Ben, Week 7: Progress Report

Ben has been with us for seven weeks, now. There were a few hiccups in the first three weeks of his fostering, but we dealt with it, and he’s been making steady progress ever since. He does need more work with his basics – including his tendency to jump on people – but on the whole, he’s actually doing remarkably well. He’s even been surprising us by acting as a therapy dog when I’m having what I call a “Fibro day” [a Fibromyalgia flare-up that almost debilitates me, and is accompanied by a massive migraine]. He doesn’t pick things up or retrieve things for me, but he helps in other, equally important ways. I have no doubt that if I started teaching him to retrieve and release, he would be doing that, too. He is a very loving, compassionate, highly intuitive dog…

Ben is still learning appropriate play with both humans and other dogs.  He tends to mouth Glimmer’s legs as a way to invite her to play, and she doesn’t like that. He wants very much to play with her, but he’s not understanding that he has to change the way he invites her before she will accept his offer. It’s a very slow process with him in this area, but he’s trying to learn. She’s already taught him how to share the big dog bed with her…

Ben is still barking at people walking past the house, but there is positive change occurring in this area, too. When he first came to us, Ben lunged at the window, his body literally vibrating with tension, and he would bark so loud and for so long that our ears would ring. Occasionally, he would even have spittle flying at the glass. Today – seven weeks later – he still barks at people and animals, but he’s not lunging at the window anymore, his body does not vibrate anymore, and he doesn’t spray spittle all over the window anymore.  He does ask to go outside, but since we know he only wants to go after the source of his excitement, we don’t allow him out until he can be calm for at least five minutes. I have been and I am continuing to work with him to help him learn that he can look out the window all he wants, provided that he remains calm and does not bark when he sees people and animals go by.

There is still an issue with men that Ben is struggling with:  An adult male squatting down to his level – which, to most dogs, is a non-threatening position – triggers an intense fear response in Ben, and he reacts by barking loudly and mock-charging. He can deal with an adult man who is standing up, and he’s learning to deal with an adult man who bends over him to pet him. But he still cannot cope with a man who squats down to get on a more even level with him. I’ve been working on this with him, because it’s a serious trust issue and critical to his rehabilitation.

Overall, Ben is doing very well in virtually all areas. He’s developmentally delayed so it does take him longer to learn some things, but he is learning, and that’s what matters.

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

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