Ben at Home: Day 3

Ben has been with us for two days, now. He is still on lead at all times because of his aggression towards Violet, but he seems to be starting to adjust to her presence. He had a pretty good day with her yesterday; they were able to be in the same room together without him trying to attack her. He did target her a few times – which earned him an immediate correction – but eventually, he ignored her and laid down on the floor and chewed his bone.

Meal times together are holding steady. Despite the issues between him and Violet, Ben must eat with the pack so that he can learn that he is allowed to eat, that he will be safe while eating, that his food will not be taken from him by another animal, and that he does not have to compete with another animal for food. Based on what I know of his life story, and based on what I’ve observed since he’s been with us, I believe that he has had to compete for food, and that his behavior – and his tendency to wolf his food down – is a direct result of those negative experiences. I also believe that his attack on Violet the other night came from that memory. He hasn’t been with our pack long enough to feel safe or secure around food; helping him recover and helping create a new, positive memory is going to a very long time – and even then, his tendency to wolf his food may never stop.

Today, Ben will be on the long line, and he will have a little more freedom of movement. This is a critical trust exercise that will teach him that his freedom must be earned. Depending on how he handles the trust he’s being given, he will either be reigned in, or he will earn more distance. Today, I’m giving him 5 to 6 feet of distance. He has been working very hard, and he’s earned that.

Ben is a good dog. Really, he is. In fact, he has been stunning me with abilities I never imagined he had. He just needs to learn that he doesn’t have to fight for everything, anymore. He has to learn that not every animal is an enemy he has to kill or compete with for food, and not every man is going to hurt him in some way (that’s an issue for another day). Teaching him these things is going to take time…

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