Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Vizsla just as a pet because they’re great with children!

Vizslas and children need to learn good manners and run about in the country 

I recently received an email from a parent with toddlers looking for information to purchase a vizsla “just as a pet” for her family because, “after some research we found out that vizslas are great with children.”  Perspective owners’ often explore breeds to see if a particular breed will be good for them. A quick look online might appear to verify her research on the surface, however reputable breeders and actual vizsla owners cringe when they hear those phrases. I insist that the research must be reframed to examine honestly their own personal and family attributes to determine if they are good for the vizsla.

Just a pet

Reputable breeders alarms go off when they hear from a prospective owner that they want their vizsla to be “just a pet.” Vizslas are more than a household animal kept for a person's enjoyment. These are animals whose breeding characteristics include being a very intelligent, sporting breed that exudes high energy that must be expended through freely running and playing. They are a breed that will become neurotic, high strung, or destructive without sufficient attention, exercise, or playtime. For that reason, vizslas cannot be left alone for long periods of time without activity, training, or attention. Vizslas tend to chew- fingers, table legs, floorboards. 
We learned too late about Natasha's chewing habit
Vizslas mature slowly, taking up to three years. Training sessions will need to be short, frequent, and POSITIVE.  Called the “Velcro dog,” they crave the physical closeness of their human owners and will follow them everywhere always making physical contact and snuggling with their owner whenever possible—whether into the bathroom, in bed, or on the sofa while watching TV.  Owners must be prepared to make time for daily outdoor exercise at parks, trails, running, swimming, biking or hiking with their new puppy/dog.  When vizslas are purchased “just as a pet” and raised by unprepared owners the consequences are often sad for both pet and owner.

Are YOU a good candidate for a vizsla?

Being a good candidate for a vizsla requires a lot of commitment and work on your part. Caring breeders will ask many probing questions to learn of your commitment to their puppies such as:

  • How many dogs have you raised as an adult?
  • How did you house train, crate train your dog?
  • Where did they go for training?
  • How did the dog die?

If you can say yes to the following criteria then you may be a good owner for a vizsla. As a vizsla owner I will:
  • Embraced it as my personal companion.
  • Enjoy being continually touched by my dog and look forward to snuggling with it.
  • Give it a daily job or mental stimulation such as learning new behaviors, obedience training, agility training, pointer training, fetching.
  • Display positive leadership (be the “pack leader”), discipline and training to enhance its natural talents of hunting, retrieving, guarding, and loving its family members.
  • Run it off leash and exercise for a minimum of 1-2 hours daily.
  • Provide it with heavy socialization opportunities to new sights, sounds, places, other animals, other people- especially children.
  •   Have chew toys, digestible chewing food available daily.
  • Commit to caring for the dog through out its life as a member of my family.

Vizslas and children

Andy bonding with baby Natasha
Just as the new owner must look inward to determine if they are good for the vizsla, they must also do the same for their children. It is not an issue of whether the breed is good with children; it is an issue of making an appropriate decision while their children are young. Some breeders refuse to sell their pups to parents of infants or young children who are not toilet trained, knowing full well that their attention to the dog will not be readily available. Parents must look at the dynamics within their whole family before bringing a vizsla, or any other dog, home to their children. Vizslas can be good pets for children, but vizslas, like children, do not come with good manners. Puppies and children both require training and education on how to interact with each other.

The parent must realize that puppies, like young children are teething, and may mouth or bite small children, steal their toys, and bump them over. Children must be taught and be able to handle these situations calmly. Screams, tantrums, or running after the dog, often an immediate reaction, can only exacerbate the situation. Children must know the boundaries of the dog.  The puppy's crate must be made off limits, as it is the safe haven for a puppy. Parents must be willing to provide the time, energy, and effort to train the puppy that will require 15-20 minutes daily, then at least hourly for house training as well as work with their own children to learn their responsibility to their pet.

Parents need to be aware that puppies and adult dogs as pack animals may attempt to move up the ladder in the (family) pack, especially trying to seek a higher order over young children. Even sweet, gentle vizslas may exhibit protective behaviors against the children towards the parents.  Sometimes puppies that sleep in the parents’ bedroom will develop a sense that they are holding a higher position over the children. If you are bringing home an older dog or a rescue dog extra care needs to be taken to be certain the dog’s behaviors are well understood. Stories of children requiring 85 reconstructive stitches to repair the children’s bitten cheeks, arms, legs are not unheard of leading those parents and past owners to warn: 

To avoid problems, the puppy must be taught that he or she is at the bottom of the home pack and understand the behaviors of a dog to avoid potential problems (e.g. children should be taught not to roll around on the ground in a subservient position to the puppy). The parent needs to be alert for any challenge by the puppy against the child (e.g. a growl or grumble). If there is a challenge, the child must learn with the parent’s guidance to flip the puppy on its back and scold the puppy severely while the child stands over the puppy. When properly handled, there is rarely a repeat challenge. It is important to involve children in the puppy's care (feeding, walking, and training.

Below are critical questions the parents must ask themselves, if the breeder does not ask them:
Andy and Natasha share a loving moment
  • How will they handle their playful puppy and their children during those first 6 months when the puppy has alligator-sharp teeth?
  • What are their plans for puppy and manners classes, where, when will they take place?
  • How will the children be taught to play appropriately with their new puppy?

If you can say yes to these criteria, then your child may be right for a vizsla puppy:
  • My children will be alright without my attention while I am outside focusing on the dog’s training.
  • My children will understand how to use positive training and will refrain from screaming, hitting, or hurting the dog when they are angry at it or it has behaved improperly.
  •  My children will be involved in the puppy's care (feeding, walking, and training).


  1. Hi – Will you please post a link to your Blog at The Vizsla Community at vorts.com? Our members will love it.
    Members include: Vizsla Owners, Breeders, Rescues and Lovers.
    It's easy to do, just cut and paste the link and it automatically links back to your website...
    You can also add Photos, Videos, Rescues and Classifieds if you like. Post as much or as often as you like.
    Email me if you need any help or would like me to do it for you.
    The Vizsla Community: http://www.vorts.com/vizslas/
    James Kaufman, Editor

  2. Will be happy to! Thank you for your interest.