Fear of Strangers

Posted by Vesa
Nov 18, 2007
Hi--I have this wonderful shepherd x that I brought home a month ago, she is 1.5 y/o and has spent the last 10 months at the humane society, because she had a food agression. They worked with her and I have continued with what you have recommended and it has worked great. I also have a 13 y/o Husky and 2 cats, she gets along well with them all. My problem is she seems afraid of strangers. Her hackles come up, she starts barking and moves away. After a few minutes she will warm up to females, but will not warm up to men. I would like to try and stop this before it gets worse, but we also live quite a few miles out of town, with not alot of neighbors. We are already working on obedience, and she is doing well with the instructor, but then again she is a female. I sure would appreciate any advice!
Thank You.
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Nov 18, 2007
Hi there,

Our border collie mix that we rescued from a border collie rescue foster family 3 years ago is also afraid of stranger men and barks at them at the off-leash park. She was already 1.5-2 years old and there was no history since she was found as a stray.

We were told that Holly seemed to have had a bad experience with men, probably being abused with a broom or something, when we adopted her. If fact, she barked at my husband for the first few days but then she became familiar with him and our son, then his cousins, and friends etc.

All you can do is to introduce your male friends little by little and have them give some treats to your dog. Holly doesn't like to be patted by strangers so treats from a open hand works the best for her.

At the off-leash park, I have been telling each male owner whom she barks at about her issue and giving him treats to be given to Holly so that she will know he is a friendly person. I also reassure her by saying "Holly, he is a nice person. Get some treats from him."

Holly still barks at men at the first time, especially big men with a hat or/and sunglasses. She also does not like any sudden movements so I have to keep telling people at the park why she is barking and that she is not a mean dog.

As I said, the only way to make your dog get over the problem is desensitization to what she is afraid of. As she learns that men are not something she doesn't have to be afraid of, I think she will gain confidence in herself.

Good luck
Posted by Vesa
Nov 18, 2007
Thank You MaxHollyNoah, I appreciate the advice, and will try this.