Ben, Week 10

It’s hard to believe that only 10 weeks ago, Ben came to me as a red-zone case. With the exception of cats – which he will never be able to be around – he has been recovering very well from the issues he initially presented. Today, he is a happy, loving dog with a puppy-like zest for life and the heart of a lion. He is loyal, he is protective, and he is much more trusting… Ben has come a long, long way from the red-zone state he was in when he arrived 10 weeks ago.

While Ben has made huge progress with the issues he initially presented with, new problems have started to surface. He is presenting territorial behavior when people come into the house, and an unusual, intense fear of the sound of a bell. The bell issue was discovered last week, and when I spoke to the intake worker at DINO about it, I was told that Ben is reactive with people on bicycles, and that maybe there are bells on the bikes that set him off when the riders rings them.

All rescues come with varying degrees of “baggage”. Fear, anxiety, nervousness, uncertainty; reactivity… It’s all normal in most rescues. Which is why, in my own experience, knowing as much as possible about the history of a rescue is so important. The more I know, the better able I am to facilitate a more thorough rehabilitation. Rescues don’t trust easily – usually, with good reason. I’ve spent the past 10 weeks earning Ben’s trust; he’s come a long way, but he still doesn’t trust me completely. So, when I presented him with something I didn’t know was a big trigger for him – the bell – I lost some of the trust I’d worked so hard to earn from him. As a result, I have to work even harder, now, to not only regain that trust, but to also desensitize him to the bell so that he doesn’t become reactive when he hears it.

If you are going to adopt a rescue, please make sure you get as much information about their history as possible. Then, contact a trainer. A trainer will work with you and teach you how to help the animal begin his/her recovery, and in the process, they will help you become the calm, assertive, stable leader the animal needs. If you can’t get a lot of information about the animal you’re adopting, definitely contact a trainer. You’re going to need the knowledge and guidance they can provide.

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

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