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Tips and Resources

Cold Climate Options

-  Our Vizslas love the winter time.  They love to play in the snow and have fun.  We love their short hair since it's so easy to keep them clean and smelling fresh.  But without a heavy winter coat they will get cold easier than many dogs.  They need to have access to be inside a heated space, preferably your home or something like a heated space in a garage, shed or shop.  They can't be left outside for too long at temperatures for which you would appreciate a coat or jacket.  If it's cold enough that you would become uncomfortable without a coat, then they will be too.  They will shiver to let you know they are cold.  They will also lose weight over time if they are too cold.

- If they are going to spend extended amounts of time outside, they definitely need a heated space to resort to when they get cold.  A dog house without a door won't cut it.  If you use a dog house, make sure it has a door and insulated walls, roof and especially an insulated floor.  Make sure you get a heated pad that they can lay on to warm up.  These pads are usually the most economical way to keep your dog warm since they aren't using power unless the dog is laying on it.  The dog house needs to be twice as large as the heated pad, so they also have a place to move to and prevent them from being too warm inside or too cold outside.  While the dog is small, just be aware that they may not weigh enough to activate the models made to sense when the dog is on the pad.  Heating options could also include a small portable electric fan heater.  The fan heater variety is good to warm up a larger area like a shed.  You can also set some of these heaters up with a thermostatically controlled plug so they are only on when the temperatures dip down. Regardless of the heat system, make sure the power cords are not accessible to the dog, and they are positioned so as not to be a fire risk.  

We live in northern Utah and we can have a few weeks of below zero temps.  They can come in the house when we are home.  Our dogs also have a heated garage area they have constant access to during the day if we are away. They can pass freely between their outside space and the garage area. Once in the garage, they have an insulated dog house with a heated pad in it.  They always have something soft and warm to rest on.  In our house, we use soft bedding in their crate for them to "nest" in and they love that.  This is where they sleep at night.  The dog run area in the yard is 50 feet by 30 feet.  They can relax and play around on something other than dirt, gravel or cement.  They also spend time each day out of their run playing on the lawn of our large fenced backyard.  Our dogs seem very happy with these options and we feel they stay warm since they don't seem to lose weight in the winter months.  


Crate & Kennel Tips for "Furst" Time Vizsla owners.

- Indoors: Use a crate that is at least as long as they are from nose to back legs.  Don't leave them in a crate longer than 3-4 hours without an exercise break, and please do NOT plan on doing this all day or as a daily dogsitting plan!   When used incorrectly a crate can be a means of animal cruelty.  A crate should definitely NOT be a dog's main place of residence.  This is not where they should spend the bulk of their day!!!  But, when used properly, the crate can be a valuable training tool, and your dog's personal safe space.  They can nap and relax in their "den" and it can be a safe spot for brief periods of time when they are alone.  Crates are also a great place for them to sleep at night.  Our dogs actually love their crates and go in very willingly.  While they are puppies, use some bath towels instead of a pet bed.  Since they are teething, they want to chew things up.  They are also still potty training.  The bath towels are much easier to clean and if they chew or shred one, it's still good to use until they learn to not chew fabric.  You can get a pet bed later when the chewing eases up some.  Pet beds are also excellent for use outside of the crate when you want them to stay put in a specific space of the house.  The bed helps define where you expect them to stay.  

- Outdoors: A fenced yard is the best thing for this breed!  They need lots of outdoor play time, and a fence really makes that safer and easier.  If you need to have a dog run or kennel, then for 1 dog it needs to be no less than 8 feet wide and at least 16 feet long.  This is a bare minimum, the larger the better.  For more dogs, go bigger too.  Height should be no less than 6 feet.  If it is less than 6 feet tall, you'll need to put a top on the kennel so they won't jump or climb out.  We have seen several breeds of dogs that can learn to climb chain link fence.  Vizslas are so athletic, you might need a top on a 6 ft high kennel run, since some Vizslas have been known to become excellent jumpers as adults.  If you have a dog house in the kennel (recommended), be sure to place it well away from the fence, or put a top on the kennel above the dog house, since they may use the dog house to get onto and then climb or jump over the fence.  Or you can just cut a hole in the kennel fencing and put the dog house on the outside.  Doing so will make the best use of the space inside the kennel run.  Just be sure the fence is very securely attached to the doghouse so they won't try to squeeze through.  An outdoor 8 x 16 kennel is not the best place for a Vizsla to spend all day, every day.  It should only be used on occasion, and not for long periods of time.  But it can occasionally be a life saver if you need a safe place for your dog.  These dogs really need to be part of your family to be happiest, and a fenced yard is really very important for this breed!

Stages of Development
 - 1 week
    Puppies are born with their eyes shut and are also deaf.  At this stage they are completely dependent on their mama for everything.  We feel they are still mentally active and learning even at this young age though.  They depend on their nose and sense of smell heavily which is why we will send them to you with a piece of bedding carrying the scent of their mother and litter mates.  This will help them feel more at home when you receive them.
 - 4 weeks
    Curious to the extreme, puppies at this age are soaking the world in.  They are learning and exploring constantly.  We watch them as you would a small child to keep them safe.  They have a bond with their litter and mother but are also becoming a little more independent.  They are still nursing and need their mother for physical and also mental development.  They will pick up a lot from her on how to behave and interact, this is why picking a puppy with a good mom is critical.  The interaction with their litter mates is also very important in their development of "social skills."  Weather permitting, this is a good time for puppies to start to have play sessions outdoors.
 - 6 weeks
    Still too early to leave mom and head to their new home, but the puppies are developing quickly.  At this point they are able to handle very brief and positive training sessions in the basic areas.  It is also a time where the very elementary stages of potty training can lay a good foundation for the puppy.  We will begin working with them on these things.  Don't expect your puppy to arrive "trained" as you may not even be able to notice what we have done.  But feel confident the basics have begun that have allowed those neurological paths to form.
 - 8 weeks
    By this point the puppy is in your hands and heart!  The fun has begun for you!  This is a very important time for you to work with and train your puppy into the dog you want them to be.  Potty training is urgent at this point, so don't slack off!  It can be overwhelming as it is a big commitment, but it will pay off.  Be as diligent as you can as each accident equates to more than just one setback.  Obedience training can also be underway.  Keep it positive as your puppy is very sensitive and wants to please you.  You will want this to be a bonding time where the puppy learns to love and trust you as it has now been separated from its mom and siblings.  Remember that as cute and harmless as a puppy may be, never let it do any behavior you will not want from a grown dog.  It is much harder to change and train a behavior out, than to avoid from the start.  If you feel overwhelmed and think this puppy will never be trained, just remember that is normal too!  Stay calm, be patient and consistent and it will all work out!
- 3 months
    If you have stuck with it, then your puppy should be very close to potty trained at this point and life should be getting a bit easier.  If you are not there yet, don't give up.  Recommit and dig in -- you will make it!  Don't give puppy free reign of the house yet, he/she is not ready for that.  But if all is going well you can start expanding "his/her" territory.  Do this slowly so puppy will recognize it as it's territory and not slip on the potty training.  Gates, crates, and leashes can help with controlling the puppy's accessible area.  Keep up the obedience training.  Puppy may even be ready for a few tricks!  Make sure you are also socializing your puppy with all ages of people and a large variety of animals (once they are fully immunized).
- 4 months
    Puppy has grown a lot at this point, you will start to see the hints of what he/she will look like as a mature dog.  Keep up the good work and have a ton of fun!  Make sure you don't overdo the physical activity.  A fun time playing and running around the yard is great, but too strenuous of activity could damage your puppy's developing bones and lead to arthritis and joint dysplasia later in life.  Playing in the yard, and walks/hikes are great.  Putting the puppy on a leash and going for a run can cause trouble.  Setting them free to run can also be a problem as they may get too excited and overdo it.
- 6-9 months
    Puppy is getting much larger, and you may forget they are still a puppy--but mentally they are.  Keep this in mind.  Even if your puppy is doing great don't let up on that training.  A few minutes each day will keep them sharp on all you have taught them.  And remember, as long as you are using a positive training approach and not a harsh one, then your puppy will love this time.  They will not see it as work, but as play time with their favorite bud--you!  
- 1 year
    Life should really be settling into a nice rhythm now--probably a quick paced one:)  Your puppy is now starting to emerge from that puppy phase, but don't expect their energy to drop off.  Not with this breed!  They are just getting warmed up:)  You have probably noticed their ability to run and run at this point, but don't set them completely free yet.  Let them run and play to the extent they desire, but still don't push them.  Let them develop soundly for a few more months.  Keep up the daily training.
- 2 years
   Your dog is fully grown.  Monitor their weight and keep them healthy.  Exercise them regularly and enjoy their loving personality.  As always keep up the daily training sessions.  Vizsla are very intelligent so don't let them get bored.  Dig up some great trick ideas, it will keep them happy and be fun for you too!  Be creative, but just make sure not to start something you will have to undo.  I have seen a list that included training your dog to open the fridge...not a good idea! 

Excercise 
Vizslas are wonderful for keeping their humans healthy.  They need to have a chance to exercise vigorously every day.  If they are able to spend a good part of their day playing outside that will help, but a good run or walk will make them happier and strengthen your bond too.  Fetch is also a favorite activity.   If they spend a good chunk of their day in a house/kennel (fenced dog area smaller than the yard), then they need to be let out multiple times to let their body/mind have the space they were bred to enjoy.  All day in a crate, even with potty breaks is just not an option!  And be cautious of giving a young Vizsla access to your home while you are away.  They are very intelligent and when they become bored they will likely also become destructive!  This is obviously not good for your home, it is also a choking or poisoning hazard for the dog!  If you find yourself thinking your vizsla is driving you crazy...it is probably not an issue with the dog.  Problem behaviors will manifest if their needs are not met!  This breed needs mental exercise as much as physical.  Train them, train them, train them!!!  Do it in a fun and positive way!  It will keep their smart minds busy:)  Tricks are great for this breed, and also always be brushing up on the obedience...keep it fresh and sharp!

Food and Diet
    - For Puppies:  Find the best quality puppy food you can.  It's worth paying more for the best puppy food you can get your hands on.  Your dog is only growing for a while and they are developing so quickly that if you skimp on the puppy food, then you face the effects for their entire life.  Keep them on a good puppy food for 18 months to 2 years.  If you change brands of food, then do it gradually over the course of a week or two.  This will help their digestive system adjust to it.  We feed the puppies a high quality puppy food .  They are also fed a portion of raw meat.  This gives them nutrients that are lost in processing kibble.  This gives you the option of feeding your growing puppy raw food and/or kibble when you receive them.  We highly suggest a raw diet because of it's incredible health benefits.  It is critical that raw feeding is done correctly!  We'd love to share about how you can feed a raw diet if you are interested.

    - For Adults:  We have found the "high performance" type of foods to be best.  There are a variety of brands that sell this type.  These will have high ratios of Protein and Fat which are GOOD in order to keep up with their high metabolism.  Something with 30% protein and 20% fats will be good for your Vizsla.  The closer you can get to this ratio the better.   This will help them maintain strong bones and lean muscle.  Adequate nutrition will also help them stay warm in the winter.  Price isn't always the best way to tell quality.  However, the better grade dog foods will generally cost a little more.  Read the ingredient labels to find out the source of their primary ingredients, especially the first 3 on the list.  Dogs are carnivores so high meat content will be better for them.   We recommend going with a grain free food.  There is a great website for helping to evaluate the quality of different brands and formulas of dog food, www.dogfoodadvisor.com.  We find it very helpful!  You might notice Vizsla have a thin build, but we prefer them to not look too bony.  If you can't find the high ratios of dog food, and if you'd like to try something to help them maintain a healthy weight, then you can crack an egg over their food a couple times per week.  The egg is naturally high in good fats and protein and also helps maintain a healthy coat, but too much can lead to diarrhea.  Adding raw meat and bone to their diet will also provide extra nutrition.  

If they start to put on extra weight, especially as they get older, then you can move them down to a lower ratio of Protein and Fat, and doing so gradually, will be best.