Vizsladogs, Ltd.

Vizslas and Dominance, Part 2


Subject: Dominance is not a four-letter word! by Lu Hart
I'm pleased to see the many thoughtful discussions of temperament occurring among vizsla fanciers. I am , however, becoming mildly concerned that the term "dominance" is sometimes being used as though this were an undesirable quality in a dog. Dominance and submissiveness are the names we give to two extremes of ONE personality component, and it's pretty much a value-neutral component by itself. Someone looking for an easy to handle household companion might prefer a more submissive pup; someone looking for a great competition dog might prefer a more dominant pup. Most of us would probably agree that an "ideal" temperament doesn't go all the way to either extreme.

Our standard describes the vizsla as "fearless, with a well-developed protective instinct". Folks, that requires some dominance in the personality mix. We aren't surprised when our "natural hunter" points their first bird purely on instinct; nor do we expect that first puppy point to look like the poised, polished work of a master hunter. So why should we be surprised when our "fearless" vizsla is urged by instinct to growl and guard? We expect to put in long hours and weeks of training to teach a new pup proper hunting behavior. We should expect to put in similar effort to properly channel the natural protective instinct.

(Aside -- embarrassing personal confession -- Pink STILL points the occasional field mouse. I swear she grins at me when she does it!)

In my humble opinion, extemely submissive dogs are much harder to train --- and to get good work out of -- than extremely dominant dogs. It's just that extremely submissive behavior doesn't frighten people. Urinating at the sight of a visitor may not please owners, but it doesn't tend to upset the average person in the same way that growling at a visitor does. Neither behavior, of course, is acceptable greeting behavior -- that's where we come in. (Remember that "above average ability to take training" phrase in the standard? )

Looking back at things I've written before, I may sometimes have been unintentionally misleading when discussing dominance. Dominant dogs often create more handling problems for a novice, but they are NOT "bad". Whether a dog is dominant or submissive, what we want to see is a STABLE temperament -- a sensible, mentally sound animal.


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/06/06