Scared of men

Posted by jorwig5
Jun 23, 2008
Hello! I foster dogs for a local rescue and right now I have a mini poodle named Marshal that is fearful of men. I've had him about 10 days now and when I first got him, he was afraid of me and everything else, which is understandable with him being justled around. I am told he was owner surrendered because he started showing aggression to the man in the family, so he was moved from his familiar home to a shelter and from the shelter to a vet, and now to my house. He is only 1 1/2 yrs old.
Anyway, after about 3-4 days, he is now very comfortable with his new surroundings and loves playing with my 2 dogs and running around in the yard, he follows me everywhere, and loves playing with his toys, which tells me with a little patience, he can adapt to new surroundings. The problem is, he still seems fearful of my husband, Bill - this is expressed by Marshal's barking at Bill everytime he enters a room, even if he was previously in the room, left for 10 minutes and comes back, Marshal barks at him all over again. He will quite down when Bill settles back in. Marshal sleeps in the bedroom with us, and if Bill gets up to go to the bathroom, when he comes back in, Marshal will actually make little lunges towards Bill while he is barking at him, like he wants to attack his legs, but he never does, and again, this stops once Bill settles back in. I feel that after 10 days, Marshal should be familiar enough with Bill that this should've subsided by now. Sometimes once Marshall does calm back down, Bill will attempt to give him treats, sometimes Marshall will take them, sometimes, he will keep his distance and won't accept it unless Bill just lays it on the floor. Right now I'm afraid to allow him to be adopted to anyone but single females, but don't want them to get any surprises, either. Could this have to do with poodles having the tendency to be 1 person dogs? What can we do? I'm hoping that with his age, whatever damage was done by his previous owners can be undone, but I know at this point, if not handled correctly, he can go either way...
Posted by gjrupert
Jun 24, 2008
Hi, I thought I would offer some advice since I am going through a very similar situation. I took in a stray that had been abandoned out in the country for about a month prior to my finding and bringing him home. He was very timid with me at 1st, but after several days, he came to trust me and my husband as well. My intention was to find him a good home since we already have 4 large labs. He is a beautiful dog and, as expected, several people were interested in him. The problem was, every time someone came to see him, he became very aggressive, barking, showing teeth, and would have attacked had he not been on a leash. When it was just myself and my husband, he was a wonderful, loving dog - we couldn't figure it out! At my wits end, I had gotten good advice from this forum, and had begun implementing all the alpha techniques. This seemed to work with his general behaviour, but he continued to exhibit the aggression towards strangers, especially men. Realizing that we could never adopt him out, I had to seek professional help because it was beyond what we could control. The trainer did wonders with him and feels strongly that he was abused by a male & all his aggression is fear & lack of socialization. His philosophy is the same as what is taught here, and, even though it is fear causing him to act out, it is critical that the dog knows that you are the alpha and that you are in control. Once he knows that "you" say it is okay for a stranger to approach, he will back off. I am happy to report that, yes, he is still somewhat standoffish with strangers, but he now can be around strangers without wanting to bite them. Even though Buddy is much improved, we knew that he would revert to his prior behaviour if the alpha techniques weren't adopted as a forever way of life, so we are keeping Buddy ourselves. This has been a real challenge for me, as I just want to love a dog to death, & was never the best at discipline. He is a wonderful dog and so worth the effort. I just wanted to say Thanks for trying to help your pooch, and please don't give up hope. I know exactly how you feel & if taken to a shelter, its chances would be slim. I know you can do it! Good luck!