Vizslas are energetic, exuberant dogs that love to play. They excel as hunting dogs because of their unending energy. If you want a running, biking, or hiking canine companion, consider a Vizsla. Unfortunately, one of the traits that owners commonly complain about with Vizslas is that they jump on people – all the time!
Train a Vizsla to greet his owner and other visitors politely. Manage your Vizsla until you can establish trained behavior. Use consistent, calm training methods to teach the desirable behavior during controlled training. Ignore undesirable jumping by turning your back or walking out the door.
It is frustrating to deal with a Vizsla that jumps on you, ruining your clothes, spilling your shopping, and clawing you with sharp nails. Unfortunately, it is a common problem with Vizslas because they are high-energy dogs. It is possible to train correct greeting behavior and teach your Vizsla not to jump on people. This article will look at the reasons Vizslas jump and what to do about it.
Reasons Why A Vizsla Jumps
Vizslas jump for a variety of reasons. Vizslas are highly energetic, excitable dogs. As a natural extension of that, they tend to jump out of sheer exuberance. They become so excited to see their owners or visitors that they jump to greet everyone.
Dogs greet other dogs by touching noses or smelling faces, and Vizslas are inclined to want to greet their humans in the same way. The affectionate Vizsla wants to touch his nose to yours, and the only way to do that is to jump.
Vizslas may use jumping as a form of getting attention. This is especially true if the dog has been left by himself, and when the owner comes home, the Vizsla wants to get as much attention as possible. Some dogs have separation anxiety, and all that tension is released when the owner comes home. As a result, the Vizsla jumps onto his owner.
Occasionally an aggressive Vizsla may jump onto a person as a method of attacking the person. This pattern does not fit in with the usual temperament of a Vizsla. Still, exceptions exist, and it is wise to be aware of this reason.
Are Vizslas Too Hyper?
Many people may feel that Vizslas are too hyperactive. A Vizsla is primarily a working hunting dog. Working dogs are renowned for having high energy levels – it is what makes them good hunting dogs. Potential owners who are considering Vizslas must consider that they are high-energy dogs. The answer then is that Vizslas are not too hyper.
If an owner feels that his Vizsla is too hyperactive, he should probably not own a Vizsla. The remedy for perceived hyperactivity is to provide an outlet for the dog. The Vizsla can be worked in hunting, or he can accompany the owner on runs, bicycle rides, or hikes.
Using up energy will not necessarily cure a Vizsla of jumping, but it will make him less excitable and prone to jumping. Sports like dog agility or fly-ball are ideal for a Vizsla. The training required for these sports will assist with general obedience and may have a knock-on effect to help stop your Vizsla from jumping.
Owners Train Their Vizsla To Jump Inadvertently
Owners are often guilty of inadvertently training their Vizsla to jump up to greet them. This training starts when you come home and greet that cute puppy face. The tendency is to scoop up the puppy and cuddle him near your face while you give him an excess of attention.
The Vizsla learns that he needs to be close to your face to greet you. He also begins to expect a lot of attention immediately when you walk in the door. This carries over to his adult behavior, and suddenly you have a large Vizsla jumping on you, raking his sharp nails down your skin.
Some owners like to have their dogs jump up for a cuddle. Unfortunately, dogs cannot differentiate situations when it is acceptable to jump and when it is not permitted.
Consistency Is Essential When Training Your Vizsla
It is important to maintain consistency when training and handling your Vizsla. If you encourage your Vizsla to jump up on you to cuddle without any specific cue, then you must accept that your Vizsla will always jump on you or anyone he wishes to greet.
If you punish your Vizsla for jumping when you have taught him that it is acceptable, then your dog will perceive your behavior as being inconsistent, and this creates anxiety in your dog. Anxiety may worsen the jumping behavior as your dog is now anxious and wants even more attention and reassurance.
Consistency is essential when retraining and managing your Vizsla to stop the jumping behavior. You must follow the same procedure every time. All family members must be educated on managing the Vizsla and the correct way to train him in greeting people.
Problems Caused By A Vizsla Jumping
A Vizsla is a large dog with very sharp nails that can do a lot of damage when he jumps up on people. Although some people can cope with a Vizsla jumping, many people, such as older people or children, are too small or frail to deal with a big dog jumping on them. They can get knocked over and suffer serious injuries. Some visitors may be afraid of dogs, and being greeted by a jumping Vizsla may cause extreme anxiety and panic attacks.
A Vizsla that is over-excited is in an unbalanced state. These high levels of arousal result in dysregulation of the nervous system. Chronically increased arousal levels in a dog result in stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response). In this state, serotonin and dopamine are depleted, and cortisol and adrenaline are increased.
The change in the neurotransmitter balance causes chronic neuroinflammation, which can cause generalized pain. Although your Vizsla may seem happy when he is jumping on you, it ultimately results in a dog that is not happy and experiences more episodes of anxiety.
If you have other dogs, an over-excited, jumping Vizsla may cause problems in the pack. Dogs do not like unbalanced pack members. A Vizsla behaving in this state of hyperarousal is likely to trigger a fight amongst the dogs.
Managing A Jumping Vizsla
Until you can retrain your Vizsla, you need to implement some management strategies. The management is important as every time your Vizsla jumps up, he rewards himself by getting your attention – even if it is negative attention.
It is helpful to crate train your Vizsla. When you go out, put your Vizsla in the crate so that you can manage his greeting behavior when you return. If you are going to be out for a long time, he might not be able to stay in his crate for this period. Consider locking your Vizsla in a room or enclosed allocated area of the garden.
After you arrive home, allow a period for your Vizsla and other pets to calm down. Allow your Vizsla to come out but use a lead attached to his collar. Tell him to sit and then pet him to greet him. If your Vizsla is wild and uncontrollable and will not sit, take him for a quick walk around the garden. Ask him to sit at intervals and reward every sit with a treat.
Keep Your Behavior Calm
When you are greeting your Vizsla, keep your energy low-key. Maintain a calm, normal tone of voice and do not show too much attention to your Vizsla. Be aware that you do not alter the pitch of your voice. Some owners raise the pitch in their voices when speaking to their dogs – especially when greeting the dogs. This increases the dog’s arousal levels, and he expects something exciting to happen. Do not fuss and rub your dog, as this can also increase excitability. Your Vizsla must learn that he needs to have a calm state of mind if he wishes to greet you.
If your Vizsla jumps, do not punish or shout at him. Instead, turn your back and walk away so that he realizes jumping is unacceptable behavior, and he will be ignored if he jumps. You can even turn and go back out the door, waiting five or ten minutes before returning.
Should You Punish Your Vizsla For Jumping?
Punishing your Vizsla for jumping is not usually helpful. He is in such a high state of arousal that he cannot learn efficiently. Punishment can lead to increased anxiety levels which can, in some dogs, lead to aggression. Some trainers recommend kneeing the Vizsla in the chest, squeezing his front paws when he jumps up, or smacking his nose.
These all constitute punishment. Some dogs will happily accept any attention – even negative attention making punishment ineffectual. For others, it could cause conflict within the dog. He wishes to greet you but is afraid of the punitive reactions that he does not understand. So he jumps but then also develops other undesirable behaviors such as nervous urination.
Retraining Greeting Behavior
It is essential to decide how you want your Vizsla to greet you. Do you want your dog to stand still, sit, or would you prefer he lies down on the floor? If you only ignore the bad behavior of jumping and do not teach your Vizsla a replacement greeting behavior, you will cause frustration and confusion. Your dog wants to greet you but does not know how to do it acceptably. You will probably need a training assistant to help you work your dog.
Teach Your Vizsla to Lie Down When Greeting
Teach your dog a down command in a calm situation where no one is coming or going. Do this by asking your dog to sit. Hold a treat on the ground in front of him and give a down command. Do not let the treat go until the dog approximates lying down in some way. Gradually increase the requirement so that eventually, the dog must lie down all the way on his stomach before he receives the treat.
Most dogs will respond to the treat held on the floor by trying to lie down to get it. Cement the learning by repeating the task daily and in numerous different places in the home or when you are out walking.
Transition to training the down command when someone arrives. Ask an assistant to walk in through the door. You must hold your Vizsla on a leash and do not let him jump. The assistant rapidly throws or places a treat on the floor in front of the dog while you give the down command. Do not let this deteriorate into a crazy high-energy situation where the Vizsla snatches the treat, or the assistant throws the food with no control.
Repeat this process multiple times with different assistants. Ask the assistant to handle your Vizsla while you walk in through the door. You must place the treats on the floor while the assistant gives the down command. Work on this until the Vizsla is consistently lying down when someone arrives.
Keeping All Four Feet On The Ground
Use the above-described method and pair it with a command such as “stand.” Place treats on the floor and greet your dog while he eats the treats. If he tries to jump, the person entering through the door must turn around and walk out without giving a treat. The Vizsla must be held firmly on the leash so that control is maintained at all times.
Teaching A Sit Greeting
Sitting is the most popular way for owners to ask Vizslas to greet them. Asking a Vizsla to lie down to greet his owner is quite difficult for a highly excitable dog. Standing to greet can work, but it is easy for the Vizsla to go from standing to jumping. Sitting to greet is an intermediate level. It is harder for the Vizsla to go from sitting to jumping than if he is standing. It is easier for an excitable dog to sit than lie down.
Teach a ‘sit’ command in a calm environment. Do this by giving the command. Hold a treat above the dog’s head and slightly behind his head. He will look up, and this automatically causes his rear end to drop towards the floor. Reward any approximation of this behavior. In the beginning, if his haunches go halfway down to the floor, give the reward.
Gradually increase the requirement until the dog is sitting properly on the floor before he receives his treat. You can gently push on the dog’s hindquarters to encourage your Vizsla to sit. You must not use excessive pressure, and the activity must not disintegrate into a wrestling match.
Once the sit command is reliably established, begin to practice it when someone arrives and comes through the door. Ask an assistant to help you. Hold the leash and let the assistant come in. Give the sit command as the door is opening. Do not allow your Vizsla to jump. If he does jump, the assistant must turn around and go out the door, closing it behind him.
If your Vizsla remains sitting, the assistant can give the dog a treat and calmly pat his head to greet him. Repeat this, altering assistants and visitors. Practice with you coming in the door while the assistant holds your Vizsla and gives the sit command.
Teaching a Jump Command
Some trainers recommend that you train the dog to carry out the undesirable behavior on command to eliminate a behavior. In this instance, you would teach the dog a jump command. The theory is that if you teach the dog to jump on command, he learns that there are times when he should do it and times when it is not required. Although it sounds counterintuitive, this method often works well – especially with hyperactive dogs.
Some owners like their dogs to jump up and get a cuddle at certain times, but they do not want the Vizsla to jump at inappropriate times. To train this behavior, give the command, ‘jump’ as the dog jumps. It is better if you teach this command at a quiet time when you are not arriving home. You can encourage the dog to jump by patting your chest, holding up a treat, or jumping yourself.
Talk with an encouraging, enthusiastic voice when you give the command. When the dog jumps, reward with a pat and a treat. If the dog jumps when you haven’t given the command, turn your back or walk out of the room. It is useful to alternate the jump command with a sit command so that the dog learns the difference.
Train Your Vizsla Puppy In Greeting Behavior
The best option is to avoid your Vizsla jumping on you as an adult and teach you Vizsla puppy greeting behavior from when he first arrives at your home. Call the puppy to you and give a sit command. Hold a treat above and slightly behind his head. Pull gently upward on the leash so that his head is held up while he looks for the treat. This causes the rump to settle downwards towards the floor.
Reward and repeat the activity. Puppies have a short attention span so limit training sessions to five to ten minutes at a time. You can repeat the training session two or three times a day. Timing is essential in both giving the command and the reward.
Ask all visitors to greet your puppy in the same way. Consistency is vital. Keep some treats near the door so that if someone arrives, you can teach the puppy to sit when he runs to the front door. He is then already sitting when the visitor walks in.
Vizslas That Jump On Your Lap When You Are Sitting Down
Some Vizslas think they have an open invitation to jump onto their owners’ laps when they sit down. Don’t shout or pay any attention to your Vizsla. Immediately stand up, fold your arms and turn your back on your dog. Continue standing until he sits or lies down. If your Vizsla continues to jump up while you are standing, walk out of the room, closing the door so that your dog is left by himself.
Vizslas And Visitors
Vizslas can get over-excited when visitors arrive and jump upon them. The arrival of visitors often becomes associated with the doorbell or knocker. You can practice teaching your Vizsla to greet visitors politely by using the doorbell or knocker to trigger the greeting behavior. A useful tool is to teach your Vizsla to go and lie on a particular mat or bed when the doorbell rings. Once the visitors have arrived, teach the dog to wait for an invitation to greet the visitors politely.
This may sound like an insurmountable task when you consider your current leaping hooligan. It can be achieved by diligent, consistent training. Use similar methods already described. You will need an assistant to ring the doorbell while you keep control of your Vizsla and teach him to lie on his bed and stay there. This is a more complicated task so teach it in two parts.
Teaching A Vizsla To Stay On His Bed
First, the Vizsla must be taught to go to his bed. He must learn to wait there in a calm state. Train your Vizsla to do this until you have a reliable response to your command. It is helpful to give your dog chew toys to entertain himself while lying on the bed. This can be done at times other than in training situations. The dog learns positive associations with the bed. You can also use a crate if your dog is struggling with the stay part of the activity. The second stage is when your Vizsla learns to respond to a greeting invitation by coming to sit politely to greet the visitors.
Always be consistent. Stick to your chosen greeting method, and do not allow your Vizsla to jump just this once because you are tired or your hands are full. They are clever dogs that will quickly take advantage of any inconsistency. Manage your Vizsla by locking him in a room or crate until you have reliably established the greeting behavior. If your Vizslas slips back into his old ways and begins jumping, repeat the training to achieve the desired greeting behavior. Remember to keep all greetings low- key and calm.
Never train your Vizsla when you are angry or frustrated. A Vizsla will detect your negative emotions and become confused by them. Each dog is a unique character and will require a different amount of time to learn behaviors. If you are not making progress in training your dog, consider consulting an animal behaviorist or dog trainer who can help you.
Controlling Jumping With Multiple Dogs In A Household
If you have multiple dogs that tend to make the situation more excitable, crate them all or put them in different rooms. Allow them to come out one at a time to greet you so that you can maintain control of the energy levels. Make each dog greet you appropriately. Let out the dogs with the lowest energy first and then the dogs with higher energy levels. Let each dog settle before releasing the next dog.
Aggressive Jumping In a Vizsla
A Vizsla that is jumping at you from aggression must be handled quickly and professionally. This is a dangerous situation as your Vizsla could seriously injure you or someone else. Jumping aggressively is an advanced form of aggression. You should have your `vizslas checked by a veterinarian to consider if he has any health issues causing the aggression. If your Vizsla passes his health check, it would be best to contact an experienced animal behaviorist or dog trainer to assist you with this problem.
Jumping is a common problem in high-energy dogs. The best choice is to train your Vizsla puppy in appropriate greeting behavior. If you have an adult Vizsla that is jumping, manage the situation until you can teach him to greet people appropriately. Always remain consistent in your expectations of your dog, in your attitude, and your training methods.