Your dog may be perfectly content and calm without any behavior problems around women and children, but when a man approaches (even if it’s just one man he or she knows) she can become a completely different dog.
Some dogs may try to hide from you (the man), cower or show submissive behavior, shake, or even urinate due to anxiety.
Others may show signs of aggression (growling/showing of teeth). If you (the man) get too close she may even snap at you.
A Fear of Men is Common
A fear of men is actually a relatively common phobia in dogs, and some very well-behaved and well-rounded dogs share this fear.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help your dog overcome its fear and learn to accept the men or man she encounters.
why do dogs fear men?
When people find out a dog is afraid of men, they often immediately connect the fear to a bad experience. But, there are a variety of reasons why your dog may fear men in general or even one particular man including:
- If your dog has been abused by a man prior to being brought into your family, this may cause a lifelong fear of all men. Think about how long you have had your dog. Was your dog a puppy? Adult? In most cases, this is not the most likely culprit, though.
- In many cases, being afraid of men is a result of a lack of socialization with men when the dog was a puppy. If you are the man your dog is afraid of, how much time did you spend with your dog when she was a puppy? Sometimes, the lack of socialization with men is due to the man being out of the house due to long work hours.
- Another factor could be intimidation. Men can be more intimidating in a dog’s eyes. They are often taller and bigger than women and children, have deeper voices, and may have different types of features, like facial hair. From a dog’s perspective, these differences might be scary.
easing your dog’s fear of the man
The level of difficulty of correcting this behavior depends on the severity of your dog’s fear.
Some dogs are only somewhat fearful, whereas others may be completely terrified. Remember to be patient with your dog; it can take a lot of time for any dog to overcome any phobia.
In the meantime, keep things as positive as possible. We’ll recommend a few things to try to help ease your dog’s anxiety below.
your dog’s comfort zone
It’s important to understand you cannot force your dog to go beyond her comfort zone and expect her to change her behavior.
If you attempt to push your dog too far by pushing her into uncomfortable situations, your attempts can backfire and actually strengthen the fear.
Worst-case scenario…. your efforts could lead the dog to bite and increase her fear of you.
Let Your Dog Approach you on her own terms
Allow your dog to approach you (the man) on his or her own. This may be difficult, but attempt to ignore the dog who is fearful of you. Of course you want to be near your dog to increase the bond, but this just isn’t the right time. By ignoring your dog, you’re essentially providing her with the opportunity to come to you. It’s on her own terms.
Offering treats to encourage her to come
When you’re trying to break your dog of her fear of you, be sure to keep treats handy (even if your dog is no where near you- just in case she comes closer).
Whenever the fearful dog gets even a little closer than usual, very gently toss a couple of treats in the dog’s direction.
It may take a while for the dog to accept treats from a man, but eventually, he or she will connect you with something good- treats! A positive association with form.
For some dogs, this can take a week or two. For others, a month or even longer. Patience is key.
Desensitize Your Dog
Desensitization is the process we’re talking about here. We are using treats and praise to slowly, over time, help your dog understand that it’s safe to approach you (the man).
Over time, you may be able to slowly close the distance between the dog and the man without your dog feeling fearful.
In some cases, your dog may never feel completely comfortable around men (dependent upon the reason why she or he is afraid). But, you may notice her becoming significantly more comfortable over time.
obedience training: it helps
If your dog is obedience trained, there’s a higher chance of her or him being able to focus in stressful situations.