Yesterday I was called back to see a two year old Vizla .
According to the lady of the house the dog was uncontrollable, pulled on the lead and refused recall whenever there was any distraction and had started to 'nip' at her 10 year old daughter. She told me the dog was causing a lot of family arguments.
The daughter simply treated the dog as a playmate frequently inviting the dog into her bed and hugging and kissing him.
I insisted on interviewing her husband separately. He told me he (the husband) was the pack leader and the dog would always obey him. According to hubby his wife had 'no idea' how to handle the dog and he believed the dog would 'grow out of' his inappropriate behaviour. He (hubby) had dogs when he was a kid and told me he didn't need anyone to show him how to behave around dogs. He was Pack Leader.
The dog told me an entirely different story. He (the Vizla) was in charge of this pack and while he may obey the husband he would only do it if it suited him. In any event hubby worked away a lot so didn't have day to day responsibility. If hubby wanted to THINK he was in charge it was OK with the dog just as long as he got what he wanted.
The lady told me one of the biggest problems was the dog jumping all over their visitors so I sat on the sofa and played the role of visitor. The moment I ordered the dog off me he went berserk. Snapping snarling and growling and I knew any sign of weakness on my part would trigger an attack. For the first time in his life this dog's authority had been challenged.
I stood square on to the dog without making eye contact until he backed down and stopped snarling. The lady owner was very distressed while her husband just gaped.
I continued to sit at the table drinking tea and ignoring the dog until it finally came to introduce itself to me (sniffing) Finally I slipped a lead on him and took him for a walk making him follow and not lead. We parted on good terms.
Now, this dog is recoverable but NOT if the owners continue to disagree about the dog's role.
This is a classic case of the dog sensing weakness all round and exploiting the leadership vacuum created by owners who disagree. As far as the dog was concerned the daughter didn't count at all. She was simply a young 'pup' to be tolerated or bossed around. When the dog wanted her out of the way he'd just 'nip' her.
Later I discovered the husband played tug 'o' war and wrestling the very activities that teach a dog to be aggressive.
Have no doubt if your dog senses disharmony within the family he/she will exploit it.
Don't let this happen. Make sure everyone is singing from the same song book.
Enjoy your training,