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Do dogs hate certain people?

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?

A dog chases after a toy, running away from a man at the park.

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.

Past Experiences

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. 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.

Their Scent

The scent of men’s hormones might also have something to do with it. 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

Man with a beard kisses a Jack Russell terrier puppy that he is holding in his arms.

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.

Contributor Bio

Jean Marie Bauhaus

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.

Pets and Animals

It’s not unusual for a happy-go-lucky dog to inexplicably show aggression or fear toward certain people

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Dogs are born with a love of all people, but if something happens to them along the way, then can develop a dislike for that person and for people who remind them of those they have a grudge against.

By Joan Morris | | Bay Area News Group
PUBLISHED: October 31, 2017 at 8:00 a.m. | UPDATED: October 31, 2017 at 9:07 p.m.

Q. We have recently moved to a new development where there is a lot of new construction and landscaping still happening. I walk my 8-year-old golden doodle every morning through the neighborhood.

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We have had her since she was 4 months old, and she is a happy girl who loves people, especially the kind with hands that can be used to scratch her. She is not a whiny dog that cries or whimpers at all.

On two occasions in the past 10 months, we have walked past some workers and she let out a little cry and walked away while looking back over her shoulder as if the devil himself was following her. The workers have done nothing except maybe reply “Good morning” as we pass.

Do you think one of the workers is a psycho killer, child molester, dog-eater or just a bad person and she senses it? It’s really got me freaked out. — Jennifer Aguirre, El Dorado Hills

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A. This is a great question, and believe it or not, there’s been a lot of research done on the topic, so you know you’re not alone.

My dog, Bailey, for some reason has a bipolar relationship with my nephew, Dan. Bailey barks his head off every time Dan comes by, which is close to five times a week, acting as if I’ve let a mad hatchet killer through the door. Bailey tries to bite him if he gets too close, but if I hand him over to Dan, he wags his tail, allows himself to be petted and licks Dan’s hand.

This happens every single time, and Dan is the nicest man I know. He harbors no ill-will against Bailey, who would happily chew Dan’s leg off if he had the chance.

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Whatever the case, it’s close enough in a dog’s mind that they react negatively, either cowering in fear or becoming aggressive.

What I find interesting is that dogs can react to others based on a sort of doggy morality. Several studies have been done around the world that have indicated that a dog can react negatively to people who have not been helpful to their masters.

In one study, the dogs watched people struggling with a task — using some tape from a dispenser. In some cases, the person asked for help and was given it by another person. In other cases, when the person asked for help, the other person turned their back and walked away. In the third case, the person didn’t ask and no help was offered.

Then the dogs, one by one, were offered treats. In the case where the person asked for help and was given it, the dog took treats from both people. The same happened in the case of the people who remained neutral. But in the case of the people who refused to help, the dog wouldn’t accept the treat.

The doctors who did the study concluded that dogs basically are born liking everyone and expecting them to be kind and helpful. When they encounter someone acting outside of that norm, they take a dislike to them.

You say you got your dog when she was 4 months old, but either something happened in those first few months to create a negative memory, or she has witnessed someone matching the description of the workers do something to you that caused offense in her mind.

Dogs are good at many things, but judging character might not be one of them.

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Joan Morris | Features writer/Animal Life columnist

Joan Morris is the pets & wildlife columnist for the Bay Area News Group. She also writes about gardening and is the founder of Our Garden, a demonstration garden in Walnut Creek. Morris started her career in 1978 as a reporter for a small New Mexico newspaper. She has lived in the Bay Area since 1988.

Why Dogs Like Certain Humans

Why Dogs Like Certain Humans

You get a knock at the door, and it’s a solicitor for some unknown charity. You politely listen, but your dog is growling and barking. Your sweet pup, ironically named Killer, doesn’t often bark at people. You try to calm Killer down, but you end up cutting the solicitor’s presentation short because Killer is making a ruckus. You could be having a party, and your dog is friendly and social to some guests, but not all. Everyone is offering him bites of food to win Killer’s affection, but he won’t go near some people. Why is he ignoring some people, but not all of them? He’ll eat anything, so what’s going on? These are your friends, so why is he playing hot and cold? How quickly does he make these decisions to like someone or not? What does he see that you are not?

The Root of the Behavior

Some breeds are more protective of their human than others, and those dogs might not like anyone they deem a threat. Protective dog breeds include the Akita, Neapolitan Mastiff, Dogue de Bordeaux, Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois, and Bullmastiff. These dogs are loyal to their owners but protective. If you are looking to adopt or purchase a dog of a protective breed, be sure to research it first. Sometimes these dogs need thorough training or are not ideal for all people or families. Also, if you want a dog who barks at strangers rather than waits silently for their approach, you want to distinguish that in each breed, too. The other reason dogs like some people and not others are because they follow your lead. Dogs tend to do “social eavesdropping,” which is where they watch your interactions with others, and that includes body language, the tone of voice, or if someone snubbed you. This behavior is their version of vetting others, and if you don’t like someone, your dog will pick up on that. A study completed by researchers from Kyoto University in Japan revealed that dogs respond to the way others treat their owner. The study took 54 dogs and monitored their behavior with their owners and a helping person, non-helping person, and a neutral person. The dogs were more trusting of the helpful people who had positive interactions with their owners. The dogs avoided the people who were not helpful, or negative, towards their owners. Even when presented with treats from both helpful and unhelpful people, the dog still ignored the non-helpful. Your dog is observing your interactions more thoroughly than you may be, and he is forming opinions. Humans do the same type of observing, especially children, who are learning how and when to trust others. They watch others’ interactions and responses to people and decide if they like the outsider based on what you do. So perhaps your dog is snubbing someone at your party. It could be that your guest insulted you earlier that evening. To make it simple, your dog is being your BFF and showing solidarity with you.

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Encouraging the Behavior

You might decide to get a dog breed that is known to protect. Perhaps you live alone, you live a reasonable distance from your nearest neighbor, or you want someone to bark at night if there are intruders. Ensuring you have a protective breed will give you peace of mind, just make sure you train them from the time they are young. You might just want your BFF by your side for friendly interactions. For either situation, it’s important to know where the line is for acceptable and unacceptable behavior from your pooch. If your BFF is being protective or unfriendly, but not aggressive, it’s up to you whether to train or socialize him differently. If your dog takes snacks from all your guests except for one, but just walks away and is still polite, you shouldn’t be concerned. However, if he begins barking or becoming aggressive towards that one person, you should consider a trip to the trainer or vet. However, if your dog becomes aggressive, it is a problem. Excessive barking, growling, showing teeth, biting, or lunging at people is not a healthy protective relationship. If this is the case, take your dog to a trainer to learn how to reduce these behaviors. A trainer can help you socialize your dog to know how to act appropriately in different situations. Killer’s social eavesdropping can benefit you greatly. You’ll have a protector when a stranger approaches you, and you can get a small feeling satisfaction from your dog snubbing someone who snubbed you. He is your BFF, and everyone needs one of those.

Other Solutions and Considerations

Your dog’s choice of friends and companions is just as important as yours, and you should respect it. If you have adopted a new dog or just got a puppy, make sure you train them to have socially acceptable behaviors. You can ask your vet for a few methods, or take them to a trainer. Remember your dog is susceptible to your feelings and interactions. He might even pick up on something you don’t, so be sure to look at your relationships closely if he’s not liking your friends. It could be that you have some feelings about them hidden under the surface or that he is unnecessarily protective.


Like you would with your human BFF, trust your barking BFF. As long as he’s not aggressive, let him judge those you come across and meet. Just make sure his response is appropriate to the situation. You want your pup to be protective, but you don’t want your four-legged friend making people your enemies.

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