GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR VIZSLA
TIPS ON RAISING YOUR PUPPY
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Vizsla Personality: Living With and
Training Your Vizsla; Common Unwanted Behaviors in Puppies
Grooming Your Vizsla
Exercising Your Vizsla
Housetraining Your Vizsla
Feeding Your Vizsla
Medications and Veterinary Trips
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
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
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.
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
UNWANTED PUPPY BEHAVIORS
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.
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
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.
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 ).
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, period.]
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
WHAT TO DO:
- Substitute a toy or chew bone when the puppy tries to chew on fingers or
- 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
- 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
- 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.
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!!!
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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 -
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.
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
Around 8 weeks -
DHPP & Fecal Check & Start Heartworm Preventative
Around 9 weeks - Bortadella
(kennel cough) at go home visit
Around 12 weeks - DHLPP &
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 &
At 20 weeks or later - PARVO
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.
Here 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:
PREVENTION *MANDATORY* TICK
AND FLEA PREVENTION *OPTIONAL*
Your puppy should be started on
heartworm medication immediately. Discuss the various heartworm
protection options available when you take your puppy to the vet.
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!
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
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
#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
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
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! :-)