What do all these items have in common? They have all caused Captain to freeeeaaaaak out with what we call his "wooowoooowoooo" bark. Maybe you know the one. Loud. Deep. Body stretched out, head low and slightly tilted, eyes fixed on the "item of terror" with a complete look of "what the hell is that????!!!"
I love Captain to bits, and I never want him to be uncomfortable, but sometimes the things he flips out about are just too funny.
Now, many dogs are afraid of certain things- thunder, fireworks, the FedEx man (ok that last one might be more of a vendetta than a fear)- but it seems to me the things Vizslas freak out about can be a little.....different.
For example. The first time we realized Captain could react a little strangely to an item we thought was pretty normal was when we brought home some Alpaca. No, not the animal. The wool. I've mentioned this on the blog before, but picture this: we're unpacking after a trip to Peru (lucky, I know... we haven't gone anywhere that cool in 3 years. Oh wait, we haven't really gone anywhere in 3 years. Anyway). My husband, in typical husband style, takes a few days to unpack and leaves his suitcase in the living room. When he musters the energy to miraculously pull the last of the items from his suitcase, he throws a sweater he got (made of alpaca wool) over one our of dining chairs and leaves it there (because the dining room is the living room when you live in a 750 square foot apartment in downtown San Francisco). Captain came out from the bedroom, sniffing, and then started howling, and kind of slinking towards the chair while doing the "woowoowoo" bark. We both just stood there, bewildered, watching Captain bark for at least 5 minutes. And then started laughing. I mean, it was a sweater.
But, clearly the smell of alpaca was so completely foreign to Captain that he just didn't know what to think. I also got a small tapestry/runner made of alpaca, and Captain wouldn't stop barking at that when I unpacked it, so I just shoved it in our closet. A year later, after moving, I brought it out to hang it up, and of course he barked at it.... but I hung the damn thing up anyway. He barked at it for a day or two every time he walked by it, eyed it, sniffed it some more, and then forgot about it and seems to have decided it is no longer a threat. However, that didn't stop him from suddenly barking at a red wool scarf I have that had been hanging on a rack in my office for about a year (one day it must have just been threatening), or running up to a woman at a dog park in a big fuzzy black sweater and started barking at her. The woman, luckily not too concerned about the barking and not weirded out by my question, "Sorry about that.... I think he may have been barking at your sweater- what's it made of?" didn't even need to say what I already knew: "It's made of alpaca." Yup.
Another big one for us has been blimps. This I kind of get too. I mean, it's a giant thing in the sky. Why is is it in the sky? And why is it SO BIG? It is a giant fat slow moving bird?? This was when we lived in the city, right by the ball park, and we were at the dog park right next to the stadium. All of sudden, the blimp floats into view from behind AT&T stadium, and Captain looks up in a complete gaze of terror. I swear his eyes got wider, and he cowered, and then went off. It was another 5-10 minute "woowooowoo" barking session. And again, I couldn't help laughing a little bit.
Then there are other oddities that have led to our Vizsla freakin' out:
- a child car seat sitting on a porch
- a Weber grill being pulled down the sidewalk
- My husband's feet- Captain doesn't bark at them, but he does jump about a mile in the air any time my husband puts his feet anywhere near him. We have no idea why this started. Although my husband does have very large feet, and a pretty weird looking bunyon on one of them... ;)
- an overturned bike lying in a park
- a ceiling fan
- a man with his child on his shoulders (I can only imagine what kind of weird creature Captain initially thought that was).
Related to "freak outs," Vizslas can develop anxieties. Training can help with more serious issues, but I think exercise helps too! I have also heard it helps to not baby them too much (very, very difficult for a Vizsla mommy, I know) when they are scared, since it reinforces that they should be scared about the thing. Instead, treats, encouragement, and acting like things are normal seem to help. New and different is often scary, so it's good to be understanding, encouraging, and let your dog sniff the new object so they know it's not some kind of intruder.
Luckily, none of Captain's "freak outs" have become big issues, and we've learned ways of helping Captain navigate the world. He had some separation anxiety as a puppy, so we worked on leaving him alone for short periods of time until we could work up to actually having an evening out, and a nice long puppy play beforehand always helped. Like other dogs, he also doesn't love thunder or fireworks, but he's grown accustomed to these things over time. He also flipped the first time he saw our vacuum cleaner, but my husband left it out for a day so Captain could sniff it and get used to it. He didn't bark at the vacuum after that, but he still gets that "Oh crap" look when I bring it out, and does a little dance every time I vacuum... running away from it, but always directly to the spot where I need to vacuum....
What's your take?
What funny "freak outs" has your Vizsla had?
Does your Vizsla have any serious anxiety issues?
And now you are thinking: words, words, words.... I thought this Vizsla blog had pictures.....
|Captain's advice: cuddle under a blanket if you're scared.|