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Are Dogs More Afraid of Men?

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While its not unusual for people to assume that a dog who growls or cowers when a male figure approaches has at some point in their past life been abused by a man, that isn’t necessarily the case. You see, there are a number of factors that can contribute to why your pooch becomes suddenly reactive when a man enters the picture.

Related: Why Are Some People Afraid of Dogs?

And because every dog is different, with individual thresholds of sensitivity based on his own life experiences, these explanations are simply examples of what might make people think a dog is more fearful of men.

  • It could be down to socialization. This is the practice of exposing a young puppy to different sights, sounds, and other forms of stimuli in order to build a comfort level with fresh experiences. This comfort level helps boost his self confidence and acceptance of new situations and people. If men have not been part of his socialization process, it wouldn’t be unusual for a dog to initially make strange and appear fearful.
  • The typically larger, broader size of a man coupled with a deeper voice may put an anxious dog on alert and cause him to take a fight or flight response when he picks up on this new, different energy. Individuals who are taller, have a louder voice or engage in a more physical / roughhousing style of play, may be intimidating to a dog. Cowering, growling or snapping may be the outcome if not introduced gradually.
  • Facial characteristics that are not part of his daily routine can make a dog ill at ease and fearful. Beards, moustaches, glasses or dark sunglasses (the latter being attributable to male or female individuals) may be new to him and cause fear and uncertainty. An easy solution is to remove glasses initially, then put them back on while in his presence. Less mystery makes for a calmer pooch. 
  • Men put out a different scent than do women. Beyond the perfumes and personal hygiene considerations, women emit the scent of estrogen which a dog can equate to his mother. For that reason, a dog will typically consider a female to be a safer, more friendly figure. This doesn’t necessarily mean he will be afraid of men, but that his comfort level will not be as natural and absolute as it would be with a woman.
  • Past memories from his young pup days may play into any reservations he has about males as he grows up. Females are typically more doting, physically nurturing and inclined to use the baby-talk approach to cute puppies. Males will often be more practical in their interactions with young pups and be less inclined to indulge. As a result, dogs may not experience an instant rapport with a male.
  • Your dog may have had a single scary experience that he equates with a male who may not have even been involved in the incident. It’s called single-event learning and regardless of how innocuous it was at the time, if it was frightening for your dog, it will often stay with him for life.

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