My Dog Is Scared of Men: What Should I Do?
If your dog shakes or cowers when men are around, take heart. This behavior is more common than you might think. But why do so many dogs seem to find men intimidating? Here are the likely reasons your might dog fear men and tips on what to do if you find yourself thinking that they hate men.
My Dog Is Scared of Men — Why?
Though it's not clear why, many dogs have a fear of men. The following are some of the more likely reasons your dog might feel uncomfortable around men.
It's possible that your dog distrusts men because of past abuse. However, this is likely not the case for most dogs, says The Spruce Pets. Another possibility stems from dogs' tendency to make generalizations based on bad impressions, points out Cesar's Way. Simply being startled by a man once before might be enough cause for a dog to develop a fear of all men.
Lack of Socialization
Some dogs may not have been properly socialized to the presence of men as puppies. The ages of 7 weeks to 4 months is a critical time for puppies, says I Heart Dogs. It's not unusual for grown dogs to develop a phobia of something they weren't exposed to during this period. Even a puppy with a male pet parent might develop a fear of other men if they aren't exposed to a wide enough variety of men.
Men Seem Scarier
With their larger size and deeper voice, men may simply seem more intimidating to dogs than women or children. Men also tend to be louder and sometimes use more exaggerated gestures that some dogs might find scary.
The scent of men's hormones might also have something to do with it, says Cesar's Way. Dogs have a powerful sense of smell and may find a man's smell to be threatening. Women, on the other hand, may smell similar to a dog's nursing mother, which dogs generally associate with comfort and safety.
Men With Certain Characteristics
While you may think, "My dog is scared of men," it's possible that your pooch isn't frightened of men in general, but of men with certain characteristics. Maybe your dog is actually scared of men with beards, men of a certain height, men in uniforms, men in hats or any other number of traits more common among men.
Dogs That are Territorial
It's not uncommon for dogs to be territorial of certain individuals, especially if you are the only person in the house. After all, they see you as "their" human and can be very protective of you. Additionally, dogs can exhibit jealous tendencies; a dog like this might act unfavorable toward a man earning your attention or affection.
Helping Your Dog Accept Men
If your dog responds to men with aggression, it's best to seek the help of a professional trainer or dog behaviorist who can help you safely navigate these behavioral issues. To prevent biting, it's always a good idea to keep your dog on leash when going in public. Even if your dog has never bitten someone, once a dog escalates to fear-based aggression, training becomes that much more difficult.
If your dog isn't aggressive, you can desensitize them yourself with the help of male friends by following these steps:
- Have a man in the room with your dog, not making eye contact or acknowledging your dog in any way.
- Toss a dog treat near the man so that your dog must go past him in order to retrieve it.
- When your dog approaches the man, have him hold out a treat for the dog. He should otherwise be still and silent and ignore the dog's attention.
- Praise and treat your dog liberally if they behave calmly in the man's presence, in order to create a positive association.
- Eventually, your male friend can start talking to the dog, slowly working up to petting and interacting with them.
- It's best to have the man on the same plain as the dog so as to not appear large or intimidating when kneeling down to pet.
Go slowly. If your dog seems scared, don't push it; stop and try again later. If possible, repeat this process with several different men until your dog becomes more comfortable with men in general.
If you're one of the many pet parents who thinks that your dog hates or is scared of men, try not to worry too much. Phobias can be difficult to help your dog overcome, but with time and patience, most dogs can be taught that they have nothing to fear.
Jean Marie Bauhaus
Jean Marie Bauhaus is a pet parent, pet blogger and novelist from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she usually writes under the supervision of a lapful of furbabies.