Why “Being Mean” needs to pay off!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on March 13, 2013 by Red Dawg Lady

This is a great blog on the DogStar Daily site about teaching impulse control. If you think about it, ALL training issues are a result of impulse control. The dog needs to learn that good things come to those who wait. It’s your job to teach that.



Vinyl Vizslas!

Posted in Retrievers with tags , , on March 10, 2013 by Red Dawg Lady

Vinyl Vizslas!

I started an etsy shop to sell some of my Vizsla wares! There’s only a few things up so far, but the selections will expand! My current favorites are the little bitty Vizsla nail decals! They could also be used for card making, scrapbooking, or other crafty adventures, too. They are absolutely adorable


Posted in Uncategorized on February 27, 2013 by Red Dawg Lady


Puppies form strong associations with people, places, and things in their first 5 months of life. Hopefully your breeder has given them proper first introductions, but it is your job to build on their early exposure and to make sure those early experiences are good ones for your puppy. A negative association now can (and often does) last for life.

Dogs who lacks socialization with people or other dogs at this early stage are more likely to develop behavioral problems as an adolescent. It is of the utmost importance that you get your puppy out and about and meeting new people in new places and as many different breeds of dogs as possible before they are 20-weeks old. There are old-school trainers/breeders/and vets who will claim not to let your puppy off of your property until they are fully vaccinated (4-6 months old), but they need to read current vaccine efficacy literature and understand that they are dooming that poor puppy to a lifetime of poor coping mechanisms!

Puppies do need to be vaccinated against certain diseases before they can safely go to dog parks. These vaccines are usually completed by 16 weeks. Most vaccines are 100% effective after the second round of puppy shots (10-12 weeks). It is vital that you balance socialization with puppy’s health. Just like a vaccine eliminates the chance of contracting a disease (or greatly reduces the symptoms if contracted), socializing is immunizing your puppy to stress. If you’ve done your homework socializing, you will have a dog that is fully able to “take things in stride”!

Some key points to remember:

  •      Mixing with dogs that are fully vaccinated, and who like puppies, is perfectly safe, but avoid unvaccinated dogs or areas where they might go, like the dog park.
  •      If you are traveling and must use a rest stop to potty the pup, carry the puppy to a potty location, set them down to “go” then carry them back to minimize exposure to diseases.

Dogs don’t come into the world knowing what vacuum cleaners (the dreaded Dog Sucker!) are or that the UPS man isn’t a threat. It is your job to teach them that these things are harmless, just like you have to teach a toddler to not fear new people/places/things. They need to learn about their environment in an upbeat, or at least non-threatening, manner in order to deal with and accept changes in their life. You need to do this as soon as possible, starting with the first weekend home, and continue it every day for the first 3-4 months that you have your puppy home.

Adjusting to a new family can be a challenge at first because there are so many things that the puppy must learn about and familiarize themselves with. Up until you got him, his whole world was living with mom, his breeder, and any other dogs or human family members. They have figured out the schedule, the communication styles, and all of the regular sights and sounds of the breeder’s home. He’s now been placed in a foreign land with a whole new set of rules & language, without the benefit of having his littermates there for moral support. He will need to be exposed many times to the sights and sounds of traffic, washing machines, vacuums, telephones, and strangers passing by before they learn to ignore them. They also need to learn that different surfaces, such as carpet, wood, grass, concrete, asphalt, plastic, and  stainless steel exam tables are all safe to stand on.

Each puppy varies slightly in their ability to cope with new sights, sounds, and smells. While your puppy may have very confident with her breeder, each place you take them is new, and your job as their leader is to show them that new experiences are not something to fear. You must be calm  and ignore any anxiety or fearful behavior as much as possible. Instead, reward brave and confident behavior to help puppies overcome any trepidation they may be experiencing in new situations. In the case of true fear, you need to calmly provide some security while showing the pup there is nothing to be afraid of. Often, I will take pups with me to dog events (shows, field trials, hunt tests, etc) and their first exposure will be me carrying them through the area so they can take in everything without feeling unsafe at all. Then maybe I let them down to sniff for a few minutes, and eventually (using their reactions as a guide) I will take them through on leash.

In order to really give your pup a good stress immunization, they should meet 200 new people in 200 new locations over the course of 100 days. Now, this doesn’t mean that you need to get a passport for you and your dog. Dogs do not generalize at all. This means that meeting a small child at the beginning of Aisle 1 at the pet supply store and meeting a small child at the end of Aisle 6 at the pet supply store are two different people in two different locations. If you live in the city, you will have a much easier time meeting the stress immunization challenge! Those of us that live in the country or in suburbia have to make some effort to get the job done! I live 35 miles away from the nearest city (pop. <70k), so socializing is done by taking the dogs with me into town, and walking them through the pet supply store, and often dropping them at the dog day care for a couple of hours where they play with 30 different dogs, and meet a slew of new people in those two hours. Take your pup to the soccer games or little league games with the kids. Take the pup with you to pick your kids up from school, and let some of the kids interact with the puppy! If you live near a college, take your puppy for a walk around the university. College kids miss their dogs at home and come out of the woodwork to play with a cute puppy! Arm yourself with treats, and you can not only work on your stress immunizations, but you can build a really rock-solid proper greeting behavior as well!

Socialization doesn’t end after that first 100 days, though. The full socialization period for dogs is TWO YEARS! You should try to take your dog somewhere at least once a week. Think of it as a “stress booster”. Take them along while you run errands (weather permitting, of course!) or take them with you when you go buy a new bag of dog food! You got a dog for the companionship, so treat them like a companion!

Stress Immunization Checklist:

  • Try to check of as many of these as possible the first week:
  • New People  (of all colors and sizes)     ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○
  • Children   (of all colors, ages, and sizes)         ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○
  • Adult Dogs   (of different breeds)     ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○
  • Other Puppies (of different breeds)   ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○
  • Person in a hat (baseball cap, skully, dress hat, floppy hat)  ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○
  • Wearing glasses (clear glasses, sunglasses) ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○
  • Helmet  (motorcycle helmet, hardhat, bicycle helmet)   ○ ○ ○ ○
  • Person with mobility devices  (crutches, walker, wheelchair) ○ ○ ○ ○ ○
  • Persons in uniform (police, delivery, employment, scrubs) ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○
  • Skateboards  (kids on skateboards usually either terrify dogs or cause prey drive to take over!)     ○ ○
  • Veterinarian    (make your first trip to the vet be just for a visit, not an exam!)    ○
  • Pet Supply   (  PetCo, Petsmart, local boutique )            ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Housebreaking 101

Posted in Don't Place the Blame if You Didn't Actually Train with tags , , , , on February 26, 2013 by Red Dawg Lady

The Fundamentals of house training are beautiful in their simplicity.

Be consistent in supervising your puppy for a whole weekend, and you will be amazed at how quickly they will grasp the concept.

Set your puppy up for success by learning to predict when she needs to be taken out. Truly observe your puppy for a couple of days so you can learn her patterns.

Most puppies need to go:

  • • After sleeping
  • • After play
  • • After eating
  • • After exercising

They will usually start to frantically sniff and turn around in circles before they go potty. Don’t wait! Either pick the puppy up and carry them outdoors, or happily encourage them to follow you outside. As soon as he  starts to go, quietly say “Good” or click your clicker, and the millisecond he is finished, lavish him with praise and a small food treat. “Good Puppy! Excellent Potty!”

If your puppy doesn’t go, take him back in and restrict him to a crate or an easily-cleaned area, or supervise him carefully before trying again in 15 minutes.

  •  1.            NEVER allow your puppy go potty in the wrong place
  • 2.            Praise and reward when he goes in the right place
  • 3.            Do not scold or punish your puppy if he has an accident.


If your puppy has an accident, clean it up calmly, using Pet-Tastic Solution or Nature’s Miracle.

Do NOT scold your puppy. Punishment of any kind can and will delay housetraining because he doesn’t understand why he is being punished!


Bear in mind that tiny puppies have tiny bladders, and it’s further for them to get to the back door. Set them up for success!

  • The general rule of thumb for bladder control while the puppy is AT REST is “age in months plus one”.
  • 2 months = 3 hours
  • 3 months = 4 hours
  • and so on

If the puppy is awake and playing, they need to potty every 20-30 minutes!


House Training FAQ

Q.           My puppy is still having accidents during the day, but is okay at night (or vice-versa)

A.            Some puppies take longer than others to physically develop the muscles needed to control bladder and bowel. Usually the bowels are controlled before the bladder. Sometimes, the puppy will be 14-16 weeks before they can manage this. In the meantime, follow the housebreaking routine. Believe me, Vizslas do NOT naturally want to eliminate where they sleep.

Q.           How do I teach my puppy to potty on command?

A.            Say “Good Potty” every single time she starts to go, and eventually she will catch onto what “potty” means.

Q.           My puppy is eating their own feces! How do we stop this behavior?

A.            Don’t panic. We find this habit very unpleasant, but it is natural behavior for dogs. Most puppies outgrow this habit, but in the meantime, clean up after your puppy immediately after they are finished, and you can prevent the problem from becoming ingrained behavior. If it persists, contact your vet for advice.

Q.           My puppy refuses to go outside to potty, even when we have the door propped open, and chooses to use potty pads indoors instead. How do I get her to potty outside?

A.            You’ve got two problems.

  • 1.            Shut the back door. If the door is always open, there is no difference between indoors and outdoors.  You need to physically be there to supervise and reward your puppy, and also to open the door!
  • 2.            Get rid of the potty pads. I use washable pads as an insurance policy against accidents happening in front of my doors, they are not there as an alternative to going outside in the first place. As soon as a pup has an accident, I remove that pad, replace it with a clean one, and continue to strive towards outdoor potty compliance.

Here is a great video by Kikopup that goes more in-depth about how to get your dog reliably housebroken!

A Letter to Breeders

Posted in Livin' The Dream on February 21, 2013 by Red Dawg Lady

Fantastic blog! I am not the author or recipient, but I wish I was! With the exception of my cats (all barn cats), every animal I have ever owned has been purebred. Tennessee Walking Horses, Missouri Foxtrotters, American Quarter Horse, Vizslas, Great Danes, German Shorthair Pointer, Italian Greyhound, etc.


A Letter to Breeders.


Dear Dog, and other animal, Breeders,

Over the past few years, dog breeders have been included in much controversy, and I want to take a minute to address all “serious” dog breeders directly:

Thank you!  Thank you! Thank you!  You have so deeply enriched and improved my life, and the lives of nearly every person I know, and I want to encourage and implore each and every one of you to keep breeding and know that your efforts are well recognized and understood by many of us, even if that truth is sometimes lost in the clamor…

Dog breeders are often vilified by Animal Rights zealots, by well-meaning but woefully misguided members of the public who have been persuaded that breeders are causing overpopulation and filling shelters, by rescuers and shelter workers whose views of the world have become so skewed by the war they are waging that they have lost all perspective, and by those in the media who prefer drama to truth.

Breeders are the solution, not the problem. You are the true heroes stewarding the present and the future of dogs.  You are the ones creating healthy, well-structured animals with great temperaments and excellent early socialization. You are the ones funding health research. You are the ones devoting your lives and resources to the betterment of the species. You are the ones who put in twenty hour days giving your puppies everything and then wake up three times during the night to check on them. You are the ones whose dogs are virtually never in shelters because you do such a good job screening and placing and taking back dogs. You are the ones who have virtually eliminated overpopulation within your realm and in fact created a shortage of good dogs such that it often takes years of waiting before a puppy is available.

That another, completely unrelated, group of idiots allows their dogs to keep reproducing for no good reason and filling shelters; that a few profit-driven miscreants breed countless dogs in horrid conditions; that rescues and shelters keep placing horrific dogs in homes so that they bounce back and keep the system full; that naivety motivates the unnatural and unsustainable notion of no-kill, that by nature dogs produce more puppies than are needed and so some excess and attrition are unavoidable—these things are not your fault!

Yes, there are issues that breeders need to improve—breeding towards extremes, prioritizing the wrong goals, breeding too young, over-breeding certain lines, placing excessive value on breed purity, hostility towards differing opinions, elitist attitudes, undervaluing balance—and I hope breeders will continue to improve.  And yes, there are some awful breeders out there.  But all in all, it is you who have created the wonderful dogs of today, and you who will create the wonderful dogs of tomorrow, and my gratitude for that is nearly boundless. And while there are some lovely accidentally bred dogs in shelters (I have a few!), and some awful dogs being produced by breeders, at the end of the day the quality of dogs generally being produced by careful breeders is leaps and bounds higher than what is generally available in shelters.

All the mindless anti-breeder rhetoric is nothing more than misleading hate-mongering that points the blame in the wrong direction: if breeders, and the public, buy into this mindless propaganda, we will lose all the good dogs in a few years, with virtually no reduction in the number of poorly bred dogs filling the shelters.

So please, keep up the good work and know how much you and your hard work are appreciated. And above all, know that the fabulous creatures you produce are dearly loved and valued.

Puppy Biting

Posted in Don't Place the Blame if You Didn't Actually Train on February 18, 2013 by Red Dawg Lady
Puppy playing with littermate

Puppy playing with littermate

I have just received a random e-mail from someone who bought a Vizsla puppy from another breeder, and is having some puppy biting problems that are mostly caused by the human. While I usually go over all of this in person with my clients, it surely doesn’t hurt to get the information out there early

The one thing I can guarantee everybody is that your puppy will, at some point, be very mouthy and will likely chomp down on you (or your kids, or your clothes, etc) too hard. This is normal puppy behavior, and is not a sign of aggression in a 2-5 month old puppy. It absolutely does need to be stopped though!

Sometimes when a puppy bites it is because the puppy is over-stimulated and needs a time out. Sometimes it is because the puppy is under-exercised and needs to go out to play some fetch. Sometimes, the puppy is over-tired and needs a nap. You need to be able to assess the situation to know whether the puppy needs time in a crate or if you need to start playing outside to burn off steam.

My puppies usually don’t bite me, because I’ve established from the time they are very little that it is not appropriate to do so, just like they don’t bite their mothers. However, puppies haven’t learned to not bite you (your kids, your grandchildren, etc) and must be taught that it is never appropriate, period. Even when I bring home dogs I’ve purchased from other breeders, I have 1-2 days of teaching NO BITE. It doesn’t take me longer than that, because are 100% consistent in reinforcing that it is not acceptable, and that it will either get you a time out, or that I will walk away and leave you. Either way, if you bite me too hard, your fun or freedom is ended for a little bit. It is of the utmost importance that you all are as consistent.

If your puppy bites you, a sharp exclamation of  “OUCH!” should be enough for them to stop biting for a moment and for you to be able to redirect them with an appropriate toy, or to lure them into a sit with a treat and reward them for sitting. If your puppy bites again, loudly say “OW!”, and stand up, and walk out of the room. They have now lost your presence for 30 seconds. When you re-enter the room, forget about the previous bite. You’re starting from scratch, just like their mother would. Dogs don’t hold grudges.

If you’re consistent, you are teaching your puppies that are very wimpy playmates that must be treated extra gently! Once you reach the point where your puppy puts his mouth on you and it no longer hurts, you now pretend it hurts. The ultimate goal being that the puppy realizes that even the most gentle mouthing “hurts”.  In the event that your dog ever were to bite someone as an adult, the odds of it causing severe injury are much less than with dogs that have never learned appropriate pressure! This can quite literally be the difference between life and death for your dog.
There’s a few things you need to know:

1. Puppy mouthing doesn’t go away on its own, you have to teach them what is appropriate pressure. When my dogs wrestle, play, or even if there is an argument over a bone, there is never any damage done to anyone. Why? Because they have learned exactly how hard they can bite down before it causes pain. Remember, this is an animal that has the jaw strength to pulverize rabbits and deer legs. We want them to learn what is and is not going to cause “damage”. I know we don’t like to think of our companion animals as highly-evolved predators, but they do have the ability to survive in the wild.

2. Puppies explore everything with their mouths. They use their mouths the way toddlers use their hands. If a 2-year old child came up to you and slammed a toy truck in your face in an attempt to get you to play, you wouldn’t respond by slamming them to the ground and wrenching their arm behind their back. Grabbing a puppy and squeezing their muzzle and pushing their lip into their own teeth is doing basically the same thing. Dogs use their mouths the way that a toddler uses their hands, and both must be taught how to be gentle.

3. The methods described above work, 100% of the time. If you are consistent, you will curb the problem within a few days. If you are inconsistent, it may take a few weeks. Either way, it will work, I promise.

4. Having a puppy that is super mouthy is actually a good thing! You can teach them that human skin (and clothing! they don’t know the difference between our skin and our clothes!) are so sensitive that they can never do much more than “gum” us to make us yelp in pain.

5. Screeching/running/spinning kids basically entice the puppy to bite. The best thing for kids to be taught is that if the puppy is biting/tugging on them, stand up or stand still, cross their arms over their chest, turn away from the puppy (keeping your back to the puppy) and “be a tree”. The puppy will get the idea VERY quickly that it is not okay!


There is a great podcast by Dr. Ian Dunbar located here: http://www.dogstardaily.com/radio/212-puppy-problems-when-will-it-end


Crate Games – Teaching Your Dog to Love the Crate!

Posted in Don't Place the Blame if You Didn't Actually Train on February 18, 2013 by Red Dawg Lady
chillaxin' in the crate

chillaxin’ in the crate

With multiple dogs, crating allows each dog to have “their” space where they can relax. Even with a single dog, it’s good for them to have one spot to call their own.

I crate train puppies from the start. It makes housebreaking easier, and prevents them from doing things like chewing up my couch if I’m not in the room. Nothing good will ever come  from a Vizsla left to their own devices or who has to invent their own entertainment. Never. You don’t allow your 3-year old child unfettered access to the entire world, and it is just as unrealistic to expect your dog, who is the equivalent of a non-verbal toddler, to behave well when unsupervised! Proper management is 90% of the equation to building good behavior!

My dogs all willingly go into their crates, and all of them will put themselves into their crates to nap. They’ve learned that it is their own space, and all of the other dogs respect that. At some point, your dog will probably need to spend the night at the vet, or you will have them in a boarding kennel, and to help them have as stress-free of an experience as possible, you owe it to them to teach them that crates are a good thing!

This video link shows how you can teach your dog to love the crate in about 15 minutes or less!

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