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Dog Anxiety Towards Men?

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by kcmd02, Feb 4, 2012.


  1. kcmd02

    kcmd02 PetForums Member

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    For as long as I can remember, my dog Lucky has hated men. Unlike Oscar who is mine & my boyfriends, Lucky is the "family dog" and lives at my parents house. I've been with my boyfriend for over 4 years now and Lucky has hated him since day 1. She barks continuously when he is at the house and won't go near him unless I'm there sort of acting as a barrier between them, or if he has food.. haha.

    She's like this with all males. She hates my sister's boyfriend as well; but not as much as she dislikes mine. She totally despises my uncle. However she loves my stepfather and follows him around like a shadow.

    To me it seems like she has anxiety around males? Could this be the reason she barks so much? She doesn't bite or be saucy.. Just seems like shes literally terrified & very uneasy. Obviously she hasn't been beaten by any males.. Unless it was before we got her as a puppy?

    Does anyone have any similar experiences or advice?
     
  2. Sled dog hotel

    Sled dog hotel PetForums VIP

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    The
    The only thing you can do is work on giving her as many positive experiences with men as you possibly can. With any fear or uncertainty based problems you can only work at one speed and that is the dogs itself. Fear based and anxiety problems can take the longest of all behaviours to treat, because they cant be hurried.

    I would ask all the men, when they arrive to totally ignore her, act like she isnt even there, no talking to her, trying to stroke her not even eye contact.
    It may be best to actually initially put her in another room when they come, let them in and be seated, and then let her out. They should still ignore her and they should also have treats, preferably ones that she really loves or human food she cant resist, pieces of cheese, sausages, ham, chicken is good, hot dogs. Totally ignoring her they should then gently and slowly no sudden quick movements, throw some food in her general direction still ignoring her and not even looking at her. The idea is that in her own time she goes to investigate the treat. They need to throw it far away from them near to her at first, if/when she gets closer then, they can decrease how far they throw it away from them so she comes closer to pick it up off the floor. The ultimate idea as she gets braver, is for her to take it by their feet, then off the arm of the chair, all this time though they still totally ignore her. Next step is to speak softly while she takes a treat from say the chair arm, then see if she will take a treat from their hand, then acept a gentle stroke in exchange for a treat and finally full contact eye contact, stroking and speaking to her as they feed her treats.

    The above is a tried and tested method that has been known to have success. However you cant rush any of it. First time if they dont make any contact and just ignore her but she doesnt bark or show any fear then its a result. There is no time factor, you may get success very quickly, it may take several visits and a few weeks. You just need to work and be lead by how she is coping and progresses.
     
    #2 Sled dog hotel, Feb 4, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2012
  3. kcmd02

    kcmd02 PetForums Member

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    Thanks so much for the advice! Will try the method you explained. However I'm wondering if it will make a difference that she will already take treats from my boyfriends hands?

    She will come near him and has no problem being near him when he has food (lol), but she's extremely uneasy and won't make eye contact with him. I think the fact that he wants her to like him, thus pays attention to her, definitely makes it worse.

    Also I noticed you said if theres a visit with no barking it would be a good result, but she automatically barks whenever anyone enters the house.. Even the immediate family. This is something else we've tried to break her out of, with little success.

    Forgot to add earlier that I thought her possible anxiety towards males could be due to the fact that she lives in a house of all females apart from my stepfather. Up until my boyfriend & my sister's boyfriends started coming around (she was over a year old then) she had very little interaction with males apart from my stepfather. Could not being around many males as a puppy be a possible cause? I'm just curious as it seems really strange to me.
     
  4. Dogless

    Dogless PetForums VIP

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    My dog is much more comfortable around female strangers than male. I think there may be a few factors (in general) such as mens' lower - pitched voices, stature, body language, mannerisms etc.
     
  5. Sled dog hotel

    Sled dog hotel PetForums VIP

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    Peoples automatic response usually is to try and befriend the dog, looking at him/her, talking directly trying to reach out and stroke or encourage the dog.
    If the dog is unsure and fearful of the person then to do it immediately is too confrontational too a lot of dogs, so they then go on the defence barking etc.
    By totally ignoring her not even giving her any acknowledgement whatsoever,
    it gives her the time and space to make up her own mind. Again by throwing the treats in her direction is making a good association, with that person but she can still choose wether or not to take them, nothing is forced on her and makes her feel threatened she is doing it all in her own time when she feels secure enough thats the difference, shes not approached and her immediate space violated, she can do the approaching when she is at ease and ready.
    Thats why she wont make eye contact with him, his leading or trying too but she isnt ready.

    Again if when the people automatically enter they look at and focus on her, that will start her off immediately or likely will. If you initially put her in another room, maybe give her some type of goody like a stuffed Kong, with extra special filling, let them in let them sit down, and leave her for a little time to wind down, then bring her out but tell them to act like shes not even there and then do the treats etc etc otherwise not even acknowledging shes there until she instigates contact that can make the difference.
    If she gets used to having a yummy Kong too when people arrive she should also start to be anticipating that and its a distraction, plus its another good association and gives her the breathing space to calm down before you let her out. Hope this makes sense?
     
  6. kcmd02

    kcmd02 PetForums Member

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    Yes it makes perfect sense! Thanks for the advice, we'll definitely be trying it from now on.
     
  7. Sled dog hotel

    Sled dog hotel PetForums VIP

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    Hopefully it will, keep us updated and let us know how you get on.
     
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