What to do about dogs who fear men

Jennifer writes:

I just got an 8 month old scottie on Saturday, who hasn’t been socialized very well so he’s very skiddish, but luckily is not a biter! Among other things (that we’re working on at the moment), he seems to have an aversion to my dad, but not to most females. He barks/growls whenever my dad comes home, and shies away from him if he tries to play with him/pet him. Initially he was this way with all of us (minus the barking) but he’s made some improvements since bringing him home. He’s a lot more stubborn than I expected though, even after reading about the breed. So, I guess my question is..how do I prevent him from treating my dad (and other males) this way? I know it takes patience to get him properly socialized, but I’m just wondering if there’s something additional I could be doing.

Scottie News doesn’t think this is a Scottish Terrier issue, but more likely a problem related to bad early experiences with men. I used to have a cat that was scared of male humans and he never really conquered his fear. Has anyone successfully treated this problem?

5 thoughts on “What to do about dogs who fear men

  1. Jennifer

    Try having your Dad give the dog treats. The scottie should work for the treat, sit, stay, come near to Dad, something so he starts associating Dad with treats and not with whatever happened before. It might take a long time, but scottie should get better when he finds out dad has treats, and isn’t going to hurt him. It worked for us.

  2. Jennifer,
    I’ve found that my female Scottie definitely prefers women while my male Scottie loves everyone. When I got my female who was a rescue at 3 years of age, she was snappish with everyone except me. I did alot of reading about canine body language which really helped. Did you know that if a dog approaches another dog directly it’s considered hostile? So tell your father when he approaches your dog to turn sideways. In dog language it’s considered polite. I also had to advise people who my female dog didn’t know to ignore her. I mean really act as if she wasn’t there. It’s something alot of people have a difficult time doing because everyone wants to make friends with a dog especially a puppy. Let the dog come to him, sniff him and check him out. But tell Dad not to make eye contact, pet or talk to her. Your dog will check him out on her own terms and at her own pace. Just don’t rush her.

    I’d suggest studying canine body language…check out You Tube, “At the Other End of the Leash”, a book by Patricia McConnell is the one I read, dog forums or articles on the internet are really helpful in understanding your pup. Also check out a few sessions with a trainer who specializes in dogs with fear aggression. I did and it really worked with my sensitive girl.

    Good luck with your new pup.


  3. We just had a dog behaviourist in last weekend to help us with this problem with our female dachsie who was a kennel dog for the first 2 years of her life. After a year in the house it wasn’t any better so in the behaviourist came. She advised a variety of tasks. I would swallow the $50 or so for someone to come and do a home visit and advise. We have seen a difference in less than a week. Tasks include. Stay off the sofa, working for treats, umbilical training and a punishment of a warning when doing something wrong a mini punishmen and then into the crate if undesired behaviour continues. The dog should also be treated with verbal treats, physical treats and edible treats when they do go behaviour.

  4. Try having your Dad be the one that feeds him for while and this is important; dry kibbles out of the palm of his hand. I did that with a rescue Scottie that coward-ed when I first got him. I expect that he was abused by a male prior to his rescue. Now he is comfortable with all males that come into the our house. I think this might help. Food should never be withheld from an animal, but it is an excellent tool for gaining trust. Obviously if this dog is food aggressive and nibs, a glove could help.

    Just an idea, David

  5. I like your ideas, David and Noodledog, and agree re: using treats. As a child, we rescued an adult Australian terrier who was the same as Jennifer’s description–he was terrified of men and I felt bad for my dad who was just trying to interact with him as we did with others. He did feed the dog, and would approach with treats; it led to my dog tolerating a little pat here or there (before scampering off), and it increased in tolerance. That said, he never was keen to be around my father, but it did help! Good luck, Jennifer. The younger the dog, the better your chances!

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