The Vizsla Newzsletter of New Zealand
c/- Jenny and Steve Peacocke
Puriri, R.D. 1,
Thames, New Zealand.
Phone: (07) 868-1007
Port: (025) 487-866
Fax: (07) 868-1047
email Jenny:
email Steve:

Hall of Fame
New Memberzs
How to Photograph your puppy
Internet Addresses
My South Island Trip
Ochre's Activities
Vizsla Stamps
How Dogs Think
Please Note: The views expressed in this Newsletter are not necessarily those of the editor, club or any other contributors.Any material is copyright to the original author and permission should be sought from them for reprinting.

Editors Comments: Well all you Vizsla fanatics, get out your two year planner. Acting on a suggestion by Katryna Porter (Continental Gundog Club) we put pen to paper (or at least fingers to keyboard) and sent a letter to the NZKC requesting a breed supplement for the Hungarian Vizsla! And in reply they have allocated us the supplement for March 1999. That should give us plenty of time to prepare.

Ochre doing her favorite thing, field trialling!

This is a prime opportunity to showcase our beautiful and versatile breed to an appreciative audience. It is also a chance to highlight differences which are important for officials such as breed show judges to be aware of.

We will need ADVERTISING!! The amount of space allocated for articles and information is directly proportional to the amount of advertising we can get. Luckily the NZKC offers a discounted rate for advertising in the supplement.

Hall of Fame

Also we want an article on achievements of Vizslas in New Zealand - sort of a Hall of Fame list by date - so please send in your dogs (past and present) achievements. We want you to send in everything including ALL titles gained and what year it was gained. We may have to cut out some titles if we have too many dogs (e.g. just use CDX's and not CD's) but hopefully we will be able to show them all! But, as with other things, if YOU don't let us know about it your dog may miss out! Hopefully this can also include interesting information such as the first Vizsla in New Zealand (does anyone know this?) And the first litter bred!

New Members

This information is only available in the printed newzsletter for obvious reasons.

Welcome - we hope you enjoy the Newzsletter!

How to Photograph your puppy

Thanks to the Internet List
  1. Remove film from box and load camera
  2. Remove film box from puppy's mouth and throw in trash
  3. Remove puppy from trash and brush coffee grounds from muzzle
  4. Choose a suitable background for photo
  5. Mount camera on tripod and focus
  6. Find puppy and take dirty sock from mouth
  7. Place puppy in pre-focused spot and return to camera
  8. Forget about spot and crawl after puppy on knees
  9. Focus with one hand and fend off puppy with other hand
  10. Get tissue and clean nose print from lens
  11. Take flash cube from puppy's mouth and throw in trash
  12. Put cat outside and put peroxide on the scratch on puppy's nose
  13. Put magazines back on coffee table
  14. Try to get puppy's attention by squeaking toy over your head
  15. Replace your glasses and check camera for damage
  16. Jump up in time to grab puppy by scruff of neck and say, "No, outside! No, outside!"
  17. Call spouse to clean up mess
  18. Fix a drink
  19. Sit back in Lazy Boy with drink and resolve to teach puppy "sit" and "stay" the first thing in the morning

For The Local Members Subscriptions Are Due Now!!

Please send them immediately to ensure you keep receiving your copy of the Newzsletter!

PLEASE NOTE to Local readers of the Internet Version

This is actually a club and the only way the Newzsletter and club can survive is to have members who join by subscription. Not all material is placed on the Internet, the Internet version does not get published until some weeks after the written version and activities such as get togethers are usually over before the Internet version is published. So any New Zealand Vizsla owners who read this list regularly but do not belong to the club, please contact us about subscribing. Prices (in New Zealand currency) are listed next:

Rates - Advertising (paper version only - these ads are not placed on the internet)

Full Page Ad (Ready for scanning) $10.00
Half Page Ad (Ready for scanning) $6.00
Litter and Visit Notices Free

Rates - Subscription

$15 for year from August 1st until July 31st. Those joining through the year may pay a partial sub ($3 per 2 month period) or full sub and receive back issues of the Newzsletter.

All subscriptions, advertising copy (with fee) and submissions should be sent to Jenny and Steve Peacocke at the address on the top of the Newzsletter


For results, letters, articles, advertising, EVERYTHING is usually about the 10th of the month that the Newzsletter is due out in - February, April, June, August, October, and December.

Could you please let us know dates and judges when applicable. Also please let us know if you require any material returned. We also love relevant photos to go with articles and special results!

PLEASE send us PHOTOS and ARTICLES!!!!! The more local content we can keep the more interesting it is to all of us!

Internet Addresses

We were going to publish these last issue but ran out of space so held them over. So for the electronically connected here are some new people to try chatting to:

This information is only available in the printed newzsletter for obvious reasons.

Any we have missed out - sorry! Either we have lost, mislaid or never had it. Please send it to us.

My South Island Trip

Well I have just spent 16 days tripping around the South Island and included some visits to members as I went - although we did not go above Christchurch so unfortunately missed the 'conclave' of Vizslak who seem to live in the Nelson area!

And the most distressing thing about the trip was my camera not working. I was going to show this pictorial image of the trip as I photographed each dog I saw .... but sorry - no photos turned out!!!!

My first attempt to Vizsla Visit was at Dipton where I tried phoning Lyndsey Dawson several times - but Lyndsay, you were out! So down to Invercargill where I visited Grenville and Barbara Caughey and their ball of energy, Herne! (Imagine photo 1 inserted here.) After inspecting our Campervan Herne welcomed us inside and showed us his three chairs!

Later that day (after freezing my !@%! off at Bluff) I went to visit Matthew Wyatt and his pup, Zack. He also had a friend bring her pup, Jess (litter mate to Zack) around. At five months old they were a 'dynamic duo' intent on demolishing lounge and sound system! What a delight puppies are!

I tried phoning Trevor Hunt but he had lived up to his name and gone hunting! I hope you had a successful day Trevor!

Up country again (there's not much down left from Invercargill) I tried to phone Sally Keelty and Jamie Benington to see if it was worth a detour to Lawrence to meet them and Hobson but they are obviously more of the worlds workers as again I was greeted by no answer. I also called Kathleen Stanley in Milton but decided that my timing was not good for that part of the world. A stop in Dunedin did allow me a lovely long phone call with Shirley Fraser . Hopefully next time I will get to meet you Shirley, and that door closing dog of yours!

Photo: Heidlvue Sirroco (Joan Sole) & Wynyard Lord Zaccarree (Doushka Saunders) at the Northern Classic
Sirroco and Zaccarree
On the way up the coast I stopped in and met Aileen Winmill and her lovely boy Ziggy. He was a bit cautious about the stranger in his midst but eventually let me take his photo (imagination going overtime here folks?)

The next day I tried to called Yvonne Sprey at Oxford but just chatted to an answer phone instead. However I did take photos (pretend insert 3 here) of the PRETTIEST public toilets I have ever seen in New Zealand - flowers and butterflies painted on lovely clean walls were a delight!

Christchurch offered some more luck and I spent a lovely long evening with Lynette and Tim Shepherd and their gorgeous dogs, Joss and Purdie! I felt completely at home when I met Purdie as she ran around with a shoe in her mouth and then replaced the shoe with my arm! Then a couple of days later I met up with Judy Young and walked with her and two of her dogs through a very popular forest area. And yes, I did of course take more photos!!!

On return (and boy was our 'vizslak gaggle' delighted to see me) I have decided that I cannot travel without the membership list. It was absolutely lovely meeting people who had just been names before. And since I had no dogs with me, I definitely needed a 'vizsla fix' every few days.

Thanks you to those I met for your time and hospitality. I look forward to meeting more of you in the future.

Jenny Peacocke


KCC Park Show 28.03.97
Judge Mrs M Glover

Junior Dog - Abbiestar Aristotle - BOB, CC (Abbiestar Kennels)
Intermediate Bitch - CH Benbold Kythira - ROB, CC (Abbiestar Kennels)
Open Dog - Ch Chamberlain Able Tide - RCC (J Sleebs)
Junior Bitch - Abbiestar Athena - RCC (Abbiestar Kennels)

Bunyip & District Agriculture Society - 29.03.97
Judge Mr J Sherri (Qld)

Junior Dog - Abbiestar Aristotle - BOB, CC (Abbiestar Kennels)
Junior Bitch - Abbiestar Athena - ROB, CC (Abbiestar Kennels)
Aust Bred Dog - Abbiestar Agamemnon - RCC (Abbiestar Kennels)
Int. Bitch - CH Hanafor Benbold Kythira - RCC (Abbiestar Kennels)

Easter Festival Kennel Club 30.03.97
Judge Mr T Syme

Junior Dog - Abbiestar Aristotle - BOB, CC (Abbiestar Kennels)
Junior Bitch - Abbiestar Athena - ROB, CC (Abbiestar Kennels)
Open Dog - CH Hanafor Caveat Reiffel - RCC (Elessar Kennels)
Int. Bitch - CH Hanafor Benbold Kythira - RCC (Abbiestar Kennels)

Town & Country Kennel Club - 31.03.97
Judge Mrs B Clare (Qld)

Junior Dog - Abbiestar Aristotle - BOB, CC (Abbiestar Kennels)
Int. Bitch - CH Hanafor Benbold Kythira - ROB, CC (Abbiestar Kennels)
Open Dog - CH Hanafor Simply Matyas - RCC (Tokaji Kennesl)
Junior Bitch - Abbiestar Athena - RCC (Abbiestar Kennels)

Geraldine Champ Show - 12.04.97

Puppy Bitch, Puppy of Group - Huntsbury Diamond Mya - BOB (Nicky Caddick)

Geraldine Champ Show - 13.04.97

Puppy Bitch - Huntsbury Diamond Mya - BOB (Nicky Caddick)
Junior Bitch - Aranka Bujak of Debrecan - ROB (Judy Young)

Ladies Kennel Club Champ Show - 19.04.97
Judge - (S.A.)

Junior Dog - Heidlvue Sirocco - BOB (J Sole)
NZ Bred Bitch - CH Maggy Mae of Szep-Allat - ROB, CC (S Peacocke)
Baby Puppy Dog - Barat Amber Flight (J & S Peacocke)

Waitamata Gundog Club Champ Show - 20.04.97
Judge - P Mangos (Vic)

Puppy Dog - Huntsberry Diamond Rumer - BOB, CC (D & C Walker)
Baby Puppy Dog - Barat Amber Flight - ROB (S & J Peacocke)
NZ Bred Bitch - CH Maggy Mae of Szep-Allat - CC (S Peacocke)

Taranaki Gundog Club Champ Show - 26.04.97
Judge - B Hyde

Junior Bitch, Junior in Show - Ch Ruby Roze of Szep-Allat - BOB, CC (J Edwards)
Puppy Dog - Suave Joe of Szep-Allat AI - ROB, CC (J Edwards)
Baby Puppy Dog - Barat Amber Flight (J & S Peacocke)
Baby Puppy Bitch - Barat Amber Flame (J & S Peacocke)

New Plymouth Kennel Center Champ Show 26.04.97
Judge - P Warby

Junior Bitch - Ch Ruby Roze of Szep-Allat - BOB, CC (J Edwards)
Baby Puppy Dog, Baby Puppy of Group - Barat Amber Flight - ROB, Best Dog (J & S Peacocke)
Puppy Dog - Suave Joe of Szep-Allat AI (J Edwards)
Baby Puppy Bitch - Barat Amber Flame (J & S Peacocke)

South Taranaki Kennel Center Champ Show 27.04.97
Judge Mr Peirce

Junior Bitch - Ch Ruby Roze of Szep-Allat - BOB, CC (J Edwards)
Puppy Dog, Puppy of Group - Suave Joe of Szep-Allat AI - ROB, CC (J Edwards)
Junior Dog - Heidlvue Sirocco - Reserve CC (J Sole)
Baby Puppy Dog, Baby Puppy of Group - Barat Amber Flight (J & S Peacocke)
Baby Puppy Bitch - Barat Amber Flame (J & S Peacocke)

Eastern BOP Kennel Show 03.05.97
Judge Mr P Kersey

Junior Bitch, Reserve of Group, Junior of Group - Ch Ruby Roze of Szep-Allat - BOB, CC (J Edwards)
Puppy Dog - Suave Joe of Szep-Allat AI - ROB, CC (J Edwards)

Ellesmere A&P Association 10.05.97

Junior Bitch - Aranka Bujak of Debrecan - BOB (Judy Young)

Malvern A&P Society 10.05.97

Junior Bitch - Aranka Bujak of Debrecan - BOB (Judy Young)

Banks Peninsula A&P Association 11.05.97

Puppy Bitch, Puppy of Group - Huntsbury Diamond Mya - BOB (Nicky Caddick)

Upper Hutt Kennel Assn 24.05.97
Judge - Mrs Gillbransen

Intermediate Bitch, Reserve of Group, Intermediate of Group - Ch Ruby Roze of Szep-Allat - BOB, CC (J Edwards)
Puppy Dog - Suave Joe of Szep-Allat AI - ROB, CC (J Edwards)

Wellington Kennel Centre 26.05.97
Judge - Mrs E Thomas-Howe

Intermediate Bitch, Intermediate of Group - Ch Ruby Roze of Szep-Allat - BOB, CC (J Edwards)
Puppy Dog - Suave Joe of Szep-Allat AI - ROB, CC (J Edwards)

Canterbury Kennel Assn - 31.05.97

Puppy Bitch, Puppy of Group - Huntsbury Diamond Mya - BOB (Nicky Caddick)

Wainuiomata Champ Show 02.06.97
Judge Ms L Dorr

Intermediate Bitch, Reserve of Group, Intermediate in Show - Ch Ruby Roze of Szep-Allat - CC BOB (J Edwards)
Puppy Bitch - Scarlett of Szep-Allat - Rod Hitchmough

Geraldine County - Agility 13.04.97

Starters - NZ Ch Agasvari Super Star - 2nd (Judy Young)

Cheska (NZ Ch Agasvari Guomgy Virag ADX)
won the overall best agility dog for CATS over their 2 day event

Canterbury Canine Agility Training 17 and 18.05.97

Novice1 - NZ Ch Agasvari Gyongy Virag ADX - 1st (Judy Young)
Novice2 - NZ Ch Agasvari Gyongy Virag ADX - 3rd (Judy Young)
Intermediate1 - NZ Ch Agasvari Gyongy Virag ADX - CRC (Judy Young)
Starters - NZ Ch Agasvari Super Star - 3rd (Judy Young)
Novice - NZ Ch Agasvari Super Star - CRC (Judy Young)

And special congratulations to Pat Armstrong and Sushi for gaining a well deserved TDX!

And, of course, our own Ch Maggy Mae of Szep-Allat took Best Adult Vizsla in the Virtual Dog Show on the Internet!!!

Ochre's Activities

Sue McKee writes:

Ochre surprised us all by getting into the semi-finals of the National Agility Competition. The Starters heat we competed in was in Christchurch at Easter, and she completed a nice steady clear round, being the 2nd competitor to run. We were fairly relaxed about the whole situation as Ochre has always been steady

but a trifle slow to get a placing. Imagine our surprise at the end of the competition to find that not only had she qualified (there are three qualifiers in each heat) but she had WON her heat. That meant two bags of dog food - they never go amiss with two hungry dogs to feed and, unlike some of the other Vizslas I hear about, Ochre loves food and never turns down a meal! It turns out Ochre was the only dog to complete a clear round in her heat, so sometimes the tortoise does outstrip the hare!

Here in Nelson recently we had a ribbon trial competition and Ochre managed a 2nd in starters and a 3rd in novice. Her big sister Kura won the open heat in the National Agility competition with a very fast time - more bags of food(!) And Ochre and I travelled to Blenheim on Sunday to compete in a Ribbon Trial there where she got 1st placing in starters. To top of the whole weekend I entered her in Elementary Obedience and she got a 2nd placing on 57/60. In the "stay" exercise it was quite hilarious to watch, as most of the other dogs in the line doing stays got up and left, and poor Ochre was sitting there wondering why they were all going, and what was it they were all scared of - and should she be scared too and get up and leave. All this I could see going through her head by her expression - luckily she decided that she was right and they were wrong, so kept sitting for the duration - lots of pats and praise from me when I got back to her!

I have found obedience training with Ochre to be a thoroughly enjoyable experience - mainly because we don't take it terribly seriously. However she is more than capable and has a certain "clownishness" that comes out at unexpected moments which keeps the class entertained!

We have also completed a Gundog field Trial recently, an occupation she absolutely adores - Ochre knew what she was doing, however her owner needs some training! * Editors Note: It is wonderful to note that THREE Vizslas actually qualified for Zone semi finals in the National Agility Competitions - Sue & Ochre, Judy Young and Sarkos, and Mike Butler with Shiloh. An outstanding feat considering how few Vizslas are competing in (NZ) agility at present.

Vizsla Stamps

For the collectors out there I have found an Internet site selling stamps. They have a collection of Vizsla stamps. The site is:

How Dogs Think - A Non-Verbal Link to Canine Communication

This was the permission to reproduce found at the beginning of the article: "Please feel free to copy the article and use it as a means of spreading the word for a more enlightened approach to pet animal ownership. If you use it in a club publication, newspaper or magazine, etc., please mention it also appears in "Behavior Problems in Dogs," ( 1995, Mosby Yearbook Publishers) and "Owner's Guide to Better Behavior in Dogs," (1995, Alpine Publishers). "

Introduction: Have you ever seen a device or a program designed to correct a dog behaviour problem that explained how smart dogs are and how they think? Most plans or gadgets enable owners, literally, to declare war on their hapless pets. Little or no concern is afforded to what the dogs happen to think about them. In fact, the implication is that dogs don't think at all ... either they just react to external stimuli like robots, or respond according to genetically controlled "drives." Dogs are rarely credited with the ability to solve a problem mentally; to analyse a situation; imagine ways to manipulate or control it, then take a pre-planned course of action toward a goal that was preconceived in the dog's mind. In short, the dog is considered a real dummy, then treated like a dummy. But this concept is not correct. Dogs are smart. They can, and usually do, think rings around their owners. And they can do it because most owners have never learned how to think like a dog.

Understanding Non-Verbal Thinking: We all wonder now and then what our dog is thinking. If we wonder aloud, perhaps when mealtime is approaching and the dog is looking expectantly at us, we might say something like, "I'll bet Tippy's thinking, 'When is my dinner going to be ready?' " In all likelihood, Tippy isn't originating any thoughts about 'when dinner will be ready.' It is more likely Tippy is imagining (or 'imaging' in his mind) the words and movements you usually say and perform before getting his dinner; something like, "You want dinner, Tippy?" All that tail wagging and those pleading eyes are aimed at stimulating you to say it.

But, an inability to originate thoughts in a spoken language does not make dogs unintelligent. Even people don't actively think in a spoken language unless they actively 'speak' it. For instance, during a short vacation to Japan, if you don't already speak the language, you'll probably pick up the meaning of a few words. After a few natives look at you in the morning and say "Ohio," you may eventually learn that they're not curious about where you're from, but are wishing you a "Good Morning." Still, you won't think in Japanese unless you live there a few months and actively speak it. Even a pet Akita will never learn to speak or think in the native lingo because their voice boxes, tongues and lips cannot formulate the sounds of Japanese ... or English, or French, etc, etc. The limit of our dog's language learning is the meaning of the sounds of certain words. Luckily, dogs are quick to learn the sounds that are important to them.

With this in mind, when Tippy is prodding us about serving dinner, we'd be wise to discard ideas about complete sentences being originated and thought about, and replace them with the non-language concept of mental images. To illustrate this further; when most Tippys are asking for dinner they actually look from their owners toward the place where it is served, generally the kitchen.

Michelle Crockette's beautiful girl, Janna (Huntsbury Diamond Janna), complete with sock!

Evidence of Imagery: Some very convincing research suggests that dogs think in sensory impressions; visual, sound and odour images, etc. This is not to say that they sit around on quiet days experiencing videos inside their brains. However, they likely share our ability to form and experience in their minds certain images, odours and sounds. The scientific basis for this idea came from Russia and was published in the US in 1973. A scientist named V.S. Rusinov was studying the electrophysiology of the brain and had several dogs wired with brain wave equipment and radio transmitters. When the dogs were brought into the lab from the kennels for experimental conditioning tests, the electroencephalograph machine was turned on to record their brain wave patterns. This was done at the same time each day, five days a week. One weekend, purely by accident, Rusinov brought a group of visitors into the lab and turned on the EEG machine. Lo, the dog that was normally scheduled for tests during the week at that time was sending wave forms nearly identical to his regular working patterns! When the testing time passed, the dogs' brain waves soon returned to their normal 'at rest' forms. I never found any mention by Rusinov as to whether the dogs out in the kennel were actually performing their conditioned laboratory behaviourisms. Chances are they were not, but one thing is almost sure; compared to human experience in similar types of studies, the dogs were apparently experiencing them mentally.

The late Polish scientist, Jerzi Konorski, taught dogs to salivate and expect food in their trays when a light flickered. This was done regularly every few minutes. However, after a few trials, the dogs started salivating and looking at the trays as if the food were actually there, even though the light had not flickered. Konorski ventured that the dogs were hallucinating about both the stimulus (the light) and the reward for salivating (the food). One thing is sure: Something was going on in the dogs' minds that made them behave as if they were happening.

Some Human Examples: Be fore going on with dogs, let us consider some facets of our own 'mind's eye,' as suggested by Konorski. Imagine we have a date to meet a loved one at a busy restaurant. We get there on time and sit at a table near the door. Fifteen minutes go by, but no friend arrives. We begin to wonder if they are coming at all. We start watching people approach the door. Pretty soon, people with similar features almost cause us to call out to them. The more concerned and anxious we become, the more apt we are to mistake strangers for our friend. When he or she finally arrives, the pleasure and relief we feel is often mixed with mild displeasure. We are ambivalent ... we have mixed emotions about meeting them in the future.

Almost everyone has mental imagery. Often, just the thought of a loved one conjures up their image. This can apply to sounds, as well. Think about your favourite musical piece and your can often hear it in your 'mind's ear.' These are positive images. They are emotionally pleasant. At the other end of the scale, recalling a terrifying experience can not only create its images, but sometime even make us shudder. This is an example of negative, emotionally unpleasant images.

Back To Dogs: So it is with our dogs. When we are late getting home, or if they over-miss us because we spoil them with attention and petting every time they demand it, they very likely worry in images, too. They may well recall images of us and our activities, such as fluffing the pillows on the sofa, putting away record albums, handling magazines and books, putting on shoes just before leaving, sitting in a favourite armchair, etc. As a result of this, they often engage in activities which involve them with these images: Pillows wind up on the floor, albums or magazines are moved or chewed, a chair seat gets dug up, shoes are brought out of the closet. If they can't have us there, they try to interact with things that symbolize us.

If dogs really do store up and recall images of us and life's other objects and experiences, it follows that we might use this to our mutual benefit. But since most owners do not understand how dogs think, this imagery is where the seeds of most behaviour problems are sown. Dogs receive and recall conflicting images of owners and many important experiences.

The Puppy's Dilemma: Consider the new puppy whose owners come home at regular times and join in an ecstatically joyful greeting ceremony. This imagery is quickly ingrained, and the pup begins to anticipate the experience, just Konorski's dogs hallucinated about the flickering light and the food tray. However, as will happen in even the most well regulated household, one day the owner is late. The puppy begins experiencing the images of his tardy owners ...starts fretting, pacing. Well primed energies, ready for the greeting ceremony, demand an outlet as the adrenaline starts pumping.

Janna sleeps on the couch

What's going on in its mind's eye or ear? It probably imagines hearing footsteps, perhaps even sees the door open... which doesn't happen. But it should. This introduces conflict between what it wants and expects and what is really happening. Conflict creates frustration. Frustration produces anxiety, which triggers an even greater adrenaline rush. The pup searches for something real to satisfy its desire to 'experience' the owner ...a magazine or book it saw the owner reading recently. It is rich with the owner's scent. If it cannot have the owner there, it can at least have their genuine odour or taste. So it sniffs, tastes, maybe even swallows parts of the article. Naturally, this does not fully substitute for the whole owner, so the puppy's social appetite is not really satisfied. Finally, here comes the owner. The puppy innocently launches into its joyous, semi-hysterical ritual. The owner starts to join in, but spies the pulverized magazine or book. What's this? Naturally, if not wisely, the owner angrily grabs the pup, drags it to the demolished object and scolds it, or slaps it's snout or rump, or both. The pet's single-track mind is riveted on the owner. It yips, rolls over, or struggles vainly to escape. Punishment concluded, the owner angrily picks up the remnants of the article and storms to the trash basket.

Psychic Trauma: The net result of this is a totally confused pup with a conflicting set of images of its owner. This sort of shock to the nervous system is called psychic trauma in both animals and humans. A conflict has been instilled between the positive image of the owner (happy Dr. Jekyll) and the negative (Mr. Homecoming Hyde). This creates frustration and anxiety about homecomings, growing in severity if the scenario is repeated a few times. (It is interesting that in many cases, owners tell us that the pup was fine for a day or so after the first punishment. This may equate to the human experience of repression, in which memory of the traumatic experience is suppressed, creating a sort of 'backwards amnesia.') Even when this occurs, since the punishment was not associated with the act of chewing up something, the puppy seeks out another article, perhaps a shoe, and the cycle is repeated until the total relationship between owner and dog is tainted with emotional ambivalence. Mixed feelings are eating away at the positive qualities of their relationship. Negative emotional impressions may start to dominate it.

At about this stage, many owners conclude that the punishment may not have been severe enough. That's why the correction was not permanent. So they intensify it. The relationship erodes further as weeks go by. Enough of this cascading negative effect and the owner is ready take drastic action. The dog, now hyper-sensitive to its owner's mood change, feels something is wrong. This often is reflected by new problems, such as submissive wetting when the owner comes home or approaches the dog at other times; off-schedule bowel movements or urination occur, etc.

Many pets act insecure, currying more favour when the owner is home, and hence, missing the owner even more acutely when left alone. Frustration and anxiety build, while the isolation-related, tension-relieving behaviour mounts. The unwitting owner, who originally may have thought the dog is 'getting even' for being left alone, begins to consider it incorrigible.

HELP!: This is when outside help is often sought. A book is purchased. The veterinarian, breeder, pet shop, a trainer or behaviorist may be consulted. If lucky, the owner gets advice that brings genuine insight into pet/owner relationships and dog behaviour. But, more likely, they find traditional quick fixes and the dog winds up in a desensitization program; gets dosed with anxiety relieving drugs or barbiturates; is stuck in a cramped crate or cage all day, or banned to the yard or garage, or has its mouth stuffed with chewed debris and taped shut for hours. Since none of these approaches deal with the causes, the 'thinking dog' and the total relationship with its owners and the environment, success is rare. The majority of these formerly precious pets find themselves rejected ... relegated to the local pound for five to seven days, where the odds are 3-to-2 they'll suffer society's 'ultimate solution'. But things don't have to be so grim, if the owners learn some 'dog think.'

Val Aubrey with her lively boy Luka

Applying Positive Imagery To Solve 'Separation Anxiety'. Dogs that misbehave when they are left alone are said to be suffering from separation anxiety. The term is a neat buzz-phrase; almost everybody uses it. It sounds professional. The trouble is, as a transplant from human psychiatry, it really doesn't convey much useful information. However, the term is here, so we'll use it in its broadest sense, which is; "a troubled feeling when left alone or apart from a certain person or persons." This allows us to recommend a remedial behavioural program that deals with the realities of the dog's total relationships. First, however, we must be sure that the dog's veterinarian has ruled out the many physical / medical causes for anxiety, such as thyrotoxicosis, hyperthyroidism, pre-diabetes, encephalitis, allergies, hyperkinesis, etc. etc.

The Program: Dogs that are unduly upset when left alone usually enjoy their owner's attention and petting whenever they ask for (or demand it) when the people are at home. To apply the imagery concept to this relationship, we could say the dog 'sees itself' as directing, or leading the owner. When it wants some petting, it nudges or otherwise stimulates the owner, and the owner complies. The dog wants out, whines at the door or at the owner, and the door gets opened. Mealtime approaches, dog whines and prances, and dinner gets served. When the owner goes from room to room, the dog is either ahead, leading them, or close behind. This is the reality of their relationship, at least in the dog's mind. But, when the owner leaves, against the dog's wishes, the pet is predictably upset, and problem behaviour occurs. This can involve barking, chewing, pacing, self-mutilation, off-schedule bowel movements, urination around the house, etc. The leadership problem can be turned about by presenting a different reality to the dog; one in which the dog is pleasantly, but firmly and consistently told to perform some simple act, such as 'sit' whenever it attempts to gain attention or affection, or whenever the owner wants to give the dog some attention. All 'sits', or whatever command is used ('down' is a good one for highly bossy dogs) are praised happily as 3 to 5 seconds of petting is awarded; then the dog is cheerfully released with an "OK" or "Free." (Free is a good release because OK is too common a word.)

Photo: Jed (Ryan of Szep-Allat) sitting at his 'elegant best' in his bean bag!

If a really bossy dog refuses to obey, and many do when they realize their relationship is being turned around, simply ignore the situation, turn away and go on about some other activity, ignoring the dog. Some dogs have refused to respond for as long as four days before coming to terms with a follower relationship. However long it takes, after a few days the dog's image of itself seems to evolve from one of giving direction to taking it with compliance prior to being petted, getting dinner, going out the door, getting on the couch, etc. In moving around the house, whenever the dog forges ahead, simply about-turn and go the other way. This must be repeated until the dog walks patiently behind or, better yet, doesn't even follow. It is also helpful, but not vital, to practice down-stays of increasing length during several evenings a week.

Images of Hyper-Emotionality: Most 'home alone' problem dogs get extremely emotional when their owners get home; some even get excitable when regular departure times approach. To supplant these emotionally over-stimulating images, sit quietly for about five minutes before leaving, in the area where the dog will be left. No eye contact or speaking is allowed. Then, get up and go without looking at or speaking to the pet. At homecoming, enter quietly and ignore the dog until it quiets down completely. Then it is greeted happily, but briefly, away from the door of arrival. This subdued routine soon replaces the dog's highly emotional mental images of returns and departures with calmness and serenity. Here's the tough part for most all dog owners: When coming home the place is a mess! Pillows have been chewed, or the chair is tattered again, or a pile of poop graces the doorway, or some other problem is evident. If we keep in mind that the dog has in the past suffered from conflicting images at homecoming, it is imperative that no emotion, or even attention, should be directed at the remnants of the problem; such as chewed up magazines, shoes, defecation, etc. Instead, after five minutes of ignoring the dog, it should be greeted away from the scene of the misbehaviour, and then pleasantly taken outdoors or to another room and left alone while the mess is cleaned up. This avoids creating new (or reinforcing old) conflicting images of emotional reactions to, or interactions with, the debris, defecation, etc.

I have always called this 'the secret clean-up'. It has worked wonders as part of programs ranging from digging in the yard to house training puppies. Just why it is such an effective adjunct to correction programs remains to be satisfactorily explained. In the meantime, we'll have to say that the lack of an image of the owner and the mess is more beneficial to correction than is the image.

The Big Picture: So, there it is. Dogs think in images and we can mold and change their behaviour in hundreds of ways if we will think as they do. For instance, on the negative side, a set up whereby a car screeches to a stop, horn blaring, just as a dog starts toward the street from the sidewalk, then praising its retreat, is a valuable exercise in negative imagery. However, it must be repeated until the dog avoids the street when cars are not present, as well. Teaching the 'panic' command to come needs the dog's name followed by a code word, a sound image that is exclusive to coming when it is absolutely necessary, and praise words or a vocal rhythm that is unique to that command, coupled with fast hand-clapping while taking a crouched position. These combined, positive images can create a dog that will dependably respond to your code word and come to your praise. It is especially important to teach this command when the dog is out of sight, as well.

Chance (Perchance of Szep-Allat).
Thanks to Mike Murray for another beautiful photo!

Please note: The information provided here is meant to supplement that provided by your veterinarian. Nothing can replace a complete history and physical examination performed by your veterinarian.

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