Ben: Week 20

Wow. Ben has been with us for 20 weeks today. That’s five months of learning everything from basic commands like “sit” and “down”, to learning how to override and take control of an extremely high prey drive when faced with a cat or other small animal. Five months of learning to trust, learning how to give and accept physical affection, learning how to play with toys, learning how to play with humans who offer toys, learning how to play with humans without toys, and so much more.  Ben has come a long, long way in five months.

Recently, our cat, Violet, has been purposely putting herself closer to him at every opportunity. She’s even taken to blocking his path at the top of the stairs, effectively trapping him when we’re trying to get him outside or bring him inside. Ben has been giving us trust by getting behind us when he sees her and waiting for us to move her away from him.  Then, when we bring him past her, instead of trying to lunge at her, he just stays focused on going forward to whatever room we’re going to be in. This is incredibly difficult for him to do; she is a food source – and an easy one, at that, because she plants herself so close to him and then just lays there like she’s immune to him. But, no matter how badly he wants to act on his drive to attack and kill her, he doesn’t. Once he’s in whatever room we’re going to and the door is closed to keep Violet out, he flops down onto the dog bed, exhales loudly, and either attacks his bone or just lays still for a few minutes. It’s absolutely amazing.

This behavior started when my husband brought him inside and Violet refused to move. I had to pick her up and hold her – and Ben saw me do that. Since then, we’ve continued to do that so that he understands that Violet is a member of our pack and is not to be harmed. So far, it seems to be working. And it is the reason why I have hope that Ben will soon be able to share space with Violet [with the kennel for protection, of course] and remain calm and relaxed.

To that end – and with these recent positive behavior changes in mind – I’m going to be resuming the kennel work. Violet will be placed inside it for protection, and Ben will be worked around it. I’m hoping the results will be better than they were before.

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

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