Ben, Week Two: Report

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Good Thursday to everyone. Can you believe it’s already December? Wow… This year has really flown by…

Ben has been making great progress in the following areas:

— learning to sit and wait for permission to eat
— learning to wait when the kennel door is open, and to be calm when leaving the kennel
— learning to be calm when getting ready to go outside
— walking nicely on lead
— giving trust in unfamiliar situations and with unfamiliar people
— responding very well to “sit”, “wait”, “here”, and “leave it”

These areas are still problematic for Ben, to varying degrees:

— fixation and attack (he’s still going after Violet)
— learning “lay down” (he refuses to go into the down position when he’s on the ground or floor)
— wolfing food (he’s still eating too fast, but he’s trying to slow down)
— mouthing during play
— invasion of personal space (he’s still being disrespectful, but he’s trying to learn)
— high excitement during play (he loves to play but he’s still getting too intense and he can’t control himself)

On the upside, the pros and cons are fairly evenly balanced. On the downside, the cons are big problems that are taking a long time to resolve. Ben is very stubborn and insistent; if he is corrected – for example, for mouthing – instead of accepting the correction, he practices the unwanted behavior even more, and with more intensity. It can be very challenging, sometimes, to help him understand that unwanted behavior will not be rewarded.

In a surprising twist, Ben is showing an unexpected compassion when one of us is suffering physical pain. He hasn’t been taught how to help, but somehow, he just knows what to do. Even more surprising is that while he’s helping, he doesn’t care if Violet is nearby or if Glimmer is sniffing around his bone. His focus remains entirely on whichever one of us is having trouble until he knows we have the situation under control. It’s actually quite amazing. In light of the abuse this boy has suffered at the hands of humans, his ability to give love and compassion is astounding.

Because the weather isn’t amenable for Ben to have a walk today, we’re going to be working on door conditioning and impulse control, practicing “place”, and learning “lay down”… from the couch and the love-seat. I’m also going to be focusing more on teaching him not to mouth during play, and how to control his level of excitement. He gets so excited and exuberant when he plays that he can’t bring himself down to a more acceptable level.

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

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