Toby – Life with a new puppy

Formally known as Red Mallow Pepper – A Hungarian Vizsla

Toby needs more training….(or more to the point I need more training)

Posted by Admin on 11, October 2008

I have decided that “he’s just a puppy” is no longer an answer for Toby’s bad behaviour 😦

Graham is in USA again for 3 weeks, so I am ‘home alone’ with Toby (aka Toblerone, tobi one kenobi etc).  Toby has several faults traits which are less than desireable in a member of our household.  I have decided it is time to put them right before he becomes set in his ways and will never learn.

Number 1

When we go for a walk Toby gets very excited.  He bites my shoes or runs off with my slippers and leaps around my feet.  After a while I try and put on his lead – which he decided is great fun and tries to eat it :-(.  Once we step outside the back door and start to walk, he thinks this means ‘lets play tug-o-war’ and pulls the lead and jumps in the air.  This has to stop.

So now I refuse to put on my shoes until he leaves them alone and every time he puts the lead in his mouth I stop and ignore him until he lets go.  This often means my right arm is almost pulled out of its socket (anyone with a dislocated shoulder should borrow Toby for 2 minutes, they would soon be sorted  out!!).  I ignore him completly and say NO TOBY.  Only when he leaves the lead alone will I walk on.  I have been doing this for a week now with absolutely no progress 😦  I will keep doing it until he gets the message (lets hope its soon)

Number 2

If the doorbell rings he barks and barks and races to the door.  If I open the door he tries to push between my legs and stands there for a minute then shoots outside to jump up whoever is unfortunate enough to be standing there.  Not nice as he is one tall dog when he stands on his hind legs.

Now when the door bell rings I put him on the lead (see problem number 1) and make him SIT away from the door.  I then answer the door (most people have gone by now, but that’s another story…).  I then make sure he has to stay sitting before I let anyone in.  We do this every day – my poor teenage daughters are fed up with this already.  Again we are making absolutely no progress (well slight progress) but I am as determined as he is!

Number 3

Recall – well this is a MAJOR problem for Toby.

When in the kitchen I can make him SIT and stay and when I say COME he races over to me.

When we are in the garden I can say COME and he races over to me.

When we are in a large (empty) field, he will look up and I will flap my arms and say COME and he races over to me.

HOWEVER – when we are in a large field (or anywhere else for that matter) and he finds something/anything remotely interesting (leaf, twig, sheep poo, wind blowing in wrong direction or ANY DISTRACTION WHATSOEVER), he is blind, deaf and dumb to my calls; running in opposite direction; screeching like a banshee or any other method employed to get his attention.  He completely ignores me.  I have no idea how to get his attention – he just looks up at me and then carries on with what he is doing.  If I walk in opposite direction he will eventually come over to me, but only when it suits him :-(.  I have tried having his favourite treats etc all to no avail.  I NEED HELP as I really do not know how to fix this.

99% of the time it is not a problem as we live in a rural area and walk in fields, woods, farmland etc and do not meet many other dogs or people on our walks so the fact that he does not come has not been problematic.  But I need him to come when called 100% of the time, otherwise that 1% will be life or death situation and I will not be able to control him.

Number 4

Toby is was not allowed on the sofa! I have given up – he WINS 🙂

Number 5

He likes to bring me something in his mouth when he sees me.  This can be anything.  Problem is all soft toys have been destroyed – he chews them to destruction.  He also likes to grab the cushions off the chairs (never done so much sowing as I have in the last few months) and chews them.  He is getting better at this (and my sewing is improving too).  He no longer has any “cuddlies” and even his sky kennel (very hard plastic) is looking the worse for wear in certain areas.  The door frame is wrecked and many other items – too numerous to mention.  He is getting better but I have to be very very vigilant with him. Please tell me this gets better ?

Number 6

Eating unspeakable things on our walks.  Toby is very fond of fox and sheep poo (and any anything else that makes you go “YUK”).  However much I say leave or NO he ignores and then runs circles around me so he can go back to it, or worse still lies on the floor looking as if I am about to beat him to within an inch of his life – daft dog !.  I stand over the offending object and he WILL NOT LEAVE IT ALONE.  He runs off and then double back to go and roll in it.  I then try and put lead on him which leads us straight back to problem number 1 and we end up with him lying down, biting at his lead which I struggle to get over his head etc.  Nightmare!

I love him to bits and we have had some lovely walks lately.  This week I have kept him on his extending lead on some of the walks which has worked brilliantly.  He does not seem to mind and I have some level of control in making him LEAVE the awful stuff etc.  I give him plenty of time to stop and wee and sniff etc and we are both calmer as a a result. 

I feel guilty though for not letting him run free as I love to see him chasing across the field or running in huge circles around me.  the compromise at the moment is the short walk in the wheat field is lead free and the long walk elsewhere is 80% on the lead and 20% off.  Heaven knows if this is a good idea but keeps me sane right now.

Lets hope by the time Graham comes home we have some improvement – otherwise he will wonder what I have been doing the whole time he has been away.  Now must get back to the washing, ironing, cooking, cleaning, gardening etc. 🙂


5 Responses to “Toby needs more training….(or more to the point I need more training)”

  1. Anna said


    A little advise on Numbers 1 and 2 which you have said you are having little success.

    Number 1:
    Tugging at shoes and lead. Both of these are self rewarding. He is not wanting your attention and therefore removing it will not be a negative experience for him.

    The first thing to do is offer him an alternative behaviour – a tugging toy would be great for this. So you get the lead and he starts bouncing and tugging and etc… let go of what ever he is tugging. If you let go he can’t tug so it is no longer rewarding.
    Start playing with the tug toy yourself. When he becomes interested and comes over ask for a sit. If he complies then play tuggy with him. If not then turn your back and ignore him for a minute.
    After the minute come back and ask for the sit (if he has gone off back to what he had before start playing with the toy yourself again). If he sits this time brill if not repeat.

    After the tugging game stop the game and ask for a sit again. This time don’t play immediately but clip his lead on. If he starts biting then play by yourself and repeat above. If he sits nicely and stays sitting (waiting to be given the wonderful toy you have) whilst the lead is clipped on give him a game of tuggy.

    Then stop the game and go for your walk.

    Now here is the hard part. You can choose to let him walk with the tuggy toy to avoid the lead biting or you can be really firm and decide if he bites you go home. For the second one to work the key is consistancy. If you let him get away with it once then it will start to creep in again.

    Number 2:
    Train an alternative behaviour with the cue being the doorbell. I would suggest the behaviour be going to his bed. You will need helpers for this.

    Place a bed in the room nearest the front door.

    With no visitors stand by the bed and as soon as he gets onto it say “good boy” and give him a treat (which will be conveniently on a high place in that room).
    Repeat repeat repeat. Now stand a little further away and repeat above again and again and again until he is running to the bed when your are near. Continue until you can be in the hallway and he will run to the bed (no cues as yet as you want the door bell to be the only cue.

    Once this is really solid and he is offering it to you when ever you are near the bed you can start adding in the door bell.

    Open the front door so he can see no one is there except a member of the family who will be pressing the door bell. Get them to press it and walk with him to the mat. He shouldn’t bark if he has seen the person before the bell goes off. Praise and treat when he goes on to the mat. Repeat repeat repeat until he is hearing the door bell (still door open) and running to the mat without your help. Next start to gradually close the door and repeat repeat repeat until he is able to go to his mat when the door bell goes and the door is shut.

    Now is the time to add duration to him staying on the mat. So he gets to the mat now just wait one second before giving a treat. repeat repeat repeat. Then up the time he has to wait very gradually: 2secs, 3secs, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 then up in 2 secs to 20 then 5 secs … Once you have a solid 30 sec stay on the mat for the treat you can start to walk away from him and then back. Reduce the time to make it easier as it will seem to him a new behaviour. Repeat until you are able to get to the door. Now start to open the door slightly and close immediatley bla bla bla repeat and progress until the door can be fully opened and you have a small conversation with a familiar person (so they are boring). Then you can add in the visitors.

    This seems like a lot of work but it will be really solid if you take it slow. During this progress have a sign on your door over the door bell saying please don’t use – knock instead.

    Hope this helps.

    Sorry for the long post

  2. Darren And Karen said

    no help or advice offered from us. just sympathy, Harriet is 5 ½ months and we are trying really hard to battle with 1-6 except number 4- we didn’t let her in the lounge without us and when she got on the sofa she went back to the kitchen. She soon stopped jumping on furniture however she sits on my lap in the kitchen and is confused why she can not sit on my lap in the sitting room.

    We found the whistle worked great with recall however like Toby the smell of fox poo or cat poo causes instant Deafness, however she knows when we are approaching and will run off with her prize. We are looking forward to finding out how you get on with toby.

    How have you got on with Toby jumping up at strangers? We had Four Foot Fortnight where we tried really hard for 2 weeks to ignore her if she jumped up. This worked very well for us and regular visitors, she may occasionally jump up however will drop onto four paws if we cross arms and turn away. However people we meet in the street………

  3. Some vizsla’s seem to go through longer “teenage times” than others. Stay consistant! and stay the course. It’s really hard. Rocket is still jumps on people. He’s just a spaz case when anyone comes to the door. He just simply Mr. Enthusiastic Greeter! At 1 year 10 months we still have to leash him before opening the door to company.

  4. Andrea said

    hi, you could try teach Toby a solid sit – i mean, really solid – and condition him to be in it whatever happens. i follow the 20 times a day (not togehter but throughout) rule (well, at least 10): sit 20 times in all sorts of situations. inside/outside, and once quite solid increase the temptation to break the sit by you jumping around him, waving hands, etc, the use other people to do the same, at a distance first then closer bye (start with your own kids in teh home first for a few weeks). Use the best treats when increasing intensity. gundog training needs a rock solid sit from far away, so routine is the best way of getting there. increase the length of sit a few seconds each time. then, after a week or later, start with doorbell – sit – super treat. it will take a while and i’d use Anna’s advice and have people knock for a while so toby learns doorbell is just another cue for sit (like the whistle command in gundog training). try make up little rules for yourself, like when you take toby for a walk he has to sit for a few seconds at each lamp post. you can’t be in a rush, but it will sink in really fast. it’ll also help with pulling as he will learn to relax more (hopefully). Andrea

  5. Vizslacated said

    I’m going to read this again, I know this is an old post, but I have advice on all this. If you still need to work on these things, maybe some will work with Toby. I’m on my phone so ima reread but the first thing I want to say that I can tell is you need to establish yourself as pack leader. This is extremely important espcially, I have found, with our Veez. Once you have Toby will have complete trust and respect towards you and always be attentive to your actions. Make sure you are consistent with everything, not just commands. Set rules, be in control. A leader never let’s things slide, and they learn that. My Jasper just hit 9 months and is so well behaved, that is until he’s with my parents. They are subordinates to him. Never listens, demands play sessions, gets his most prized possession a bully stick handed over with no job to do, etc etc. If I walk in and he’s not listening, he’s immediately at my attention, acting like he was just being a saint. Ok so I don’t need to reread. If you need advice on steps to establish yourself ad pack leader, I can help you out. As far as Toby and his recall outside, again, pack leader, BUT, also what a lot of people don’t really know or realize, you can have your dog perfectly trained in your house now you think nice what a well behaved dog I did good. Except that is till yu go on a walk or on a trip to go go hiking or whatever and he’s oblivious, guess what it’s not his fault it’s yours. He needs to be trained everything outside also, with the same consistency and firmness( not harshly)as he was inside. As far as the shoe stealing, there are several ways to go about it. Keep in mind though, he’s telling you to take him out when he does this (if I remember the behavior correctly) establish youself as leader he’ll stop demanding. IMO, the two most successful ways rid this or similar actions is either a firm “NO” with redirection to something positive or firm NO with ONE light mist of water from a spray bottle. The latter works immediately, they don’t like it but it’s not going to hurt them or “ruin” them. Use this for any unwanted negative behavior, after a couple different corrections you don’t even need to spray it, just flash it with a no or ah ahh. Keep in mind timing of corrections of negative behavior MUST be done while it is taking place or split second after; past that don’t bother you could set yourself up for them associating a sit or down or whatever you command as a bad thing. While it’s in my head NEVER use the come/come here to correct negative behavior. This is so long I’m surprised if it’s still being read, but I’m bored and always love to help a vizsla owner. Man I need to see what the rest is, actually before I go on let me know if you want me to and I will. Hope all is well with Toby.

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