Vizslas are fun, athletic, energetic, smart, and loving dogs that are steadily growing in popularity in recent years because of these attributes.
When you read “smart” in a dog breed’s list of traits, you might assume that it means “easy to train.” Unfortunately, this isn’t necessarily the case. Vizslas are intelligent but mature slower than most other breeds, so training will take some patience. They also frequently have short attention spans and will easily become bored with training sessions while they are young. Obedience training is a great idea for this breed, often for up to two years, and early socialization will be vital.
That being said, Vizslas are an eager-to-please breed that can be a joy to train, but they will take some work. Let’s dig in further to learn about this fiery dog’s characteristics and traits to give you some strategies you can use when training a Vizsla.
Vizslas Are Slow To Mature, But Very Smart
It was mentioned above, but it bears repeating because despite being very intelligent dogs, it takes Vizslas a while to reach their full potential. While Vizslas are very smart and eager to please, they will require some added patience during training, and that process may last longer than you’d like.
That’s because Vizslas are slow to mature mentally. For many, two years of training at home, potentially with obedience training, in addition, will be required to help work out their mischievous energy and aggressive tendencies.
Once you’re able to work through their extended puppy phase, your Vizsla will be a very smart dog, that will actually relish the opportunity to continue training throughout his lifetime.
The Vizsla breed was created to be a working hunting dog, which means the breed still has an acute desire to have a job. They will have a strong desire to please and will work hard to learn the skills you try to teach them. Once they have their baseline training down and have matured, Vizslas can typically pick up new commands after just a few repetitions and will be capable of learning complex tricks and commands. They are natural problem solvers, which makes them adept at sporting competitions.
Start Training A Vizsla Early
Despite the fact that Vizslas are slow to develop mentally, you should still start training your dog early. Being slow to develop doesn’t mean they can’t learn anything until they are older. You can actually put yourself in a bad situation by waiting. Vizsla puppy training will be a trying time as an owner, but it’s essential to ensure you have a well-behaved dog for the rest of his life.
Vizsla Exercise Requirements
As mentioned, Vizslas have a LOT of energy, especially when they are puppies. These are not apartment dogs that you can leave alone all day and expect to be well-behaved. They have energy that you will need to burn off to keep them happy, or they could turn to destructive behavior as an outlet.
This breed will need much more than just a daily walk (although that’s a good start). Vizslas need to be able to run off leash for a good amount of time every day to be most happy. If you have a yard, great! But if not, you’ll need to at least have a park nearby where you can let your Vizsla run.
With regards to training, a tired puppy will generally be easier to deal with than one with pent-up energy. Not sleepy tired, but somewhere in between is ideal. This will help hold your pup’s attention as you run through your Vizsla puppy training.
There are also ways to use training to channel a Vizslas boundless energy. They excel at agility training in particular, which is essentially the best blend of exercise and training that you can find. As long as you are able to stimulate their bodies and minds, they will remain happy dogs.
Vizslas Are Velcro Dogs
Vizslas aren’t meant to be left in a yard or couped up anywhere away from the family all day. Bred as affectionate hunting and field dogs, they NEED to be with their family. If you get up and go to another room; chances are your Vizsla will follow. You can expect your Vizsla to sleep and lay at your feet any chance they get.
But if this breed is left alone to their own devices — it’s bad news for you. This isn’t a dog that can raise himself or be independently happy, a neglected Vizsla will become bored, lonely, and destructive, and that’s not what you want in a pet.
Training A Vizsla With Children
Vizsla’s are generally very loving dogs who are tolerant of kids and happy to play with them, but they will need to be trained on how to play gently with small children.
As hunting dogs, Vizslas have a high drive to do just that — hunt! And unfortunately, children will sometimes unwittingly act as prey when they play with the dog.
Because Vizslas are so extremely needy for attention, they earned the “Velcro dogs” nickname mentioned above. Unfortunately, this means they can get jealous of children and see them as competition. This can cause a bit of an in-house rivalry if you aren’t careful or able to dedicate enough time to your dog.
It exacerbates the problem you had the dog first, and they had become accustomed to being the center of attention and get attached to a routine. To keep your dog happy, you’ll have to make sure not to neglect your Vizsla if you introduce a new human family member.
Sometimes Vizslas can get too excited and become overwhelming for young children, easily knocking them over. Despite having a good reputation with kids, being good with children does not mean that your dog will take all amounts of abuse and never lash out with a growl or bite. All dogs will have their limits, and children tend to test them. No matter how much you trust your dog, you should never leave a small child alone with a Vizsla, or any dog for that matter. Constant supervision and training will be required.
This actually goes for both dog and kids — meaning just as you will need to train your dog, you’ll also need to teach your kids how to gently interact with your Vizsla. A dog is not a toy, but kids tend to want to tug and pull on the animal’s tail or ears, and may force the dog to react. All dogs will mouth and bite at small children, puppies in particular. While playing, they may steal their toys or knock them down, and your children will have to know how to handle such situations.
Furthermore, if you bring home a Vizsla puppy, you should also teach your children that the puppy’s crate is off limits to them. Your child needs to respect your dog’s space, and their crate is their safe haven. You’ll also need to teach your child not to approach your dog when it’s eating or sleeping.
Vizslas & Other Dogs & Animals
Vizslas are generally friendly and should get along with other dogs and animals, especially if they are socialized early or are raised along with others. They aren’t very aggressive dogs and don’t have much of a history of fighting or trying to exert their dominance. But given their history as hunting dogs, they might not be great if you have birds or small animals like rabbits, gerbils, or hamsters.
Crate Training A Vizsla
Crate training a puppy is an important part of the training process, and an effective method to help potty train your dog.
Your crate should be a comfortable space for your Vizsla puppy to stay in while you are away, rather than used as a time-out area. You want your Vizsla puppy to actually like his crate, not view it as a place of punishment.
You can make your Vizsla feel that his crate is a safe and happy space by putting blankets and toys inside to make sure your puppy is comfortable and has something to do.
Toys like Kongs that you stuff with treats make great activities for puppies in their crate. At night, you might consider throwing a sheet over the crate to create a cozy den for him to sleep in, and not be distracted by everything going on outside the crate.
To use a crate effectively, you should always take your Vizsla to his designated spot outside to go to the bathroom every time you release it from the crate. Generally, a dog will not want to go potty in his crate, so he will have to go whenever you let him out. By taking him outside directly, your puppy will learn that this is the proper behavior, and eventually, you can stop utilizing the crate as your dog learns to not go in the house.
Puppy training a Vizsla can take anywhere from a few days to a couple months, depending on the dog and your consistency as a trainer. You’ll need to establish a clear routine, and stick to it as much as you can. And don’t allow your puppy to roam the house freely to help avoid it developing the habit of going potty wherever he wants.
While crate training is a great way to keep your puppy from wreaking havoc in your home while you are at work, you can’t leave him caged up the entire day. You, or someone else, will need to let your puppy out every few hours to go to the bathroom. Otherwise, your puppy will be forced to go in the crate, which will have harmful effects on the potty training process.
As for where to place your crate, you’ll generally want it to be in a common area, such as the kitchen or living room, so your puppy won’t feel isolated or lonely when he is in the crate. It’s also wise to put it near the door you’ll use to go outside because dogs typically will have to go to the bathroom immediately when you let them out. The less distance they have to travel, the better.
Using Positive Reinforcement In Vizsla Training
When training a Vizsla, it’s imperative you use positive reinforcement, as this is a very sensitive breed of dog. You should never utilize harsh treatment or negatively react toward your Vizsla if you get frustrated with him.
This will only make training more difficult, as the dog may become reluctant to train if he associates the exercises with your negativity.
Praise your dog when he does something correctly, and just keep working at it when he can’t seem to get something. This will make him eager to train, and give you a dog that will be happy to learn for his whole life.
Make Sure You Have The Time For A Vizsla
Raising a puppy is a lot of work no matter what breed you bring home, but a Vizsla, in particular, will require a lot of patience, attention, and time. This means if you have a young family, a Vizsla might not be the best dog to add to the mix. And if you already have a Vizsla and start having children, you need to make sure you still are able to give your dog enough attention.
Training, in particular, will take a lot of work and consistency, but in general, Vizslas should be able to pick up on commands and be well-behaved dogs. You as the owner just have to be realistic with the time you have to give to an animal that requires as much activity and attention as the Vizsla.