My Vizsla is some… Sensei. A master of teaching humans. At least… me.

She is one perfect alarm system signaling when I need to get my acts together. And when I feel this all-or-nothing situation, what she puts me in, I, all of a sudden, am able to get my acts together.

Vizsla did not bark for the 11 hours I was away yesterday. Not even a whine. Based on 3 different neighbors’ summary. And she did not bark today between 8 and 5 while I was away. According to the info by the same 3 neighbors.

I am constantly thinking about what I am doing differently than before. Of course the biggest difference is the mornings. Not necessarily running all the time, but a forced march with backpack on back and weight in backpack. For her. On a minimum leash, with minimum possibility to sniff around, and only at places where I let her. For at least an hour early morning. This is a very controlled activity, with immediate correction on the walk when needed.

Since I am doing this, she seems much balanced. And no barking. And by “seems” I mean she has visible signs. She is paying attention to me. Does giv a sh*t, if you like. She even gains weight day by day.

We are on the right track. Now I know it is out of question to be lazy and skip these mornings – that will result in a massive anxiety for her. It is something that can return any time she feels abandoned and the need to take over the leadership. Free play in a dogpark, loose long leash on whih she can go and sniff wherever she wants… allowing her to make any decisions in general will make her feel she needs to replace me, the human allowing her to make those decisions. Cannot happen again.

No effing way.


Rehab day #3.

Quite a lot of progress. We are moving a lot together in the mornings and in the evenings. No activity in between. I am trying to simulate days when she needs to be alone. I am also quitting home often, for short and long periods. Just sitting on the stairs outside, gardening in front of the house, or driving to the mall for shopping. Still in the neighborhood for giving a quick reaction if needed.

But not needed, fortunately. No barking. No peeing. No destruction of doors. Whenever I arrive home, a calm, resting dog is waiting for me, lying on the sofa, belly exposed, tail wagging. Just perfect. If it remained like that as of next week, that would be wonderful.

Key is exercising for at least an hour. In the mornings we run, something I always loved – and the very purpose of adopting this very type of dog and not something else. But something we never really pursued because of the continuous behavior problems. This week I gave it a chance and I have the feeling it was a great decision. On a short leash for now, then the leash will be longer and longer once she has learned never to leave me. Goal is canicross, a totally different type of run where the dog must be the leader and she also must pull – a no-frickin’-way set-up at this point in time. But it is always good to have a goal with a rough path to achieve, is it.

In the evenings she is bringing her backpack with light weights. Strictly on a short leash, properly walking. No sniffing, no looking around, no nothing. Peeing and pooping when I allow, where I allow. Another type of exercise, another type of load for the body and the mind. In the evenings she also has cue exercises: fetching, sitting here or there, whatnot.

These 3 together seem to be the key. This dog is extremely sensitive for losing rules, and I simply must keep that in mind. Any miss of applying those and she falls apart. It cannot happen again.

We have 2 more days to practise – and I very much hope all this anxety issue will be past tense for good, for both of us.


Rehab day #1.

Due to focus shifted from Vizsla to Kiddo (diving practice with no babysitter) and myself (new habit of working out in a gym every evening), she completely fell apart. I spent less time with her out of sheer exhaust, and paid less attention to rules, and she was very sensitive to that. In the past 2 weeks she was barking all day, besides other anxiety signs, just like when I adopted her 20 months ago.

Last week I was carrying her to a rehab center every other day, on the days between to a daycare. That obviously cannot be a routine for the future.

So now this is the week when I have to put her back in place. I am off the whole week. Thank God she is adapting very fast. We had a long, controlled walk in the morning, I threw her to among strange dogs being alert to any sign of attack intention on her side, and then we practised me being away from home and her not barking. I am quite satisfied with the result – and it is only Monday. I am very hopeful she won’t need to be anxious anymore – and it is all on me. I am away for 10 hours every single workday in the current setup (which I very much want to make a change about) and she needs to stay calm until I get home. Like she did before.

We can do it. She can do it.

I must do it.