Saturday, September 29, 2007

Problems within the last two months

Loki has had a crazy two months since coming to his "forever" home. He's had one main health issue that has been plaguing him forever (but seems to be getting better now).

Loki came to us from a pet store. This is a problem that will most likely follow Loki throughout his life. He came into life the wrong way for the wrong reasons, was traumatized for a week before ending up with us. Don't get me wrong - there were no diseases with him then, nor have there been any inherited problems (we still need to run a full blood panel to determine this, but he does not have the von Willibrand disease which causes them to bleed excessively). However, because I did not buy him from an ethical breeder, I can't help but think that I could've had a Vizsla with a better temperament.

Since we got him, he's had a very sensitive stomach. With the first food, his stomach problems were blamed on the fact that his food was an empty brand-name food. The main ingredient was corn, and it was causing problems with digestion. After that trial, we had to had him on some sort of prescription food (Hill's Science Diet - I/D - the only wet food that does not give him diarrhea) . A week, and 20 dollars later, we switched to Nature's Recipe Farmstand Selects at the advice of our trainer. Loki seemed to be responding to that really well. Until last week, when he somehow picked up tapeworm despite being on flea prevention. A week of puking, diarrhea, $20 on a weeks worth of food, and a $40 pill for the tapeworm, he was back to normal.

Unfortunately, because of those stomach problems, he has had issues with food aggression. He gets especially aggressive around the I/D canned food. So aggressive that next time, we are not going to give him the wet food, but instead the dry I/D. I have had my wrist chomped down on so hard to the point where my hand went numb and my cat has been nearly hunted down and killed. During those bouts of aggression, we decided to handfeed him, but he hasn't made much progress with that method. Hopefully, Loki can stay healthy enough for his body to absorb nutrients like it is supposed to, and so that he isn't constantly starving. Honestly, I blame his aggression on the fact that he was so hungry. I would still like him to get to the point where he will not snap at anyone regardless of how hungry he is.

Our puppy is a fairly aggressive dog. He constantly challenges for dominance and has that entitlement attitude. He will growl and will snarl if unhappy. I have been growled at before when attempting to reach for him while he was under the coffee table. There also have been times where he was extremely possessive of a certain toy. The food aggression shows very clearly that he believes himself to be the dominant dog at times. I have been working with him on these issues, but I see very little improvement. I probably need to look up new training methods.

I honestly don't know at times who is the Alpha in this house. It could either be my husband, or the dog at any given point. I understand that it should always be either my husband or me. The reason why I am unsure is because Loki recognizes us as the leaders. We have set rules, and are consistent about them (not allowing him into the bathroom where the kitty litterbox is located) and he does follow them. We make him work for his food and treats. He never ever ever just gets something. He will always have to do a sit and stay, a wait, or a recall. However, the aggression mentioned before shows that we are obviously lacking somewhere.

I started this blog because I wanted to begin writing down my experiences with this dog. I'm hoping that by reading previous entries on this blog, I will realize what actually works, and what I just think works. Hopefully before he is full grown, I will be able to clearly establish my dominance. Otherwise, his behavior will even harder to correct.

Starting this blog

I decided to start this blog for my own records - I wanted to record what hopefully will be the evolution of bouncy puppy to star hunter.

My dog is Loki, an AKC registered Vizsla. We obtained Loki June 28th, from the Jacksonville Mall Pet Store (more to come on that later). His litter date was May 24, 2007. He was finally registered with the AKC on September 22, 2007. His main veterinarian is Banfield at Petsmart, and he takes obedience class through Petsmart as well.

I'm not quite sure what to say about this dog, except that I will never get a puppy again. Don't get me wrong. I love dogs. Big, small, short, tall - I don't discriminate. But, I just can't deal with the energy level of puppies.

Loki, at least, needs to be engaged for at least 2 hours a day before he'll "settle down". By settle down, I just mean not using my house as the Talladega Raceway. Engaging Loki is simple - he just needs to spend at least 2 hours a day being trained. This could be basic obedience training in the house, or it could be a long walk with him learning how to walk on a loose leash. A simple walk is not enough for him. Either way, I end up devoting two hours or more each day to the dog. It's frustrating to say the least, but he is a fast learner and very eager to please.

This puppy was bought as a companion dog, but he has shown his ability to be a great sports dog. He will be graduating puppy obedience school next Saturday - and he has learned everything he needs to learn, except for loose leash walking. It's in his nature though, to be able to wander. So, we'll just have to continue teaching him.

We're looking to get him involved in a dog club/get him more advanced dog training. Right now, however, we have no idea which section we wish to get him involved into. Agility will definitely challenge his mind and rid him of some of his energy. I've heard that too much obedience can ruin a great hunting dog, so we are most likely not going to continue with it (and pursue rally obedience). Field training would be ideal, but unfortunately, my husband does not have enough time to spend hunting with the dog, and there are no trainers nearby. It looks like we might just end up training Loki for agility with field as a hobby. It's all potential though - Loki might just want to be a couch potato after he reaches maturity, and we won't be able to stop that.

In the next few posts, I hope to be able to describe Loki's temperament and document the problems that he has had these last two months. I will also apologize profusely for buying a puppy store dog, and will begin documenting Loki's more exciting days.