It soon becomes apparent for all owners, why Vizslas are called “Velcro Dogs”.
If your Vizsla follows you around everywhere, clings to your side, and constantly demands attention, it can get very frustrating very quickly. This article will explain why this happens and the best FIVE ways to deal with it.
Clingy and needy behavior is commonly seen in Vizslas. They have even earned themselves the nickname “Velcro Dogs”. Vizslas are a breed that loves attention and sticking by their owner’s side.
Is It Normal For Vizslas To Be Clingy?
In short, yes. And this topic is frequently mentioned throughout Vizsla forums and groups.
A classic complaint from so many Vizsla owners is that their V won’t stop bugging them and demanding their attention, at virtually all times. If this is similar to how you feel, you definitely aren’t alone with this one!
So why are vizslas like this?
Well, it’s a combination of a few things. Firstly, Vizslas crave a huge amount of stimulation not just physically but mentally too, and ultimately, you as their leader are responsible for providing that stimulation. This alone can result in them bugging you a lot throughout the day.
Additionally, Vizslas have a very long history of hunting, pointing, falconry, and retrieving wild game. And what made them such successful working dogs was their high attentiveness to their owners.
They would constantly be awaiting new commands and instructions to follow while being glued to their owner’s side. Over hundreds of years of having such close bonds with their owners, it’s still firmly in their character and personality to be extremely attached to their owner.
It seems that this kind of behavior is not only normal, but almost built-in to all Vizslas.
Of course, however, there needs to be a balance. And although a certain amount of this behavior should be accepted, it’s not practical to have your Vizsla constantly glued to your side needing your full attention all of the time. So let’s run through what you can do about it.
You might also like:
Why does my vizsla smell like fish? And how to fix it
5 Ways To Stop Your Vizsla Being So Clingy
Let’s run through some of the ways that you can better handle this kind of behavior. Depending on your situation, it may only take one of these 5 tips to work, or a combination of them.
1. Avoid accidentally reinforcing clingy behavior
Accidentally reinforcing behavior you don’t want is such an easy mistake to make, yet if this doesn’t change, no other tricks or tips will work either.
Whenever your Vizsla seeks attention or clings to your side, all it takes is for you to give him that attention, acknowledge him, or put a hand down to pet him, and that’s it.
You’ve just reinforced to your V that his attention-seeking not only worked, but it was good behavior. This is giving him permission to continue being this way in the future. It’s as easy as that!
Dogs understand things in pretty much black or white, so the message from you needs to be clear and consistent. If one day you pet him for his attention-seeking, he won’t understand why you aren’t happy with it the next day.
Apart from becoming very self-aware of how you are responding to your Vizsla, you can make it easier by having a set response that you give every time the attention-seeking happens. This will be covered in tip no.3.
2. Providing sufficient physical & mental exercise
You’ve probably heard this a thousand times… But honestly, that’s because it’s so important. And I’m not just talking about physical exercise, but mental exercise too.
Want to hear something that sounds like a dream? A happy and healthy Vizsla that sleeps for a few hours midday while giving his owners peace and quiet.
Well, this was a common response from all of the owners who reported giving more than 2 hours of high-intensity exercise as well as daily command training of at least 30 minutes.
The most noticeable differentiating factor between those who had a clingy Vizsla and those who didn’t was a significant difference in the amount of exercise provided.
The common response from those that DID provide a lot of high-intensity exercise and mental stimulation, was that for the rest of the day, their vizsla mostly just slept. That is both healthy and normal.
So, although I sound like a broken record, ensure you provide your Vizsla with at least 2 hours of high-intensity exercise AND at least 30 minutes of highly engaged mental stimulation, like command training.
This could be the only thing it takes to have a more relaxed and less needy Vizsla at home.
3. Use a “quiet space” command & action
I had a couple of owners speak to me about how they use a “quiet space” command along with a place in the house that the Vizsla would retreat to whenever their owner used the command.
Now, the important thing here is that the quiet space, whether it be an open dog bed, a special pillow, or their crate, is NOT to be viewed as a punishment. One, because that’s unfair, and two, it likely wouldn’t work if it was.
The two owners I spoke to about this said they used a dog pillow (separate from their bed). And for a long time before they intended to use the “quiet space” command in action, they would spend a lot of time with their V over on the pillow, giving him belly rubs, playing with him, and even letting him sleep on it.
All while frequently using the phrase “quiet space”. They would also occasionally give him some meaty bones to chew while he stayed on the pillow, if he moved away, they removed the bones.
After a while, you can start performing some basic tests. Start trying to use the “quiet space” command with your Vizsla when he’s in a different room from the pillow.
If he responds by actually going over to the special pillow and staying there, be sure to reward him with treats and your praise. He must know that he’s been a “good boy” for listening to the command.
Slowly over the course of weeks, he should become increasingly better at retreating to his pillow whenever you use the command “quiet space”. And with time, he’ll be able to stay put there for longer.
Something extremely important to note here. This isn’t to be abused, and the “quiet space” is something that should be reserved for only when he really needs to be out of the way (for whatever reason).
And again, this isn’t like a naughty step… he should have positive associations with resting on his pillow, and as soon as you are free, it’s important to go to him and give him an overdose of praise, attention, and loving.
If you are able to put in a few weeks of training, this can be an invaluable skill for your Vizsla to have.
4. Interactive puzzle toys/treats
Puzzle toys have become extremely popular in recent years, with more being made each year providing different ways to keep entertaining your Vizsla.
Personally, I like the Star Mark Bob a Lot, which is essentially just a hard hollow ball that can be filled with treats, and once your Vizsla rolls the ball in the correct direction, a treat will fall out. Simple, but highly effective, especially if your Vizsla is food-motivated.
The toy mentioned above could be reserved for special moments when your Vizsla is demonstrating too much clingy behavior. Get the ball out, load it with treats and your V will keep himself entertained for up to 1 hour.
Another trick I learned from a breeder was to put a lump of peanut butter inside of a kong toy, and freeze it. The frozen peanut butter takes a while to thaw and your V will receive a lot of mental stimulation from chewing on the kong’s rubbery texture. Most dogs go nuts for peanut butter (excuse the pun). Just make sure it doesn’t contain Xylitol or a high amount of sodium.
There are many other awesome puzzle toys to experiment with, but the two mentioned above are the best “set and forget” in my experience. Other toys typically require your assistance/supervision.
5. Prioritize your Vizslas needs
If you can prioritize your Vizslas needs, especially exercise and training, earlier on in the day, you have a higher chance of your Vizsla being calm and relaxed while you get on with your own things.
If you work from home but don’t exercise your Vizsla first thing in the morning, it’s no wonder that he bugs you constantly until you provide him with an outlet.
Prioritizing your Vizsla first (exercise, training, a little playtime, and attention) will see him not only tired but satisfied before the day has really started. This will likely result in your Vizsla resting quietly for a good few hours after.
This is exactly something I had to do with my GSD, and I hate to say it, but it involved waking up earlier… In the end though, it was totally worth it.
Other Vizsla articles on The Puppy Mag
Could It Be Separation Anxiety?
It’s important we take a moment to consider separation anxiety as Vizslas are prone to developing it.
Separation anxiety can be defined as being completely intolerant to spending any amount of time, even a split moment, away from one particular person.
If your Vizsla gets incredibly anxious as you are about to leave, starts displaying erratic behavior, whining, or carries out destructive behavior, then it suggests that basic “needy” behavior is not what’s happening.
Separation anxiety is, unfortunately, a serious behavioral issue that can be incredibly hard to overcome, once developed.
If you suspect your Vizsla has SA then I advise you to speak to your veterinarian to get tailored help. And depending upon the severity of it, it might even be necessary to consult a local dog trainer to help you analyze the cause, and steps to better manage it.
An important takeaway: This raises the importance of ensuring your Vizsla does get the right amount of your time and attention throughout the day.
Preventing an issue like separation anxiety is actually very easy, so long as your V receives adequate time with you and isn’t made to spend several hours alone at any given moment.