Attacking Aggression

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Tonka is now being called Ben again, at the request of DINO. They’ve advised me that this will prevent confusion for him, and it will make it easier for the adopter to transition him to a new name, if they choose to rename him.

Yesterday was a fairly quiet day. I kept Ben on lead all day because of his known issues with cats. He and Violet are sorting things out between them, but he must still remain under strict control until he becomes calmer and he’s able to show he can be trusted with more freedom. I wanted a quiet day for him so he could start relaxing as he works to process all the changes he’s having to deal with.

Last night, however, was not good. He showed me an issue so big and so dangerous that is now my main focus.

When we open the hall closet to put food in the dishes, Glimmer sits near the door, and Violet goes right into the closet. Last night, it was business as usual… until Ben attacked Violet. It happened so fast that there was no time to blink. Violet got in front of Ben so she could get into the closet, Ben misinterpreted that, and before anyone could blink, he was in a red-zone state.  Thankfully, all he got was a big mouthful of her fur before I got him under control and corrected him, but that’s not the point. The point is that instead of trusting that he would be fed even though she was between him and the food, he made the decision that Violet was a threat and he attacked her.

It was not Violet’s fault, nor was it Ben’s fault that this incident occurred. Ben reacted as he did because it’s all he knows. He has not had an easy life, and although I’ve earned some trust from him, that trust does not extend to food.  At least, not yet.

DINO will be making Ben available for adoption in two weeks. I need a minimum of 6 months just to get him to a point where he’s better able to trust and where he can be trusted not to automatically attack around food when other animals are present. Ben is an extremely reactive dog in virtually every area; building trust with him is not an easy job, because somewhere along the line, he’s learned to mistrust humans. Last night’s attack showed me that he has deeper problems that have to be addressed immediately before he is even remotely ready to be considered as an adoptable dog.

When I met Ben 8 months ago, I assessed him as a red-zone dog in need of complete rehabilitation. As he is right now, that assessment stands. He is a good dog – he’s doing the best he can to show that – but he is not adoptable yet. He has a long, difficult recovery journey ahead of him before he can be with a family.

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