Ben, Week Four

We’re in our fourth week with Ben, now, and he’s been doing very well in almost every area. He’s completely off the lead, now, inside the house, and aside from his ongoing resource-guarding issue with food, he’s been making great progress. His manners are slowly but steadily improving, he’s getting better at giving space, he’s learning that he doesn’t have to compete for affection – he doesn’t have to shove Glimmer or other people out of the way – and he seems to be starting to understand and accept that he’s not the boss. He still needs work on giving humans space when they’re eating, but we’re getting there. Slowly but steadily, Ben is learning and trying to respect the rules, boundaries, and limitations that are set out for him.

We did have an incident on Friday night. I brought home a bag of food and set it down on the floor so I could get my coat and boots off. Ben and Glimmer were both smelling the bag, and the next thing I knew, there was growling and barking and Glimmer was screaming. Ben was attacking Glimmer…. because she was too close to the sealed bag of food.

Ben was immediately corrected and after ensuring Glimmer’s injury didn’t require an emergency visit to the vet, I got the lead on Ben and took him to her. Glimmer was curled up into a tight ball on our bed. I got Ben onto the bed and made him present his rear end to her. Glimmer was understandably afraid, but she trusted me to protect her… and she smelled him. To my surprise, Ben took things one step further: Keeping his rear towards Glimmer, he laid down on his side, and gave her and me his belly. This was a huge act of submission and trust on Ben’s part. Glimmer accepted his apology by giving him a thorough sniffing. They’ve been getting along fine ever since.

Glimmer was not seriously injured. She got the equivalent of a paper cut on the inside of one of her ear flaps. It bled quite a bit, making things look a lot worse. But the fact that Ben attacked her because she was too close to the sealed bag of food showed me that his food aggression is still a very serious problem.

Which, I will admit, really confuses me, because Ben does a fantastic job about waiting his turn to eat, waiting his turn to get food rewards, and generally being patient and polite. He shows no aggression or possessive behavior at all under those circumstances. So, why he goes berserk and attacks over unopened bags of food has really got me scratching my head. I can honestly say that in all my years of working with dogs, I’ve never seen this particular behavior. It doesn’t make any sense to me.

All in all, Ben is making excellent progress in virtually every area. He’s even doing well with the kennel again; his anxiety has decreased to a point where he no longer requires a bone to chew on when he’s kenneled. We can’t leave him kenneled to go out of the house, yet, but we’re working on that. Slowly but steadily, we’re getting him there.

Ben is now available for adoption. If you’d like to meet him, please visit his page to find out how. Have a great day, and remember to stay calm and lead on…

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