Cautious Optimism

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Tomorrow marks Ben’s 17th week with us, but there’s been a sudden change in his behavior that needs to be noted. A behavior that occurred again this morning, while my husband was bringing him back in the house after having him out to potty.

On three occasions over the past few days – the third one being just this morning – Ben has come nearly nose to nose with our cat, Violet… and he has not reacted. He hasn’t lunged at her, or even growled at her. He’s just remained calm and waited for us to give him direction. We don’t know what sparked this sudden behavior change yet, but we have been rewarding and reinforcing it with great enthusiasm to show him that he made the right decision.

I’ve been noticing that Ben is thinking more and reacting less often to triggers. This is a huge achievement for him. When he first came to us, he was purely reactive to everything; now, it seems he’s finally starting to understand that his choices matter.  Based on his behavior over the past few days, Ben seems to be starting to associate his negative behaviors towards Violet with his isolation. In other words, he seems to be starting to realize that when he practices predatory behavior towards Violet, he gets separated from the rest of the pack; when he remains calm and quiet and he waits for direction from us, he gets time out of isolation.

I am not even remotely suggesting that Ben will overcome his predatory tendencies around cats and other small animals. Truth be told, I doubt he will ever be able to achieve that. But I am cautiously optimistic that rather than just reacting out of habit – as he’s done for the past four months – he will continue to practice thinking first instead of just reacting.

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

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