I survived! I survived my first week with an 8-week-old Vizsla puppy. I’m exhausted, covered in bites, and filled with absolute love and joy for my little guy. His name is Bodhi and we got him a week ago! He is 9 weeks tomorrow and a total mush.
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Bodhi has spent the week exploring, snuggling, and learning some ground rules! He already knows his name and “sit”. He is working on “leave it”, which I must imagine is pretty difficult for a new creature in a new world.
As I’m writing this, I’m proud to announce that he has had no accidents in the house today! I’m so proud of him. House training has not been as hard as I thought it would be! When he goes in the house it’s usually our fault.
I have to say that a lot of help has come from the r/puppy101 and r/dogtraining subreddits, as well as anecdotal advice from friends! I am a learn-as-I-go mom, and I’m finding I’m that way with the dog too. I think I have a good perspective on what’s really important. However, I have been more intentional about managing his behaviors due to everyone’s safety. A 12 lb puppy jumping up on you is innocuous, a 55 lb dog is not…
It’s been a very long week, friends. Here are some answers to questions I had before getting my Vizsla pup!
Why did we choose a vizsla as our family dog?
You can read all about why Vizslas make great family dogs here: 5 Reasons We Chose a Vizsla as Our Family Dog
Basically, we chose a Vizsla because of their activity level, loyalty, trainability, and gentle temperament. They were also the perfect size!
What’s it like having a puppy and a toddler?
I’ll be honest – it’s exhausting. I am bone tired at the end of the day.
We set up this playpen for my daughter so that she can have her own space in the kitchen away from him. It’s huge! Most importantly, it can resist our puppy’s snapping jaws and sharp claws.
It’s a lot of chewed up toys, removing choking hazards, and reheating cups of coffee.
Making sure two little creatures (who have no impulse control) don’t hurt themselves is a full time job.
I wanted to add an update as my Vizsla puppy approaches his 6 month birthday:
These pups are not for the faint of heart. My Bodhi is so naughty! He counter-surfs, eats everything in sight, and greets the world mouth-first. It has been a lot keeping a toddler and a puppy safe.
I have no problem saying that I wish I had waited until my daughter was older to get a puppy- I don’t think the breed matters. Puppies require constant supervision and dedication, which we are of course giving him. I’m sure I will feel differently in the future, once we turn this corner and he mellows out a little bit.But, from someone who is in it, let me say that having a puppy and a toddler is not the best idea.
Do Vizslas shed?
Vizslas have no undercoat, which means that they do best in warmer climates. Alternatively, they could use a coat in the winter, like our boy does. They are incredibly soft, with ears like velvet. The lack of undercoat makes them easier to clean and bathe when dirty. We have found that our Vizsla only needs a quick run down with a rubber brush once a week, and baths only when necessary.
It was my understanding that Vizlsas are low-shedding dogs. Do they shed less than a Golden or a Lab? Sure. But they are still shedding dogs, and our house is now blessed with thousands of tiny red hairs that infiltrate even the most remote corners of our space.
Here is my car after maybe 3 rides post-car wash. Needless to say, I will be getting leather seats in my next car (and more space so I can get another V!).
How much exercise does a Vizsla puppy need?
So, I was told 5 minutes for every month of age. So a two month old would need 10 minutes of exercise.
I don’t think this is true for Vizslas!
We have been doing 10 minutes of exercise per wake window (see more on puppy wake windows below).
Some examples of the exercise we have been doing is fetch, using a rope toy, or this frisbee. We have a fenced in yard that is large enough for him to romp around in.
Today, we took him for his first walk on the road, but kept it to 5 minutes.
You can over exercise a puppy, so be sure to talk to your vet about how much your dog needs!
What is crate training?
Crate training is simply the act of using a crate to train your dog. Here is an explanation from the AKC (click for reference):
Although many dog owners may feel guilty for crate training their canine companion, enclosed spaces create a shelter for your dog to rest and relax. In fact, dogs instinctively seek small spaces to create protective shelters for themselves. Crates are useful training tools for puppies, safe havens for senior dogs, and lifesavers for emergencies.AKC, “Crate Training Benefits: Why A Crate Is Great for You and Your Dog“
And here is the crate we use:
What’s in our 8-week-old puppy’s crate?
Right now, the only things in our 8-week-old puppy’s crate are a blanket, soft stuffed animal, and a NylaBone. We do cover the crate to add a cozy feel, as well as using the crate divider.
I always remove his collar before putting him in the crate. I want to avoid any freak accidents.
What size crate does a Vizsla need?
We went with the 42″ wire crate (with divider) for our male Vizsla.
How often does our Vizsla puppy get up in the middle of the night?
I had heard horror stories of puppy parents having to get up every 2-3 hours with their little one and let me tell you, this is the part of puppyhood I was dreading the most. I already got up with my baby multiple times a night for over a year, and I wasn’t excited to do that again.
Bodhi only wakes once a night. I don’t even want to write that, out of fear of jinxing it. We take him out for the last time at around 10, he wakes up at 2, and then is up for good at 6:30/7am.
How we got our 8-week-old Vizsla to sleep in the crate.
Bodhi sleeps in a crate in our family room. The first few days, I put a few treats in there and left the door open. I never put him in it. If he happened to hop in, I would reward him and tell him “good crate”. I also added a few of his toys and favorite bones.
I eventually ended up putting him in there while my daughter and I played in another room. He cried for a few minutes and fell asleep!
The first 5-6 nights my husband or I would sleep with him on the couch. Now that he is sleeping in the crate, I sleep on the couch next to him. I’m hoping I’ll be able to go back to bed this week!
What are enforced naps and how do I use them in training my puppy?
This is something I saw on Reddit and it has saved me! Enforced naps are just what they sound like – you are scheduling and enforcing a nap for your pup. The golden rule is 2 hours of rest after every 1 hour of playtime.
I usually set an hour timer and once it goes off we start “winding down” with some treats, pets, gentle words. Then I lead him into the crate and reward him with a treat. He usually whines for a few minutes, but eventually plops down and is out cold soon after.
How we got our 8-week-old Vizsla to stop biting.
Bodhi would start nipping uncontrollably and it seemed like nothing was calming him down. No amount of redirection or praise would stop his chompers from clamping down on my feet. We are definitely teaching him to use a “soft mouth” by whimpering and turning away when he bites too hard. This is how they would learn to bite gently from other dogs in the wild.
When he would go on his little frenzies, there was no soft mouth or learning involved!
Our issue was Bodhi was overtired. He just couldn’t help himself. Enforced naps are what stopped him from biting (as opposed to “mouthing”, a behavior all dogs engage in).
What I would have done differently.
If I could do this again, I would have definitely prepared more meals and planned more “me time”. It really does feel like having two toddlers right now.
If I could do it over I would have started with more toys and a stronger gate.
18 Month Update
Bodhi is a little over 18 months and a crushing 75lb of muscle! He still needs to work on his leash walking and excited jumping at house guests. He is pretty lazy for a Vizsla, doing short bursts of zoomies throughout the day and then settling in on the couch.
My biggest complaints are the shedding (didn’t think it would be this much) and just maneuvering his sheer size!
We love our Vizsla and can’t seem to remember what life was like before him (did I just leave food on the counter?). He’s our toddlers best friend and is deeply loyal, goofy, and sweet.
Have you ever raised a puppy? Did you find it challenging?
What would you have done differently if you could restart puppyhood?
Let me know below!
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