Dogs are known as “man’s best friend.” However, one of the common fears that dogs have is often, fear of men. Because dogs live through their instincts, sometimes one bad experience is enough to make a dog fearful of anything similar.
Why dogs might fear men – Many studies have been done, but there’s no clear reason why dogs would be more afraid of men than women. There are some possible theories. The most likely one is that the dog was not exposed to enough men while still a puppy. Men are generally bigger and have deeper voices than women. To a dog, big and loud are both threats, so they would naturally tend to shy away from this energy.
Another possibility is that men and women have very different scents, due to hormones and different kinds of fragrances in personal care products. Puppies are raised by their mothers and the father is rarely around. The smell of estrogen is something that puppies are exposed to as soon as they’re born, and this smell is also associated with their first food source, mother’s milk. Their mother’s scent equals safety.
Another difference is the way men and women deal with their dogs. Women tend to be more nurturing and comforting. Men tend to be more assertive and playful. I’m sure you’ve seen a dog initiate play with another dog with a bow and happy energy. Most human adult males however, are bigger than most dogs. So, even though the intention is friendly, to a dog, the appearance can be threatening. Most women don’t initiate play. They often offer an invitation, so the dog doesn’t feel threatened.
The fact is that we really don’t know why dogs tend to be more afraid of men than women.
Regardless, there are things you can do to help fix your dog’s fear of men. Remember though, that rehabilitating a fearful dog can be a longer and more challenging process. But it definitely can be done.
1. Is it all men or just certain attributes? – Maybe your dog is not afraid of all men. Maybe he’s only afraid of or men in hats, men in sunglasses, men with beards or men in uniforms. Maybe it’s men of a certain height, men with deep voices or men of a certain ethnic group.
Once you’ve figured out whether it’s all men or just ones with certain traits, it’s time to begin the rehabilitation process. Remember though, if your dog is expressing his fear through aggression, consult a professional first.
2. Bring in your friends for help - The best way to help a fearful dog is through exposure to the things that make him fearful. You will need some men that your dog hasn’t met along with the things that scare him. Example: Sunglasses, hats or uniforms. If appropriate bring in one or a few bearded friends as well.
Start with one man that your dog has never met before. Let the dog approach him on his own terms. Make sure the man doesn’t touch him, talk to him or give him eye contact. Have your friend toss a treat past the dog, so he has to move away from him to get it. Continue to toss more treats. Only this time, tossing them closer and closer to himself. This should draw the dog to slowly come into the man’s space.
The point is to let your dog’s curiosity get the better of his fear, and then realize that there is nothing to be afraid of. Once he isn’t flinching or trying to run away when the man moves, then he can give him the treat himself while still not touching, talking or giving him eye contact.
Eventually, you can have your male helpers take your dog for a walk and then give him his food afterwards. This will further associate the formerly scary person with good things.
Rehabilitating a fearful dog takes time, so you’ll need to repeat this exercise not only with a variety of different men, but also in different environments. Like out on a walk or in the dog park.
3. Teach him focus and eye contact - Teach your dog to look at you on command. This way you can get him to focus on you instead of what makes him fearful. There are various different ways to teach it and, as with all dog training, you can use whatever method works for you.
4. Check your reaction - Since dogs feed off our energy and emotional state of mind, it’s possible that you are the one who taught him to be afraid of men in general or specific types of men. Pay close attention to how you react to strange men. For example, do you feel nervous when you see a policeman or anxious when you see a delivery man? Do you become angry when you see a man who resembles your ex or tense when you encounter your nasty boss?
These reactions are telling your dog, “Hey, something’s wrong here.” Dogs reflect our energy, our emotional state of mind, so make sure you’re not accidentally sending the wrong messages to your dog.
If you continue to have problems, let me know if I can help.
Always remember: BP4 – Be: Patient, Positive, Peaceful & Persistent
www.packmantotherescue.com / 201-937-6123