Why dog walking is vital to a happy healthy Vizsla puppyRecently we were very happy to welcome this cure vizsla puppy Otto to our pack. We regularly show images of him on our facebook page having a great time.
When we met Otto he was just an excited jumble of legs, switching between dominant play (probably accidental) in his own home, and submissive, his main trait.
A healthy puppy who is introduced to socialisation in the critical 3-5 month window is far more likely to be able to cope with random situations of a dog park or going down the shops than any other dog. But the socialisation must be maintained if you want to keep that happy healthy inquisitive dog.
Every puppy dog has a different behaviour and intention it brings to the pack, Breed and size can have a lot to do with it, but often as a puppy the mindset of the particular dog, contributed by the parents genes dominate.
We have found that Otto loves to run and sniff each dog in the pack excitedly at the start of the walk, but then when no dog engages he gets a little bit sad.
What he is leaning is that the other dogs who are mature and social don't play hard challenging each other continually (though they might have a mini challenge at the start), because they have more important things to do. They will play when we have a play stop, but on the walk, we are on a simulated hunt, and they should help the pack, and so bond with the other dogs.
Any dog that has any kind of hunting dog history will immediately set about sniffing objects and cataloguing the scents in the park. How they compare to the last time they were there and what they know the different animals to smell like, They are also trying to find trails of prey. They work cooperatively - you will see this when one stops for a long time and intently sniffs the others will join in, this is not just 'fun' this is a serious pack hunt. This is what vies them such massive satisfaction when they return because they have been equally mentally and physically satisfied by their adventure.
What the vizsla is learning in the photoAlmost every interaction in the park has a profound meaning for the dogs. they live in the moment and do things intentionally.
IN this photo my dog is in the background, he will sniff all new dogs eventually to learn what they are on about.
The vizsla rushed into have a sniff early of the whitish Maltese cross to the left, and the dark grey schnoodle to the right. The other more social dogs (i.e. have been doing it longer) knew early on by body language that the Maltese was very friendly and open to sniffing, but the grey one was quite anxious and partially aggressive at any close quick intrusion. it was safe enough to be off lead in the park, but the other dogs knew to give it space and when to approach.
Tilly jack Russell far right of picture is having a smell of the slightly angry dog's anal gland scent. This gives a dog the most complete picture of the chemical and medical history of a dog. Tilly is one of the most social dogs I have ever walked as well as being an exceptional hunter. She knows exactly how to approach any dog, and she is often the first to do so, when she reads that she has been given permission. Apache the staffy is following Tilly's lead and waiting for her to sniff first this time.
By the Vizsla pup seeing all our social dogs in our pack interact with new dogs, it is learning invaluable lessons that dog training can't teach. It is a smart dog learning on each walk how much our pack wants to play, and how to approach new dogs - and which dogs not to approach.
We often hear about people keeping their dogs away from dog parks, because they or their dogs once had a scare. I would like to tell you of how selfish this act is, but I am running a business! It is fine for humans to have fears, because we can take ourselves wherever we want, but restricting a dog from its daily off lead dog walk severely diminishes its experience of the world. Leads to boredom, weight gain and many other subtle and not so subtle medical conditions and behavioural problems.
This vizsla is also slowly learning that it doesn't have to instantly roll on its back when it meets a dog, it likes to be submissive (a coping mechanism to be liked), but some less social dogs will misinterpret this as an invite to attack. This vizsla is well on its way to leading a long and happy social life. And most likely the owner's friends will be amazed when they visit, because this dog is going to be well trained and 100% social - exactly the kind of dog that many people dream about.
But without effort does not come socialisation. Hence our mantra of one big off lead dog walk per day (ideally in the morning) for a happy healthy dog.