Learning Life Lessons

Ben had a fairly good day yesterday. His foot seemed to be bothering him quite a bit, so he alternately chewed on his bone, and slept. We did do some conditioning work around Violet, using redirection to prevent him from fixating on her; he did a really good job of responding to the “here” command.  I did have to repeat it a couple of times because he was trying to get too close to her, but generally speaking, he did a great job.

Ben has been learning how to be in a pack. He’s getting better about sharing space with everyone, including Violet, but meal times are a big problem. We’ve had no choice but to feed him in a different room. When the food is being dished out, he goes into a panic and tries to knock the bowl out of our hands by jumping at us. When the food is put down on the floor, he shakes and salivates.  When his food is put down and he’s asked to wait for permission to eat, his anxiety level goes through the roof. This stresses Glimmer and Violet to a point where they can’t eat; they end up walking away instead because Ben’s energy is just too intense. So, we have to feed him in another room.

By evening, Ben was starting to feel bored and restless, and he started acting out a little. He got a bit mouthy with me and he tried bullying me with his body – he even tried standing on me to get above me. He was immediately corrected each time, but he pushed that envelope, too, by continuing to practice those unwanted behaviors. The consequence was the use of his full name, “Benito”. I’ve discovered that using his full name has the same effect as using a child’s full name when they’re misbehaving. It tells him I mean business and that he will be given a time-out in the kennel if he doesn’t stop whatever bad behavior he’s practicing. So far, this has had really positive results.

Little by little, Ben is improving. I don’t know that he will ever be able to live peacefully with cats, but I do have hope for him that, with continued time, energy, and work, the day will come where he can be around smaller dogs safely. Where he will see them as friends and play-mates instead of prey to be attacked and killed. For now, all I can do is keep working him around Violet and keep working to teach him how to be a good pack member.

Have a great day, and remember to stay calm and lead on…


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