectations a bit too high for such a young pup. He IS playing with you - he just doesn't understand that you don't want to play with his sharp teeth, it takes a lot of time for them to learn to inhibit such a strong natural instinct.
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Old December 20th, 2009, 03:23 AM
IzziGirl IzziGirl is offline
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Our dog was exactly the same! He housetrained beautifully and right away, learned all the commands, but still nibbled for months. What we did was whenever he bit, we immediately stopped playing/petting/praising/whatever and sat very still and said "No!" and pushed him off our laps/couch/whatever and told him to go to bed. It took about six months for him to get it with us, and up to a year for him to be good with strangers who came over. He's two now, and I haven't seen him nibble or nip in months and months.

Does your dog seem to be doing it out of playfulness? With ours, he was clearly just wildly in love with everyone and need to nibble on them to prove it. He only growls when we're playing with him-- tug of war, etc. Is the growling he does when you tell him "no" aggressive, or is he playing?

If it's the latter, just buckle up and it WILL get better. All signs point to you having a really well-behaved dog. If it's the former, or your concerned for the safety of your kids, etc, then definitely talk to a behavioralist.
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Old December 20th, 2009, 06:52 AM
Vizsla Vizsla is offline
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Wow! Thanks for all the support.

I guess our gut feeling was he was just being a puppy. My concern was the growling indicated something more serious. There have a been a few episodes when you try to take away something (usually clothing, not his toys for some reason) he starts this really frenzied growling like you're killing him. High pitched, not like a regular playful growl.

Another question, just how much undivided attention should I be giving him? He gets two 15 minute walks a day. A few short training sessions and then he is given a toy to play with under supervision. Is this not enough do you think? He seems to get bored exceptionally quickly. I am also concerned that too much walking at this age is not good for him.

All in all I think its like a case of self diagnosis! You start reading up on things and you convice yourself you have a terminal illness!!
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Old December 20th, 2009, 07:34 AM
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Sib.HuskyMom Sib.HuskyMom is offline
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aw, the puppy phase. I remember it well.
I had 2 at the same time and even now, they're only a year and a half old. I knew how to care for an older dog and I knew how to care for a dog with health problems, but puppies were a whole new world for me.

My boys were never really biters, but they did love to chew. I found that a stern 'no' was not enough, I had to replace the "unchewable" object with a toy of their own that they could have. That really helped and soon we didn't have to worry about it anymore.

I've also learned how important it is to mentally stimulate a dog. Now, my boys are older and I give them a frozen kong almost every day. I fill only fill it with organic / natural food (even scrambled eggs sometimes!), so it's healthier for them and it'll keep them busy for a good half hour or longer.
When they were 10 weeks, they had a little purple toy that I would put kibble in and they had roll it around to figure out how to get the food out. It's amazing how tired they get after some good mental stimulation (just like figuring out a hard math problem ).
Combine that with the exercise, and you should have a good tired pup.

P.S.
Congratulations on your little one! Sounds like you're doing such a good job with him. Have any pictures?
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Old December 20th, 2009, 07:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vizsla View Post
when you try to take away something (usually clothing, not his toys for some reason) he starts this really frenzied growling like you're killing him. High pitched, not like a regular playful growl.
Is it kind of more like a "yelp"? It almost sounds like he's trying to manipulate you so that you'll feel bad and give it back to him.
At this age, he's trying to push his boundries to see what he can get away with.
Never give in, or he wins.

A friend of mine told me once that whenever you're playing with a puppy and the game is over, ALWAYS make sure that you're the one who ends up with the toy (whether you're playing tug of war, fetch, whatever). Remember, you're alpha.

Then, you can put the toy away (on top of the fridge or something). You can always give it back later when he's not paying attention.
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Old December 20th, 2009, 08:09 AM
Vizsla Vizsla is offline
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I have a few really great pictures but have no idea how to post them!
Can't I just post a photobucket URL?
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Old December 20th, 2009, 08:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vizsla View Post
I have a few really great pictures but have no idea how to post them!
Can't I just post a photobucket URL?
If you just use the last link under the photo in photobucket - you don't have to use anything on the control panel above where you post. Just copy there and paste it here. Make sure to put it in the photo section!
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Old December 20th, 2009, 08:30 AM
Vizsla Vizsla is offline
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http://i763.photobucket.com/albums/x...o/DSC00994.jpg

Attempt #1.
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Old December 20th, 2009, 08:34 AM
Vizsla Vizsla is offline
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http://i763.photobucket.com/albums/x...o/DSC00996.jpg
http://i763.photobucket.com/albums/x...o/DSC00999.jpg
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Old December 20th, 2009, 08:55 AM
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Absolutely freakin' adorable.
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Old December 20th, 2009, 09:57 AM
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OK... How freaken cute is he?
Love his wrinkles on his head
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Old December 20th, 2009, 09:58 AM
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What a cutie!!!!

Re: growling....I would give it a bit of time before I got concerned. My border collie mix growled constanly as a pup.....when you tried to take away a toy, when he was chewing a toy, when he got zoomies.....all the time! As he got a little older and learned all his commands, i.e "drop it" we realized that the growl was not at all possessive. He's a very submissive boy and gives up whatever he has in a second if we tell him to. The growling for him is just a personality trait.....he just likes to talk! He doesn't do it as much now but still has a pretty "vicious" growl whenever we play tug with him. Some people misinterpret it.....but the fact that he ALWAYS lets us win is what is important.
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Old December 20th, 2009, 05:39 PM
Vizsla Vizsla is offline
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Well, today it really escalated. We had thought that we should get him some more interactive toys to keep his mind busy. So we bought little treats to stuff in his kong and a beef knuckle bone.

We have not had issues with taking his toys away in the past, although as I said he has had this high pitched growling whenever he latched onto our clothing and we tried to remove ourselves.

In any case, we gave him the bone after a sit/down/rollover excercise. After a few minutes we told him to leave it. Big mistake, he bit my husband and very nearly got me. Again, this high pitched snarling, growling, bared teeth reaction. Absolutely vicious. FAR FAR worse than anything to date.

We had to hang onto him until he settled down because he was quite prepared to lunge/bite us again.

What now???
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Old December 20th, 2009, 06:03 PM
t.pettet t.pettet is offline
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Vizsla puppy

Put him a sit position and hand feed him kibble with a closed fist. If he jumps at your hand give him a loud no and re-sit him and start over. He has to learn whose boss and what is acceptable, also patience. If dealing with him is too scary for you then consult a behaviourist/trainer and enroll him into obedience.
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Old December 20th, 2009, 07:03 PM
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You've gotten some great advice, Vizsla. One added piece--to help you hang onto your patience until you can get his behavior under control, buy yourself a pair of bicycle gloves--the kind that cover the back and palm of the hand but leave the fingers free. I vowed never to raise another puppy without a pair in the house. They allow you to concentrate on the training of your puppy and not on how much your hands feel like hamburger...
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Old December 20th, 2009, 07:08 PM
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How are you training him, what is a "rollover exercise" exactly, and where did you learn this training?

Something to think about...would you consider the incident today as him being defensive rather than simply aggressive?
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Old December 20th, 2009, 07:16 PM
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My BIL and SIL had a Vizsla for 13 years and he just recently pass away. He was an amazing dog and true companion. So well tempered with young children and just an all around dream pet.

10 weeks is still VERY young and I'm sure your little guy has a fair bit of life learning experiences to overcome. If I may add to all the other advice, real lime is a life saver for unwanted chewing, gnawing and biting behavior.

Buy real lime (not lemon) and cut a wedge and carry with you withing arms reach. When he starts to chew on your hand or anything you don't want him to chew on, rub the wedge of lime onto the tip of his nose and gently squeeze the lime to get some juice out. Trust me!! This so works and will stop him dead in his tracks. Immediately give him something that is acceptable to chew on.

Now I have to go back and check out the pictures of your little guy! Good Luck
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Old December 20th, 2009, 07:20 PM
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A raw bone is a very high reward item. Remember that a 10-week old puppy is operating on 100% instinct - he's looking to satisfy HIS needs and hasn't yet developed a desire to please you. That takes time and training. I would focus heavily on "Drop it" and "Leave it" commands (remember these are not learned overnight though!) and get to a puppy class as soon as he's got all his shots.

I would also recommend you google "NILF training" - this will get you started on the right path towards him learning that you are the boss and he is not.

Although his growling does sound like it is more than the "talking' I experienced with my dog, it is a problem that is very easy to address. It does not mean that you have a vicious dog on your hands, though puppy needle teeth CAN make it feel that way sometimes.
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Old December 20th, 2009, 07:21 PM
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O.K...so I just looked at the pictures of him and he is so adorable. The sweaters just add comfort to the pictures as well.

BTW...what is his name?
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Old December 20th, 2009, 07:25 PM
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A certain amount of chewing/nipping is actually a good thing (as long as it's in play). This is how dogs/puppies teach each other "soft mouth" (learning to control the force of their bites). If there's no other dog around to teach puppies, then it's our job to teach them. As Hazel suggested, get a pair of gloves. Actually let him nip and on only the hardest of bites, yelp, and walk away for 5-10 minutes and ignore him. Do not scold him for natural canine behavior. Within a few days, you'll notice his bites may get a bit softer. Now, at the next level of bite intensity, yelp and walk away. This can go on for several weeks to a month before he's very gently gnawing on your hands. At that point, you can teach him to not make any teeth/skin contact at all by yelping once again and then ignoring him.

Please do not punish him using aversives as it will only serve to have him not trust you. Teach him rather than punish him.
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Old December 20th, 2009, 09:15 PM
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Hi,

Just to clarify a few things.

Roll over means just that. As in "Bruin, sit, Bruin roll over!"

If you mean defensive reaction as in he is afraid of us, then absolutely not. He has 0% reason to fear us.

He was defending very AGRESSIVELY his tasty food. We have had our fingers in his food dish from pretty much day 1 with no such issues.

His reaction was not nipping, it was snarling, lip curled teeth showing bite!

I accept the opinion that the bone was a high value item and also that he does not yet feel the need to please us.

In general he comes across as a very confident puppy, ears perked, tail up, very little sumbissive behaviour.

We will look into the NILF, although to a great extent I think we do this.
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Old December 20th, 2009, 09:23 PM
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I have had this with my Shiba when he was a puppy (about the recent incident).

Like a child, young pups (especially at 10 weeks) really have lapses in behaviour - it is sort of like a toddler throwing a tantrum or freaking out. They are so young and can easily lose the concept of YOU being the boss - when something bright/shiny/tasty perks their interest.

It is a shock - yes - and he should be "punished". For me, I took away the high value item (I think it was a bone too) and he did not receive one again for many, many weeks. If he can't play nice with it - he doesn't have it. That was my punishment - it was more of a prevention tactic than anything else.

I think again, this is an age thing. While the training is important, I think perhaps it might be a bit much to expect from such a young pup. There are important safety commands, but something like roll-over really isn't necessary at this time. He's only been away from mom for 2 weeks right? I think it's a bit much.
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Old December 20th, 2009, 09:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vizsla View Post
He was defending very AGRESSIVELY his tasty food. We have had our fingers in his food dish from pretty much day 1 with no such issues.

I would keep doing that...play with his food while he eats and even take it away part way through and make him sit to get it back.


I accept the opinion that the bone was a high value item and also that he does not yet feel the need to please us.

Exactly - I think this is a big part of the incident you described. Doesn't mean he will end up aggressive in the long run - he just needs to learn.

We will look into the NILF, although to a great extent I think we do this.
NILF is invaluable in my opnion, but it's not a quick fix. It can take months for a dog, especially a pup, to catch on to the lessons it provides. But try to keep it up and be consistent. Sitting for treats, toys, attention etc....stopping and waiting at doors and allowing you to go first. Once he's got "sit" and "wait" down with no trouble you can incorporate this into your everyday routine.
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Old December 20th, 2009, 09:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vizsla View Post

He was defending very AGRESSIVELY his tasty food. We have had our fingers in his food dish from pretty much day 1 with no such issues.

His reaction was not nipping, it was snarling, lip curled teeth showing bite!

I accept the opinion that the bone was a high value item and also that he does not yet feel the need to please us.
I believe you. We've experienced this ourselves.

This is just my opinion and it's not meant to offend, just to help you and your puppy. Please stop taking his stuff away from him until he's learned it's ok for you to do so. If you really don't want him to have something at this point, make sure it's not within his reach.

It's normal for dogs to guard their food/high valued items. You can teach him "share" or "give" by not giving these items to him until he's learned how to give them up readily and happily. We start by giving lower valued items and teach to "trade up." Yes, at first you'll lure him by something even better in your hands. As soon as, the very instant, he's let go of what he has, you say, "give" and let him have the trade. As soon as he's done with it, you can offer him back what he originally had. Work on this for a few minutes several times a day over a few days. In a short while, you can hide a higher valued item in your hand, or behind your back and see if he'll let go of his possession. If he does, reward him. In no time, he'll be offering you whatever he has rather than thinking you're going to steal it from him.

Another way to practice "drop it": Have two of the same favorite toys of his (all our dogs including fosters love a Cuz). Throw one for him, after a minute of him playing with it, squeak an identical one in your hand. As soon as he drops the one he has, say "drop it" and throw yours to him immediately. In a short time, he'll start to bring his to you so you can give him the other.

These are such excellent fail-proof exercises to do with your dog. In case of an emergency one day, you'll want him to reliably give you something he has that may potentially be harmful...rather than run the other way with it or guard it aggressively.

In addition, rather than leaving your hands in his bowl while he eats, over the period of a few days, drop something even yummier into it as you walk by (a piece of cooked chicken, beef, whatever he likes). A few days later, stand still as you drop it into his bowl. Yet, in a couple of more days, stoop as you put it into his bowl. By the end of a couple of weeks, you can pick up his bowl to add teh yummy treat into and he'll be more than happy to let you have it without showing any aggression whatsoever. Let everyone in the home practice this, especially children (under strict supervision of course).

Dominance does not equal aggression. That works for both sides. Teach him to associate what you want with a positive outcome and he'll be more than willing to comply.
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