Benny’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

They say you should always supervise children and dogs when they are together in the same room.  We don’t really follow that too closely, especially since our dogs have grown up with Ezra since they were puppies.  However, we have always known that Benny is a bit of a resource guarder when it comes to food, so I’m always reminding Ezra to back up, not get in the dogs’ space when eating meals or treats.  But that’s been about the extent of it, I haven’t physically gone over and removed him from the area.

Yesterday, I had given the dogs a dried trachea treat because they had been good pups and Luca took his over to the computer desk behind the couch where he could eat in peace.  Benny dragged his over a couple feet and that’s where Ezra found him.  I did tell Ez to be careful and not try to take it from Benny and really I think what happened was Ezra likes to get down to floor level to watch the animals eat and I think Benny felt Ezra’s face was too near the treat, and bit.  Ezra immediately started screaming and crying and my pulse shot through the roof because I knew Benny must have connected.

I went to pick up Ezra and got him to show me the bite and I saw the one on his chin but it wasn’t bleeding so I was like, Ok, I’ve got this, and carried Ez into the bathroom to wash out the wound.  When I finally got him to put his hands down completely there was BLOOD EVERYWHERE.  Benny had also got Ezra right under his lip and in the time it took to carry Ez to the bathroom the wound on his chin had started bleeding, too.

So I’m kind of freaking out now, getting Ezra cleaned up, trying to decide if I needed to take him to emergent care or not.  I had Ez holding a tissue to his chin to stop the bleeding and soon enough the bleeding stopped.  When everything was finally cleaned up I decided to take a wait-and-see approach because the bite didn’t look deep enough to need stitches and they weren’t ripped or jagged.

the bite, right after cleaning up

the bite, right after cleaning up

I put some antibiotic ointment on some bandaids and put those on Ezra (Ezra, incidentally, has just found out about bandages.  He loves them.)

the bite, all bandaged

the bite, all bandaged

In the meantime I was on my dog training forums, trying to get some advice because now I was freaked out that if Benny bit once, he may be more inclined to bite again for a lesser-value reason than food.  The general consensus was that he shouldn’t be more inclined to just bite randomly, but also that I should get a behaviorist out here to learn some management tips.

As much as I know Benny (and probably Luca to a certain extent) needs more training with regard to resource guarding, I also recognize this whole thing was on me as a parent.  I should have been monitoring the situation more closely, and I should have physically removed Ezra from the area.  I can’t really blame Benny, he’s a dog who thought someone else was trying to steal his shit.  And he did only bite the one time, he didn’t keep biting, which I really think is a good sign.

However, the rest of the day I was all paranoid about Ezra playing with the dogs, which I haven’t worried too much about in the past.

the offender

the offender

I’m more calm today, and I have a plan.  We are going to bring up the crates from downstairs.  This will serve a couple purposes.  For one, when we are eating and we don’t want the dogs in the kitchen, I’ve been trying to teach “Out” where they will leave the room.  The problem here is, they do leave, and then about two minutes later come back in.  With the crates upstairs, I can tell them to kennel, then shut them in for the duration of our meal.  Granted, this is going to involve training as Luca doesn’t care much for the kennel, but at least they will be upstairs with us and maybe that will help.  Hopefully, eventually, it will get to the point where we will tell them “Kennel” and they will just go relax until we give them a verbal release.

Another reason to have the crates upstairs is for giving treats that take longer to work through.  This way Ezra cannot get too close to the dogs, and also should help calm the dogs themselves if they know the other dog cannot come over and swipe the treat.  Benny frequently jacks Luca’s treat and now he won’t be able to.

And lastly, when I do my training, it’s a pain in the ass trying to train two dogs at once.  Before when we had to work one-on-one, we’d have to take the other dog downstairs to be crated and in Luca’s case he would just howl and scratch to get out.  Hopefully this way I can work with Benny when it’s his turn, and also treat Luca for remaining calm in his crate (and vice versa).

In any event, the wounds look like they are already sealed up, so I don’t think I’ll need any medical interventions there.

the bite, the next day

the bite, the next day

On a lighter note, have you all heard of the 1,000 Treat Challenge?  It’s been around for a while but it’s new to me and I’m totally going to try it.  The gist is you take 1k treats (small sized, should be able to fit them all in a quart-sized Ziploc bag) and dole them out over two weeks to train one particular skill.  It sounds like a lot of treats but they aren’t big so don’t really add too much to their overall daily caloric intake.  I’m not sure what skill I want to work on first.  Honestly it should probably be something like resource guarding for Benny, and something to do with harnesses or leashes for Luca, but what I’d really like to work on would be ignoring the cats.

These dogs go batshit crazy when the cats are around.  Mister is a pretty good sport about it, he lets the dogs paw him and smell him, but Jojo just RUNS.  And of course the dogs love that.  The problem is, I’m not sure how to go about training this.  I’ll have to look into it.  I’ll probably have to start with the dog on a harness and have the cat on the floor and try to get the dog’s attention when the cat starts moving around.  When the dog looks to me, I’ll click and treat.  Eventually I’ll ask for a longer duration of focus on me before click/treating and hopefully it’ll get to the point where when the dogs see a cat they will look to me first instead of chasing the cat.  That might work.  Hmm.

One thought on “Benny’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

  1. Hi Ashlin, Oh my gosh that is one adorable little boy you have there! It sounds like you have a wonderful home for both kids and animals. As a mom of 3 boys, with 3 dogs and a cat to fill in the rest of the floor space, I know that no matter how attentive one is, stuff happens.That said, I want to share something I learned from an Ian Dunbar video about making dogs safe around food that I found helpful. I’ve done this with all my dogs and they are all good with humans interfering with their food or bones.

    The idea is to give the dog a positive association with people moving in on his food. First you just walk by his bowl while he is eating boring kibble, and drop in a high value treat (HVT) like a bit of cheese or chicken. After you do that for a while and the dog is anticipating you (or your child) approaching his bowl with pleasure, you graduate to putting the HVT directly in his bowl with your fingers. The next step is to pick up his bowl while he is eating, put an HVT into it ,and give it back to him.

    Now you have a dog who gets happy, not tense, when you take his food away. Eventually you can take a bone or rawhide from him, (get him to drop it by offering a super HVT) then smear some peanut butter or cheese on the bone/rawhide, and give it back, better than ever. Now you will have a dog who actively wants to put disgusting chewed up things in your lap! But a safer dog for kids. And safer for you to take icky stuff away that he drags from the woods.

    Dunbar recommends doing this exercise with puppies, but I’ve done it with my older dogs as well. Of course you would use lots of caution in having your child participate, and make sure the dog is solidly excited and happy before letting son approach with the HVT. If the dog is at all tense, don’t involve the child! If your dog is super guardy of his food, he might not be ready for this. Don’t push it if it doesn’t seem to be working.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *