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A little background:
Both my husband and I grew up with animals (he had several large dogs; I lived on a small farm with small dogs, cats, horses, chickens and ducks). So neither of us is new to having pets. We have had a cat for the past ten years, but never owned a dog as adults. We have a two and half year old boy. He is very sweet, and like me, somewhat shy and passive. He has a spunky streak to him though, and loves to play and be silly. Just not quite the best at standing up for himself (which we are noticing more, thanks to the dog…).

We (my husband especially) have wanted a dog for a while, it just hasn't worked out with previous housing and life situations. But we are settled into a new home, in a great area, with lots of fun dog and family friendly outdoors stuff available. We thoroughly researched breeds, and owning a dog, raising a puppy, proper training, etc. So we assumed we were prepared.

But we're two and a half weeks into owning our Vizsla, and I feel very much like throwing in the towel. I knew it would be work, training, lots of messes to clean up, interrupted sleep and free time. But I feel like this puppy is bringing out the worst in me. I am generally a laid back person, relatively relaxed and easygoing.

Since getting our pup, I have had headaches daily, my blood pressure is higher (just so happened to have a doctor's appt last week, and she commented on it. Never had a problem w/ it in my life). I am yelling at my kid and pup - a lot - which I hate. I'm stressed out, frantic, and generally unhappy. I'm crying. A lot. I am trying to make an effort to be calm and assert strength (but not anger) with the dog, but I am struggling.

I miss my quiet, calm days with my little boy. He is also suffering. He's chewing his fingers and nails, he's crying and clinging to me a lot more, and he doesn't grasp the concept of teaching the dog what not to do, so the dog continues to jump on/bite/scratch/hurt him (nothing unsupervised, and I step in before it gets out of control). He wants to play with the dog, but he won't discourage unwanted behavior on his own. We have been trying to let them figure out their dynamic on their own, as much as possible. I know my son needs to be able to assert himself above the dog in our "pack" but I don't know how to teach him to do that, and he doesn't seem capable of it at this time. I'm tired of putting the dog in time out for hurting my little boy. I'm tired of being angry.

He's a good dog, as far as I can tell. Listens relatively well, already responds to some basic commands, and he loves being involved in whatever we're doing. As long as we're like clockwork taking him out, accidents in the house have been rare. He sleeps in our room, usually through the night (until about 4:30-5), and seems to do well in his crate. He does have a lot of energy, but we try and give him lots of play time, change up his toys, and make sure he's able to let off steam when he gets hyper. Which has been hard to do with a 10 week old pup, who can't really go out. He also gets lots of cuddle time, during my son's nap, at night, etc.

I committed to becoming a dog owner, so I am not realistically considering getting rid of the dog. My husband is in love with him. I am still trying to like him right now, and not regret getting him :/ I am fairly confident things will get better once we're able to get out and do more (come on 16 week vaccinations!), as well as when the pup is older. I really do want my children to grow up with animals. I know how valuable it was for both me and my husband.

Also, I am planning on enrolling him in some puppy classes tomorrow. I'm sure the socialization and behavior training will help both myself and the dog.

I'm trying to make the most of this, and maintain a calm strength. I just need some help/advice on getting through some of this puppy stuff, how to discipline him more effectively, and how to help my son stand up for himself.
 

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First of all, don't worry. Tons of people go through the 'what have I done?!' stage shortly after getting a puppy. Depending on the animal, this can last a few months, and usually will reoccur at some point down the line when you come home to a house covered in feathering from a few pillows you left laying around, lol.

From what you described, you got really lucky with your pup. There are people out there with two year old dogs that don't use the potty outside or sleep through the night.

Vizslas are very high energy dogs. I don't see why you can't take him out for walks - it's really places like the dog park and petsmart/petco you want to avoid until they are fully vaccinated. Car rides are great mental stimulation for most dogs (plus its good to get him used to them at this age). Training will also help tire out the pup mentally - at this age there are all sorts of things you can be doing. Sit, Down, Stay, Come, Drop It. If he picks those up fast you can even advance more.

Also, about the "pack" thing - it's not really a thing. Asserting 'dominance' will not work and could damage your son's/your relationship with the dog. Google positive reinforcement training to see how you should go about training your dog.
 

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OK - First of all, forget all of the 'pack order' crap. Your son is a toddler. He CAN NOT 'stand up' for himself against a land-shark of a puppy. YOU are the adult in the picture, it is up to you to control the pup & redirect him before your son gets hurt. Don't worry about your son 'asserting his dominance' over the dog. That is not the problem here. Work to get the puppy happily & positively trained & well mannered and the relationship between him & your son will work itself out.

Yes, puppies are exhausting, headache-inducing & frustrating at times. That just goes with the territory. Be thankful that dogs grow up much quicker than their human counterparts, because you will be done with puppyhood, doggy adolescence, and well into the calm adult years before your son hits puberty.

Definitely sign up for that puppy class & utilize management techniques (crate, tether, baby gates, whatever...) to keep everyone safe & happy for the short term. Then take a DEEP breath & know that all of this will pass. I promise!
 

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It does get better. Have you asked the Vet if you can take him outside? I ask because some areas are safer than others for exercise. Our Vet wasn't too concerned with walking our pup in front of the house because we don't have a lot of strays in our area.

Nothing you've said sounds like he is a terror, it could be your feeling this way due to lack of sleep? Puppies are a lot of work and I believe in taking some vacation time to deal with whatever I needed to deal with. Crates are great and if you haven't invested in one I suggest you do. It is not used as punishment but as a safe haven and when you can't watch him because you are busy he is safe locked away and not getting into trouble.

What exactly is the problem?

If he needs exercise then roll a ball around in the house (just be prepared that they can go from running to peeing in a split second), play fetch, chase him and have him chase you - do not do stairs as a way to tire him out - he's too young. People talk about a flirt pole to tire a dog/puppy out. He is young but some training to mentally stimulate him but keep it really short as you would with any child.

If it is lack of sleep (and when Zoey was a pup I took her out a few times at night for the first 2 weeks) can you and your husband alternate late night duties? If he needs to pee at night then take the water away at 8:30 or so and limit his exercise - no fluids no pee.

It is hard work as it is having an infant and as I said it does get better ... older pups hold it in longer, they can go out and play outside and eventually as they hit adulthood then calm down.
 

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It's not correct for your 2.5 year old son to stand up for himself and teach the dog respect him.... should not be happening at all... Its 100% your position to stop it before it happens,, not by corrections since both son and puppy don't know what to do or how to interact.. You teach the pup to sit and teach your son to pet when puppy is sitting... Your the buffer for both how the pup is around your son,, and how your son is around the dog.. always the one that is teaching correct interactions and when and when not to approach.. When you are doing things with your son... it's a great time to teach the pup to lay down on their bedding spot, and enjoy a nice chewy... teaching a pup on lead to lay by your feet when yall are watching tv... and such... What can you teach that pup to do, that will assist you in caring and spending time with your son..... and what can you teach your son that he can be proactive in helping with the pup.. Like playing your the buffer between the two... pup gives you the ball,, your son is learning to wait and follow instructions... you give the ball to your son , pup is learning to wait and follow instructions... Son throws the ball and the pup brings it back to you... little skils of following instructions for both of them.. and you being the buffer preventing each of them from making a mistake and getting to excited for pouncing on top of each other.. they pounce on you,,, not reaching each other,, and you work on teaching them what to do to interact correctly..

Time outs are a good thing,, for you... to have a break and regroup so make time outs positive for the pup and your son... and don't feel guilty about using them...
 

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maybe a friend or coworker has a young playful dog that you could do a puppy play date with at either house a couple of times of week till the vaccines are done. Sounds like you are tired and just having a bad day. In the future or when talking to some other future dog owners maybe a young adult dog would have been the better choice and you could recommend this and relate your experiences. Puppies have sharp teeth and claws, young kids do not like it when the pup uses the kid as a chew toy. there are some things that you can do to help tire out the pup. Play with a flirt pole with the pup. Get some puppy puzzles Before you know it the child will be in school and the dog will be a member of the grey muzzle clan waiting by the curb for the school bus. Today will not look so bad when you are standing next to the dog on the curb in the tomorrows waiting on that bus
 

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As others have said, your son is way too young to be expected to interact with the puppy appropriately. If you can't be there supervising and controlling the situation, then separate them. Pack order and dominance isn't a thing anyway, but your son is just too young to have the mental and physical skills necessary to react appropriately to what the puppy is doing. If the puppy jumps up on him or bites him, the puppy goes in time out either in a crate or an xpen with something to occupy him. He's just being a normal puppy and will grow out of this craziness with time, but you need to be the adult and step in and control the situation. Leaving your son to deal with it himself is probably making him anxious and unhappy - he's just a toddler.

Have you talked to your vet about getting the puppy outside? Lots of areas have a very low risk for parvo and it's not an issue to take the dog outside in relatively safe areas. My puppy is 14 weeks and has been going on walks in the neighborhood and to local businesses since the day I brought her home. Giving your puppy some outdoor exercise will help a lot with the the issues in the house. A tired puppy doesn't get into as much trouble.

Don't think so much about discipline. Reward the good stuff, with praise, affection, treats, toys, play, etc. Manage the bad stuff by putting him away with something safe to chew for a while. Most of the "bad" stuff (having accidents, chewing your stuff, chewing on you) will go away on its own with age *if* he doesn't get a lot of chances to practice the behavior. By putting him away and redirecting him to something appropriate, you aren't letting him practice the bad behavior.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thank you all for your responses. Honestly, I have really been struggling internally with this training and discipline issue, and I believe it is the cause of most of my stress these past couple weeks. We have never disciplined my son with violence, and prior to getting our dog, we had agreed on using a positive reinforcement training method. I have been so upset by this "tough love" approach, and am glad to hear that my concerns are valid.

We are meeting with a puppy school on Thursday, and I hope that they will support my opinion on how to encourage the dog and my son to interact in a more positive way. Hopefully having a "professional" opinion will help my husband to back down from his current philosophy.

And yes, I definitely do need more sleep. I've been crating the dog a bit more the past few days, and it's really helped. Whenever I start feeling guilty, I remind myself that if I were working outside the home as well, he would be locked up for hours at a time, and so an hour here and there is not going to hurt him. Especially if it helps me stay sane!

Thanks again! Much appreciated.
 

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Don't think so much about discipline. Reward the good stuff, with praise, affection, treats, toys, play, etc. Manage the bad stuff by putting him away with something safe to chew for a while. Most of the "bad" stuff (having accidents, chewing your stuff, chewing on you) will go away on its own with age *if* he doesn't get a lot of chances to practice the behavior. By putting him away and redirecting him to something appropriate, you aren't letting him practice the bad behavior.
All of this. Forget the dominance theory stuff completely, for both you and your husband and your son. 2.5 is way too little to 'stand up' to a puppy who doesn't know any better so it's important all interactions are supervised very closely. Puppy blues is very much a thing and a lot of people go through it but it gets way better and when they start making progress it's incredibly rewarding, and the relationship between your son and the puppy will be amazing too. One day at a time! Walk away and take deep breaths when you need to and remember they grow out of it. Positive reinforcement, lots of love, teaching them what to do instead of just what not to do and you'll have a great dog.
 

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It's not correct for your 2.5 year old son to stand up for himself and teach the dog respect him.... should not be happening at all... Its 100% your position to stop it before it happens,, not by corrections since both son and puppy don't know what to do or how to interact.. You teach the pup to sit and teach your son to pet when puppy is sitting... Your the buffer for both how the pup is around your son,, and how your son is around the dog.. always the one that is teaching correct interactions and when and when not to approach.. When you are doing things with your son... it's a great time to teach the pup to lay down on their bedding spot, and enjoy a nice chewy... teaching a pup on lead to lay by your feet when yall are watching tv... and such... What can you teach that pup to do, that will assist you in caring and spending time with your son..... and what can you teach your son that he can be proactive in helping with the pup.. Like playing your the buffer between the two... pup gives you the ball,, your son is learning to wait and follow instructions... you give the ball to your son , pup is learning to wait and follow instructions... Son throws the ball and the pup brings it back to you... little skils of following instructions for both of them.. and you being the buffer preventing each of them from making a mistake and getting to excited for pouncing on top of each other.. they pounce on you,,, not reaching each other,, and you work on teaching them what to do to interact correctly..

Time outs are a good thing,, for you... to have a break and regroup so make time outs positive for the pup and your son... and don't feel guilty about using them...
I agree, a 2 year old is essentially another "puppy", and doesnt have any more mental capacity to correct this puppy than another puppy would. When things get out of hand, separate them like you would two puppies and give them "time outs" ( not as punishment, but just for a breather for both of them) away from one another.

All of this. Forget the dominance theory stuff completely, for both you and your husband and your son. 2.5 is way too little to 'stand up' to a puppy who doesn't know any better so it's important all interactions are supervised very closely. Puppy blues is very much a thing and a lot of people go through it but it gets way better and when they start making progress it's incredibly rewarding, and the relationship between your son and the puppy will be amazing too. One day at a time! Walk away and take deep breaths when you need to and remember they grow out of it. Positive reinforcement, lots of love, teaching them what to do instead of just what not to do and you'll have a great dog.
I agree, you are already dominant over your puppy because you control all the things that are necessary for life, are fun, etc ... ddogs know this, they arent dumb.

It also pays to remember or think of it this way: there is no GOOD, or BAD behavior. There is only DESIRABLE and UNDESIRABLE behavior, and its up to YOU to show the dog which behaviors you want to encourage and which you dont.

The puppy is probably having a grand old time "playing" (in his mind) with your son and causing him to squeal, its up to you to step in and separate them.
 

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.... And, if you list the specific behaviors that you want to stop, and the ones that you want, we may have more suggestions to help you with professional training. One thing you might look up is Bite Inhibition, understanding that it can take two weeks to begin to get results...
 

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Vizslas are busy, busy, busy. If you don't take the time to teach them how to be chill, they simply never learn. Thankfully, they have pretty soft mouths naturally but the jumping and barking is constant if you don't work on ending it! He will need lots of physical AND mental exercise. I think people underestimate just how important mentally tiring out a V is.

Running them constantly only builds their endurance. It does little to settle them down. It will work when he is a pup but once he grows, it will just be an endless cycle of exercising leads to being able to do more exercise meaning they never tire (ask me how I know).
 

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Yep, as the long time owner of working / herding dogs, you have to work their mind, Lincoln go to agility class for an hour, then nap a little in the car on the way home (which is about an hour, maybe a little more with traffic) then be ready for more when he gets home.

I have found that working him mentally with body awareness and balance work is FAR more productive at tiring him out than any game of fetch or running with him, or whatever.

Just google "canine body awareness exercises" and you will get tons of ideas, you dont have to buy the expensive equipment, you can use things like latters (to teach them where their feet are) stumps, walls, ledges, boulders, and other things around your neighborhood (just make sure not to make him jump up or down too high, because of his growing joints). you can also use the same search above on you tube.

Good luck :)
 
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