You might remember that a while back, over a year ago, I blogged about Milo, the newest four-legged member of our family. Milo is still with us, but it has been an interesting year with the beast whom I refer to as my project dog.
Milo is quite possibly the best, easiest dog we have ever owned. He is reasonably well-trained. He is extremely easy-going and not demanding. But he has one little issue. Actually, it is one giant issue. He is aggressive. Fear aggression. Mostly towards people but sometimes other dogs. And when the 65 pound, out-of-control, barking, biting, monster comes out, it is a scary thing indeed. But with people he likes (all 15 of them at last count) and dogs he trusts (both of them), he is passive, roll over and rub my belly sweet.
For the first nine months or so that he was with us, we were very conscientious about working with him. Every walk was a training walk. We kept his life as structured as possible and tried to be absolutely consistent with him. We worked with a trainer. Thanks to some marvelous, patient folks at our vet, we can board him and have him doctored there. We can and do walk him around people and other dogs, but we are careful to maintain some space around him, keep him under control, and not allow others to approach him. At some point, I felt like I had done all that I could do. I didn’t have the wherewithal to become a true dog trainer. As one of our neighbors told me when I was lamenting that he is much, much better, but we still don’t trust him, “Milo is just Milo. You can’t expect him to be something else.”
Still, he generally works with our lifestyle and we will keep him as long as we can, although that might not be quite as long as his natural life. Our vet, trainer, and any other dog people we know have assured us that, quite frankly, we are Milo’s only hope for a normal cage-free life at this point. I have come to terms with the fact that we adopted a security dog instead of a family dog.
And now that I have all THAT out of the way, I can tell you about his latest quirk that has us laughing and shaking our heads.
Milo is a coward. This is at the heart of his aggression issue; his ‘fight’ instinct is stronger than his ‘flight’ instinct. Unless he’s not clear about what he needs to fight (odd sounds, sudden movements), and then he becomes a cowering pile of fur. A few days ago, Milo decided he was afraid of the kitchen. Milo’s food and water bowl are in the kitchen. The outside door that Milo uses is in the utility room, adjacent to the kitchen. We never crate-trained Milo, but we did kitchen-train him, confining him to that one room when we were sleeping or out of the house. It is supposed to be his safe, happy place.
Maybe it started last week when a glass fell off a shelf and shattered. Milo wasn’t in the kitchen at the time and I calmly barricaded him OUT of the room while I cleaned it up. I think now he is expecting a loud shattering noise to happen whenever he goes in the kitchen. Or maybe it is because I moved his food bowl onto a tray. This is a dog who does not like change. Or maybe he is like the child who is convinced that there is a monster in the closet and there is not much you can do to prove the negative. It would not surprise me to learn that this dog has a vivid imagination. So we’ll continue to coax and bribe him to traverse the kitchen to go for a walk, and we’ll laugh as he comes in and snatches a bite or two of food before retreating. And we’ll hope that this is just a phase.